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[Updated with CEO interview]
When it comes to mobile gaming, celebrities are looking at the success of Kim Kardashian and are “taking a number” — even singers who aren’t part of the popular pop scene.
Mobile startup HyperJamz has released a new mobile game dubbed Melissa Etheridge’s “Take My Number” Phonebook Challenge. It’s a part of a growing number of attempts by celebrities to try to cash in on mobile gaming thanks to the huge success of the mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood — a game one analyst expects to make up to $200 million this year alone.
The new iOS and Android game is inspired by Etheridge’s new single, “Take My Number.” It uses gameplay to immerse fans in the “artistry, stories, and emotions of music” from top artists. It “gamifies” the numbers and contacts in a player’s own iPhone or Android contact list.
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In July, Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz predicted that Kim Kardashian’s game will reach $200 million in revenue by the end of the year. It is currently the sixth highest-grossing game on iOS in the United States. Does this mean Kim Kardashian has started a celebrity stampede into mobile games?
“A second hit might establish a trend,” said Michael Pachter, the managing director and a game analyst at Wedbush Securities. “Right now, there’s only Kardashian, so hard to peg that as a trend.”
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Players can guide and match falling guitar picks, while guessing and learning the phone numbers of people they know, all the while as “Take My Number” plays in the background.
This is the first mobile game from New York-based HyperJamz, a part of Boston’s HyperPower Game Group. HyperJamz has partnered with the artist management and marketing company Primary Wave Music to team up with music artists.
“I’m excited to share and release the ‘Take My Number’ Phonebook Challenge because it’s a fun and interactive way to connect with my amazing fans and provide them with a different and new way to experience my music,” said Etheridge, in a statement. “A big thank you to the team at HyperJamz for creating such a personalized (and addictive) game.”
Clark Nesselrodt, who cofounded HyperJamz with Tommy Snodgroth, said in an interview with GamesBeat, “Our first ambition is to give the consumer a new way to experience more music. The music video did that in the 1980s, and we see the same opportunity today with interactive games.”
Musicians could certainly use the help, as the industry has shrunk from $15 billion in the U.S. in its pre-Napster days to $7 billion today.
The gameplay is designed to mimic the pace and clutter of life keeping people from remembering and connecting to the people they care about — something Etheridge sings about in the song. The game has an introduction video from Etheridge, custom sound effects recorded by her, and graphics from her most popular albums.
An ad-based version of the Etheridge game is free, and an ad-free, premium version costs $3. Players can choose to make $.99 cent in-app purchases if they wish. Etheridge will promote the title on her latest tour, the “Melissa Etheridge: This is M.E.” concert tour.
Nesselrodt said that the company conceived the plan to do music games before the Kardashian title debuted. But now that Kardashian has a huge hit, the interest in the celebrity-based games is taking hold among both consumers and investors, Nesselrodt said.
“What we are excited about is validating the hypothesis about having different directions like promoting individual songs, albums, or artists themselves,” he said. “One of our upcoming games will server as the launch vehicle for an artist’s next music video.”
Nesselrodt said that Primary Wave, the agency partner, has been able to introduce the company to a lot of different artists, and it will be able to add a lot of marketing clout to HyperJamz games. With such a partner, Nesselrodt believes the company will have a repeatable formula for creating celebrity-based games.
HyperJamz has raised $125,000 in two rounds through the equity-based crowdfunding site, Crowdfunder, which raises money from accredited investors.
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