With the launch of iOS 10, Apple made it possible to make apps and games embedded in iMessages, or Apple’s version of text messages. And today, Mastermind Studios is launching an iMessage strategy game called Battle Bash.
The turn-based strategy game comes from the San Francisco studio run by Dan Chao, whose team created a game that can be embedded inside an iMessage and then sent to a friend. The friend taps on the attachment and the game appears.
Chao started Mastermind Studios in 2014 after he left Gree and Funzio. Chao has a great track record making Funzio games such as Crime City, Modern War, Kingdom Age, and War of Nations. Japan’s Gree bought Funzio in 2012 for $210 million.
Mastermind Studios launched its first game, Quest of Heroes: Clash of Ages, early this year. The game did OK, but it suffered because Mastermind couldn’t spend as much money as it needed to on user acquisition.
“A small developer like us can’t afford a lot of ad spend on a game,” said Chao in an interview with GamesBeat. “This iMessage game is a way to get away from that and do something that has a chance to spread in a viral way. When I heard it was going to be possible to create iMessage apps in iOS 10, I thought it would be a nice alternative.”
He added, “It’s hard to make a mobile game these days because of the ad costs and competition. That’s why we jumped on this. For the most part, people don’t ignore text messages. So this could be pretty engaging.”
In the game, you move units around a map, hunting for your opponent. Once you’ve moved, you send an iMessage to a friend letting them know it’s their turn. Objects on the map block your vision, so it becomes a game of cat and mouse.
It took only a few weeks to make the game. Chao said the company would update the iMessage game and launch a word game for iMessage later.
“Right now, there are ads in the game that are the initial source of revenue,” Chao said. “Over time, we’ll introduce commanders that you can purchase in the game.”
Chao said the idea of doing a game inside iMessage reminded him of older games where you played by email. Other companies that have launched iMessage games include Zynga, which launched Words With Friends; Vitalii Zlotskii, who launched GamePigeon; and Etermax, which launched Trivia Crack.
Mastermind Studios has seven employees.