When Glu Mobile bought CrowdStar for $45 million in December, it picked up a game publisher that had rare success with female gamers through its Covet Fashion mobile game. And now, CrowdStar’s last independently produced title, Design Home, is proving to be another hit with women.
While Covet Fashion focused on clothes, Design Home is all about decorating your fantasy home. The free-to-play game has been downloaded more than 13.1 million times and generated bookings of 18.9 million. Players have designed more than 141 million rooms said Mark Van Ryswyk, the senior vice president at Glu who took over the CrowdStar operation, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The iOS and Android title is an interior design game where you decorate rooms using virtual furniture from real furniture companies. As with Covet Fashion, you can enter your design into competitions with other players.
“The fun part is learning from this team,” Van Ryswyk said. “We’ve had a phenomenal level of engagement from our users. It is an under-served audience in the market. They don’t identify themselves as gamers, but they love the creative play that this game brings.”
Fellow players rate the designs, and the winner wins prestige and currency to buy more virtual items. Players who don’t win can buy more virtual furniture with real money. And the brands benefit from increased player knowledge about their real furniture. In fact, the players can examine and buy the real furniture from within the app.
It is a brilliant business model that worked with fashion. You can use each piece of furniture five times before the item is consumed, and you have to buy more. Design Home has more than 4,000 virtual items available. And Glu now has dozens of partnerships with high-end furniture and decor brands like Design Within Reach, Serena & Lily, Apt2B, Kathy Kuo, and Taylor Burke Home.
Design Home also has exclusive HGTV design challenges and content through a media partnership. Van Ryswyk said that the team focuses on the real-world aspirations of players who see the game as a creative outlet. They’re playing with furniture, much like fans do in “dollhouse” games, such as The Sims.
About 90 percent of the players are female, and they are a little older than the Covet Fashion audience.
To keep them coming back, Design Home has five events a day that challenge players to decorate a room. The live events tell a story and a fresh design challenge. Glu is promoting the game, and it is “only scratching the surface on user acquisition” said Van Ryswyk, who formerly worked at EA Mobile.
Glu recently launched Facebook Connect capability in the game, which allows players to access each other’s inventories and borrow furniture. Looking ahead, Glu wants to offer the game in more languages beyond English, and it is figuring out how to keep players engaged for years, just as players have done so for four years with Covet Fashion.
“The lesson for the mobile market is that there are a lot of unique opportunities still out there,” Van Ryswyk said. “Some are sizable and underrepresented in mobile.”