‘HBO of mobile games’ Scopely sees more than 10M downloads for Mini Golf Matchup in 1 month

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By Scott Reyburn Comments

scopely-logoGame studio Rocket Jump revealed that Mini Golf Matchup had reached the 10 million downloads mark in its first month of release.

Mini Golf Matchup, which launched at the beginning of March, grabbed the No. 1 spot on the top free iPhone apps chart in 28 countries eight hours after it hit the Apple App Store. In the first seven days, the game had 135,000 four and a half star average reviews, which was the most that any game ever received in that time span, says Scopely co-founder and CEO Walter Driver. A huge factor in the early success can be attributed to Los Angeles-based Scopely. Mini Golf Matchup is the first game published by Scopely, which has released four games in total.

“It was a big validation of our ability to work with external teams to create large franchises,” Driver says.

Driver tells Inside Mobile Apps that he doesn’t see his company, which has 55 employees, as a game studio, but rather an interactive content company for smartphones and tablets.Mini Golf Matchup screenshot

“We started Scopely to be the first mobile-first interactive entertainment network, he says. “We see ourselves as being able to build the first network like a TV network. Like Fox doesn’t create all of its own content. It has both internal studios and external studios and are able to systematically determine what content people want to consume and be able to broadcast that to a large audience and be able to bring premium advertising to the table around that content on a regular basis.”

Driver says Scopely is trying to build an increasingly larger audience with each game it launches. He then describes Scopely as “the HBO of mobile games.”

“Like being the HBO of mobile games, if you see that HBO has a new series, you don’t necessarily know that you’re going to like it, but you know that it’s going to be interesting and they will have high-quality writers, directors and actors,” he says “It will probably be something that is not boring or a retread of something else that you’ve seen elsewhere.”

Driver is no stranger to building a network of users, he’s previously built social games and apps for platforms like Facebook and MySpace. Game-by-game, Scopely’s user network has grown in size, which has helped with Mini Golf Matchup’s rapid growth.

“We try hard to build products that people wanted to share with their friends, and to optimize all the internal and external channels by which we want to acquire a user,” Driver says.

Wellington, New Zealand-based Rocket Jump, which is known for its popular rail shooter game Major Mayhem for Adult Swim Games, began working with Scopely in February after it was announced by Scopely that it had established publishing partnerships with high-caliber independent game developers, including Double Fine, Big Cave Games, High Line Games, Zupcat Games, and of course, Rocket Jump Games. Driver wouldn’t tell us the specifics of its publishing deals — like if Scopely takes an equity stake or IP control from the developer or game.

He says Scopely makes sure each deal reflects each company’s priorities. As a publisher of third-party titles, Scopely is in the middle of firefight between GREE, Zynga, DeNA, Kabam, Pocket Gems, and more. But Driver believes Scopely is different than its competitors in that it’s not a first-party games company first, third-party publisher second. Scopely exists to help other developers become successful, Driver says.

“There’s no one serving the elite indie developers, all other publishers offer a one-size fits all publishing deal,” he says

Scopely also handles advertising a little different than many mobile game companies. Scopely works directly with big brand advertisers like Starbucks, Vitamin Water and Coca-Cola. Scopely also ensures that advertisers have control of which apps its ads run in. Scopely wants to create high-quality experiences with its games that will attract big brands to spend money on advertising.

Scopely, which was launched in 2011, has raised $8.5M to date from a seed round of funding that was led by Anthem Venture Partners.