He’s in his office, a video camera over his shoulder and an iPad in hand.
“Hey Battle Bears Nation, this is Ben Vu and I’m going show you how to create a Battle Bears Ultimate account with your Battle Bears Gold account so you can get these awesome bonuses on launch day, so when you go into Battle Bears Gold…”
He goes on to explain account creation for the new game in the video, and looking around his office, you can see Vu is a man who has been busy. Printed PowerPoints lay on his desk, character sketches line the walls, a piece of paper titled “Three Things Good Startup CEOs Do” hangs on a window next to logos of Apple and Pixar.
He’s still working hard Monday night and he doesn’t plan on stopping for a while.
Wednesday, SkyVu Entertainment launched its second and latest flagship game: Battle Bears Ultimate.
The game takes the baton from two-year-old Battle Bears Gold, and continues the successful franchise that had more than 20 million downloads.
“This game is the best Battle Bears game ever… because we’ve taken all the lessons we’ve learned and taken all the advice from our gamers and poured it all in to this title,” Vu told SPN. “We’re very proud of Ultimate. It’s at the point where it’s a game we love to play (even if we didn’t make it).”
BB Ultimate features the same cute characters, but instead of a third-person view, BBU adopted a first-person shooter view—like a more kid-friendly version of Call of Duty or Halo. At release, there will be four classes of characters and five maps. Popular game modes like team death match and capture the flag also are playable.
They also addressed fan request for things like Clans, where friends can form a group, play together on a team and message friends.
“It’s more of a social feature that keeps players coming back,” Vu said.
The game also is downloadable over cellular networks—the previous games were so large they had to be downloaded over WiFi.
Ultimate was two years in the making while market got more crowded
Two years ago, SkyVu had the idea to create Battle Bears Ultimate, but the game took only about seven months to actually make. In that time, a lot changed in the world of mobile gaming, from imagination to completion.
“We’ve been through several iterations and the team has had to weather the storms,” Vu said. “Mountains have shifted in that time in mobile gaming.”
Core mobile games, ones heavy on 3D graphics and gameplay times between five and 15 minutes long, are becoming more popular. Real-time multi-player gaming, something SkyVu helped trailblaze and prided itself on a few years ago, is now commonplace.
It’s a delicate balance between throwing cool new features into a game enabled by something like a new iPhone chip.
For instance, Apple’s latest announcement, Metal, is a new major platform feature for mobile games, but Battle Bear’s user base are pre-teens that tend to have aging devices handed down to them by their parents.
“We’d love to try some stuff with it, but you don’t want to leave those core fans in the dust,” he said.”It’s a delicate balance. Same goes for our international user base, like in China where they have lower-powered devices.
“You can cut off a large swath of a user base.”
Instead, Battle Bears opted to develop new in-house technology called SkyVu Network that powers the clan and chat systems. It’s a customizable backend that they can use in any type of game format in the future. It’s another sign of games getting more complicated, taking longer to make all while the mobile space is getting more crowded. From rudimentary Facebook games to even the big console players like EA are pouring tons of resources into mobile.
“Everyone and their brother can seem to make one,” Vu said. “It’s an extremely crowded marketplace and getting noticed is a constant mission for us.
“But SkyVu is in the thick of things, going head to head with titans. It goes back to how good the product is and marketing.”
Marketing is one of tougher things. Battle Bears appeals to a pre-teen audience with ever-shortening attention spans, but when they find something they like, they hang on to it. Finding the game in the first place is the hard part—getting featured on the Google Play or Apple App stores can be a boon.
“That very much determines how well a game does out of the gate,” Vu said.
Battle Bears Ultimate wasn’t featured on either store Wednesday, but Vu hopes it makes it at some point. Until then, he said Battle Bears has a large enough fan base to leverage and grow.
He hopes Omahans and Silicon Prairie residents will download it and try it out. It may not be for them, but maybe a son or daughter, niece or nephew or someone else they know may like it.
“We appreciate everyone spreading the words and playing it this week,” Vu said.
Credits: Photos from Battle Bears.