The Danish-developed word game, Wordbase, recently got featured as one of the “Best New Games” in the US and Canadian App Store, and even reached the very top of the charts in the “word games” category.
App Store successes with Nordic roots seems to be a common sight these days. But that doesn’t mean we have to slow down our production of fantastic mobile games any time soon, does it? Aller Media, the Danish company most notably known as a magazine publisher, certainly don’t think so.
Together with Robocat and Greener Pastures, they developed and launched Wordbase back in December 2013, only 5 months later to reach 1 million games played, and now finally get featured in the US App Stores.
Back in 2012, Aller Media set out on a mission to come up with at least 250 new ideas every year, of which 30 should turn into actual products. Wordbase is one such product, but the initial idea for the game didn’t come from within Aller Media itself, but rather from the two 19 year old Danes, Rune and Andreas Mehlsen.
When the two brothers presented the idea of a word game based on chess-like battle elements for their dad, a longtime crossword constructor, he went wild with joy, and so did his boss at Aller Media.
“Their core idea for Wordbase was so exiting, that Aller Innovation Board immediately approved of it. At the department of innovation we have developed a complex and fertile innovation process, which we applied to the basic Wordbase idea, working with the twins and from an early stage, the cool app developers at Robocat.“, Jan Krog Henningsen, head of development in the Aller Media innovation department, explains to NordicGameBits.
Rune and Andreas has since come to be known as “The Twins”, and apart from coming up with the idea for Wordbase, they can also be seen battling it out in the latest trailer for the game.
Feedback from the customers was the focal point for Wordbase right from the start, and it played an important part in developing the game from a simple concept to the final product it has become today. “Customer support is an exciting job, because you initiate a close dialogue with the users of Wordbase. You learn so much more about the game through this dialogue, than you ever would by yourself. Their experience of the game is so completely different and spot on, than my own experience, after developing it for two years.”, Rune explains.
Working with beta testers has been a very rewarding experience for the Wordbase team, and the beta testers not only provided valuable feedback, but they also often turned out to become great ambassadors for the game. “Our users have provided valuable feedback on the UI regarding design and flows.“, says Jan Krog Henningsen, and continues by mentioning that: “Quite a few of our users have signed up to beta test new releases of the game, so that they can exercise an influence on the decisions being made in the further development of the game. This also keeps our core users closer to us in the future.”
Getting featured on the App Stores is no easy task, and the best advice from Jan Krog Henningsen is to simply build a beautiful game: “we’d like to believe that building a beautiful UI and keeping the UX aligned with Apples current iOS-features is a wise decision, if you want a chance to get featured.” Getting featured is just the first step, however, as it is a mix of the gameplay and execution that in the end drives a successful game, as Jan Krog Henningsen mentioned when asked as to the reason why Wordbase has become such a success:
“Two things. One slightly more important than the other:
No. 1: Core gameplay. It’s so addictive. You keep grinding your mind, searching your vocabulary and looking for possible combinations of letters on the board. And that’s just the basic challenge. You quickly realize the need for strategy, if you want to win the game, and not just the next move. A game can go on for just a day or for months. Like chess. But without the many rules.
No. 2: Execution. The game is beautifully built and designed by Robocat (and flawlessly ported to Android by Greener Pastures), and quite a few little frontend tweaks support the core gameplay so subtle, that you can’t really tell where gamedesign takes over from core gameplay. Like when you tilt your device, the letters turn inside the board, and suddenly you see letter combinations that seemed invisible before.”
Wordbase runs on a game engine built by Robocat specifically for the purpose of this game, and Jan Krog Henningsen reveals that Aller Media has many ideas for future word games to come: “We’ve chosen to build our own engine. We have many ideas for more Word games to come, and our own engine provides us with the freedom to build what we want and like – both now and in the games to come.”.