The popularity of a horse riding mobile game with young girls has led its South Australian developers to launch a dinosaur game targeting a similar male demographic.
Adelaide-based Foxie Games has achieved more than 2 million downloads of its Horse Riding Tales game since it launched in late 2018. It now has about 1.2 million active monthly players, making Horse Riding Tales the №1 horse riding mobile app in the world with half of its player base in the United States and Germany.
The success of the game, particularly with girls aged 13–16, has prompted Foxie to create a virtual world game that would appeal to boys.
Foxie Games founder and product lead Dineth Abeynayake said research found that the dinosaur category was not well catered for in the mobile app game space despite the ancient creatures having a loyal following.
“ Dino Tamers is aimed at a similar age group for boys but even more so we recognised there was a lack of competition in the dinosaur market on the App Store,” he said.
“I measure the potential of a niche by seeing what games already exist within a market, what the top apps are, how much they are grossing and based on that you can decide if you should pursue it.
“It also suits that virtual world concept, which is where we want to specialise in whether it be horses or dinosaurs or whatever. As a company, that’s where a lot of our skills lie and it’s where we are establishing a position for ourselves in the global market.”
Dino Tamers launched in late September and has more than 100,000 active monthly users. It is attracting strong interest in a diverse range of countries including Brazil and Indonesia.
The game revolves around saving dinosaurs and training them so they can be ridden and ‘evolved’ into more sophisticated creatures. It features 10 traditional dinosaur species, including Raptor and T-Rex, which can evolve throughout the game to become more powerful, better looking and even grow wings in some cases.
“You haven’t travelled to the past, you’ve discovered this mysterious place on Earth where dinosaurs have somehow survived. But they are unstable so you have to tame them and evolve them and upgrade them, and that’s how you save them. As you upgrade them they also become much more visually interesting and grow distinct physical features which makes them appealing to players,” Abeynayake said.
“The hook is to save as many dinosaurs as possible. There’s this other party on this mysterious land that attack you so you’re trying to defend your base and you ride the dinosaurs you’ve tamed to help protect what you have.
“We’re getting significant downloads on Android — about 5,000 downloads daily — and reasonable downloads on iOS but we’re rebalancing the game and adding some very important new features to increase its value for the player and the business.”
Foxie Games is located within Adelaide’s Games Plus hub, which is also home to Mighty Kingdom and was established in 2017 to be the largest incubator for the Australian game development industry.
Abeynayake is a trained aerospace engineer who started making mobile games while working as a missile analyst in Adelaide’s growing defence industry.
He started Foxie Games in 2017 and had some success with equine games Horse Paradise and Horse Quest before launching Horse Riding Tales in late 2018.
The business has grown from three employees in 2017 to about 25. Two more virtual world games are due for release in January. The first is an animal-themed player v player combat game while the second aims to place young teen players in a virtual second life where they work part-time jobs, care for pets, go shopping and hang out with friends.
“Imagine packs of wolves battling it out for territory, competing for dominance and growing their pack, that sort of thing,” Abeynayake said.
“The other one is a bit different -the idea is to build your dream life for your character.
“The games are starting to take shape and we’re currently putting together the marketing collateral, so we will have lots of details to share in the near future, which is really exciting for us and our followers.”
Abeynayake said the move away from horse riding games into other virtual world areas was an attempt to de-risk the business and not “put all of our eggs into the horse basket, as well as to prevent our future titles cannibalising our current ones.”
“If we can have success in horses and another kind of virtual world then we are reducing our risk without diversifying too much in case a huge mobile horse game drops from somewhere else,” he said. “Having said that, we also have significant plans to grow Horse Riding Tales into something even bigger and better, as our fans are always hungry for new content”.
“There’s great variability in the mobile games market — things can change very quickly — but our immediate future expansion plans really depend on how our new games pan out in the next six months or so.
“I’m just keen to keep reinvesting where it makes sense and it seems like we can latch on to bigger opportunities.”