Ludia is moving into the interactive story market today with the launch of What’s Your Story?, a mobile game where fans can craft their own fiction based on popular Hollywood franchises.
In the interactive story genre popularized by other mobile apps like Choices and Episode, fans play stories with their favorite characters and choose which way a story will unfold. The decisions drive different outcomes. It’s like “Choose Your Own Adventure” with your favorite characters.
But the big difference in Ludia’s game is that it has licensed Hollywood properties, such as Scream, Project Runway, Beverly Hills 90210, and Divergent. More than 40 developers have been working on the game for the past couple of years, said Alex Thabet, the CEO of Montreal-based Ludia, in an interview with GamesBeat. What’s Your Story? is available on iOS and Android.
“By aggregating all of these pieces of content [it] makes it a large and interesting product that may have much better reach on mobile devices,” Thabet said. “After almost two years, we are finally ready to see the light of day. We are ready to become a relevant player in a very successful category. There is room to grow it.”
The game lets fans further explore the universes of their favorite TV shows and movies, putting them in the writer’s seat. The content will range from horror to fashion. Your goal in Scream, of course, is to not make dumb decisions that get you killed while in Project Runway you have to play it smart to become the best model. In Divergent, you’ll have to navigate interaction between different factions.
The consequences of the decisions could be small, like whether a character will like you or not, or big, like whether your character will get eliminated from the story. Each episode is maybe five to seven minutes, and each story may have something like 25 episodes. The goal is to pace the consumption, rather than have users binge watch, Thabet said. That way, the users will come back on a regular basis as new content becomes available.
Ludia has more than 350 employees, and it is majority-owned by X Factor creator FremantleMedia. It has prospered thanks to licensed games such as Jurassic World and Dragons: Rise of Berk (based on How to Train Your Dragon).
“Our goal is to become the interactive Netflix on mobile,” Thabet said. “The idea is, ‘Don’t just watch it. Live it.’”
The target demographic is around 18 years to 34, primarily female. You can choose your avatar (male or female), unlock outfits and accessories, and decide which ones you want to spend real money on. The characters in the story may send you text messages or push notifications.
“No matter what you do, you can’t escape,” says one message from a character in Scream. When you swipe on that message, you are taken back into the game. Then you start chatting with the character, and it may lead to important elements in the story.
“We’re using it as a retention and engagement tool,” Thabet said. “The soft launch has had strong metrics so far.”
In fact, Ludia found that fans burned through some of the episodic content too quickly, so it commissioned more content to be created. New episodes are expected to come out for each story on a weekly basis.
In What’s Your Story?, you can make in-game purchases. The episodes will have ads. And you can pay a subscription fee to skip the ads, get VIP items such as clothing, and get access to more currency, known as gems. The business model is similar to the one in Ludia’s existing games.
Rivals include Pocket Gems’ Episode and Pixelberry’s Choices (Nexon recently acquired Pixelberry).
Ludia is launching with four franchises, but it will have about 20 by the end of 2018. It will launch a new one at a rate of one or more a month. Ludia had to hire numerous writers for the series, including some people who are associated with the original writing teams, Thabet said. Over time, the company hopes to expand the genre well beyond the young female audience.
“We think we can widen the genre,” Thabet said.