Playmore Games brings mobile technology to board games
The best thing about board games is playing them – not learning how to play them. Finnish Playmore Games solves the problem by bringing to the table a mobile application that functions as the friend who already knows the game and can teach others.
Jouni Jussila, the CEO of Playmore Games, does not think that the rising popularity of board games means people are bored with the digital world. The different ways of playing are used for different things.
“People who play video games mainly stare at the screen, whereas a board game is in the middle and people surround it sitting face–to-face,” says Jussila. “Board games are about spending time together, and that is a part of being human.”
Jussila and co-founder Tomi Vainikka created the concept of the Dized app in order to bring digital conveniences to board games. The first feature the mobile app will have is teaching the rules of the game whilst playing the game – without first having to spend an hour reading through the rulebook and only then actually getting started.
In future Dized will turn into a treasure chest of digital content for board games. Jussila, who has played both board and video games from an early age, knows exactly what it feels like to know a game inside out and know the questions of Trivial Pursuit by heart.
“Digital content can bring additional elements to the game, such as new questions to a quiz-based game like Trivial Pursuit, soundtracks for games, or extra players with artificial intelligence.”
Jussila points out that Playmore Games is not about creating an online game service; instead focus is strictly on the time people spend together playing board games. The idea is to expand the dimensions of the familiar style of playing.
“Smart devices are an incredible source that is still overlooked when it comes to board games.”
From board games to app development
Playmore Games was founded in the spring of 2014. Jussila remembers telling Vainikka how he had been thinking about developing his own board game. At that point Vainikka announced that he had been planning a game for months already, and the two friends decided to join forces. Vainikka and Jussila have a background in IT, but both have made careers in other fields.
The first board game published by Playmore Games, Race to the North Pole, will soon see its second edition of over 10 000 copies. Race to the North Pole will be the first game the Dized application will be able to teach.
In addition to Vainikka and Jussila, Playmore Games currently has three other full-time employees, who focus their efforts on Dized. There are over a dozen shareholders, and the prototype will be coded by one of the shareholder companies.
Jussila describes the story of the company as a series of events where chance and “silly yet courageous jumps into situations” play the biggest role. For example, most of the investors were found through a chain reaction: they found one, who knew another one, and so on and so forth.
“We have been throwing hooks into the water and figured there is not much to lose. Tomi and I have formed a habit: if either of us starts a sentence by asking if we should do something, we just go do it every time.”
Towards the standard of gaming
Playmore Games’ goal is to turn Dized into a standard tool in the board game industry. Within the field there is a lot of interest; this has been evident when the company visited expos around the world. Later this year the company will organise a crowdfunding campaign, which will test the consumer market and not only work as a way to find funding, but also to form a community around the product.
According to Jussila, the biggest board game markets are in North America and Europe, where particularly in Germany board games are a big part of the culture.
“If you glance at a German book shelf, it is almost a miracle if you cannot spot a board game. The games are also in active use; they are not just collecting dust.”
South America and China are emerging markets. China is also important for board games because that is where a lot of production takes place due to its low manufacturing and postage costs.
The world will not be conquered with a five-person team. Jussila believes that if everything goes as expected, Dized will be published in 2017 and the team will have 10 to 15 members. The recruitment of additional programmers will begin as soon as the prototype is out.
Despite the focus being on Dized, Playmore Games has not forgotten where it all started: games themselves.
“We are game designers after all, and we have a shelf full of prototypes. However, right now our mind is set on Dized.”