2018 was a great year for Ooba, with a raft of new games hitting the market and recent launches performing above expectations.
We caught up with the team – Max Ford, Joeri Hoste and Sally Jacobs – to find out what this year has in store and how they stay creative.
How was 2018 for Ooba?
We had a great year, both in getting new concepts and games to market, as well as some of our recent launches performing above our greatest expectations.
Five Little Fish has gone from strength to strength and its successor in the pre-school category, Inch Worms, is off to a very solid start. We have also been able to strengthen our partnerships with distributors by developing joint strategy for specific game categories in specific markets.
We also set up an office in Hong Kong to provide more structure and support to our development and manufacturing.
Last year you said you wanted to bolster your pre-school and family games portfolio. What are your aims for 2019?
We still have a lot of work to do in that area as pre-school and family are fast becoming the most important categories for our business, so we’re definitely maintaining focus there.
That being said, we’re also exploring categories new to us with games such as D’lerium (party dice game), Stakz (light abstract strategy tile game) and Go Bongo! (party card game).
We want to remain nimble so we can pursue concepts and games we’re passionate about while we’re growing the business, and we are staffing up to support that growth.
Do you think the games space is in a good place creatively at the moment?
The games space is very saturated at the moment, which makes it a tough area to be in, especially as traditional retail cuts their consumer offering. However it is so diverse that it’s still bound to be in a good place in regards to creativity.
Whether you are designing skill and action games based on social media sensations or new ways to look at classic gameplay, there are so many new and creative ways to look at game development and getting your concept to market.
The consumer is also more diverse than ever before, with new consumers exploring game categories as a backlash to screen time and in need of social interaction. Therefore we are seeing new gamers emerging of all ages and genders, and this allows us all to look at games in new and creative ways.
How does the Ooba team stay creative?
On a daily basis we are constantly looking at trends, researching the consumer, playing games, browsing the web, being inquisitive and having fun. All of these things inspire us with ideas and keep us creative.
We also have quite a few children between us of varying ages and therefore we do lots of game playing. Being around children helps you stay young and definitely inspires new ideas.
Getting away from the desk is another good way to be creative; whether it is visiting trade shows, doing store checks, meeting inventors, keeping up with other industries or just getting outdoors.
What’s the best thing about working in the games space?
Playing games and meeting people. At Ooba, we love playing games and we find gaming is a great way of breaking the ice and meeting new and inspirational people.
We also love the fact the games space is so diverse, you can be flipping pancakes one day to pretending to be a moose the next.
Do you work with outside designers on products, and if so, why should designers bring their concepts to Ooba?
Yes, we work with designers and inventors from around the world. Ooba is, after all, an extension of NPD Partnership, which celebrates its 30th anniversary of game development and licensing this year.
We’re thoroughly familiar with the slings and arrows of independent game designer life and the need for solid partnerships. We pride ourselves in valuing and supporting the inventor community for the innovation within the toy and game industry.
We love seeing new ideas and would be happy to hear from both first-time and professional inventors alike. We have no restrictions regarding brands and licenses so we are free to explore any type of tabletop gaming. The Ooba team are happy to review the wackiest ideas and to work closely with designers and inventors to develop those ideas into fantastic mass-market games.
Our modest slate of projects each year ensures each gets the focus and attention that both the concept and the inventor deserves. The reach of sales network increases day by day with our games being sold through both distribution and direct-toretail partners worldwide.
Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully we can partner up!