GigaBlast Games is a small Flash game business based in Waterloo, Ontario with two young partners, Sam MacPherson and Justin Pedersen. They began designing Flash games in 2005 with Sam developing the programming and Justin providing the graphic design. They are currently enrolled at the University of Waterloo and are hoping to accelerate the growth of this promising business.
GigaBlast partners: Sam MacPherson (left) and Justin Pedersen
Flash games are free games that are played online, usually in a single player environment. The target market is young males aged 10 to 15. Online gaming is booming and more than one billion people play online games every month.
GigaBlast Games released its first multi-player Flash game titled Pawn on the PawnGame.com website in 2006. The second game, Pawn Tactics was released in 2009 after two years in development. Multi-player flash games are somewhat unusual because of the long development period and the degree of complexity in the design. Pawn and Pawn Tactics are two of only a few known action-based multi-player Flash games available. A third GigaBlast game, currently in development, will be the most sophisticated game yet and is expected to be released in the next year.
Global expansion for this new game will be the focus of the students in Fanshawe's International Business Management (ITB) program. The entire ITB class will develop GigaBlast business plans in groups of two for 16 different countries for their International Trade Management course. These reports will eventually be submitted to the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) for external grading. Students that graduate from the ITB program will earn an Ontario College Certificate in International Business and a Diploma in International Trade from FITT in Ottawa.
GigaBlast Games has shown promising revenues and sustained customer use from a broad range of nations. Over 98 percent of their website traffic is from outside of Canada. The largest market is the United States, with a significant presence in India, Philippines, United Kingdom, Singapore, Colombia, Malaysia, Brazil, Turkey and France and numerous other markets.
At the recent S2B conference, Peter White, President of the London Economic Development Corporation, identified London's digital gaming cluster as an important and emerging growth opportunity. Industry Canada also sees this as a priority segment. Consequently, Murray Morgan, ITB Coordinator, invited Andrea Clements, Trade Commissioner for southwestern Ontario for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Andrea identified the resources available including conferences and incubators in California and trade commissioners with industry contacts in the key market of Japan.
This semester, the ITB program has attracted students with international contacts in China, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, India, Mauritius, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, Jordan and the Bahamas. After the students introduced themselves, Sam commented, "You've pretty much got the world in this class."
The diversity of the class and the broad reach of their personal networks can provide firms interested in international expansion with exceptional insight into emerging markets. For example, preliminary research indicates that China boasts the largest number of gamers in the world. Industry experts suggest that China's online gaming community is an untapped advertising and branding goldmine and this became apparent with a review of the internet marketing strategies of Coke and Pepsi in China.
ITB student Ning Zhou shows the iCoke website featuring a free online gaming portal
During the discussion, Ning Zhou, an ITB student from western China, provided Sam, Justin and the class a look at the iCoke web site. The site was written in Mandarin, but Ning quickly demonstrated the multitude of free online games to show how iCoke has become a popular portal for gamers in China. The GigaBlast Games partners were excited about the potential to reach 1.3 billion consumers in China. There was also lively discussion around social media, blogs, and compatibility with other platforms including Xbox and Playstation which will be incorporated into the group projects.
By collaborating with and supporting local exporters, international business students gain real-world experiential learning and build strong, synergistic community alliances. This innovative business-education partnership model demonstrates how applied learning institutions can help create new jobs and drive economic growth in manufacturing regions challenged by globalization.
Let the online games begin!