A Burlingame-based startup is hoping to refine gaming — one, by tying e-commerce into games and secondly, by reaching out to a little tapped gaming market: women.
CrowdStar, located at 330 Primrose Road off of Burlingame Avenue, has been creating video games since 2008 after launching out of an incubator called YouWeb. The company has grown to 70 people and occupies the entire third floor of its office building.
The company also began a shift from running Facebook games to the mobile and tablet market in 2011, a trend that has recently picked up more heavily.
What makes them different from other game development companies?
“We’re different because we’re focusing on women,” said Jeff Tseng, CrowdStar’s chief operating official and one of the company’s co-founders. “Most games are male-centric or casual and you have to wonder, was it the chicken or the egg? Do women not like to play games? We don’t believe that, we believe it’s about making games for women that they like.”
Tseng noted there’s a big female audience with casual games, but not as many for hardcore, in-depth games like League of Legends or World of Warcraft.
“We’re creating great experiences never created before,” Tseng. “We’re talking ground up.”
One of the games the company is primarily focusing on at the moment is called Covet Fashion, a game that bridges e-commerce and gaming. It also targets women. The Covet Fashion app allows players to style avatars, then actually purchase the items to dress their avatars. Participants can also enter fashion challenges and vote on the virtual looks. CrowdStar is working with 70 fashion brands and is working on adding even more. The app is free to play.
“It’s more than just a game,” Tseng said. “You’re using an app to learn about fashion and purchase items.”
He said the main demographic for the game is women in their 20s and 30s and that women can keep a virtual closet of their outfits.
“It’s rethinking fashion to be participatory,” Tseng said. “It’s a new way to shop and be introduced to brands. It’s also tying real life to a game.”
Time Warner and Intel Capital are investors in the gaming company. CrowdStar is also behind an It Girl app, which launched in March 2011, then the Top Girl app in May 2011. It followed with its Social Girl app in the fall 2011. Top Stylist debuted in August 2012.
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