[follow id = “kttrom”]
When industrial engineering senior Chad Kihm pulls out his phone to play the mobile application Game of War, it’s not all fun and games.
Kihm gathers tips and strategies from his own experiences with the game to write blogs and create videos, helping gamers who are new to or very invested in Game of War learn how to play more effectively.
Kihm pitched this idea at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Elevator Pitch competition last month and won $1,000. He advanced to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) National Elevator Pitch Competition in Orlando, Florida, where he made it to the top 12.
His main challenge was to convey how valuable his website, GameofWarRealTips.com, could be to an audience unfamiliar with the market of mobile games and game education.
“The gaming industry as a whole is worth $20 billion and all of the companies that are out there that write tips for console and online games have not reached into mobile games yet,” Kihm said. “It doesn’t make sense because these mobile games make $500,000-1 million a day.”
Many judges and audience members at the competition did not play video games. Kihm’s strategy was to open up with numbers instead of a potentially confusing description of his idea.
That’s where Chelsea Brown, programs, events and media coordinator of the CIE, stepped in to help Kihm. Before working with Kihm on his pitch, Brown wasn’t knowledgeable about the gaming industry as a whole.
“We worked together to implement feedback that other people had given us on understanding the gaming industry, because that is one of the hardest things to understand if you are a non-gamer,” Brown said.
Using Brown’s point of view as a newcomer to the industry and Kihm’s experience with the gaming community, the two worked on a pitch that would capture the attention of business-minded people who may not have realized how much of a market it could attract.
“It took me a while to understand how big the industry is and how tight-knit the groups are,” Brown said. “I was the person who helped with layman’s terms to explain the industry to the non-techy gamer.”
Kihm’s website generates approximately 3,000 views per day, which translates into an estimated potential revenue model worth $10,000 per month, he said.
Kihm also realized he had to validate the whole model for learning about video games. Otherwise the judges might not realize people are willing to pay for both the game and the strategies to get better at the game. To do this, Kihm mentions Twitch, a platform that allows amateur gamers to learn from professional gamers, just sold to Amazon for $1 billion.
Most of the content on Kihm’s website is free for now, but Kihm is thinking about adding a subscription fee later on. He is also working with the developer of the game, Machine Zone, to be able to sell in-game currency through his site.
Graduate student Zoheb Mohammed is helping Kihm reach out to big names in the gaming industry to receive their advice and hopefully pursue revenue streams within their companies.
“It is such a new concept, people have only just recently been getting into mobile games,” Mohammed said. “There is so much potential for bloggers writing about strategy in this realm of gaming rather than just computer or console game.”
Mohammed said it is much easier to get a foot in the door at these big-name companies when mentioning Cal Poly because of its professional reputation.
The website’s look has changed from a free WordPress website template to a professional setup. That change alone increased the number of people who viewed the site, even though the content was all of the same things, with more media instead of just text-based articles.
“The gaming community is a really helpful group of people who are willing to do things for free to help each other out,” Kihm said.
Kihm also has had users of the website offer to write content for the blog posts and create videos for the site. Kihm wants to expand this concept to work with other mobile games.
“Right now, I am figuring out a model that works where people are attracted to my site,” Kihm said. “I am understanding how to teach them and how they want to learn and have a community.”
Within the next year, Kihm would like to be running three such websites for more mobile games. But first he has to solidify the necessary business model and processes.
“I realized that although I like industrial engineering, I can’t do it every day, but I really like the idea of building a company,” Kihm said.
Not only was Kihm’s concept for his mobile game website nurtured by CIE, but his passion for entrepreneurship was as well.
“I really appreciate the entrepreneurs in SLO and in the Hot House,” Kihm said. “I feel like I would not be as successful without these people and mentors. I think this center and its resources are underutilized because we don’t have enough man power to market it, but once people realize the value of what we have here, they get attached.”