Massively multiplayer online games and Wii Sports are so last season, it seems. Uplause is a new Finnish gaming startup with quite an interesting a concept -- “Crowd Games” or Massively Multiplayer Crowd Playing Game (MMCPG) as the firm calls them. Uplause’s crowd games are developed for large events, where the audience can collectively participate in playing the interactive mini-games, real time, on location. See a quick overview of the concept in the video below.
The main principle of Uplause's game concept is that everyone can play. The joystick for the game is the audience’s hands and voice – claps and cheers. Different accessories like towels and thundersticks are possible as well. One game for example requires the audience to clap all at specific times in order to hit the rhythm of the song "We will rock you", in the spirit of the popular music console games.
The games are played during idle moements at events. Uplause’s vision is that by participating together in game missions the crowd can remarkably enhance the atmosphere of the event. Clear, structured games with scoring and prizes encourage the crowd to participate. Prizes can range from random limited sweepstakes to rewarding the whole audience through SMS based sponsor offers, for example.
Video introduction of Uplause’s concept:
Uplause’s target customers are event organizers, and the business model is based on licensing. Uplause’s team will handle all aspects related to producing the game experience at the events. The concept is adaptable to practically any event that involves a big screen and a crowd, from indoor to outdoor events.
The firm also believes these kinds of interactive Crowd Games in large events create an interesting channel for sponsors and event partners to reach the target audiences in a new and unique way. For this reason Uplause has an in-game ad system, and the event organizers can get additional revenues by selling product placement in the games to their partners and sponsors.
Uplause's CEO Veli-Pekka Marin commented to ArcticStartup that they are very pleased with pilots of the concept last autumn and early winter during the Euro Hockey Tour Karjala Cup and FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup event in Levi, Finland. According to Marin, the pilot audiences found the games fun, and the event organizers as well as the brands sponsoring the events were likewise pleased with the results, and willing to continue cooperation. The company now has a product which it can start selling internationally. Uplause has already registered their trademark and logo in the EU and the US, and is looking into further protection of their concept.
I witnessed the first public pilot last November at the ice hockey match between Finland–Russia at the Euro Hockey Tour, and Uplause’s minigames did indeed bring a whole new element to the match. According to a study Uplause commissioned, the vast majority of the audience felt that the crowd overall did actively participate in the games, which in turn enhanced the overall event atmosphere - which is for many the key decision factor in coming to the event in the first place. It is easy to see many other applications of the concept being possible in the form of new games, environments, and new ways to participate and interact.
Uplause's founders include former Nokia gaming unit members. Uplause has been funded by the founders, Tekes, Nordic Game Program, and Finnish Institution for Innovation, but the firm is currently in the middle of an angel investor round. We will most likely hear from Uplause soon again, as the firm will begin internationalization this spring.