With more than two decades in the kids gaming space, Brit-based digital studio Splinter has made a name for itself by producing high-quality interactive Flash games for clients that include the BBC, Sony and the British Museum.
In the leadup to 2009, the Liverpool-based studio became more ambitious with its game products, developing an in-house production pipeline and skillset encompassing content development, storyboarding, concept art, illustration and scriptwriting, says head of digital Jon Raffe. The shift came as kids began moving away from immersive online games in favor of short-form animated content.
That investment paid off in 2011 when Splinter inked its first deal with BBC Bitesize–the Beeb’s free online study support resource for school-aged children in the UK–for a kids game called Max and Molly, which featured more character animation than Splinter’s previous titles.
The relationship grew, and the studio has now produced more than 100 animations for the brand over the last three years. These include a series of animated shorts about the Ancient Mayans; 36 animations for BBC Wales, teaching Welsh as a second language to children; and an in-development series of animations aimed at four- to seven-year-olds about a group of friends who learn about geography with their globe-trotting uncle.
The studio also developed The Best Book in the World, an interactive story for the CBeebies Storytime app, featuring classic literary characters like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The story, which launched in March on World Book Day (UK), is illustrated in-house by Claire McCann and voiced by iconic UK actor Brian Blessed (Peppa Pig).
While it’s also still making games (one based on CBeebies’ hit preschool show Hey Duggee debuted in May), Splinter has expanded into original content as an alternative revenue stream.
The studio is currently developing a musical animated series that teaches preschoolers about colors and where to find them in the world, as well as a show featuring young campers who teach language to a group of monsters.
So far, Splinter has had discussions with Nickelodeon and Universal Kids in the US and is open to conversations with other potential international partners. It’s also undertaking some augmented reality R&D and is in the process of pitching a kids concept to the BBC’s experimental media arm, BBC Taster.
“The challenge is resourcing and finding a model where we can free up the time. But from a business perspective, we want to safeguard ourselves against the peaks and valleys of commissioned work,” says Raffe. “For every five animations we do for the BBC, we’re trying to make an extra one for ourselves, which we can then pitch to more commercial, entertainment-based clients.”