Cartoon Network is meeting an increased demand for kids gaming content, while engaging the global stuck-at-home audience by launching the new GameBox app.
Available for free on the App Store and Google play across all EMEA markets, the new hub features puzzle, racing, sports and action adventure games from a number of its popular shows, including Ben 10, The Amazing World of Gumball, Apple and Onion and Teen Titans. After developing the platfor with UK-based game developers Goodboy Digital and Jollywise, the company soft-launched the app in Turkey to work out the bugs. It has resonated with fans who like having another way to interact with the properties, says Marc Goodchild, Turner’s head of digital content strategy and product for Turner EMEA.
The app has been in the works for the last six months, and when COVID-19 struck the industry the team had to decide between holding its launch until things settled down, or releasing it now. Cartoon Network ultimately decided to launch it now, reaching the kids who are increasingly turning to mobile gaming to help pass the time on lockdown, says Goodchild.
The kidsnet has been building out its gaming efforts over the last year, and launched the Cartoon Network Arcade app last March, which integrates linear TV with digital experiences, letting users unlock and collect playable characters based on what they’ve seeing on screen. It’s also investing in wearable tech, with plans to create VR and AR experiences based on its shows. However, GameBox marks the first time CN has aggregated many of its popular games together.
To give kids that control when gaming, they can also download the games onto their device to play offline. The titles are also all short “snackable” games, to cater to kids shorter attention spans, and who want to be able to switch what they’re playing after five or ten minutes, says Goodchild.
Tapping into those consumption habits is how the kidsnet plans to reach its target audience, but to appeal to parents, the app doesn’t include any in-app purchases, he adds.
“We wanted to make this a frictionless gaming experience where kids wouldn’t have to worry about where or when they could play,” says Goodchild. “Plus, parents are skeptical about in-app purchases, and we knew the best way to reach the broadest possible audience was to make it free.”
Cartoon Network’s goal with this app is to grow its gaming offerings, and drive viewers back to linear, says Goodchild. Kids TV viewing across EMEA increased significantly in many EMEA markets in the last month, including in France, Italy and Spain where kids viewing was up more than 50%, according to Cartoon Network, and it’s looking to continue to grow its reach, but importantly retain that audience longer term, says Goodchild.
To do this, the kidsnet will update the app with a new game every month. In the coming months, when the app launches in new territories, the new games launching in each market will be specifically aligned with the linear content the network wants to promote in that region, he adds.
Cartoon Network’s global presence made building the app a bit of a challenge, especially because all of the content needed to be available in 18 languages, says Goodchild. Plus, each new games needs to coordinate with the TV content calendar in every region as it begins rolling out in more territories, he says.
“This is to build an interest in our brands through mobile, and then turn them into fans of our content on other platforms,” says Goodchild.