My first gaming experience was on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was a gift from my dad after I’d done well in my end-of-year exams in primary school. The first game cartridge I got was a 20-in-1. I spent hours on Battle City in 2P mode with my dad, but when he was at work and I got back from school, the game I played the most was Baseball. It was my first introduction to the sport, through tiny sprites dashing around a baseball field in my parents’ TV.
Fast forward close to 20 years later, Game Ventures releases Homerun Heroes. Its arcade-style baseball gameplay reminded me of NES Baseball, but that’s where their similarities end.
Inside Social Games describes the gameplay in Homerun Heroes.
Rather than play full games, the title has them meet specific requirements to win, such as scoring a certain number of runs without striking out more than an allotted amount. Gameplay unfolds from a viewpoint over the batter’s shoulder, with a clearly defined strike zone and an indicator of where players are aiming their swing with the mouse. Swing types can be switched between center (easiest), left or right field (harder), and power (most difficult to connect). The pitcher throws automatically and players can see where the ball is heading inside or outside of the strike zone a moment before they must swing.
If players are able to hit the ball, they’ll take their base automatically and the computer-controlled fielders will do their best to get them out. Players only control their team when they’re at bat; there’s no fielding gameplay. Players can’t steal bases, but can tell their runners to go home if they think they can make it, but there’s a risk of being tagged out.
It’s still early days for the game – AppData says Homerun Heroes has 5,000 MAU and 300 DAU. In comparison, Game Ventures’ first game, Howzat Cricket, has 300,000 MAU and 70,000 DAU. There’s a lot more that can be done to iron out kinks in game mechanics and enhance the overall gaming experience, but this is a promising start. The modern day youth has a way shorter attention span and is most likely found in front of his computer instead of the TV. It’s no surprise to see baseball games evolve from its console and PC-based versions like NES Baseball and EA/2K Sports MLB, to a Zynga-meets-EA-Sports flavored Homerun Heroes.
Neoteny Labs invested in Game Ventures earlier in 2010, before leading their most recent financing round. I will be joining the Game Ventures board as part of our investment. Zaki is an excellent CEO and together with his other co-founders Hamaad and Rahil, have built out a strong studio team that will put them in good stead to shoot for 5 more sports games on Facebook and at least 1 Android game in 2012.
I look forward to working a lot more closely with the Game Ventures team in the months ahead.