There's a stampede going on. Publishers of virtual worlds are moving on to better things, or they're perishing. Usually, that means they're pivoting into the hot markets of social and mobile games.
That explains the announcement by virtual world maker Hip Venture that it will shift its focus to making social and mobile games. Previously, Hip Venture planned on creating a virtual world for tweens (older kids who are just shy of their teen years) with a Latino perspective. Now the company is repositioning its HipChicas.com virtual world so it can pursue the bigger market of social and mobile games.
The New York-based company is adding new titles, new technology and key advisors to execute on its new strategy and will continue to focus on the US Hispanic, Latin American and Spanish markets. It plans to publish games on social networks such as Facebook, Orkut and Hi5 or mobile platforms such as the iPhone, iPad, and Droid. Its first game, HipChicas, will debut in the first quarter of 2011 and will be followed up with games based on popular Latino toy and book brands such as Homies, Mijoes, Hacienda, Bodeguita, and Hospital.
Hip Venture is betting that a growing US Latino population will become as hopelessly addicted to Facebook and other social networks as everyone else. Although Latinos are a huge part of the population, the content available in social games today doesn't really cater to them.
The repositioning has been about a year in the making. The company has worked on the social and mobile aspects of its games, developed payment and technology platforms, and formed partnerships in the US and Latin America. It has also expanded its advisory board to include lawyer and investor Kenneth Lamb, who advised Playfish on its $400 million sale to Electronic Arts, and Javier Saralegui, former president of Univision. Hip Venture is looking for a round of funding. The company was founded in 2007 and has four employees.
Potential rivals include Three Melons, an Argentinian firm that was acquired by Playdom; Atakama Labs; and Brazilian game firms Mentez and Vostu.
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