Victory might be cause for some people to take a break and rest on their laurels for a while, but not the team at Jordan’s Bee Labs. After the success of their ShibShib War, which saw them get over half a million downloads in under a year, a partnership with Britain’s Palringo, and then a Apple award for Best New App, the motivation to come up with something even better was ripe.
Their latest creation, FaSolYa, where a bean (fasolya is a type of bean) goes on a musical journey, (hence the title) is different from previous Bee Labs’ games. Uniquely, the game relies on voice commands instead of touch: when the player applauds or screams, his character “FaSolYa”, jumps and dodges, moving around in the kitchen in order to enter different worlds and collect musical notes.
For the first time, according to Tamer Qarain, Bee Labs’ Creative Director, Apple’s App Store will have a hands-free game that works through Voice Control. However, Qarain realizes that this technology might have its share of negative reviews since some will not want to use their voice, especially when in public places. Therefore, Voice Control is integrated as an option that can be turned on by the player at anytime.
FaSolYa’s idea is the fruit of Qarain’s love for, and belief in music. “For me, music is a key element in any game,” he says. “There are many great games out there, but the weakness of their music factor causes them to lose 30 to 40% of the app’s worth.” GameFreak’s Nintendo DS Harmonite game was also a source of inspiration for him.
While ShibShib War targets an Arab audience in terms of concept, character, and language, FaSolYa targets an international audience. The language used is English and the story does not have anything to do with the Arab world. “The name is Arabic and there is an Arab element in one of the levels, but the idea is international,” says Qarain. As for age, Qarain believes that young children will enjoy the game more; however, adults can play too. “Practically, anybody can play the game. It’s made for everyone.”
Qarain believes that funding in the Arab world is one of the toughest challenges that faces Bee Labs. Arab companies are afraid to invest in an industry that they think is fragile. However, all this hurdle did was increase FaSolYa developers’ resoluteness.
And from there the co-founders Qarain, Zaidoun Karadsheh and Moaid Zidan, pitched FaSolYa to Mobile App Acceleration Camp, a project run by Microsoft to motivate and lead app developers, and help to obtain funding which is still in the pipeline.
In addition to the key funder, Bee Labs launched a crowdfunding campaign on Afkarmena. They support regional platforms in order to raise $22,500 USD to pay the staff, accelerate production, and produce animation.
Bee Labs also intends to monetize FaSolYa by adding locked levels to the free app that can only be unlocked upon payment.
Watch the campaign video here:
Gaming in the Arab World
Qarain describes the gaming industry in the Arab world as “Weak! However, there are many opportunities” since competition is still limited. When Arabs and Arab companies become bolder in terms of online payment and investment, the situation will improve.
As for Qarain’s advice for entrepreneurs in the gaming industry, it’s: “Be patient! Success doesn’t happen overnight. Some people want to catch whales from day one. What they don’t realize is that they should start with small fish.”
During its first year, Bee Labs managed to develop its releases and compete with other companies in the region, and now it is creating new technologies worldwide. The key to its success lies in the founders’ entrepreneurial spirit and passion to make their ambitions come true. When talking about their latest game Qarain says: “I believe that games are made to make people happier. And if I manage to make people laugh through music, I would have accomplished my goal.”
Interested in contributing to this project? Donate through the crowdfunding campaign here.