How to turn an AR game into a marketing tool: the story of Wind of Luck
The idea for a startup by Belarusian entrepreneur Vyacheslav Malnach was prompted by the success of AR games and observations about the inefficiency of advertising. Together with his wife Yana, he creates the application Wind of Luck , in which the user can use a metal detector to find prizes and bonuses from real companies and use them. It was conceived not only as a game, but as a marketing tool for business. Here is his story.
Vyacheslav: The inefficiency of advertising is a problem that I often thought about while working in different companies. The intrusiveness of advertising, the lack of response from people, and just plain competition – I noticed that many companies are unhappy with what their marketing budgets are spent on. This prompted me to create an AR game with real prizes and bonuses from companies that dream of a new effective advertising tool.
Yana: I supported this idea because I encountered it myself. For example, when I was engaged in retail in a large company. And if a brand has been on the market for many years and has already covered the main audience, then it is extremely difficult to attract a new one.
Vyacheslav: Many games with augmented reality technology are becoming industry leaders, but they only allow you to fight aliens or protect your kingdoms from the enemy. And we will solve business problems.
Take Pokemon Go as an example. The augmented reality location-based multiplayer role-playing mobile game was very popular in 2016. It has been downloaded by more than 100 million people around the world, and the company’s total earnings from the game over 5 years have exceeded $5 billion. Looking at the numbers, we decided that it would be interesting to start in this area.
Another reason for creating Wind of Luck is my love for games. I wanted to create a game that can be useful in real life, unite the real and virtual worlds. And it will be possible to calmly “donate” into it – knowing that in addition to pleasure, you also get material value.
Vyacheslav: With the help of the Wind of Luck application, we want to bring customers to business in a game format. Using the built-in virtual objects (for example, a metal detector or a slingshot), the user gets “treasures” from our partners while walking around the city, shopping center or home. You can play for two minutes and find a nice gift – a 20% discount on perfume, free tea in the establishment. Pokemon GO has similar mechanics, only in our case the prizes are real.
Yana: In other words, Wind of Luck is a tool for gamification in marketing. We have created a business platform for advertising. We are counting on the interest of brands and large chains, as well as small and medium-sized businesses – entertainment, services, and so on.
We assume that our users, regardless of the standard of living, like to buy or relax with profit. They do not always have time to monitor discounts and promotions, and Wind of Luck makes it possible to find bonuses in a playful way that a person might not even think about. By the way, with the help of the built-in “flea market”, the user can exchange with other players for a promotion or discount that is more interesting to him, or simply give it as a gift.
We do not see direct competitors, but we consider mobile games, as well as coupon sites and applications (accumulating discounts) as indirect ones. Here’s what we’re competing against:
- usefulness in the real world;
- you can play on the go (moving somewhere, waiting for transport, in line);
- surprise effect – you never know what you will find.
Yana: The implementation started in November 2019. The first and not the easiest stages – writing technical specifications, thinking through every detail, sleeping for three hours … We combined the startup with the main work during the year. But they could not cope and realized that nothing good would come of it at such a pace. I had to quit my job.
First of all, we needed specialists who knew the cross-platform development environment for mobile games Unity and AR. We were lucky, we solved this issue with the help of the Belarusian outsourcing company StarCoStudio LLC. Eight specialists from their team worked on our project. We do not have our own developers. By the way, there are few such companies on the market now, because they mainly deal with their own software and do not outsource projects.
Vyacheslav: It took three whole months to calibrate the built-in virtual metal detector so that it accurately simulates the search with a real device. We thought over all the details, even the smallest ones, in the design ourselves, tried to make them not cartoony, but realistic, and also added sounds: birds sing during the search.
They invested their own money. Now the project has about $60,000. The launch was planned in February 2021, but it turned out only in June. Now the prototype is ready and available for download in the App Store and Google Play.
Yana: So far, we are conducting pilots with the first partners free of charge. In the future, partners will pay for activated promotional offers. If a user finds a discount and buys a product using it, then the partner pays 10% of the discounted price – about $2.8 (the average check for existing partners is $28.5). The amount of the commission will vary depending on the size of the business and the value of the offer.
According to our calculations, one user can find 6-7 coupons by playing thirty minutes a day.
Upon reaching more than 20,000 users and more than 50 partners, we plan to reach a profit of more than $ 100,000 per month.
It is important that there will be no ads in the application – it only annoys users. For the time being, we will earn only on the commission of partners. In the future, we will implement the Free to Play model. Users will be able to donate, for example, to improve the metal detector and shooting equipment, the quality and quantity of finds.
Vyacheslav: In three months, we managed to conclude contracts with 10 Belarusian companies: Pinkerton (detective quest bureau), Prosvet optician chain (16 optician), Optics from Europe optician chain, Parus5 yacht club, Prime online school , COLT active recreation park, Parfum&cosmetic, MAVI cafe, Quest box and Say Wow beauty salon.
All the companies we contact easily agree to cooperate with us, because the experiment costs nothing for them. True, it is difficult to get to the decision makers (decision makers) of large companies. For example, we wanted to contact the marketer of a large fast food brand, but could not do it online. Therefore, I had to find his photo on the Internet and go in search of the company’s office. We succeeded 🙂
Now we are focused on attracting large brands and we are negotiating with some of them.
Vyacheslav: We have over 400 downloads, but only 210 registered users, since not all mobile devices support augmented reality games. We have not invested in marketing yet. We plan to collect traffic through advertising in the channels of our partners.
There are four people in our team. In addition to Yana and me, there is art director Alina Avramenko, who deals with UI and UX design and SMM, and Raimondas Petrauskas, who is responsible for preparing the entry to the European market. We are looking for a service station team – we are ready to discuss any conditions.
Yana: For us now Belarus is a launching pad, an opportunity for testing hypotheses, since we know the country’s market quite well and are geographically located in it. We want to move to the CIS, Europe, and then to the USA and other countries.
At the MVP stage, it is very difficult to find investments, and this money would be too “expensive”. At the moment, we have a working application and expect to attract investments in the amount of $250,000, which will be used to expand and test the product in the CIS and EU markets, automate the administrative part to minimize manual work and create a personal account for partners. After all, we don’t have employees yet – we all do it ourselves. But this is temporary and normal for startups. We believe in our idea and we are sure that soon our team will start to grow along with the number of downloads.