Chrome Valley Customs to go global as Space Ape targets games for under-served players


Space Ape puzzler Chrome Valley Customs will go global in the coming months, marking a new direction for Space Ape, boss Simon Hade has told us.

The casual puzzler has been in soft launch since March, and this week Supercell-backed Space Ape opened up pre-reg on Google Play. Global launch is coming in the next few months, we’re told.

Chrome Valley Customs is the first of a new slate of games being developed at the London studio, says Hade, which includes Beatstar spin-off Country Star, also currently in soft launch.

Having started out making Clash of Clans-like games (Samurai Siege, Rival Kingdoms, Transformers: Earth Wars), the firm then spent years deep in R&D mode, eventually scoring a hit with Beatstar.

Chrome Valley Customs could be pithily described as ‘Project Makeover for men”.

Now the company is focused on creating games for audiences it believes are under-served. Chrome Valley Customs is launching on the premise that relatively few developers are making puzzlers specifically for men between 20-45.

“There are hundreds of millions of people playing puzzle games but the vast majority of games in the space are overtly targeted at 40-60 year-old women,” Hade tells us. “You have a whole bunch of men in that age group playing these games in spite of the fact that the branding and the marketing and the theme is just not speaking to them. It’s a massively under-served market, in our view.”

Chrome Valley Customs has come together quickly – under two years. “The reason we’ve been able to move so fast is the team,” explains Hade. “Of the 23 games we’ve killed, three of them were in the casual puzzle space, from what is basically the Chrome Valley Customs team.”

Space Ape has had a team building casual puzzle games for years, but Chrome Valley Customs will be the first to go global.

“When games get killed there’s this natural tendency to move on to something new, but as we found with Beatstar, you can find success in encouraging and allowing the team to re-roll – this team’s on their fourth roll of the dice which means they’ve developed this rapport, chemistry and tech toolset.”

Space Ape has also hired experienced folks from King, Playrix and Peak to work on the title. And while it’s tempting to think a match-puzzler that targets male car fans would have a grimier, more stereotypically ‘macho’ look, that’s not the case.

“They’re playing for escapism, they don’t play for realism,” says Hade. “I think there’s a common misconception that men are only playing Call of Duty, The Witcher and PUBG. They’re also on the couch watching Netflix and that’s when the casual gaming happens. You can see that with Clash of Clans, which has a huge male audience – brighter is better, blue skies…people like playing games for escapism.”

Space Ape has bolstered its core casual puzzle team with hires from category specialists King, Playrix and Peak.

There’s been plenty of talk in the business around how hard it is to launch a new game right now – Playtika even said a few months back it’s not releasing any new games until the marketing landscape becomes a little clearer. Chrome Valley Customs is, in a way, a product of that environment, says Hade.

“When you get into mobile gaming, you’re either going to make something that appeals to everyone, or something that appeals to a very, very targeted group with UA,” he adds.

“Our approach to this has been to find an under-served segment that you don’t need to work really hard to target – it’s not hard to find car fans in the US, right?”

“We’re finding a product angle where the product markets itself. That’s kind of our reaction to IDFA.”

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