Berlin is world-famous for its club and music scene. Today, Spotify launches in Germany, obviously choosing Berlin for its Germany HQ. With the music agglomeration cluster in place it is no surprise that gaming startup Basilbox, who aim to recreate club atmosphere in a social game, is also located in Germany’s vibrant capital.
Basilbox was founded by Philipp Budiman, Andreas Erker and Anton Kahr who studied together in Graz, Austria. When two of the three friends moved abroad, they discovered that Facebook and social games became their main communications tool. Back in Austria they teamed up and decided to build social games themselves.
Turntable.fm meets social gaming
“We started to find investors in Austria but realized that the best place to grow our business would be Berlin. We settled with two German investors and moved to Berlin three months later,” Basilbox‘ Managing Director Philipp Budiman tells us. The company‘s first game Clubbox is a mix of services like turntable.fm combined with elements of virtual worlds and gaming.
The game’s goal is to build a successful club in outer space: Players customize their own club in every detail, play their favorite music and present it to their friends – other guest may include non-friends and computer-animated aliens. Similar to music platforms such as Grooveshark and Soundcloud, users can create their own playlist, visit other clubs to find new tracks, share music with friends and suggest songs to others. A search function helps to find people with similar taste.
“Since we wanted to combine social gaming with a music platform, it immediately became clear that unlike other social games, players need to have access to all users and not only their friends and neighbors,” says Budiman. So apart from being a place to stream music, Clubbox is a also a virtual world, where people get to know each other, send short messages, rate music, dance (and drink) in different clubs.
Like most contemporary social games, Clubbox has a variety of currencies and resources. The main currency Coins can be used to buy items, style the avatar and expand the dance floor or the club and restock the bar.
Golden drinks are collected to unlock new drinks for their bar. Oxygen is needed for clubbing in other space clubs. Dancing, drinking and interacting with other users require party oxygen, which the player can regain by sitting down. Energy is used to perform special effects, drink boosts – and to protect the club from the central government police force.
Tribute to heroes
“We tried to integrate action adventure game mechanics from games we admire,” explains Budiman. “One example: After Link defeats an end boss in Zelda, a treasure chest opens up and Link receives a cool new weapon he is able to use from this time on. When a player unlocks a new alien species in Clubbox, the new character also brings a cool new feature. These features enable the player to use new game mechanics that were locked before. The best example is at level 3: Players unlock Ravia aliens and the DJ learns the ability to perform special effects like stroboscope, or fireworks.”
Free spirit and SOPA/PIPA protest
The premise of the game is that clubs are forbidden on earth so clubbing must be taken to outer space. Any resemblance to commotion around the SOPA and PIPA bills in the US, or copyright representatives like GEMA in Germany, are no coincidence.
“We strongly believe that music should be out there for everyone, the same way as social games are free to play. Since the rise of the Internet information and music became available for everyone. Implementing an artificial border is against the course of time. The social gaming industry also found ways to monetize,” Budiman tells us. He thinks that the music industry has to come up with new monetization models instead of erecting barriers. Especially in Germany, streaming services have a hard time. That’s why Clubbox has integrated only YouTube and doesn’t allow users to stream their own files. “As long as people upload music to YouTube, Clubbox won’t shut down. We do not need to make contracts with record labels directly,” he says.
As a statement to the recent shut down of music streaming service Grooveshark in Germany, Basilbox implemented the central government police force into Clubbox about a week ago. “The police visit your club to stop the party and shut down the music. Fortunately you can destroy them with your bouncer and protect your space club using energy.”