The city of London in Ontario, Canada, houses one of the app stores most prolific publishers. Big Blue Bubble is an award-winning studio with over 100 apps and growing, and the company has spent time working on mobile games since before the days of smartphones and high-res touch screens.
High Profile Beginnings
Founded in 2004 by industry veteran Damir Slogar, along with co-founders Claudette Critchley and Mark Maia, Big Blue Bubble immediately recognized the potential for casual games made in Java. Nokia, the world’s largest phone maker at the time, even used Big Blue Bubble’s very first game, Bubble Trouble, in marketing campaigns for the famous C3 and E72 phones.
That’s what you call a great start.
Word of the company’s talents spread and its next title, Captain Lunar, was used in a high profile launch title for the Sony Ericsson T610, and earned the company the trust of major licensors like Fox, THQ, Milton Bradley, and more.
Before Apple ever announced the iPhone, Slogar, Critchley, and Maia’s team had published almost two dozen games for mobile phones. The company showed flexibility before the App Store was launched with PC, Mac, and Flash games, and even worked out the Leapfrog version of SpongeBob SquarePants.
The Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii weren’t safe from Big Blue Bubble’s addicting casual games though, and the real explosion was yet to come.
From 2009 with the release of Hockey Allstar Shootout, Big Blue Bubble has continued to innovate in the mobile space, carrying their working relationships with major licensors into the exploding touchscreen gaming space.
Games like Creature of Havoc, Retro Pinball, Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and others continued to prove the company’s expertise. They continued to develop LEGO Ninjago titles, a Kung Fu Panda tie-in, and even a Muppet Show game.
2012 would see the release of the original franchise that has put Big Blue Bubble out in front of casual games with a deep mythos and spin-offs of its own — My Singing Monsters.
My Singing Success
Released in September 2012, the aim of My Singing Monsters is to buy and/or breed all of the Monsters in the game, develop the users’ own arrangement of monsters that sing and play instruments, and create a monster orchestra. A white, fuzzy, yeti-like, manic-eyed creature named Hank throws out bass notes while a jellyfish named Tahoe sings harmony, and a hairy pink blob with nothing but mouth and tongue hits the highs. Unique doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Users can develop their musical monster orchestras by earning coins, making them happy to produce more coins, feeding them with food to increase income, purchasing new islands, decorating with Decorations and ultimately making their own musical arrangements on every island of the Monster World.
While the game is ultimately free to play, it exemplifies Big Blue Bubble’s expertise in the freemium mobile gaming model. The game’s unique take on the “builder” genre with singing and instruments led to the game holding the number one spot on the App Store and Amazon.
At the time, Damir Slogar, CEO of Big Blue Bubble, teased the company’s continued plans for the franchise, “With even more content in the works, we look forward to continuing the great gaming experience users have with the game and expanding the brand in the future.” Since the original My Singing Monsters (which still maintains a top 10 position in the Music Game category, and top 1000 overall even 5 years after release) Big Blue Bubble has released My Mammott, My PomPom, Furcorn’s Jelly Dreams, and Jammer Splash as spinoffs featuring popular characters from the My Singing Monsters mythos.
In 2015, the company released My Singing Monsters: Dawn of Fire, a full-on prequel to My Singing Monsters. Monsters don’t have to be scary, and success can be based on brilliant and unique ideas.
The Secret Sauce
Big Blue Bubble develops its titles with a proprietary game development framework the team calls The Hydra Engine. Described as “an amalgamation of leading industry software and groundbreaking proprietary technologies,” the Hydra Engine allows Big Blue Bubble to support cross-platform development and easy deployment to iOS, Android, Symbian, and Mac.
Big Blue Bubble is very proud of Hydra Engine. Their website delves into greater detail than many publishers would about the story behind their proprietary technology. “At Big Blue Bubble, technology has always been about enabling both our people and our games to achieve their full potential,” it reads, “Over the years, we have engineered a complete framework for game development that exploits the strengths of industry standard software and overcomes its inherent limitations with proprietary tools and technologies.”
The Hydra Engine also allows the team to rapidly prototype titles faster and adapt to change quickly, which leads to the company’s high-performance 2D/3D/S3D graphics that render with smooth frame rates and high resolutions with minimal processing overhead, allowing the team to maximize the user experience on mobile devices.
In an interview in 2015, co-founder Damir Slogar showed his pride in the company’s growth and prospects, “When I look back at our successes, I couldn’t be prouder of everything we’ve accomplished. We’ve created games that are loved by audiences around the world and our objective is to grow this user base dramatically in the years to come.”
My Singing Monsters music isn’t just a gimmick. The care and hard work put in by the Big Blue Bubble team, and sound designer and musician Dave Kerr, in particular, is immediately evident.
“I’ve composed music and designed video games for 15 years,” said Kerr, who claims to have been a strolling minstrel before. “I take a minimalist approach to making games and enjoy the challenge of creating something beautiful out of the simplest of concepts.”
Creating something beautiful paid off, and Kristian Bush, the male half of country music duo Sugarland, heard Kerr’s work while his son was playing My Singing Monsters and Bush was hooked.
After a Tweet about it, Kerr contacted Bush and a collaboration was born.
Dear the Internet, this is now my favorite game. These monsters sing to me!!! How I love them. I am totally gonna wr… http://t.co/VIjAXQ6oY4
— Kristian Bush (@kristianbush) June 15, 2013
“I just liked the song,” Bush said. “You know how there was a point in Donkey Kong where the song didn’t quite annoy you yet? I was attracted to that, and to the funny, silly monsters that hit me in my Muppet sweet spot.”
In a little over a month, a testament to the Hydra Engine’s efficiency, a monster based on Bush was live in the game.
“Today, I am playing a game developed by someone far away, a game my son showed me six weeks ago, a game that features an animated monster who looks and sounds like me, singing and playing a mandolin… MIND. BLOWN,” said Bush in a blog post.
Most Popular Titles
With their expansive library of games, there’s a good chance you’ve played one of Big Blue Bubble’s games. Currently, their most popular games are:
With dozens of industry awards, Big Blue Bubble has definitely left its mark on mobile gaming. Most recently, they received the Global Game Stars award from GMIC and Best in Mobile Gaming at the Digi Awards. Big Blue Bubble was also a finalist for Best Game on the Go and Best Audio at the Canadian Video Game Awards.
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