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PocketGamer: Why PortalOne is merging mobile games, TV shows, celebrities and prizes

Press | 19 July, 2021

Read the full article on PocketGamer.

If it came down to a head-to-head competition for the eyeballs, it's clear that games would beat out TV. But does it have to be a competition?

PortalOne CEO Bård Anders Kasin, for one, is more of a lover than a fighter.

"We're building hybrid games," he explains of the startup's mash-up vision which has seen it raise an oversubscribed $15 million seed funding round.

"PortalOne is games plus TV shows plus prizes. This isn't about gamification. It's the opposite in fact. We're using games as our core experience and using TV as an accelerator."

It's an approach that's slowly becoming more viable as both game design and TV production become more flexible, and audiences become more accepting of new ways to play and be engaged.

Similar examples include Genvid and Facebook's recent Rival Peak interactive AI reality series, which like PortalOne spiced up always-on entertainment with a regular live TV show anchored by a professional host.

In the case of Rival Peak, it had a weekly live show helmed by celebrity Wil Wheaton. PortalOne's first incarnation - the mobile-focused PortalOne Arcade - goes faster with a daily in-app show at 9pm. This brings each day's activity to a climax through appointment TV that combines live competitions, special guests playing the same games, and the opportunity to win prizes, big and small.

"We're combining various retention loops together," Kasin explains of the strategy.

For example, there are the standard core loops for each of the games playable through the PortalOne Arcade app at any time. Then there are daily tournaments for each game, various tournaments that are only available during the TV show itself, and a longer season loop that runs over three to four months. All of these loops culminate in a season finale show, backed by the biggest prices and guests.

Although still in beta in Norway (soon to be in the US), Arcade One has already boasted guests such as Justin Bieber, and with Scooter Braun's TQ Ventures onboard as an investor, it seems getting celebrities to buy into the project won't be much of an issue. Of course, this is important because celebrities build branding and provide free viral marketing to their millions of followers.

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