How SuperMighty helps game studios make money (hint: charity) - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 11, 2014 8:29 am

How SuperMighty helps game studios make money (hint: charity)

Ty Burrowbridge and Gavin Potts shut down the digital agency they founded to start a new venture built around a clever idea: tying in-game purchases to charitable donations.
Inside SuperMighty’s Old City office.

Inside SuperMighty's Old City office.

(Photo courtesy of SuperMighty)

Game developers have a hard time monetizing their games.

Take, for example, the fact that about .15 percent of mobile gamers contribute to 50 percent of all the in-game purchases in free games. For game studios to make money, they have to turn players into purchasers, said one analytics professional.

SuperMighty is tackling that problem with charity.

The new Old City company ties in-game purchases to charitable donations. Buy this $5.99 item and you’ll also buy 252 gallons of water for someone in a developing country, the sell goes.

The hope is that the charitable connection gives players an incentive to make their first purchase.

The company’s first trial, with a game developed by a studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, resulted in a more than 200 percent increase in sales, according to SuperMighty. The company partnered with charity: water to make the donations. SuperMighty takes a transaction fee (which they declined to disclose) on each sale of the charitable item, and game developers choose how much of the proceeds will go to the charity (the minimum is 25 percent but so far the developers have chosen to donate 100 percent, said cofounder Ty Burrowbridge).

SuperMighty was founded by Burrowbridge, 32, and Gavin Potts, 29, who founded digital agency Faculty Creative, and Sean Legnini, 25, who leads the company’s social good efforts. Burrowbridge and Potts shut down Faculty Creative earlier this year after an “existential moment” when they decided against taking a big contract.

We knew at that moment we had a chance to become the agency we never wanted to be,” Burrowbridge wrote in an email. “So we walked. We left a pile of money on the table.”

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SuperMighty, which is headquartered in the same building as Rick Nucci’s startup Guru (32 Strawberry St.), is now working with local game companies, including Ghost Crab Games. They’ve also sponsored a game jam at Philly Dev Night.

One of the next moves is to build out the board for “The Mighty Foundation,” the nonprofit arm of the company that will distribute money to charities, Burrowbridge said. Right now, SuperMighty is running The Mighty Foundation.

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