After securing funding last year on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Accentuate is marking its year’s success with a new social media campaign for fans to win Argos gift vouchers. Jade Burke catches up with Accentuate co-creator, Graeme Fraser-Bell.
How has this past year been for Accentuate?
We launched in July 2014, and one year on from that in July 2015 we were on Dragons’ Den. 3.2 million people were watching us on Sunday 19th July 2015, and in doing that, whether you’re successful at securing funding or not, you have still got that coverage.
But I think getting Peter Jones on board and getting him to invest as a serial games investor really catapulted us in terms of awareness, and with that I think it helped us get to the number three card game position at John Lewis. John Lewis was our first real customer; they put us across about 15 of their stores in 2014.
I think all of that helped us secure the licensing deal that we have got with PlayMonster in the US and Canada, and no doubt it played its part in securing us the position in the Argos catalogue. It’s been a great ride and we certainly have no regrets about any of it.
It’s been a year since you guys first appeared on Dragons’ Den with Accentuate. How will you be celebrating?
We’ve launched a social media competition asking people to like our Facebook page and say who they think is their favourite Dragon and why, with the chance to win a £50 Argos gift card
I think also if we could just get the business we’ll be expecting at the end of the year, we’ll have a glass of wine today and then we will have a glass of champagne in January 2017 when we can pay Peter Jones back his £45,000. So that’s the big celebration: one year on let’s celebrate the business, but let’s celebrate the progress of the business, by paying him back his money and proving that we have got a sustainable game.
You previously revealed that the game is heading to the US thanks to a PlayMonster licensing deal. What are your thoughts on this?
We have very strong partners behind us in the States: Richard McGill of McGill Associates is our agent – he was responsible for the international success of Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit – and he brokered the deal with PlayMonster, which is one of the fastest growing games companies in the US and Canada.
This puts us in a good position, so we’re excited about the potential. The game needs to be optimised for the US and Canadian markets, it can’t be used as it is, but that’s part of the excitement. You can never just say that the population is five times five; therefore the games’ market is five times five, that’s a very generic argument. You can never say that what fits in the UK is going to fit in the States.
You launched an app for the game last year, how successful has that been for you guys? Do you find that the online version is more popular than the physical version?
We launched the app in December 2015, and we had more than 12,000 downloads in less than a week, and that’s nearly as good as a whole year of sales as the boxed game in that year. At one stage, we were in the number two spot, just behind Heads Up.
However, apps need to move with the times, so that’s what we’re working on now – new ways of keeping the app fresh and up to date so that it continues to appeal to a growing audience.
Can you tell me a bit more about the upcoming collaboration with Levi Roots? What can fans expect to see?
We’re planning some Accentuate parties towards the end of the year, and the idea of this is to have about 50 national Accentuate parties with between eight and 10 people in collaboration with Levi Roots.
So we’ve got people playing Accentuate in a party atmosphere, hopefully taking some videos but also using some of Levi’s sauces with some food and perhaps some drinks from Jamaica. We’re just working on the fundamentals of that and we’re hoping to roll that out for November, which should be a lot of fun and hopefully will gain a lot of awareness.
Will you be exploring other new global territories with the game?
Absolutely, we’re working at the moment on a French and German version and really doing a lot of in-depth research into what those distinct, domestic German and French accents are, and unlike Brits, what are the international accents that German people recognise and can perhaps mimic and likewise with French people.
We also need to ensure that we use quotes from movies that are relevant to French and German audiences – we can’t be flippant and assume that the same movie quotes will work for these new territories. Once the new editions are complete, we’ll move on to deciding who is the ideal partner to go with in those territories.
And on top of that, one area that we can kind of bolt on or as a sideways move would be a Junior Accentuate. We’re looking at potentially involving a child-friendly licensing partner to make the game even more appealing, so that we can tap into character accents for children to mimic. Our hope is to have that ready to unveil at London Toy Fair.
Do you think there’s potential to expand Accentuate with more spin-off games? For example you launched a film expansion pack last year.
Yes I think there is. We looked into song lyrics but the royalties are fairly hefty so we are looking at other opportunities, and keeping our focus for 2017 on our expansion into new global territories with different language editions, and the possible Junior Accentuate.
What’s next for you guys?
We expect by the end of this year that there should be about 45,000 Accentuate games in circulation, so that’s nearly twice as many games as Peter Jones’ own business game, making it the most successful game investment for Peter Jones.
We have also got a prominent position in the new Argos catalogue next to Monopoly with an excusive bundle, so we’re absolutely delighted about that.
We want to keep on doubling each year, so we really need to ensure our success in the US and Canada, and we need to create a foothold in Germany next year, and then breaking into the junior market. It will be great in ten years time for Accentuate to be one of those legacy games that people just keep on buying, like they buy Monopoly and Pictionary every year.