Dutch outfit Yulu Games has just secured distribution with Re:creation for its code cracking title Safe Breaker. We talk with Thijmen de Schipper about the team's first year in the industry.
Can you tell us about Yulu, what inspired the move into games?
Yulu as a company is split into two; we have Yulu Toys and Yulu Games. Both were started just one year ago when we all graduated from University in the Netherlands.
We actually only started thinking about moving into games last year during a visit to Toy Fair. We saw a lot of companies making some amazing games, the likes of John Adams, Goliath, Hasbro and Spin Master were very inspirational.
We had a couple of themes for games of our own in mind, so we looked to see if there was already something like them in the games market. Luckily, no one had really done it to the extent we were looking at.
So can you tell us about the game Safe Breaker?
One of the ideas we had was getting kids to crack open or break a safe in order to pick up the treasure inside. We thought it would be very cool to actually get kids listening to the clues the safe gives out and then using their skills to open the safe.
At the time a lot of people said there wasn’t anything like this on the market, and certainly not a game where the kids had to physically crack the safe themselves.
So we decided to go for it. We invested in this item and nine months later, it was the finished article. It’s like our own baby.
What is the Yulu Toys mantra, what do you set out to create?
Like we said, within Yulu we have two categories: gaming and toys. Under the gaming name we have Safe Breaker and Dynamite Dare, both engaging kids with a story behind the game play and getting them to use cognitive skills to succeed in the task.
We also always try to make products which can be easily promoted with TV.
The key aspect to this is to have a story behind the gameplay. With Safe Breaker, the story is about cracking the code and retrieving the treasures within.
Secondly, the product has to be physically appealing and aesthetically pleasing. The third point is to have a nice commercial you can sell. Yulu always tries to have those three points down.
You had an interesting move into the toy industry after University, what’s that journey been like?
We knew we wanted to be successful in the toy industry and we thought the best way to achieve this was to move to Hong Kong. That way we could be close to the manufacturers and the developers in the market. So, that’s what we did.
We moved in October in 2014, and to be honest, it’s been a rough rollercoaster of a ride over that time.
Not least because in Hong Kong you work six days a week.
But when we look at where we have come in that time, it makes us very proud to have worked and invested so much time and really get the Yulu project off the ground.
What markets are you currently in?
Re:creation is distributing our two games in the UK, while we have IMC Toys distributing the lines in Spain and Portugal. We also have a big presence in France. In fact, France is going to be a huge, huge market for us.
What do you think of the current state of the toy industry, is it in a good place for creativity?
We are young in the industry, but what I see around I am always extremely impressed by the products a lot of the companies are bringing out.
I love the ones with engaging stories behind them and the connections they make with kids, this is very inspirational for us.
Would you ever move into more adult games, away from the family friendly stuff and into the realms of Cards Against Humanity?
I don’t think so. We just love to play games that are fast, and appealing for kids. That is what we will be focusing on in coming years; the target audience of four to 12 year olds.