Secret Location launches Great Martian War app


Canada’s History Channel is about to be invaded by the Canadian original film The Great Martian War 1913-1917, but gamers can start defending the world online prior to the drama’s Dec. 5 premiere.

The Great Martian War app, developed and owned by Toronto interactive agency Secret Location in partnership with History Canada, History U.K., Impossible Pictures U.K. and eOne Entertainment Canada, is based on a War Of The Worlds-type scenario that re-imagines World War I as a man vs. martian concept.

According to Secret Location founder James Milward, the game itself is based on the stealth missions of one of the program’s central characters, a Canadian soldier named Gus Lafonde.

But what’s different about this app, financed in part by the Bell Fund and History Canada’s license fee, is the monetizing component of the game, Milward tells Playback.

In-game currency packs that range from $.99 to $49.99 are available to add levels of complexity and excitement to the game.

“It’s a free game to download, but we are charging for consumables within the game,” Milward explains. “As you proceed through it, the game increases in difficulty and you need those consumables [so you can work hard to get them or] it’s also easy to purchase that in-app currency, which makes the game more fun and easier to play.”

Although only one level is currently available for Apple platforms such as the iPhone, the iPad and the iTouch, with Android and Kindle Fire versions being rolled out in January, Milward says expansion will follow.

“We have plans to roll out many levels subsequently. We’re working in a very ‘agile’ process, so basically the idea is that you roll out the very first version as quickly as you can to an audience, and then you wait and look at who is responding and how they’re responding, and then you build on top of the game based on how the audience is actually playing the game. So we have plans for the further levels, but ultimately we’re going to be tweaking them and rolling them out as per the audience requirements.”

The initial reaction has been strong, says Milward.

“It’s in the very early days, but we’ve been seeing a ton of people using the app and also a ton of people using it for a very long amount of time. As far as the engagement numbers we’re looking for, obviously we haven’t done the broader push yet, but the results have been solid.”

Milward says the target include the “broad History Channel audience” as well as hardcore indie game fans that will discover it on their own. With the game being eventually released in the U.K. and the U.S. markets, he ballparks the number of potential consumers in the six-figure range.

‘Ultimately, we’d like to push beyond that,” he tells Playback.  “Just for context, we’ve seen six-figure downloads on our games before, so we’re not shooting for the stars there. At the same time, we want to be realistic and not over-promise, but I think the idea of the show audience is a good seed for it.”

The overall rollout will involve on-air and online promos with History Channel, “and then we’re doing a large press and indie game push as it rolls out globally,” says Milward.

“In the U.K., they’re doing on-air promo and online promo as well, and then there will be paid promotion through Facebook and some other gaming portals.”