Kiwi app makers buzzing as downloads soar

CLAIRE ROGERS
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2013
Flightless creative director John O’Reilly, left and technical director Greg Harding with screenshots of their iPhone app Bee Leader.
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FLYING HIGH: Flightless creative director John O’Reilly, left and technical director Greg Harding with screenshots of their iPhone app Bee Leader. The app has been downloaded about 2 million times in the past week after Apple singled it out as its global app of the week. The company is based in Mt Maunganui.

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A Kiwi-made iPhone and iPad game has become a worldwide hit after Apple singled it out as its global app of the week.

Bee Leader, developed by Mt Maunganui-based design and independent games firm Flightless, has been downloaded about 2 million times since Anzac Day.

The game challenges players to collect nectar to make as much honey as possible, while battling bad weather and hostile insects.

Flightless creative director John O'Reilly said it was released about a year ago to critical acclaim, was named by Apple as one of the best games of 2012 and shortly after its release was No 1 on the New Zealand and Australian app charts.

But Apple's week-long plug - which ended Thursday - had given it global reach, O'Reilly said.

It was now the No 1 free game in 15 to 20 countries, had reached the No 3 for free games downloaded to the iPad worldwide and had been ranked the sixth most popular free game for iPhones.

"We're really stoked that a lot more people are getting to play our app - it's a passion for us," he said.

"The phone's been running pretty hot . . . we've had every ad network and every PR person for mobile app gaming sites contact us in the past week."

The 2-million odd downloads since April 25 were "significantly more than what we've had in the past year", he said.

While Bee Leader had previously cost $1.29 to download, the three-person company would probably keep the game free and continue to generate revenue from in-app ads, he said.

It was considering developing an Android version of Bee Leader, which can also be played on Mac computers.

Flightless has also developed an animal herding game for the iPhone - Top Dog, an iPad spelling app for children and a cocktail selection app.

It was in talks with a Hollywood reality TV star about linking their name and persona to the cocktail app, he said.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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