Next generation toys-to-life game developed in Cambridge has shattered its Kickstarter target of $200,000

PUBLISHED: 11:27 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:30 04 November 2016

PlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge from left Benny Peczek, Chris Long and Nick Cooper, producer on Lightseekers. Picture: Keith Heppell

PlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge from left Benny Peczek, Chris Long and Nick Cooper, producer on Lightseekers. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

It could be the next worldwide gaming phenomenon – and it’s being developed in Cambridge.

PlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith HeppellPlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lightseekers, a next-generation toys-to-life gaming ‘ecosystem’, will hit the market in January.

It’s the last day of the Kickstarter campaign and developers PlayFusion have raised a staggering $224,000.

So what is Lightseekers?

It’s a gaming app, but it’s also smart toys, cards, comics and, in the fullness of time, could be seen on TV.

PlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith HeppellPlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

The game is developed by PlayFusion. Many of the team, including CEO Mark Gerhard, joined the company from market leaders Jagex, of RuneScape success, and they have plans that will see Lightseekers develop after launch through 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Nick Cooper, senior producer at PlayFusion, was one of the first to join the team. It’s rapidly expanded from a team of five to just under 50.

He said: “I spent quite a lot of time building IKEA desks in the first six months. We just had a stack of desks and every time someone new came the first task was to build your desk. We’re better at building games than we are at building desks.

“We’re a next-generation, toys-to-life product with a graduation from stuff like Skylanders. If you liked Skylanders then come in and you’ll find an awful lot of extra things to do.

PlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith HeppellPlayFusion, The Vitrum Building, Cowley Rd, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We’re also just a free, non- monetised RPG (role-playing game), which is unique on the App Store to the level of quality we’re dealing with; we won’t have in-app purchases. There’s no barrier to entry, it’s completely free. Come in and experience the adventure and hopefully people will want to dig in further.

“I don’t like using the word ‘ecosystem’, but it’s the only word that makes sense. The whole thing is designed, whether it’s comics, TV, game, toys or cards to function together, but also to be standalone. So the comic book is still a comic book, but at the same time where our augmented reality logo appears you know that you can pick up the app, look at it, and the panel in the comic book will come to life, or be a mini-game and you can play that and unlock some stuff in the app.

“The toys are groundbreaking in and of themselves. There’s various bits that aren’t groundbreaking, but it’s the integration of all of the elements and the link back to the rest of the ecosystem and effecting change in the game.”

The game will launch as a single-player RPG for iOS and Android, with online elements that allow players to see other players from around the world. The toys will follow in spring, and it’s here, using PlayFusion’s ‘Fusion Core’, that the innovation comes into play.

Nick said: “The toys-to-life space has some really big players in there but hasn’t really progressed beyond single figures. We saw this gap where we could come in and innovate. That was the initial idea.”

The toys will be made by Tomy. They’re fully articulated and packed full of LEDs and other gadgets that let players use the toy with the app. The breakthrough FusionCore is something that could be used for toys of big-name franchises, but PlayFusion had so much interest that it created its own world for its gaming ecosystem.

Nick said: “Launching a new IP is a really big deal, and the Kickstarter allows us to gauge how we’re doing in terms of seeing if it’s something people will put their hand in their pocket and support.

“Everybody here wants to build something that goes beyond – that isn’t simple. We don’t like simple. We always want to be challenging.”

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