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Fin tech: How Outright Games brought Baby Shark to life for console and PC

Known for its family-friendly video games based on licensed properties, Outright Games has recently partnered with Pinkfong, the publisher behind global phenomenon Baby Shark, for a new console game for preschoolers.

Baby Shark: Sing & Swim Party allows players to play as their favourite Baby Shark character in either runner or rhythm modes to win musical rewards, while exploring seven different locations and enjoying some ‘fin-omenal’ songs.

With Baby Shark Dance still the most-watched video of all time on YouTube and the Baby Shark universe expanding across TV, live entertainment, merchandise and more, LicensingSource.net asks Outright Games producer Guillermo Abajo Diaz about the creative process involved in bringing the smash-hit global property to life in the gaming space.

First off, what made Outright Games the right publisher for the first ever Baby Shark console game?

We’re the leading publisher of licensed video games aimed at the children’s market. When we formed in 2016, we recognised that there was a huge gap in the market for high quality, officially licensed video games created for kids. As we’re the only game publisher that focuses exclusively on this market, this makes us a unique entity in this space.

Additionally, with all the games we work on being brands that children love, accessibility features are at the forefront of what we do in order to ensure all our games are playable across all age ranges, and even 3-4 year olds can enjoy them.

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Gaming is such a huge, and ever-growing, sector. How important is having a presence in the gaming space to kids’ brands?

The nature of working on pre-existing IPs is that we have an audience who are already invested in these franchises, and video games offer a unique way for fans to interact with them. When partnering with a licensor, such as Pinkfong for Baby Shark, we work in close collaboration with their brand teams to ensure we deeply understand the audience’s relationship with the world and characters that they love, and we use this knowledge to create a fun and authentic experience that fans will enjoy. Combined with our passion for and our knowledge of gaming, we’re able to help brands engage with and grow their audiences through interactive experiences that are fun for the whole family.

When you first partnered with Pinkfong, what were the first steps in thinking about the game development? What was the ultimate goal – a game that the whole family can play? Having an edutainment aspect of some sort?

At Outright Games our focus is to make sure our games are as authentic as possible, and with Baby Shark, this was no exception. Before development started, we had a lot of discussions with Pinkfong to make sure we were heading off on the right path and we agreed on the design direction.

With Baby Shark, we wanted kids to feel like they are playing along with official songs from YouTube while playing as their favourite characters, so a lot of effort was put into getting as close to the brand as possible and making it accessible for the whole family to play.

From the outset we were very aligned with Pinkfong on the genre of the game. Given that Baby Shark is a brand focused around music, a rhythm adventure game seemed the natural choice. Of course, our main limitation was the visuals. We needed to make sure the game looked as authentic as possible, and design-wise we had lots of freedom to try different things to find which would work best and be the most fun. An example of this was ‘Encore mode’, which increases the difficulty for children or adults who want an extra challenge.

Can you briefly explain the rhythm and runner genres to those who might not be familiar with them?

The rhythm-based levels set out to challenge and engage with a player’s sense of rhythm, by requiring them to follow on-screen commands and match the buttons in a musical sequence (think games such as Guitar Hero). Fans are challenged to stay on the beat during 30 different songs from the Baby Shark series.

The runner mode functions like a video game obstacle course, where players must avoid obstacles and collect stars and stickers until they reach the finish line. It provides a fun session of gameplay that allows fans to gather collectables, which makes for a fulfilling experience, especially for younger players.

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For any parents worried about very young children playing video games, can you explain the value your Baby Shark game offers those players?

We are aware this might be some children’s (or parents’) first ever video game and it’s with that in mind that we ensured the game has a gradually increasing difficulty curve, fully narrated menus and cutscenes as well as easy to learn game mechanics, with their own simple and easy to follow tutorials. This enables those new to video games to progress through the game and learn through repetition. Additionally, as the game levels only run the length of a Baby Shark song, they can be played in short sessions, so parents can monitor their children’s screen time while still allowing children the full fun-factor of playing a complete section of the game.

The game can also be played by up to four players on the same screen at once to allow families to play together to collect stars and rewards, meaning video game time is also family time.

Baby Shark is such a well-known brand. Was it difficult developing a game that would resonate in all markets and reflect the love kids and families have for the IP?

We had to do lots of research on what to include in the game, as the brand is so huge. We wanted to make sure everyone had their favourite song, costume or place to visit represented on screen. It was difficult to agree on which songs should be in the game; however, we’re happy with the selection we made and we believe everyone will find their favourite song while playing.

Now that the game is out there, what are you most proud of?

We’re really proud of the development team, Reco Technology, for producing such a fun title which is so easy to pick up and play, as well as our Outright Games team and partners that made it possible. We’re grateful to Pinkfong for all the work and love they put into this project and for being amazing to work with.

We’re also very happy with the feedback that everyone is sharing about the game. Making sure the game was fun for everyone, no matter their age or ability, was a hard task to accomplish, so seeing so many families enjoying it and having a great time is amazing.

Baby Shark: Sing & Swim Party is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and Steam.

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