Two years after selling off his games business, entrepreneur Shane Yeend has re-entered the sector in order to capitalise on the success of publishing sensation Fifty Shades of Grey.
Yeend’s business, Imagination, is releasing Fifty Shades of Grey: Party Game, under licence from author E L James on December 14, 2012 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The game has the tag line “Reveal Your Inner Goddess” and is based on the best-selling Fifty Shades trilogy, which have collectively sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.
Following the limited pre-Christmas release it will be released worldwide for Valentine’s Day and involves all players listening to “vanilla-style” questions before secretly voting on which of the eight pre-determined friends they believe is best matched to the question.
The answers are then revealed for all to see and then any player who picks the same friend as the reader wins a token, the person with the most tokens win.
The advertising material from Imagination promises that the game is “romantic, liberating and totally fun” and claims the game will reveal how you see your friends and how your friends see you.
Yeend told SmartCompany the pre-orders for the game are “phenomenal” and he expects the Fifty Shades games will be a $20 million to $40 million business.
“We can’t print enough games to fulfil the demand, it’s equal to the hottest property we’ve ever dealt with,” he says.
Yeend says the game is aimed at the adult party market, where the majority of purchasers are 18 to 39-year-old females. He describes the game as “a perfect match” as long as the game play is right.
“It took me a couple of times to convince E L James to do it and now it is doing extremely well, it was a 20-day turnaround from idea to shelves in three countries,” he says.
Yeend says usually the development of a game takes 18 months, so the launch of the game represents a speedy and somewhat unexpected return to the games business for Imagination.
The Adelaide-based game maker sold two of its popular board game titles to a Canadian toy company for $24 million in 2010 and claimed at the time the sale was a result of Westpac reducing the company’s banking facilities so drastically that corporate activity practically stopped.
“We did a big transaction 24 months ago and sold off the majority of our games group, now all of a sudden I am back in games with three acquisitions on the go,” says Yeend.
He says he is unable to reveal the other two acquisitions which will be announced in February 2013.
“Diversifying out of the game business was the plan but all of a sudden I went to New York and then you are not out of the game business,” he says.
“Following the sale we had a non-compete clause in specific game play areas but now we are working with the people who acquired our business so we get along well with them.”
Yeend also purchased the rights to iconic Australian children’s entertainment character Humphrey B Bear earlier this year.