GoGallop’s Founder Story
Written by Rebecca Ashton
There’s a new game heading your way and it’s not like anything you’ve seen before. You’ve possibly played horse games on your computer, but have you ever jumped Badminton, competing alongside Oliver Townend, the world’s No.1 rider? Now’s your chance with the “FEI Equestriad World Tour” game to be a world champion!
Craig Laughton developed and released the world’s first computer horse game, “Mary King’s Riding Star” in 1996. After that he developed the successful eventing simulation game “Equestriad” and now he and his team are back with a new game that is compatible with mobile devices and incorporates all of the licensed 5 star 3-day eventing competitions, some of the best riders and their favorite horses, course designers, legendary commentator team and graphics yet seen.
Craig, CEO of GoGallop Studios explains, “There are 1.6 billion female mobile gamers and only 4% of games being made for them. FEI tells us that 75% of equestrian fans are female. At some stage someone has to take that demographic seriously. The games that have been made in the horse space have been targeted at a lower demographic and are based more around the fantasy horse world. There’s a massive prime gap in the market for a product that really respects its target audience.”
And why eventing? Craig says, “….because of the discipline of the sport. Males and females compete equally together which I think is a great message in this day and age. The sport is also very diverse. You have a horse that needs to do dressage, cross country and jumping. That’s a pretty impressive skill set. Also, graphically, we have officially licensed the courses where the major 5* star events are held which are all beautiful. The sport also has many online followers and deserves its own digital platform”.
“One of the key things that we’re doing and why this game stands out from others is the authenticity of the game. We’re getting the best course designers in the world and some really cool commentators such as Mary King, Lucinda Green, Nicole Brown and Spencer Sturmey. The commentary scripts are being prepared by the guys at Equiratings in Ireland and there’s access to hundreds of cross-country courses via the CrossCountry App folks. It’s that level of authenticity that we’re engineering into the game from the ground up. That’s what’s going to stand “FEI Equestriad World Tour” apart from any other equestrian game released to date.”
The team at GoGallop Studios have secured a suite of the world’s premier licenses, such as Badminton and Burghley in the UK, Kentucky and Maryland in the USA and AUS3DE held in Adelaide, Australia. Premier course designers, such as Mike Etherington-Smith, Mark Phillips and Ian Stark will continuously create new fantasy courses. The world’s top riders are also be involved. Oliver Townend, Piggy March, Ingrid Klimke, Christopher Burton, Boyd Martin, Jessica Phoenix amongst others have all signed up. The “Equestriad World Tour” game gives a real grassroots voice to the global equestrian community. For example, course designers can sell as many courses as they want through this channel and monetize their intellectual capital. Riders can extend their brand and online presence, earning extra royalty income for them and their horses. These top riders might have two or three horses in their stable which you’ll also have access to nurture and ride. Some top riders even want to bring back some of their past champions to compete all over again. How cool is that? Famous courses such as Kentucky are featured in a brand new digital world, showcasing their event to whole new online audience but also better representing their sponsor partners with branded jumps and strategic product placements. Rider sponsors can also be integrated so it is a true representation of 3-day eventing competition.
Are you going to beat Chris Burton? You’ll have to work hard for it! Is your horse fit enough? Can you see a stride? Does your half-pass have enough bend and cross-over? You can pay to move through the game quicker, but hard work and effort will also get you to the top, just like real life. The game is easy to play, but just like the real sport of eventing, hard to master.
Craig continues, “Yes, it’s a game but what we’re really trying to do is build a digital platform. This will be a real global equestrian community. It’s something that players will love. You can breed your own horse and make it really unique in terms of colour and markings. There are seven different breeds to choose from and every horse will be different. You build a bond with that horse; wash, groom and feed it, train and then go and compete with it on 2, 3, 4 and 5 star courses, fine tuning your skills as you go. If your horse isn’t coping with the tougher competitions, you can go back to a smaller comp and hone your partnership and build confidence together as a duo, just like in real life. There’s a horse bonding stat as well. The better you care for and train your horse, the higher your ranking.
“You can buy products in the tack shop. If you get a season pass, each day you play you’ll unlock things like a new horse, rider “skin” avatar, rugs and saddles for your horse. We’re taking the cutting edge in game design and bringing it to equestrian games. The younger players will understand how it’s similar to “Fortnite” game in terms of its set up. It will constantly evolve.” The game purports you can love, nurture and grow your way to be an equestrian world champion.
Craig continues, “There’s also a multiplayer feature. You can see how you’re going compared to other people in your competition. You’ll know how much pressure is on, how many risks you can take or how careful you have to be with your cross-country time, if you have to take the harder, more direct route or how many rails you have in hand in your showjumping round. There’ll be minute markers and all the features that make it very realistic. We might shrink the time down on cross-country, but everything will be in proportion. It will be very playable.
“There’s going to be a seismic change in how sport is conducted in the future. Esports will go into the Olympics in some iteration, it’s just a matter of time and I think equestrian sport lends itself really well to the Esports component. The platform is also a great motivation and support to the real sport. When we were signing up some of the riders, a couple of them had played the “Equestriad” game from 20 years ago and it was a real key feature of them getting into the sport. That’s amazing to me. And if this new “FEI Equestriad World Tour” game can inspire the next generation of eventers to get out there and have a go, what an awesome thing that would be.”
“FEI Equestriad World Tour” a free-to-play game is now available on the Apple and Google Play App stores in 176 countries.