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Charmie Kim: "Inventing the wheel with BeatStar"

Space Ape's Charmie Kim spoke at Develop Brighton on the development process behind BeatStar
Charmie Kim:

Speaking early on day one at Develop Brighton this year was BeatStars game lead Charmie Kim. In this role, Kim spent almost six years with the title, working with the team that incubated the idea and eventually taking it to launch.

In this talk titled "Highs and lows of our quest to find a category defining game," Kim shared details of the process behind BeatStar and what it went through to get to the point it's at today, which Kim notes as reaching "50 million installs and 120 million in revenue." However, getting to that point of success took many iterations of the game as Kim comments that back in 2018 after Space Ape Games had a slight "identity crisis" after creating a series of building battle games and then reflecting that the space already felt dominated by the likes of Clash of Clans and planned to tackle new genres.

Evolving Beatstar

The studio then explored new options, which resulted in a plan that led to the idea of BeatStar, which came about after highlighting the need for a mobile music-based game that could utilise touch screens. Using inspiration from games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the first concept of BeatStar was born. However, this version was pitched as a card battler game where each card had a dance move for the player to copy. "This version wasn't even our biggest pivot. Three years after this initial pitch, we showed a version with characters and choreography. We then hit reset and returned to the core idea of what BeatStar should be."

Kim went on to share that "We reinvented the core loop of the game at least five times." She later answered some questions clarifying that a month was spent on most of these core loops until it changed again and eventually landed on the final formula of the game we see today.

BeatStar has since established a solid relationship with the music industry with partnerships with Eminem and Linkin Park, the latter being the best download day the game has seen since its launch. The success of BeatStar has also seen the studio experiment with different versions of the game, with Country Star being tested in Canada. We recently spoke with Charmie Kim about how she got started in the games industry and what to expect next from Space Ape. We also listed Space Ape Games in our Top 50 game makers list of 2022.