AS TOLD BY MARCUS HOWARD
ProjectMQ is a multimedia search engine, for the world’s BEST independent video games. Similar to IMDB, or Rotten Tomatoes, gamers worldwide trust ProjectMQ, to help them quickly find amazing indie games. My twin brother and I got Super Mario Bros 3 when we were 6, and we’ve been playing video games ever since.
Like independent music and film, indie games are much more creative and niche-focused, than their big-budget peers. Independent game makers, knowns as “indie devs” for short, create nearly 70% of the industry’s games, including eSports, mobile, and VR titles. You may have heard of a video game called Minecraft; it too was created by indie devs. The gaming industry is larger than the movie and music industries combined and is expected to reach $180B by 2021. Unfortunately,the average indie dev makes less than $500 of revenue per year. With over 100,000 games on the market today, finding the perfect game is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
ProjectMQ helps indie devs make more money, and helps gamers find video games they’ll love.
Malcolm and I have been playing video games ever since we were six. Video games inspired us to learn about technology at an early age, and we even started building our 1st video game in the 9th grade. Fast-forward about 10 years, past thousands of hours playing more video games, to March 2013. I have a degree in Information Technology, Malcolm has a degree in Computer Science. We were regularly discussing – well, complaining, depending on who you ask – how inconvenient it was to quickly find video game images and videos online. After years of waiting for someone else to come up with a solution, we finally decided to build our own: ProjectMQ.
Many Triple-A game studios and publishers are also publicly-traded companies, and can afford TV ads and other expensive marketing channels, so it’s easier for them to get the word out about their games. Unfortunately, the majority of independent game studios don’t have that luxury. Independent game developers: they typically have day jobs, and build their games on nights/weekends.
Indie studios generally don’t have a marketing budget, and certainly can’t pay for those TV advertisements that you see for games like Madden and Fortnite. The gaming industry is a pay-to-win ecosystem, where those who can’t afford to reach their audience lose.
Game discovery has been broken for decades; it’s a complex problem with many layers. In order to fix game discovery, our solution needed layers too: tech and social. The tech part of the solution is the website we’ve built. There, you can easily find amazing indie games from around the world, for any platform or game genre. Let’s say you want to find the perfect horror game for your mobile device, or an excellent racing game for your Nintendo Switch; we’ve got an (upcoming) app for that. While building the website is by no means an easy task, the social part of the solution is much more complicated.
Our social solution is two-fold: we have to simultaneously educate gamers AND non-gamers, about the value of indie games. On one side, most gamers don’t know that blockbuster hits like Minecraft, Rocket League, Clash of Clans, and League of Legends were all created by independent game developers. On the other hand, because games like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto are the only ones that can afford TV commercials, non-gamers think that all video games are about violence and destruction. First, we teach gamers that indie games can be just as entertaining as popular games like Madden. Then, using indie games, we teach non-gamers that video games can have several educational, psychological, and cultural benefits. For example, we recently organized an indie game arcade in Savannah, Georgia that was free to the public. There, kids and their parents got a chance to enjoy unique, interactive experiences from excellent indie games that we’ve curated from around the world.
Paypal selected ProjectMQ, out of 20,000+ applicants nationwide, as the top digital business of their 2018 contest. ProjectMQ is now iHeartMedia’s official Esports partner. They’re the #1 media company in the United States, with over 150 markets across the country, and we’re building all of their gaming events nationwide. This exciting partnership allows us to provide great exposure to indie games from around the world, and improve representation for minorities in the gaming industry. Malcolm and I see video games as an excellent resource to help educate, excite, and inspire youth about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career opportunities.