Hachette has launched a football-themed app based on the BAFTA-winning and multi-million selling game New Star Soccer.
New Star Soccer G-Story, produced in partnership with game developers New Star Games and Insight Studios, and contributed to by award-winning children’s authors The2Steves (Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore), coincides with the buzz in the run up to the Euro 2016 tournament in a bid to attract "reluctant readers".
The app, which combines traditional text-based story narrative with real gameplay challenges, allows the user to take different "narrative paths", depending on how the user performs in each game segment. As a result, there are multiple plot threads and multiple endings.
In total, Hachette counts 180,000 words of text, across 18 chapters, that is interspersed with 240 segments of gameplay including shooting, dribbling, passing, tackling and penalties. The user also faces choices in selecting an agent, the amount of training time and the sponsorship deals signed which will also alter the plot.
The plot takes the reader in the role of a footballer from playing a game in the park and being spotted by a talent scout, right the way through to playing in a Cup Final.
It is available to download via the App Store and Google Play, priced at £4.99, reduced to £2.99 for the launch period.
Barlow and Skidmore, The2Steves, said: “We firmly believe that New Star Soccer G-Story will encourage kids - particularly the reluctant ones, especially boys - to read.
“Games obviously compete with traditional books for readers' time and attention. Instead of moaning about that, why not exploit it? Study after study from the Literacy Trust, the Reading Agency and similar bodies show that uncommitted readers are more likely to be motivated by reading from a screen than from paper. Add the elements of competition, gameplay and choice in New Star Soccer G-Story, and you have a narrative that is bound to capture the attention of even the most die-hard refusenik.”
The launch of the new G-Story format is part of Hachette’s on-going drive to encourage children to read and enjoy books more. Research from the Children's and Young People's Reading survey in 2015 showed boys in particular were more reluctant to read, with 61.2% of girls enjoy reading in comparison to 47.8% of boys.
Damian Horner, brand development director at Hachette, said: “The G-Story is one of a number of initiatives Hachette is taking to reinvent the storytelling process. We have something very unique here – a fusion of the best gameplay with the best storytelling. It is an entirely new kind of product and we are very excited about its potential.”
Other recent new publishing offerings include Belgravia, an app produced by Orion in collaboration with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. The first 'episode', of the story released digitally in installments, was released in April. Penguin Random House UK meanwhile partnered with Editions at Play, a venture developed with Google Labs in Sydney, to produce a dystopian app called Strata that sets out to create its own "mini-universe". Launched at the London Book Fair, it allows the user to dip into both sci-fi stories and related essays, selectable from a home screen with "Ghost in the Shell"-style graphics from American illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards and atmospheric music and sound designed by I Speak Machine.