Sexy iPhone app funds a startup

Not a bad start for a company fueled by a pixilated pulchritude novelty act

You can't really take iGirl seriously. It's a goofy (with an emphasis on sad and borderline creepy) iPhone app featuring a pasty-looking, scantily-clad virtual girlie that you can customize according to your...ahem...interests. "We get e-mail complaints from conservatives that think [iGirl] is too perverted while kids complain that there's no nudity," says Resistor Productions CEO, Toby Battan. But that 99-cent joke helped kick-start a company and fund a new MMO (massively multiplayer online) fighting game, Disciple.

In the past, I've spoken with a homebrew coder who built games on the side, but Battan's story is a little different. He's a serial entrepreneur who got tired of courting venture capitalists in pursuit of his browser-based fantasy fighter (and I'll get to that game in a few seconds, promise). "I loathed having to go around to VCs asking for money," says Battan.

Obviously the economy is hurting and people aren't as quick to part with piles of cash as they once were, but he paints a funny scenario: "It used to be that they'd invest if they saw a good plan on paper. Now VCs want to see a company that's profitable before they invest.... Why would I come back when I'm already profitable?" In the end, it's a painful six-month-plus process just to get money with a whole bunch of strings attached.

So Battan took a bit of a gamble. His company already had $250,000 to create its dream project, but to drum up the extra green needed, he invested three grand to create the aforementioned iCandy (pun!). He didn't publish an iPhone app that he'd want (at least not that he'd tell me for an interview)--"that's a common mistake of people flooding the stores with me-too apps," Battan says. He studied the market. Goofy apps like iFart often get top billing--and the occasional yuck on a PC World podcast. And now, three months later, he's already snagged over $300,000 to help fund his new game projects.

"When you go this route, there's a bit more risk involved, but if you hit, there's no extra money out of your pocket going back to the [venture capitalists]." And that's one less hand skimming off the top.

The game that's resulted from this windfall doesn't looking too shabby, either. Disciple is a free-to-play browser-based fantasy fighting game, a graphical step up from all the text-based iMafias of the world. I'll admit that I pretty much stink at it--and have only dabbled so far--but it's a 2D, turn-based fighting game. Pick a skill or attack and watch the results. Don't mistake this for Street Fighter (the combat is technically more like World of WarCraft). Art-wise, it's....well, let's just say it's rough around the edges. But it's an interesting start. You're chaining combat commands together, and with every fight you're earning experience and cash to buy more perks, potions, and pointy objects.

Of course, the big hook is that you can play the free taste of Disciple or start kicking in some monthly fees to create multiple characters and unlock extras. While I'm perfectly happy with the free ride, Battan says that in the month since the game's launch, about 10 to 15 percent of the 30 thousand players have gone full-service. And he's talking about future plans that include a Facebook app in July and a free iPhone-app version of Disciple that should hit before the summer's over. And yes, his company will dabble in other apps to help keep the money rolling in on the side ("it's like a present--money you don't expect that just shows up"). But he doesn't want to talk about games--or names--just yet.

Not a bad start for a company fueled by a pixilated pulchritude novelty act. Oh, and a pro tip for those in need of skin: There's an app for that. It's called, "Safari" (or that Hottest Girls app ).

Need even more nerdity? Follow Casual Friday columnist and PC World Senior Writer Darren Gladstone on Twitter (gizmogladstone) for game-swag giveaways, odd links, and time-wasting tips.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPhoneiphone apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Darren Gladstone

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?