"Netflix for Game Night"
Netflix changed the way we watch movies by introducing streaming content. Spotify did the same for music.
Now an early-stage startup is taking its cue from these companies, with plans to disrupt a market projected to be worth $30 billion globally by 2026.
That market is board games. And the startup is called Gamestar.
Gamestar is introducing streaming content to board games. For just a few dollars per month, this company provides interactive content that enhances the board game experience. In doing so, it’s modernizing family game night.
Although it launched just two years ago, Gamestar has already made significant progress:
• It’s acquired the rights to popular games such as “Deal or No Deal” and “Family Feud.”
• Brought on investors including game-show host Steve Harvey and Shark Tank star Daymond John.
• And attracted more than half a million users, who are already enjoying an early version of Gamestar’s platform.
As mentioned, board games are a big market. They’re found in 80% of U.S. family homes. And half of these families play games at least once per week.
Classic games like Monopoly and Scrabble have been around since the early 20th century. But despite their enduring popularity, these games have largely remained the same. The experience of playing them needs an update. And that’s what Gamestar aims to offer.
Through its platform, users can play the board games they already know and love, while accessing new streaming content that enhances the experience. As Gamestar says, its platform combines "the social experience of game night, the convenience of Netflix, and the magic of Hollywood.”
For a $3.99 per month subscription, users can access content for games including “Family Feud,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!,” “Deal or No Deal,” and “The Price is Right.” They can also access content related to Marvel, Disney, and Pixar games. Gamestar holds the exclusive license to some of this content until at least 2024.
Gamestar is led by CEO Shane Yeend, who was CEO of Imagination Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment and gaming companies in the world. While there, he created and patented the technology that brought DVDs to board games, technology later marketed as the popular “Scene It” gaming experience.
As mentioned, Steve Harvey is an investor in Gamestar, as well as a brand ambassador. Harvey is a popular game show host and has more than 23 million followers on social media. He plans to use his following and connections in the entertainment and gaming markets to promote Gamestar’s platform.
Prior to starting Gamestar, Shane was Chief Executive Officer of Imagination Entertainment.
In 1996, the company established a subsidiary, Imagination Games. And that year, it launched “Battle of the Sexes,” which became Australia’s No. 1 board game.
At Imagination, Shane created and patented the technology that brought DVDs to board games.
He was named Deloitte’s “Innovator of the Year” and “Australian Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young.
In 2010, Spin Master, a children’s entertainment company, acquired a portfolio of Shane’s content from Imagination Games.
Today, Imagination is a global business with more than $500 million in total gaming sales.
Todd is a streaming expert, with experience in gaming, marketing, and development. He has more than 10 years of leadership experience in the branding and financial sectors.
He began his career as Director of Business Development with Zog Digital, an award-winning digital marketing company that was acquired in 2017. Zog delivered targeted content for leading brands through search and social media marketing.
He then became Client Services Director with Mindspace, a technology company using branding and gamification to increase retention for clients. Notable clients included Starbucks, Google, FedEx, Expedia, and Deloitte.
From there, Todd founded Fiero, a marketing and advertising company. He then became Director of Behavior Design with Off Madison Avenue, another marketing company.
More recently, he worked in marketing with Sony Pictures, an entertainment studio that’s home to popular game shows including “Wheel of Fortune,” “Deal or No Deal,” and “Jeopardy!”
While there, he built the interactive “Jeopardy!” game, and held this role before starting Gamestar in 2019.
In addition to his current role, Todd is Director of Venture Strategy at The Refinery, an advisory firm that specializes in growing startups. He holds a degree in Finance and Kinesiology from Arizona State University.
Kevin has extensive experience in gaming and app development. He’s worked for top media companies including Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Disney.
In addition to his role with Gamestar, he is Founder & CEO of From Zero, a language learning tool that uses Augmented Reality (AR) to teach those with autism.
Most recently, he was a senior prototype engineer with Disney, where he specialized in software development. Prior to that, he founded Color Black Moment, a similar AR app for teaching language and social skills to children. This company was acquired in 2018 by EQtainment, an education technology company. He then served as that company’s Chief Technology Officer.
Before that, he was Executive Director of Post Production Technology with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Prior to that, he was a support engineer with Dolby Laboratories, a consumer electronics brand.
Earlier in his career, Kevin was a software engineer with New Hat, an entertainment company. Before that, he was a product specialist with FilmLight, a motion pictures business. He held this role after serving as a lead data technician with Warner Bros. Entertainment.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from California State University-Northridge.
Shane is a veteran producer with more than 20 years of experience across digital, broadcast, and mobile media. Throughout his career, he’s produced content for Disney, HBO, NBCUniversal, Fox, and Warner Brothers.
He started his career in the gaming industry, working as an account manager with Imagination Entertainment, the company started by Shane Yeend. While there, he managed retail accounts with Target, Toys R Us, and K-Mart. From there, he shifted to Imagination Games, where he was a DVD project manager.
More recently, Shane was a producer with iCandy Interactive, an entertainment company specializing in digital media content and multi-platform gaming. He was then an interactive producer with Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, a home entertainment company. While there, he developed content for iPhone and iPad apps, and worked with clients including HBO, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate.
Prior to joining Gamestar in 2021, Shane was Head of Production with The Digital Embassy, a branding agency. He then was General Manager of Zero Agency, a similar media business.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Production from the University of Maryland.
Notable American businessman who appears as a “shark” on the investment-based reality show “Shark Tank”.