Anyone who uses a smartphone understands what is meant by the phrase “There’s an app for that,” as it seems there is an app for just about anything one can imagine. Five brothers from Spring Valley have launched their own game app, and it appears to be catching on. The Noble Bros are Philip (20 years old), Thomas (23), John (25), James (28) and Andrew (33) Engesser, and their game is called Spoons Buzz.
When describing how the brothers became creators of a new video game, Philip said the love of gaming runs in their family. Besides the fact that the brothers all enjoy playing such games, Philip added, “Our parents were into video games. Our mom’s family was one of their first to have a Pong game. And our dad actually worked fixing old video game consoles for a while.”
John said that besides enjoying gaming as a hobby, “I went to Western Iowa Tech (Sioux City) from 2014 to 2016, and I went there for Video Game Design specifically.” So the brothers clearly have gaming in their bloodline, as well as practical experience.
In describing how the idea came about, Philip stated, “We had the idea about a year ago. And the idea was kind of focused around recreating the classic card game of Spoons, and kind of creating that moment when everyone is racing for the spoons, only using cell phones.” He further added, “We didn’t really think it would take off. It was kind of a joke… So we mentioned it to one of our cousins, and he was like, ‘That sounds like a lot of fun. I would enjoy playing that.’” From there, the boys began working on designing the game and ironing out the wrinkles along the way.
The game app was formally launched on November 21, and is available as a free download through the “app store” for Android and iOS platforms (keyword: Spoons Buzz). As noted on their Noble Bros website, “Spoons Buzz is a new kind of game that brings bundles of fun each time it buzzes your phone. Grabbing a spoon is as easy as checking a text message, but will you be fast enough to compete for first place? Only the best player will get the golden spoon, so be prepared for fierce competition, with less than seconds separating the champs from the chumps.”
When asked to explain how the game is actually played, Philip said, “It’s super simple…basically you wait for a notification to come to your phone. It’ll buzz, and that’s when you race other players to respond to it the fastest, and based on how you do, you’ll place differently and get different rewards.” Because of this unique design, the game is not time-consuming, because it only takes a few seconds intermittently throughout the day.
Philip and John explained that they designed Spoons Buzz to accommodate whatever a particular player’s availability may be. Each individual spoon race is a stand-alone event, so it’s easy for players to play when they wish, and to ignore the game at other times. They also stressed that users can switch to silent mode or sleep mode to avoid being disturbed by unwanted buzzes.
“You’ll generally be playing against six to eight other players,” Philip explained. New users are assigned to play against other players randomly. But the Noble Bros said the game allows users to “friend” each other, and the game will then automatically match up players against their friends. John said it’s really fun to be physically in the same room as others he is playing against, because when the game buzzes, everyone suddenly reaches for their phone to win the golden spoon.
Although the game is completely free to play, there are optional in-game purchases available, as a way to earn game rewards. But players have the option to earn those rewards by watching ads instead. Since the game has been available for less than a month, the user base is still in its infancy, and John added, “As a company, I’d say the hardest thing has been just getting noticed. There are a lot of people who make apps for smartphones, and there are maybe 100 apps that come out for phones every day.”
The Noble Bros said Spoons Buzz was created with adults and children in mind. John stated, “The game can connect players of all kinds, all different ages, grandparents with grandchildren.” Spoons Buzz was also made to be user-friendly for non-experienced gamers.
This reporter decided to download the app and give Spoons Buzz a try. When downloading the app, customer reviews showed an average rating of 4.6 on a 5-point scale. As promised, it’s completely free to download and play, although in-app purchases are an option. This reporter managed to respond quickly several times, resulting in golden spoons grabbed. It’s fun, takes only intermittent moments throughout the day, and strangely addictive. Each player starts with a simple “smiley face” icon, but players are able to customize their own icon, including hair, glasses, and other options.
Regarding the response to their game, John said that although there are not yet a lot of users, “We are very happy with how it’s turned out so far… As far as our users go, we do have a pretty solid retention rate,” meaning that people who try the game tend to keep playing. Looking to the future of their game and their company, Philip stated, “Right now, we are focused on updating it and promoting it… we might branch off into another video game with our company… but that could be down the road a ways.”