Hopster mobile app case study

Hopster’s Alphabet Hotel

Program-Ace & Hopster: Building a cross-platform educational game for preschoolers to help them learn the alphabet

Background Info

Hopster.tv is an interactive television (TV) and learning application for preschoolers that has reached 1M downloads globally across app stores. This is a British-based start-up that was launched in more than 100 countries and is the main competitor of Netflix and YouTube Kids. Hopster has been looking for a professional studio that specializes in game development and gamification and is able to lead the project through all production stages, from game design up to its successful release. Program-Ace, known for working with such world-class leaders as Electronic Arts, GSN Games, Wargaming, Kuju, and Kalypso, was a perfect match.

We were asked to build a letter learning game featuring animated characters in the shapes of alphabet letters that initially targets smartphones and tablets on iOS and Android in the US and UK only. The game also has a variety of mini-games, animations, and sounds all fitting to the Hopster brand.

In addition to full-cycle game development, the Hopster team also set a task of gamifying the learning process in a way it can be understood and enjoyed by preschoolers.
Ryan Courtier
Ryan Courtier
Senior Producer
Program-Ace were a pleasure to work with throughout the development process. Even on our first project together, we were able to quickly establish a strong working relationship from inception to release on our first mobile game and deliver on a quality that the Hopster team are proud of today. I would highly recommend Program-Ace to other studios.

Business Challenges

Style Conformity
One of Program-Ace's main objectives was also building a game that will correlate with Hopster's well-known cinematic style.
As the target audience is limited to preschoolers and their parents, the game had to be designed in a way to be well-perceived by 2-6 year-old boys and girls.
Learn by Stealth
Program-Ace was aimed at giving little explorers an opportunity to develop their knowledge on recognizing letters of the alphabet and how they sound through an interactive game.

Approach and Solution

The Program-Ace team developed an educational game from scratch according to GDD (Game Design Document) composed by our team together with the client’s producer. Our team has performed cross-platform development to allow players to enjoy interactive education on multiple mobile platforms, initially targeting iOS and Android. Basically, Alphabet Hotel is built according to a casual level-game structure. The youngster finds himself/herself in the hotel's great hall with a variety of rooms (levels) that help children learn letters and sounds in the easiest way for them - through the game. Besides the stealth-like nature and accessibility, our approach featured the following characteristics:

- Quick-to-the-fun
We designed the game with minimal play inputs/choices that are required to interact in order to relieve children from unnecessary fuss and deliver the necessary information in an interactive manner.
- Sense-based approach
The game has minimal text with most information visual or audible in order to be perceived by kids under 7 years-old who cannot read.
- A set of educational mini-games
Inside the hotel, children will play a variety of mini-games to consolidate their learning of the single-letter phonemes before progressing towards learning more complicated combinations that will be digraphs (2 letter phonemes) to make up the majority of the 44 speech sounds used in the English language.

The Program-Ace team designed the background elements with several depth levels: foreground, midground (or interactive area where 2-6 year-olds actually play to learn the alphabet) and backgrounds for each “hotel room” as well as the hotel’s decor. Moreover, the entire gameplay was developed by our Unity certified specialists in a way that can be effectively acquired by toddlers and play agers. Each level is designed to replicate gamified learning, which is the most efficient way of memorizing things, especially for children under 7 years-old. The style of the game is kept cartoonish in order to be better perceived by the young generation. The Program-Ace team also connected app analytics systems such as Google Analytics and AppSee.
cross-platform approach to mobile gamification development

Technical Information

The full-cycle game development was done by a team of one game designer, two game developers, two 2D artists, one spine animator, one special effect artist, one UI designer, one sound producer, one playtester, and a project manager, and the project was delivered in three months. The technology stack included:
Cocos 2Dx C# Spine Visual Studio


The main target audience is 2-6 year-old children who want to learn the alphabet at home. However, the game can also be useful for:
Pre-school Education
Elementary school
Elementary Schools
Home education
Home Education
Tablet game for kids - Hopster

Value Delivered

At the end of a production stage, the Program-Ace released the Alphabet Hotel with the gameplay happening in hotel rooms, and the goal was to introduce children to the graphemes and phonemes of the English alphabet through supporting them with hearing and saying the sounds and being able to recognize the letter shapes. It helped Hopster enjoy the following benefits:
  1. The number of daily active users of the Hopster app increased by 35% within 24 hours after releasing the Alphabet Hotel game;
  2. A cross-platform game with a simple colorful interface designed specifically for children's little fingers;
  3. The final game has flawlessly echoed Hopster's unique visual style;
  4. Alphabet Hotel received 89% positive reviews from parents and little ones within the Hopster app;
  5. Hopster has strengthened its position as the main competitor of YouTube Kids and Netflix.


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