The Vault: Breaking Into Mobile Gaming at Harrisburg Mall
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to break into a bank without paying the consequences? Prize Monkey thought you might have, so the Harrisburg-based mobile enabled vending startup has created the solution to your daring fantasy, and they've done it in an incredibly innovative way.
It's called the The Vault
, a pay-to-play, converted vending machine that simulates a bank safe and challenges players on the side of the 650-pound, 6-foot high machine, "Can you break in?"
''It is a very exciting and energetic idea, naturally embedded , that we want to get away with robbing a bank," says Prize Monkey co-founder Brad Thorne, and he is probably not the only one who thinks that way.
It is expected to be placed in Harrisburg Mall by next week. When it's up and running, shoppers who wish to play may access The Vault's WI-fi hotspot and use their smartphone to solve puzzles and brain teasers while they are sitting at the food court or ordering tickets to the movies. For first-time players there will be a trial level to explore the game and understand how it works. They may then choose to play for prizes -- promotional items provided by participating companies -- by paying a minimal amount. It;s like putting money into a vending machine, except your also putting money into an experience.
And the mall seems like a perfect place to stage the machine, as Prize Monkey gets high visibility, and the mall gains an additional attraction for shoppers.
''Nobody has done this before, so we decided to make this a win-win situation," Thorne says. "Malls are always looking for something to better their experience so they were provided with the exclusivity of the machine, and a portion of the sales.''
Like other brilliant startup ideas, The Vault came about from personal experience. Having grown up playing games along the boardwalks of New Jersey, Thorne has been able to observe the fascination with these type of machines, and realizes why they are such a hit.
''People nowadays play mobile games, but it lacks the instant gratification part," says Thorne. "I understand that redemption is strong, the potential of leaving with something in my hand, is pretty gratifying."
As Prize Monkey grows, it is partnering with the community to improve gaming experience, create new products, and provide a promotional tool for companies. The company hopes to establish The Vault as a platform for gaming groups at nearby universities and Simulation and Serious Games eXchange groups (SSGX) to set the rules for developing the product.
''We want old and new developers and student gamers to try their hand at this gaming, I don't think it could fail. As long as we are measuring people's user experience, and know if our games suck or not, we can continue making it better.'' says Thorne, who was active in Startup America's April introductory event in Pennsylvania
Prize Monkey is banking on helping other businesses succeed by offering them the chance to dispense their promotional products, like samples of perfume, DVDs, or other small prizes from The Vault. Mostly, the opportunity to win things that other people haven't seen yet figures to be the biggest attraction. The larger goal is always to personalize the experience, to match the prizes to the right person.
The company hopes to eventually make The Vault available at other popular locations to attain a wider reach and a loyal base of players. The premise is to make the game different each time to keep you coming back for more.
''Personalized is always better than generic.'' Thorne says.
NATALIA DEJESUS MARTINEZ-COLON is a freelance writer based in Allentown. Originally from Puerto Rico. She enjoys writing about news,fashion,music, and technology.
Photos courtesy of Prize Monkey