This app wants to help gamers find meaningful connections from new friendships to romance…
YPulse’s Finding Love Post-COVID trend report found that 40% of single 13-39-year-olds say they’ve been using dating apps/sites more often since COVID-19, while 48% of 18+ have been dating exclusively on apps/sites since COVID-19 started. We told you about the many new apps giving digital dating an entertaining upgrade—some of which have been targeting niche interests, like gaming, which has been especially popular among young consumers during the pandemic.
Our gaming behavioral research found that 94% of 13-39-year-olds are playing video games to some capacity, with 44% saying that they have made new friends in a video game. Now, 2 UP is a new social app that is merging the gaming and meeting new people. According to its founders, siblings Lincoln and Stephanie Smith, their own experiences as gamers since they were young inspired them to launch the business. According to the duo, it is “the first dating app for gamers that creates meaningful connections on and off the screen,” but they’re hoping it can also create other meaningful connections for those simply looking for new friends or teammates. Interested users create a profile, specify what type of gamer they’re interested in matching and connecting with, then list their favorite gaming platforms and video games—and ta-da, they’ll be matched with someone of similar interests near them.
We spoke to Lincoln and Stephanie more in-depth about what inspired the app, dating and gaming trends they’ve seen emerge because of the pandemic, and more:
YPulse: How did 2 UP get started?
Lincoln & Stephanie Smith: The idea came to us when looking into building a community of gamers to give them a platform to connect and meet fellow gamers in search of similar interests. We saw there was a gap. The name itself came from the Mario concept of “1 UP” granting that extra life. 2 UP has a similar concept with granting two individuals that extra chance of leveling up through life.
YPulse: How does 2 UP work?
LS & SS: 2 UP is built similarly to a matching or dating app. A user fills out a profile for themselves where they can fill out a bio, specify what style of gamer (casual to hardcore gamers), what platforms are most used, and top favorite games. It also has a feature that sets a user up in one of two pools, for those that are searching dating specifically and others that are searching for gaming to ensure there is no confusion when matching. Once a connection is established, two players can message one another.
YPulse: What made you want to combine the concepts of gaming and dating as well as regular socializing into one app?
LS & SS: We wanted to build a community that was specific for those individuals in search of others with similar interests. We know all about gaming forums and how overwhelming those can be. We looked into making something more personal and intimate, all in a safe environment. Back in the day it was all about you and your player two getting to know one another through a game, and we wanted to bring that nostalgic gaming experience to an app.
YPulse: How are you differentiating yourself from other gaming or dating apps on the market?
LS & SS: 2 UP has developed a feature called “Quests,” which allows users to interact with the app through certain actions and rewards them by doing so. Each month after completing said Quests, the user will then be entered into our monthly raffle. Rewards range from top selling new games to gaming consoles, even PC parts. With this feature, we are the first dating app to give back to our community.
YPulse: A major part of 2 UP’s image is its old school 8-bit look. What made you all want to tap into that nostalgic aesthetic?
LS & SS: We both grew up in the ‘90s, and grew up with Pac-Man, Sega Genesis, and matching neon Nickelodeon t-shirts—and yes, there is a picture somewhere. Those were our favorite gaming days. There will always be a certain wave of nostalgia associated in the 8-bit look. We wanted our app to trigger those feelings to those of our generation. Lucky for us, it seems that retro is definitely making a comeback in recent years with the return of Pokémon, mini versions of older Sega and Nintendo consoles, and pixelated designs, so the newer generation is getting a dose of this all as well.
YPulse: Why did you want to target the gamer market?
LS & SS: Being gamers ourselves, we wanted to create a platform where gamers can connect and make meaningful connections—love interest or friendship—on and off the screen. We wanted to create a safe space where it was an honor to wear the “nerd” badge and just share a common interest in one place.
YPulse’s Gaming report explores how gaming has increased among Gen Z and Millennials within the last year especially during lockdowns. Are you seeing that more young consumers are gaming during the pandemic?
LS & SS: Absolutely. Not just younger but the older generation. The pandemic definitely saw a surge in gaming sales and hours clocked in game. With streaming platforms, such as Twitch becoming more popular, gamers are moving into the spotlight more often and in a lot of cases, in highly successful ways.
YPulse: Are you seeing that more young gamers are wanting to date, or looking for connection during the pandemic?
LS & SS: It seems that the pandemic has caused all people to want to find ways to connect. There has been an incredibly large increase in Zoom meetings, virtual events, and gaming. That does not exclude the young gamers. We do truly believe that all gamers are looking for more ways to connect to others—it may start as a search for a person to play a game with but could lead to more.
YPulse: What trends are you seeing among young consumers in the gaming space?
LS & SS: I think what is nice to see trending is that people always want to make connections with those that also play video games. That has and will continue to evolve, through meeting up at arcades or playing online.
YPulse: What kind of games are you seeing that are popular with young players?
LS & SS: Battle royals. Fortnite started the trend and it has become a phenomenon that has gotten other game developers to follow suit. Also, mobile gaming, which is a very underestimated market. It is estimated that by 2022, mobile gaming will account for close to 50% of the overall gaming market.
YPulse: What should brands know about 2 UP?
LS & SS: 2 UP is a fun, inclusive, friendly, nerdy—and proud—brand that hopes to connect to as many other gaming apps as are willing to engage with us. We truly do believe that We Play Better Together and that means that includes any other brands who feel the same. Our mission is to truly be a part of the community and create a safe place where everyone can get to know one another on an intimate level.