Cannabis and Gaming: Vancouver Developers Add to Portfolio with New Mobile Rhythm Game, ‘Bob Marley World Tour’
Ziggy Marley backs venture on new platform as it would provide fans with unique opportunities to enjoy the family’s music as LBC Studios navigates the tricky tightrope between gaming blue-sky and compliance with international cannabis laws.
High Times reports that Vancouver-based LBC Studios, developer of one of the leading mobile cannabis games “Hempire” and “Tasty Buds,” announced on 14 September 2022 that it’s working on a new mobile rhythm game called “Bob Marley World Tour” which is currently slated to release in November 2022. Unlike its other games, Bob Marley World Tour is a rhythm game and won’t feature any cannabis themes.
“We know fans of Bob Marley and our family will be [as] excited about ‘Bob Marley World Tour’ as we are. It has been joyful to work with LBC on a game that helps bring this music to the world through such an interactive experience,” Ziggy Marley said in a press release. “It has always been our goal to provide fans with unique opportunities to enjoy the family’s music, and we are glad that this upcoming title will further that mission through an entirely new platform.”
LBC Studios was founded in 2017 by Solon Bucholtz and Dennis Molloy. In 2017, “Hempire” released as a game that spoke to the cannabis community. “We looked at the game space and realized that no one had really appealed to that culture and group of people in a meaningful and authentic way,” Bucholtz told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview.
“Bob Marley World Tour” will feature original songs and remixes of Marley’s most famous tunes. Eventually, the studio plans to expand these offerings to include other musicians whose work was inspired by Marley’s career. “For us it was a natural fit,” said Bucholtz. “Music fits well with our audience, Bob Marley is a natural fit, and our team was just genuinely excited to be the stewards of such a popular and well-respected brand and bringing that to the mobile game space.”
The decision to make a game based on Bob Marley served to be the perfect intersection between iconic Marley music and a game everyone can play. “When we decided to develop the Marley game, we wanted to make sure we were building a game not just for Marley fans and music fans, but really gamers alike,” Bucholtz added. “And we wanted to make sure it was accessible to as many as possible. One of the challenges we faced with ‘Hempire’ is there are countries where we aren’t able to distribute that game, strictly based on the content.”
When developing “Hempire,” Bucholtz and the team encountered many unique challenges to create a cannabis game that didn’t violate platform requirements and policies. “Early on, we really wanted to make sure that how we present cannabis isn’t about selling cannabis. It isn’t about distribution or criminality. Instead it’s about the positive aspects of cannabis, how it supports communities,” Bucholtz said. “If you look at ‘Hempire,’ it’s really a story-driven joint that focuses on a town that’s down on its economic luck, uses legal cannabis to build up the town, build relationships with people who are dealing with PTSD, and really just an underlying positive message driven by the community.”
The result of being careful and conscious, Bucholtz said Hempire was the first cannabis-themed game to be accepted by Google AdWords.
With “Bob Marley World Tour,” Bucholtz and his team wanted to target a wider audience. “Marley is a global brand and it’s had a global impact around the world. When we started thinking about the design of the game, we wanted it to be rated for a younger audience,” Bucholtz explained. “We wanted it to be accessible globally. And we wanted it to be a product the platforms could get behind. Whether you’re a kid who’s new to Marley’s music or an adult who’s grown up with Bob’s music and his philanthropy and beliefs, you could share that experience together. So the Marley game itself has no cannabis in it.”
Although the community has long supported Marley as a cannabis icon, Bucholtz explained the reasoning behind choosing to make the game without any cannabis references. “It’s a question we’ve discussed with the family and internally as well,” Bucholtz said. “Although there are some aspects of cannabis that obviously were very important to Bob and his beliefs, I don’t think that’s the driving force. And we put enough emphasis on many of the other areas Bob is remembered for today and has a meaningful impact on today in the game that that omission isn’t a negative result in the overall experience or the authenticity we’re delivering.”
Bucholtz added that Marley’s strong beliefs of philanthropy and unity are also a big part of the legacy he’s left behind, and that’s the game’s focus.
Bucholtz ended the GamesIndustry.biz interview by sharing that although his grandfather and father were involved in real estate, he decided to try his hand at game development by founding LBC Studios with limited experience. “We don’t have a very long time on this earth to make a meaningful impact and I wanted to get involved in something where I could touch a lot more lives, something where I could show up every day and be passionate about it,” Bucholtz concluded. “I wanted to make a meaningful impact on generations of people.”
LBC Studios will be working with the Marley family’s partnered charity, One Tree Planted, which aims to plant trees across the world. According to the House of Marley website, it has helped plant 340,400 trees with the organization since 2017. An exact release date for “Bob Marley World Tour” has not yet been announced, but you can keep an eye on LBC Studios’ page here for future updates.