Monument Valley gets 'insane' boost from House of Cards

By Jonathan Blake
Newsbeat technology reporter

image captionDan Gray and Peter Pashley with two Bafta game awards

Even before the 2015 Bafta game awards were handed out, Daniel Gray knew it would be a good night for Monument Valley.

"We feel like we've won, just for being nominated, especially for best game," he said on the red carpet, beaming from ear to ear.

The pocket puzzler won best British game and best mobile game, missing out to Destiny in the top category.

But who needs Baftas when the President of the United States is playing your game?

"They actually contacted us about six months ago," said Gray, explaining that producers of Netflix original series House of Cards asked permission to feature the game.

He and his colleagues at UsTwo - the company behind the indie hit - didn't have to think twice.

image copyrightNETFLIX
image captionUS President Frank Underwood is seen playing Monument Valley in series 3 of House of Cards

"Of course you have permission to use it - why would you not?!" he told them.

It features in an episode of season 3 when President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) plays it in the White House. In previous shows he's a fan of first-person shooter games.

The show was released on Netflix on 27 February.

"It's definitely had an effect," explained Gray.

"It goes to show the amount of people that don't know about games unless they see it in another medium.

"Last week we had about 8 times the number of downloads we usually would do. It's insane, we never thought it would have that kind of effect."

But this is a game which hardly needed a helping hand.

image copyrightustwo
image captionCritics praised the artwork and meditative quality of Monument Valley's game play

Monument Valley has been downloaded around 2.5 million times, taking more than $5.8m (£3.94m) in revenue.

The game won an Apple Design Award in June 2014 and after was announced as iPad Game of the Year in December.

But although all the awards undoubtedly helped, Daniel Gray insists the game has earned its success.

"People say: 'You were really lucky that apple helped you out - you got lucky.' But it wasn't.

"A lot of hard work went into coming up with an idea and a concept that we thought would really resonate with people."

UsTwo Games sparked a brief backlash in November after charging £1.49 for extra levels - a fee many gamers later thought justified after trying them out.

The company has recently shown off a design for in-car displays.

"We always say we want to surprise people.

"The idea that the creators of Monument Valley - in a different section of that company - can produce something beautiful for cars is going to surprise you every single time."

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