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Duolingo adds branded questions to Jackbox Games to encourage language learning


By Chris Sutcliffe, Senior reporter

July 27, 2022 | 4 min read

Learning platform Duolingo has partnered up with games developer Jackbox Games.

The Jackbox Games and Duolingo logos, signalling the partnership

The partnership is live as of now for gamers who purchase the Jackbox pack on Steam

The language app is being bundled with any purchases of the Jackbox Party Starter set on Steam, with users receiving two months of the premium version Duolingo Plus.

The partnership between a purposefully raucous and counterculture party game and a learning tool appears misaligned on paper, but considering the nature of both partners makes a lot of sense. Jackbox, for instance, is integrating Duolingo-based questions into its Quiplash minigame, which sees players enter the funniest answer possible to prompts such as: ‘Before Duolingo chose the Owl, it wisely rejected [blank] as its mascot.’

The tie-up, then, is based on a recognition that the gamification of language is part of both platforms’ appeal, powered by users’ mobile habits. Jackbox’s minigame packs are primarily designed to be played as a group on mobiles, for instance, with the players drawing using touch screens or entering answers via prompts on their phones.

Duolingo, too, is primarily consumed on mobile devices, and uses a points-based system to gamify the learning experience. As of March 2022 the company had just under 3 million subscribers to its premium ad-free service, which the partnership with Jackbox Games will help to promote.

Belia Portillo is international and partnerships lead at Jackbox Games, which has fully localized the three games in the Party Starter pack into French, Italian, German and Spanish. She explains that the humor integral to the games’ appeal is a great proof point of someone’s language ability. “We saw Duolingo as a great partnership opportunity because we believe that one milestone of language fluency is the ability to make and understand jokes in the target language.

“Our audience can enjoy two months of Duolingo Plus to pick up some new language skills, and then put them to the test by playing one of our localized games in that language. They may even learn that they’re funnier in French than they are in English.”

Jackbox Games' Party Starter pack features a dedicated Duolingo set of prompts

Beyond the Duolingo partnership – and the tongue-in-cheek trailers that the company releases to promote its new games – Portillo says that Jackbox’s best marketing opportunity is in appealing to gamers through the games themselves.

She argues that the deployment into new languages opens up new potential markets for the company: “We’re always looking for partnership opportunities like Duolingo, but overall our best marketing strategy is to provide games that our fans will want to play and share with their friends. By expanding our titles into new languages, we’re opening the doors to a completely new fanbase of players who can enjoy our games in the language of their preference.”

Gamification of mobile activities has been a key growth opportunity for a vast range of apps, across multiple verticals and sectors. With everyone from Snap to Duolingo believing there is significant headroom still in turning mobile users into gamers, the investment in the space is set to continue.

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