You don't need to be first in the F2P race if you have quality, claims Kixeye

Product veep Patmore on studio's steady progress

You don't need to be first in the F2P race if you have quality, claims Kixeye

Back in June 2013, I visited Kixeye's 'Death Star' office in downtown San Francisco.

Together with its studio in Australia, the Facebook - and soon to be mobile - developer has over 500 staff working away on some of the industry's most core free-to-play strategy games.

Indeed, my trip was to check out the first wave of mobile games the company was preparing for launch in 2013. Over three months later, the wait continues for that debut.

VP of product, Alan Patmore isn't impatient, though.

"We don't worry about the state of the market," he says when asked if the company is concerned that it's missed the first (and second) wave of F2P success.

"It's all about the quality of the product."

More core

In particular, Kixeye's 'ready when it's ready' approach is heavily influenced by the type of games it's working on.

On Facebook, it's made ten of millions of dollars from real-time strategy games like War Commander and Backyard Monsters; the later providing inspiration for Supercell's Clash of Clans, amongst others.

Backyard Monsters

Patmore says he expects Backyard Monsters: Unleashed - the company's first release - to provide fans of the genre a deeper, more immersive experience.

"We think there's more demand for core products on mobile," he says. "It's an underserved market."

Going longer

As with all the games Kixeye plans to bring to mobile - including War Commander and new MOBA title TOME - part of that philosophy is to go beyond the snackable loop we hear so much about on mobile.

"We're designing for longer sessions length," Patmore explains.

"This isn't about reducing depth. We believe there is an audience for richer, deeper games."

War Commander

On element of this that the company is looking at is how to innovative when it comes to control; a key part of any strategy game.

"We're doing some cool things from a control point of view when it comes to managing your units on a micro-level," he reveals.

"We're doing more than the 'tap-and-pray' AI of games like Clash of Clans.

Light the blue touch paper

It all sounds promising, but we won't see exactly how Kixeye approaches the market, and the market's reaction, until those first couple of games go live.

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed has been in soft launch for a couple of months now as its developers iterate and tweak prior to opening the doors for its global release.

"The soft launch has validated our assumptions, both in terms of the quantitative and qualitative feedback we've received," Patmore says.

Still, these games will be something of a learning experience for the company.

As Patmore confesses, for technical reasons they won't connect to their Facebook versions, so won't be able to take advantage of the cross-platform push that more mass-market companies such as King and Wooga have enjoyed.

Nevertheless, Kixeye's ambition remains undimed.

"With every mobile release we'll getting better, in terms of more features, deeper gameplay and providing a more robust experience," he says.

"We're releasing with a high degree of confidence in our success."

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.