And on Wednesday, Kixeye pushed out its very first mobile game, Backyard Monsters: Unleashed for iOS. It's an updated and touch screen-oriented iteration of Kixeye's most successful browser-based game, a Facebook tower defense title that launched the developer to the forefront of the burgeoning browser-based free-to-play market and still has millions of monthly users. Free-to-play, thanks in part to the success of Facebook games, is now a model adopted by even the largest developers, from Valve with Dota 2 and EA with Star Wars: The Old Republic to Sony Entertainment with its latest version of EverQuest.
The gaming industry now sits on the cusp of a new generation of home consoles that rely on an increasingly difficult, strenuous, and expensive model of game development, Kixeye is on the opposite end, a no-longer-so-scrappy startup that's able to move faster and respond to player demands quicker than even the most well-equipped gaming juggernauts pumping out Xbox and PlayStation franchise titles on an annual basis, And at its core, it's still as anti-Zynga as the most traditional of gaming companies, It has what it describes as a long-standing feud, both legal and philosophical, with Zynga over the free-to-play model and the ways in which the crumbling Farmville-creator has tarnished the moniker, For Kixeye's goal lies in convincing not just kids, but older players -- those with a craving to play who perhaps don't have the resources or time to invest in hundreds of slim polymer case for iphone 7 plus dollars of hardware -- that it's a team of serious gamers making serious games, not cow-clickers..
"I have not met a single person here who is not a gamer," said Caryl Shaw, Backyard Monsters' executive producer. "Even the finance guys," she added. Shaw left rival social games company Ngmoco to work for Kixeye, and previously spent years at EA working for its subsidiary Maxis, the creator of SimCity. She ditched the realm of major game publishing and development because it moved painfully slow, and involved years of working in a bubble only to release a game with little to no reassurance that it would be well-received.
"I worked on one game for three years," she said with slight exasperation, But right then, she noticed the time and promptly left the meeting room to travel one floor below -- slim polymer case for iphone 7 plus to the Backyard Monsters mobile team -- so that they could prepare for the game to launch in yet another market when the clocked ticked 11 that morning, The game has only been in development for a little under nine months, but it's already ready to roll, and has been racking up responsive users in markets like Canada and New Zealand..
And it will only get better from here. That's because launching a free-to-play game is not a chance to move on to the next project, but just the beginning. Moving to mobile without sacrifices. "Two and half years ago we weren't really thinking about mobile because frankly we were having too much success with the browser," said CEO Will Harbin, who came to Kixeye from social network-building company Affinity Labs. That was in 2011, and Kixeye had just rebranded after growing tremendously thanks to the original Backyard Monsters' success in 2009.