E3 2015: Bethesda Launches Fallout Shelter on iOS

At its E3 2015 showcase event, Bethesda announced and quickly released Fallout Shelter, a strategy simulation game for iOS devices. Based in the Fallout universe, players become the leader of their own Vault, challenged with recruiting and protecting a growing group of survivors from the dangerous and irradiated Wasteland.

Fallout Shelter contains elements which will be familiar to fans of games like The Sims and Tiny Tower, as players construct their Vault one room at a time, with each room having a different purpose. To start, players will focus on establishing food, water and power generation rooms, and will assign their starting Vault dwellers to these rooms to ensure the Vault can quickly grow and expand.

Each dweller has different stats, which indicate how well they will perform in specific kinds of rooms. For instance, dwellers with a high strength rating would thrive in the role of power generator, while those with a high intelligence would be better suited to working in the medical bay, and so on.

Fallout Shelter

Players earn more dwellers from the surface periodically, or can breed their existing dwellers to create new workers. These dwellers will also sometimes appear inside lunch boxes, alongside rewards like stat-changing outfits and free currency. Lunch boxes are rewarded to players as they complete secondary quests, like collecting specific resources in bulk, as one example. They can also be purchased with real money.

As the Vault grows in both size and population, its power, food and water requirements increase. While resources are generated in each room automatically over time, users can rush the production for free, but in doing so, risk triggering an “incident,” like a fire or radroach infestation.

If resource levels are allowed to drop below their minimum required levels, the Vault suffers, with some rooms losing power and therefore production ability. The dwellers are affected as well, and may become sick. Users can construct the proper rooms to generate Stimpak and RadAway items to heal dwellers, but if they are allowed to perish, they can either be removed from the Vault or revived using free currency.

Finally, players can send their dwellers out into the Wasteland in the hopes of gathering extra weapons or outfits, as well as free currency or experience points. Gamers can leave a dweller in the Wasteland as long as their health holds out (and they don’t succumb to radiation), and can equip them with Stimpak and RadAway items to increase the duration of the adventure. As players collect weapons, these can be assigned to specific dwellers to allow them to defend themselves (and the Vault) from the raiders who periodically attack the shelter.

Fallout Shelter is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store. Since release late Sunday evening, the game has already hit the No. 1 spot on the top Free iPhone Apps chart on iTunes. On Twitter, Bethesda’s vp of public relations and marketing, Pete Hines, said details about an Android version will come “later.”

Check out more of our E3 2015 coverage:

Google Announces Twitch Competitor YouTube Gaming

In a bid to take on Amazon’s Twitch, Google has announced YouTube Gaming, its upcoming app and website built around video games and video game culture. YouTube Gaming will feature videos, live streams and more, with a database of over 25,000 games to start.

Each game will have its own page or hub, containing the best videos and live streams about that title. From the below screenshot, it appears these hubs will be broken down into an about page for the game and a general explore tab, as well as tabs for current live streams, popular videos, let’s plays and reviews. Finally, it appears games will be presented alongside content from the developers, where available.

YouTube Gaming

Users will be able to add games to their collection, as a sort of bookmark for quick access to new content. In addition, the platform will support smart search results, relating specifically to games.

In terms of live streaming, these streams will have a major place on the platform, and Google already has or will introduce new functionality to make the streaming process more user-friendly. This includes high frame rate streaming, DVR and more, as well as the removal of mandatory live event scheduling. In addition, users will receive a single link to share for all of their streams, so fans can easily access channels whenever they’re live.

YouTube Gaming will launch this summer, beginning in the U.S. and U.K.

Kite’s Socially Curated News-Reading App Launches on iOS

At the Northside Innovation Conference and Expo, social news-reading app Kite has launched on iOS devices. The app was created to allow users to read and share news and articles from any website, and to follow users for a feed of socially curated content.

In Kite, articles are presented socially, rather than by topic, based on the users people follow, with the idea being to follow users who share interesting content (like one follows others on Instagram or Twitter). As a news-finding app, users can browse stories from top featured websites, or use the app as a browser to visit any website.

In the browse experience, users can read articles normally, tap on the star button to add the current website to the bookmarked list within the app, or tap to share the article within Kite. When sharing to Kite, users can also share the article out to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, as well as add their own comment.

On the Kite feed, each story is presented alongside an image and brief preview of the article. Users can tap to read each article, add items to their reading list for later, share articles to their own Kite feed (so their followers can also browse them), or post likes and comments on individual posts.

In addition to social sharing, users can send articles directly and privately through the app.

In a statement, Trond Werner Hansen, founder of Kite, commented on the app:

I wanted to alleviate the need for people to have individual apps for different content sources, and instead have everything in one place, beautifully integrated, while also making that experience social. Just as Instagram created a new public social graph for photo sharing, Kite introduces a social graph for sharing news and articles. Most importantly, it’s an app for everyone – simply a great app for reading and sharing, to be used throughout the day, every day. We’re honored to launch Kite at Northside, whose track record for cultivating innovation continues to reverberate throughout the creative community.

Kite is now available to download for free on the iTunes App Store. Users can enter invite code “Northside” to access the app and create their account.

Mobile Game Roundup: Jungle Force, Threes Free and More

As we approach another weekend, it’s time to recap a few of the many mobile games released on iOS, Android and other mobile devices this week.

This week was rather light in terms of big name releases, but did see Rovio’s Angry Birds Fight soar onto mobile, bringing with it multiplayer match-three battles starring the famous birds and pigs. These angry birds have also been spotted elsewhere, with SEGA and Rovio unveiling a cross-promotion in Sonic Dash, which allows players to unlock three new playable Angry Birds within the endless runner.

If the Angry Birds franchise isn’t your favorite, or you’re looking for another game to play while your energy recharges in Angry Birds Fight, here’s a look at a few other games released this week.

Jungle Force (Free on iOS, Android) – From Fedeen Games, Jungle Force is a strategy combat title, mixing real-time and turn-based combat. Players create a team of animal warriors, each with different skills, which can be used in combination to eliminate large groups of enemies at once. Timing and the order of attacks is key, as players, for instance, may be able to use one animal to cluster many animals into a small area, and then attack with another animal which can hit them all at once. Players can summon new animals for their team, with 84 animals to collect and 100 levels to complete.

Zen Pinball

Zen Pinball: eSports Edition (Free on iOS) – From Zen Studios, Zen Pinball: eSports Edition offers free-to-play pinball, with no in-app purchases and no advertising. The game focuses on multiplayer, skill-based matchmaking and leaderboards, powered by Skillz, and offers tournaments with real-money prizes.

Elemental Wings (Free on iOS, Android) – From Joycity, Elemental Wings combines elements from vertical shooters, collectible card games and RPGs. The endless survival game asks players to drag their hero left and right to automatically shoot the enemies moving down the screen. Enemies drop orbs when defeated, which trigger special attacks or power-ups when collected. Each game is limited via the character’s mana, which drains automatically over time, but can be refilled by defeating special boss enemies. In between runs, players can summon new heroes, or level up their existing heroes with enhancement crystals.

Spirit of War: The Great War ($4.99 on iOS) – From French studio G-OLD and publisher BulkyPix, Spirit of War: The Great War is a turn-based strategy game which allows players to relive key moments from World War I on battlefields made of hexagons. The game offers 48 maps across two single-player campaigns, and supports local multiplayer across 12 maps. As gamers play, they’ll unlock 47 different units, which are revealed in the order of their real-world introductions. The game was created to be as historically accurate as possible, and in between battles, players can read a summary of the war’s events to learn more about each encounter.

Guncat (Free on Android) – Following the game’s release on iOS devices, Techland and Shortbreak Studios have released this shooter on Android devices. The game stars a cat on a quest to blast birds as they fly across the screen. Gamers unlock various weapons as they play, and will collect coins in each game, allowing them to unlock new enemy types.

Doofly (Free on iOS, Android) – From Gold’n, Doofly is an endless survival game, challenging players to drag their finger around the screen to control their character, avoiding moving and stationary obstacles in the process. The screen is forever moving, so players must quickly react to their randomized surroundings in order to survive. Players can collect coins in each game, which can be spent on power-ups. Some boosts can also be collected while playing, like shields or parachutes offering temporary invincibility. Gamers will level up over time, making future games more challenging, with the addition of new kinds of obstacles to the screen.

Try HarderTry Harder (Free on iOS) – From Adult Swim, Try Harder is a purposefully challenging side-scrolling platformer, which sees players run across the screen automatically, while users tap to jump, double jump, glide or bounce over obstacles. Players pick up orbs unlocking these platforming abilities, and must use them strategically as they avoid pits, spikes and more. Players can share their scores to Twitter, and will unlock Game Center achievements over time.

Green Ninja: Year of the Frog (Free on iOS, Android) – This level-based puzzle game from Nitrome asks players to swipe their finger on the screen to move a ninja frog into enemies, automatically defeating them. When swiping, the frog will move until it hits a solid surface in its path (it’s worth noting the frog bounces off of some platforms), so players need to watch out for obstacles which may harm the frog as he moves.

Blamburger (Free on iOS, Android, Amazon) – An arcade game from Cartoon Network, Blamburger sees players helping Clarence build hamburgers by tapping along the bottom of the screen to move Clarence between three positions and catch falling ingredients. Players must catch ingredients while avoiding firecrackers, which end the game. While players can collect every food item that falls, they’ll earn bonus points for catching ingredients required for specific recipes. The longer players survive, the faster the items fall from the sky.

Crime Coast: Gangster’s Paradise (Free on iOS, Android, Windows Phone) – A gang-themed base-building combat title from Pixel Squad, Crime Coast: Gangster’s Paradise sees players building a base and defending it from others using the cash they earn from protected businesses or from raiding others. Players complete single-player missions against computer-controlled bases, or can attack other real-world players. Additional social features allow gamers to either help their friends, or rat them out to earn extra cash.

Threes Free (Free on iOS, Android) – The popular Threes puzzle game is now available in a free version on iOS and Android. In the game, players swipe to combine matching tiles with the goal of creating large numbers and earning high scores. In Threes Free, gamers have a limited number of plays available, and can earn more by watching ads.

Angry Birds Epic Flies Into Sonic Dash on Mobile

SEGA and Rovio have announced a partnership to bring Angry Birds to its popular endless runner, Sonic Dash. Specifically, the partnership adds three new playable characters to Sonic Dash, based on those from the Angry Birds Epic mobile game. For a limited time, players can unlock these characters in Sonic Dash by collecting special tokens as they run.

The three-week event starts with Red Knight, and will introduce Chuck Mage and Bomb Pirate in future weeks. To start, players have a week to collect 100 Red Knight tokens which are scattered along the running path in order to unlock the first character.

Once each Angry Bird has been unlocked, it will remain available even after the cross-promotional event ends. Players will also have the option to purchase the birds with premium currency if they’re running out of time.

In a statement, Wilhelm Taht, head of external products at Rovio, commented on the partnership:

Our epic Sonic collaboration together with SEGA is a fantastic milestone for Angry Birds. Having two such iconic game characters and games work seamlessly together will delight millions of fans worldwide in both Sonic Dash and Angry Birds Epic.

Sonic Dash is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Windows Phone Store. Sonic Dash recently surpassed 100 million downloads since its launch in March 2013.

Angry Birds Fight Offers Multiplayer Match-Three Battles on Mobile

Rovio has announced the worldwide release of Angry Birds Fight on iOS and Android devices. The match-three puzzle game was created in collaboration with Kiteretsu, and features multiplayer battles with players challenged to clear islands and defeat the pigs.

In each battle of Angry Birds Fight, players are given a limited amount of time to create as many matches as they can, which impact their attack and defense stats in the upcoming battle. When time has expired, the opponents duke it out, and the character with the higher accumulated points wins.

Battles are separated into islands and levels, with some battles removing the multiplayer component, and instead challenging players to defeat pigs on the high seas. The game offers two separate energy systems, with one for head-to-head battles and one for ship battles. Energy recharges automatically over time, or can be purchased with premium currency.

Angry Birds Fight offers RPG elements, allowing gamers to collect gear for their birds and ship, which may increase their overall strength or defense. As players progress, they’ll collect coins which can be spent to upgrade these items, increasing their stats.

Players unlock additional birds for their team, as well as additional gameplay modes over time. Each bird has a different sabotage effect, which can be used to trip up an opponent. Bomb, for instance, can turn the game board black and white for a limited time, while Stella causes bubbles to float in front of the gameplay board, limiting one’s view of symbols, and so on. In addition, each bird also has access to exclusive weapons and accessories. Gamers can spend premium currency to open chests containing new and hopefully better items.

In terms of extra gameplay modes, users can replay completed stages against computer-controlled characters in special challenge matches, earning prizes in the process. In addition, arena and monster modes will allow players to complete special events, but as of this writing, no active events are taking place.

In a statement, Kiteretsu president and founder, Masanori Kusakabe, commented on the game:

Angry Birds Fight, the latest cultural mash-up of 2015, can be enjoyed by anyone in the world regardless of gender, nationality or age. We’re thrilled to be part of bringing the worlds of Angry Birds and Japanese style game design together.

Angry Birds Fight is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Before this worldwide release, the game was downloaded more than three million times in Asia Pacific.

Baron Fig Launches Mosaic Notebook App on iOS

While Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 operating system will bring with it enhancements to the stock iOS Notes app, users looking for a new digital notebook without the wait can try Mosaic from Baron Fig. The company responsible for real world sketchbooks and notebooks has made the jump to digital with Mosaic, which was designed not to replace traditional notebooks, but to complement them.

The Mosaic app is built around “pages,” which allow users to add text and images as individual entires related to a specific theme, like one would organize content in a notebook. Users can take photos within the app, or import images from their camera roll.

Each page can be organized on the fly by dragging and dropping entries, and since each thought or idea is entered as its own entry, removing a single thought won’t accidentally delete or edit something that should remain.

Baron Fig Mosaic

When viewing a page, users can create a custom title at the top of the screen, delete entries by swiping left on each one, tap any text entry to edit it and tap on photos to zoom in. While users can add long text blocks to a single entry, to-do or shopping lists can also be created by adding a single task or item to a page, one item a time. Then, when each task is complete, users swipe left to delete it from the list, leaving the rest intact.

Baron Fig’s blog reads:

In designing Mosaic, we talked to thinkers all over the world to get their feedback. Their thoughts helped [us] focus on what needed to be included, and, just as important, what could be left out. Our mission is to empower thinkers in their journey to create [and] inspire the world. We’re one step closer with a complementary set of digital and analog notebooks.

Mosaic is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store.

Disney’s Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe Comes to iOS

Disney Publishing Worldwide has launched Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe on iOS devices, offering an interactive retelling of Pixar’s upcoming film, Inside Out, before it hits theaters on June 19, 2015. The app allows children and adults alike to learn more about Riley’s five emotions, Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, and also explore their own memories and ideas through secondary activities.

The base of Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe revolves around the storybook retelling of the film. Users can read on their own, read along with narration, or record their own voice in the app. While reading or listening to the story, some pages offer interactive elements, which may provide short clips from the film, for instance.

Elsewhere, the app offers two playtime activities: Memory Spheres and Dream Productions. In Memory Spheres, users upload photos or videos from their camera roll, and can add an emotion to the memory, as well as stickers, weather effects and sounds, including support for recorded commentary.

Inside Out 2

Dream Productions, meanwhile, allows users to create their own dream (think film) productions in the style of Mad Libs. That is, users are provided with an assortment of items, and are asked to choose specific props for their dream based on prompts such as “something heavy” or “a scary animal.” Once the selections have been made, players watch their dream unfold with the props in place.

Inside Out: Storybook Deluxe is available to download for $6.99 on the iTunes App Store. As of this writing, the app is No. 167 on the Top Paid iPhone Apps chart on iTunes, and is featured as a Best New App on the platform.

Challenged Launches App for Social Challenges

The folks behind Social Bet have announced the release of Challenged, a platform designed to serve as a home for social challenges, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The app looks to connect brands, charities, social media influencers and other users by offering all varieties of challenges to users in a single place, encouraging communication among the community and greater interaction between users and brands.

As users browse challenges, they’re encouraged to upload video clips documenting their participation. These can be shared, liked or commented on by the community. In addition to participating in established challenges, users can create their own for challenging their peers.

At launch, the app includes a variety of challenges, including a $20,000 challenge hosted by the app’s founders. Here, users can submit a video sharing how they’d spend $20,000 in a day, with the most creative entrant receiving the cash prize to make their ideas a reality.

Challenged

Multiple third-parties are also participating in the app’s launch. For instance, Walgreens’ Summer Beauty Challenge asks users to share their best summer beauty tips using specific beauty products exclusive to the chain. The winner will receive a prize package of beauty products.

Elsewhere, HotelTonight has created a Spontaneous Moments challenge, offering $10,000 in hotel credit to the entrants sharing their most spontaneous moments. In this challenge, winners will be determined by the Challenged community.

In a statement, Jason Neubauer, CEO of Challenged, commented on the app:

In acting as “people talking to people” rather than “marketers talking to consumers,” brands can engage in a two-way dialogue that is innately real and emotional. By focusing on emotional stories and high-quality, inventive production, a brand has a real opportunity to establish a unique and memorable social presence.

Challenged is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store. The app is backed by $1.2 million in seed funding.

Kabam, Disney Announce Star Wars: Uprising for Mobile

Social and mobile game developer Kabam, in collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm, has announced the development of Star Wars: Uprising, a mobile game set in between the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In development at Kabam RPG Studio in San Francisco, the RPG will allow players to create their own unique character to take on missions.

Star Wars: Uprising will see players exploring the Anoat Sector, including Hoth and Cloud City, with action taking place after the Battle of Endor and the death of the Emperor. Gamers will complete missions, collecting gear and new skills for their character over time. As players learn these abilities and collect new items, their hero can take on the qualities of a smuggler, bounty hunter, rebel guerilla, diplomat, gambler or something entirely unique.

In a statement, Kabam’s senior vice president of studios, Aaron Leob, commented on the game:

Star Wars: Uprising is a deep role playing game experience that will immerse players in the Star Wars universe during a unique time following the fall of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. The Kabam RPG Studio has taken its collective experience and passion for role playing games to focus on creating a unique and immersive gameplay experience for Star Wars fans and RPG gamers around the world.

Gamers interested in Star Wars: Uprising can pre-register for the game on its official website. By doing so, players will win exclusive prizes at launch, including a storm trooper helmet, and can vote on in-game content.

Star Wars: Uprising will launch on mobile devices this fall. Check back soon for more.

WWDC: Apple Unveils Apple Music, Beats 1 Radio, Connect

At WWDC 2015, Apple unveiled Apple Music — its service to rival the likes of Spotify — which will offer music streaming across the entire Apple Music library, as well as 24-hour live radio and special connectivity between musicians and fans.

The base Apple Music experience will combine a user’s existing music library (whether purchased from iTunes or otherwise) with the Apple Music catalog, which consists of over 30 million songs. Users will have the ability to search for and stream any song or playlist, or browse curated music on the platform.

Rather than relying solely on algorithms for music recommendations, Apple has hired music experts from around the world to create playlists based on each user’s preferences. The more users listen, the better the curators will become. This personalized content will be found in the “For You” section of the app, which contains new releases, as well as complete albums and playlists.

Siri will also work with Apple Music, allowing users to ask Siri to play songs relating to specific months, years and more. For instance: “Play me the best songs from 1994.”

Apple Music

In addition to music streaming, Apple Music will offer Beats 1, a 24-hour live radio station, led by DJs in Los Angeles, New York and London. All worldwide listeners will hear the same programming at the same time, with Beats 1 offering music, as well as interviews, guest hosts and more.

Aside from Beats 1, genre-specific Apple Music Radio stations have also been designed with the help of human curation. While app memberships are required for ad-free listening and unlimited song skips on these radio stations (as well as access to the Apple Music library), non-members will have access to ad-supported radio, as well as Beats 1 and Connect.

Speaking of, Apple Music’s Connect service will allow artists to connect with fans by posting things like lyrics, photos, videos or songs to the platform. Fans can comment on or like anything an artist posts, or share the content out to Messages, Facebook, Twitter or email. Additionally, when users comment on posts, the artist can respond directly to those fans.

Apple Music 3

In a statement, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, commented on Apple Music:

We love music, and the new Apple Music service puts an incredible experience at every fan’s fingertips. All the ways people love enjoying music come together in one app — a revolutionary streaming service, live worldwide radio and an exciting way for fans to connect with artists.

The new Apple Music will be available in over 100 countries starting June 30, 2015.. The service will be available as a free trial for the first three months, which increases to $9.99 per month thereafter. Alternatively, families can purchase a family plan for $14.99 per month, offering service for up to six family members, each with their own profiles.

Images courtesy of Apple.

SEGA’s Sonic Dash Surpasses 100 Million Downloads [Infographic]

SEGA’s Sonic Dash has passed a major download milestone on mobile devices, as the endless runner starring the famous blue hedgehog has been downloaded more than 100 million times since its release in March 2013.

In Sonic Dash, players race along a randomized pathway while moving between lanes, jumping over and sliding under obstacles and more. Players collect gold rings as they run, which can be spent on power-ups, while red rings serve as the game’s premium currency, and can be spent, for one, on new characters.

Since the release of Sonic Dash, over 850 billion gold rings have been collected across 4.5 billion runs. Gamers have played Sonic Dash for a cumulative total of 123 million hours, with over 14 million gamers, on average, playing the game every month since launch.

To celebrate its 100 million downloads, a special in-game event is being prepared for Sonic Dash, with more details being revealed in the coming days. For now, we know the event will see some of Sonic’s “very special friends” (who have, according to SEGA, also found great success on mobile) joining the game.

Sonic Dash was developed by Hardlight, SEGA’s mobile games studio, by a team of 15 people over a period of eight months. Hardlight has since grown to 50 staff, and is working on new titles based on other existing SEGA properties, as well as completely new games.

Sonic Dash is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Windows Phone. Check out some additional gameplay stats in the infographic below.

Sonic Dash 100 Million Downloads

WWDC: Apple Unveils News App for iOS 9

During its WWDC 2015 keynote, Apple introduced its News app, which will allow users to customize their news reading experience by following specific topics or news sources. The app’s goal is a familiar one, with platforms like Spotter and Flipboard already offering personalized news experiences.

The first time users open News, they’ll be asked to select a few of their favorite topics or individual news sources. From there, the app provides a “For You” feed for browsing new stories matching these selections, while an “Explore” section presents other news sources or topics users may interested in, but haven’t already followed.

Within News, each article may feature large images, animations and interactive elements, including videos. Users can bookmark articles to read later, and swipe to move between articles instantly.

Apple News 2

For additional news, users can search for specific topics. While a broad search term like “technology” or “science” is accepted, users can also dive into the exact topics they’d like to follow, with over a million topics to choose from to start.

During the keynote, Apple’s vice president of product marketing, Susan Prescott, gave an example search term: Swift. This may present topics like Taylor Swift, the SwiftKey keyboard app, or Apple’s Swift programming language (among others). By selecting one of these results, users can add the new topic to their favorites list for later browsing.

Apple emphasized the app’s privacy, as it won’t share a user’s reading habits with third parties.

News is part of Apple’s iOS 9, with the new operating system launching for everyone this fall. The News app will release first for users in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Check back soon for more.

Outplay Talks Rovio Partnership, New Games and More [Interview]

Mobile free-to-play game developer and publisher Outplay Entertainment celebrates its four-year anniversary this year, with 2015 seeing increased growth and output from the company following the success of Angry Birds Stella POP!, the company’s bubble shooter created in association with Rovio. Angry Birds Stella POP! was downloaded more than five million times in its first month on mobile devices.

Since the studio opened in 2011, Outplay has developed and released a number of successful titles, including Monster Legacy (pictured below) and Bubble Blaze. Last year, the company expanded to release games under a sub-label, Bite Size Games, which focuses on unique games that can be played in short sessions. Thus far, Bite Size Games has released two titles: Pug Rapids and Swinging Stupendo (pictured at bottom).

Outplay aims to release four new games in 2015, with the goal of reaching a combined 40 million downloads by the end of the year.

We had a chance to chat with Douglas Hare, co-founder and CEO of Outplay Entertainment, about the company’s development of Angry Birds Stella POP!, and what it’s like developing games in an ever-changing mobile landscape.

Monster Legacy

SocialTimes: What was it like creating a new title for such a popular franchise as Angry Birds?

Douglas Hare: As you might imagine, it was a lot of fun. The Rovio folks are a joy to work with and really helped make it a smooth production. That said, there are quite a few people at Outplay who have a lot of experience working on high-profile license-based games, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience for us.

ST: How much input did Rovio have during the game’s development?

DH: As owners of the IP, they had a lot of input and direction on the look and sound of the game, not to mention keeping things true to the wonderful universe they’ve created.

ST: Outplay is celebrating its four-year anniversary in 2015. In this fast-paced world of mobile game development, can you comment on some of the major changes or difficulties you’ve seen arise in the mobile space in that time?

DH: With thousands of mobile games being launched every week, the biggest challenge is discoverability. You can make a fantastic game, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be downloaded.

We employ a number of strategies to help this process, including cross-promotion between our games, building communities to reach out to, employing viral mechanics in each game, PR, email campaigns and paid acquisition. In addition, we’ve been very fortunate to receive featuring for all our games in the main app stores, which makes a huge difference, but you can’t rely on it.

ST: Can you share more details about the four games currently in development at Outplay?

DH: I can’t reveal very much, but what I can say is that two of the games are aimed at a more casual audience, and have a clear relationship with our prior work. [T]he other two are targeting a more mid-core player, and are quite different from anything we’ve previously released.

Outplay Entertainment

ST: With so many mobile games already available in each of these games’ target genres, how challenging is the team finding it to create experiences that are fresh and engaging for gamers who have “seen it all?”

DH: Even when dealing with [such] well-understood and popular categories as puzzle or RPG, there are always ways to surprise and delight the audience. It is very rare, and getting rarer, that a truly novel game emerges, but that’s the same for music, movies, books, etc.

Everything builds on top of what’s gone before, so it’s nigh-on impossible to create something that doesn’t owe some debt to a prior work. That said, you can take well known themes or game mechanics and rework or combine them in ways that haven’t been seen before.

ST: What advice would you give to new developers, looking to stand out from the crowd in mobile game development?

DH: Assuming they’re doing a free-to-play game, then beyond trying to do something different, having an angle, a target audience in mind, and a plan for getting noticed [and] finding an audience, then I’d suggest that they try to get something in the market as quickly as possible, because that’s where the real work and learning begins.