Wooga’s Monster World arrives on iOS

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 8.33.42 AMSocial game developer Wooga’s Monster World has arrived on iOS.

We’ve known the game was slated to arrive on mobile platforms since we spoke to Wooga Founder and CEO Jens Begemann at Casual Connect last summer. At the time, Monster World’s iOS version was slated to be released sometime last Autumn, but the launch date was pushed back so the developer could tweak the game’s mobile experience.

Wooga’s press event in February revealed the iOS version of Monster World was finally nearing its launch date. The mobile version of the game will feature high-resolution graphics to take advantage of Apple devices’ Retina displays, and gameplay has also been adjusted to be a friendlier experience for the touchscreen interface.

Monster World is one of Wooga’s better-known titles. Even though it launched in April 2010, the game is still one of the top 25 Facebook games in terms of daily active users. AppData estimates the game has approximately 1.7 million daily active users. Expect our review sometime soon.

Corona Labs launches Corona Cloud for mobile developers

CoronaLabs-Flatlogo-URL copyToday, Corona Labs launched Corona Cloud, a suite of cloud services partnered with the Corona SDK for mobile development.

The new backend as a service is open to anyone to use, but it’s designed to be extra appealing to those already using Corona SDK. Corona Cloud provides a number of back-end features that would normally require developers to implement via multiple third-party toolsets, greatly lowering the time requirement necessary to implement things like multi-player support, chat functionality, push notifications, analytics and leaderboards/achievements. Additionally, the service features integration with Twitter and Facebook, so developers can access users’ various social graphs.

“Even for the basic things like leaderboards and achievements and basic user account management, we’re making that work across platforms like both iOS and Android,” Corona CEO Walter Luh tells us. “They’ll be able to work seamlessly.”

As a result, Luh hopes Corona SDK and Corona Cloud will make developers more efficient. “We want to make people ten times more productive,” he says.

Corona Cloud is available to all mobile developers, but it’s designed to provide those studios using Corona SDK with even faster development due to the implementation of the integration of Corona Cloud with the existing platform.

Corona Labs was founded five years ago. Prior to that, Luh had worked at Adobe on Illustrator and at Apple on the Final Cut Pro team. Corona SDK, meanwhile, is a toolset designed for the development of native mobile apps that’s been used for some popular mobile games. Some of the more notable titles created with the software includes Bubble Ball, Major Magnet and last spring’s Lorax movie tie-in mobile game.

Luh tells us Corona Cloud’s pricing is actually divided into a set of tiers, including a free option that is designed to help fledgling developers get their app launched as inexpensively as possible. Certain features will be free for everyone who uses Corona Cloud, like unlimited user accounts, leaderboards and achievements. Additional features will feature what Luh calls a “free up to a limit” mode. This way, small developers can implement the technology at no cost into their games, but will need to start paying based on API calls.

To learn more about Corona Labs or the new Corona Cloud, visit the official site here.

Mike DeLaet is Kabam’s new head of worldwide business development

MikeDeLaetMobile social developer Kabam today announced Mike DeLaet has been brought on board to serve as Senior VP of Worldwide Business Development.

DeLaet comes to Kabam after serving as the Senior VP of Global Publishing at Glu Mobile since 2009. Before that, he was the Senior Manager of Games and Business Development at Sprint Nextel Corp.

According to a company statement, DeLaet will report to Kabam COO as he oversees the company’s business partnerships with companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. This is definitely an area of expertise for DeLaet, who led Glu’s expansion into Asia with hirings in several countries and localized launches of the company’s games.

This latest hire highlights how bullish Kabam is about pursuing an international audience. Although Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North is one of the top-grossing iOS games, several international markets (especially Asia) are considered untapped gold mines for developers simply because there is such a huge demand for new content by a truly massive audience.

Ryan Seacrest reveals, Zynga confirms, Draw Something 2

Television personality Ryan Seacrest today revealed the existence of Draw Something 2, the sequel to OMGPOP’s runaway mobile success Draw Something.

Seacrest, best known for hosting Fox’s long-running television show American Idol, Seacrest posted the following image to his Twitter account today.image001

Zynga VP and OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter was quick to confirm Seacret’s claim that the public was checking out some legit Draw Something 2 artwork, responding with the game’s official logo.

image002

Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP made some serious headlines last year, especially since the deal was reportedly worth somewhere around $200 million. Zynga’s staying mum on exactly what kind of new features the game will contain, or even when it will release, but Porter’s comment implies Draw Something 2 will continue to leverage social networks so players have more ways to share their images (something that users have long been clamoring for).

Seacrest and Draw Something have long been associated with one another, especially following the revelation that Seacrest was producing a Draw Something-themed gameshow for CBS.

What will be interesting to see is how Zynga handles Draw Something after its sequel is launched. AppData estimates the game still has over 5 million monthly active users, and those are only the users who connect the game to their Facebook accounts.

Scopely partners with five studios for developer network, including Double Fine

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 8.12.35 AMSocial mobile entertainment group Scopely today announced the first five partners for its new Developer Network, including Tim Schafer’s Double Fine.

The other partners announced includes Big Cave GamesHigh Line GamesRocket Jump Games and Zupcat Games. Scopely’s Developer Network is effectively a publishing platform that allows indie gaming studios to develop multiplayer titles while leveraging Scopely’s technology, distribution power, marketing and monetization techniques along the way.

We chatted with Scopely CEO Walter Driver about the Developer Network a couple of weeks ago, at which point he told us Scopely’s team would support partnered developers throughout the entire development process and aid them in distributing titles across various platforms.

As far as partnered developers to debut with, this is an impressive list: It’s hard to find a more beloved game developer than Double Fine, which is famous for its (usually) critically-hailed games like Psychonauts, Brütal Legend and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. Big Cave Games is formed from team members who worked on popular AAA titles like Call of Duty, Rage and Doom and are known for the well-received mobile title ORC: Vengeance. High Line Games was founded by former Rockstar Games devs and is known for the word game W.E.L.D.E.R. Rocket Jump Games created Major Mayhem (a rail shooter for Adult Sim Games). ZupCat Games has established a following on Facebook with RaceTown (which AppData estimates has 31,893 daily active users).

For these partner studios, Scopely is an attractive partner to work with, considering how the company’s “With Buddies” mobile games have repeatedly topped the iOS games charts. As a result, it has access to a huge number of users that would normally be out of reach for smaller, independent studios due to the ever-increasing cost of user acquisition on mobile platforms.

Gaia Interactive launches RumbleKitten on iOS

rumblekitten

Monster Galaxy developer Gaia Interactive’s newest game, RumbleKitten, is now on available on the iTunes App Store.

RumbleKitten is a free-to-play gesture-based game, set in a Dickensian world where orphaned cats engage in “underground tickle fights” in order to gain freedom from the oppression of local kingpin Daddy Cat. Players must spend energy to engage in these battles against other cats, which requires one to swipe the screen in order to capture stars (as well as boost items) while avoiding making contact with launched bombs. The basic gameplay mechanics are reminiscent of Halfbrick’s Fruit Nina titles.

If stars are missed or a bomb is detonated, players will lose a portion of their health. A fight ends when either a player or their opponent runs out of health.

RumbleKitten monetizes through the sale of in-game currency which is used to purchase outfit items (thereby increasing a character’s “swag”, which helps unlock new areas), purchase premium items and free other cats from Daddy Cat’s custody. Freed cats provide passive boosts like increased health.

The game’s social features appear to be limited to sharing photos of a player’s custom cat outfit via the “Instakitten” feature, which will post photos via Facebook and/or Twitter. Currently, Gaia Interactive seems to be focused on adjusting the game experience, as a recurring message asking if players are having fun pops up and thanks them for their feedback.

Look for our review in the near future.

Zombie Minesweeper arrives on Android

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 3.23.05 PMFrogtoss Game’s tongue-in-cheek survival horror game Zombie Minesweeper has officially launched for Android, approximately 16 months after it launched for iOS.

Zombie Minesweeper is a twist on the classic Minesweeper game. The game is broken up into sprawling levels, the landscape of which is divided up via a Minesweeper grid. Players have to guide a young girl through this map while avoiding both prowling zombies (who will eat her if they get too close) and “suburban landmines” that must be identified and marked. An interesting mechanic in the game was that players could lure zombies across a square with a mine on it, detonating the mine and giving the protagonist some breathing room. At the time of launch, the game was also noteworthy because of how it leverages Twitter to share progress through the campaign.

Frogtoss Games is now run by Mike Labbe, while the Zombie Minesweeper team is composed of Lara Kehler and Graham Jans. These days, Zombie Minesweeper is a side project for both: Kehler now works as an artist and game/UI designer at mobile social developer East Side Games (prior to this, she was on the Triple Town team at SpryFox), while Jans works at Klei Entertainment.

When asked why it took so long to get the game over to Android, the answer is twofold: Kehler tells us that since the game was originally developed in Unity, there wasn’t an option to port the game to Android at the time. When Unity could port to Android, both Kehler and Jans found free time limited between their full-time jobs. However, Kehler tells us getting the game onto that platform was “kind of just another ‘notch’ in the belt. We wanted to say we did it.”

Zombie Minesweeper originally launched for iOS in August 2011 and served as an example of just how tough it is for small developers to succeed in mobile markets. The game was critically hailed, both on mobile and mainstream game sites, but it only managed to break into the top five puzzle games in a few countries overseas like France. In North America, the game remained largely unknown, despite the praise showered on it from press outlets.

When asked why the game never really found much of an audience, Kehler tells us she isn’t sure but it might have something to do with the title’s name. “We often wonder if it was the fact it has the name ‘minesweeper’ in it,” she notes. “For example: We found that on the Steam Submission guidelines page, it suggests not even bothering to submit your “Minesweeper clone” game; they won’t even look at anything with the name ‘Minesweeper’ in it. That would explain the fact they never looked at our submission.”

Still, even though the game hasn’t proven a runaway hit on mobile devices yet, Kehler is happy for the experience she’s gained working on the project. Additionally, she tells us Zombie Minesweeper has provided both her and Jans with some serious credibility among independent game developers.

“Zombie Minesweeper was designed out of the pure fun of the idea and desire to just finish making a game,” she says. “I’d rather be known for making a good game that’s not popular than a bad game that is.”

WildTangent expands mobile presence, launches games for Xperia phones and tablets

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 7.02.47 PMWildTangent continues to make 2013 the year it makes a serious push into mobile markets. Today, the company announced it’s bringing its games to various Sony Xperia smartphones and tablets.

The deal comes as a continuation of the partnership between Sony and WildTangent, which originally was established in September 2011 and saw the WindTangent Games App pre-installed on Sony VAIO computers, as well as the S and P models of the Sony Tablet line.

WildTangent says all Xperia smartphone and tablet owners who register with the games service will receive an allotment of free WildCoins (the company’s virtual currency used to buy and rent games, as well as make in-app purchases). The current list of games includes recent high-profile titles like Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja and Madfinger’s Shadowgun.

This is the second major mobile announcement for WildTangent in the past few weeks. In January, the company launched its first debut first-party mobile game for iOS, Polar Bowler 1st Frame. That game is available on iTunes for free and is powered by WildTangent’s advertising platform BrandBoost, and we’re told more first-party mobile titles are in development.

This story was originally published on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

WildTangent enters mobile market with Polar Bowler on iOS

Today, WildTangent Studios launched Polar Bowler 1st Frame on iOS. The game is noteworthy because it’s WildTangent’s debut first-party mobile game.

Polar Bowler 1st Frame is the mobile version of Polar Bowler, which was developed by WildTangent and first launched in 2004. Players control the polar bear PB, who wears sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt while he rides an inner tube down an icy bowling lane after being launched by a giant slingshot. During his bowling runs, PB collects crates that contain boosts to increase one’s bowling score.

Until now, WildTangent has been known for its distribution and monetization of online games, offering thousands of titles on its own platform. Aside from publishing a wide number of games on its platform, WildTangent also sells in-game items via its platform-specific currency WildCoins. This currency can be spent on “renting” games on either PC or Android mobile devices; essentially, users can spend a certain amount of WildCoins for a play session that lasts until they leave a game or are inactive for longer than 20 minutes.

Polar Bowler 1st Frame is available on iTunes for free. WildTangent tells us the game is powered by WildTangent’s own advertising platform, BrandBoost. WildTangent also tells us it has more mobile titles in development and will be launching Polar Bowler 1st Frame on Android sometime soon.

Former Funzio executives return at the helm of Wormhole Games

Wormhole Games today came out of stealth and revealed it’s already nearing completion of its first mobile title. The company is co-founded by Jamil Moledina and James Kelm, both previously of Funzio. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should: Funzio was acquired by GREE last year for $210 million.

For Moledina and Kelm, Wormhole represents a return to the indie game world after becoming a part of GREE’s larger company last Spring, where Moledina only stayed for a month before striking out on his own. Moledina tells us Wormhole Games’ was being staffed by October.

Currently, the studio funded via seed money raised from friends and family, and we’re told the company is staffed with a “handful of folks” that includes six full-time employees. Moledina also tells us his studio is planning to do a round of angel funding.

“I love being indie,” Kelm says. Before I was in the game world, I was in the tech world and loved the big places I worked for but it’s tremendous fun getting to call your own shots. Being in this situation means we’re building from scratch so we can take risks with design and how we build things.”

Wormhole games is focused on developing core titles for tablets, much like Funzio was doing before it was acquired, and the first of these games is expected to arrive on iOS in early 2013 with an Android version to follow later on. When asked about possibly developing for Microsoft’s Surface tablets, we’re told the company views the device as having a lot of potential but won’t commit to anything right now.

The specifics of the game aren’t revealed, but Moledina explains what Wormhole won’t be doing. He tells us the company won’t be making games that look like Flash ports of other games on Facebook, nor will they implement the mechanics that many mobile versions of existing games (he’s particularly vehement about not using virtual joysticks. However, Moledina says it will stay true to the company’s philosophy.

“The incumbents of social mobile games were frequently releasing games that were very similar to what got them success in the first place,” he tells us. “For us, we began to sense that a startup is a structure that enables people to take the kind of risks necessary  to make a great kind of game. At the same time, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. But we’ve seen there are ways to take fun elements from traditional games things and adapt them over into what we learned and operated into the social games industries. For us, it’s all about creating fun, gorgeous and badass multiplayer games.”

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

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