PlayFirst partners with Sony for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones mobile game [Interview]

Mortal-Instruments_Battle1-650Image via PlayFirst

PlayFirst and Sony Pictures have announced the launch of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on iOS and Google Play, a week before the launch of the film that inspired it on August 21. The action roleplaying game sees players taking on the role of a Shadowhunter, a half-angel, half-human challenged with defeating vampires, warlocks and other monsters throughout New York City.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones game features locations, characters and abilities from the film, and gives players the chance to customize their fighting styles, abilities and appearance. As players win battles, they’ll level up their skills and unlock magical spells that can heal wounds, damage foes, or otherwise turn the tide of battle back to the favor of the player.

We had a chance to chat with PlayFirst President and CEO Marco DeMiroz to learn more about PlayFirst and Sony’s blossoming relationship, and what players can expect when they dive into the The Mortal Instruments movie game.

Inside Social Games: Can you give us an overview of the gameplay in the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie game?

Marco DeMiroz: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is an action game where players take on the role of a new Shadowhunter, half-human, half-angel characters from the film that protect New York City from the demons lurking it its midst.

You can customize your Shadowhunter and choose different Attacks and Runes – or magical powers – to use against vampires, demons and other monsters. By completing missions you gain experience points that allow you to level-up and earn points to power-up your power, defense, speed and health skills. The action takes place in environments from the movie, and alongside characters like Clary, Jace and Valentine.

ISG: This isn’t the first time PlayFirst has worked with Sony. How has PlayFirst and Sony’s professional relationship changed or grown since Hotel Transylvania Dash?

MD: Both companies, Sony and PlayFirst, were extremely pleased with the performance of Hotel Transylvania Dash. The game not only raised awareness before the movie opening and drove people to the theaters, but it also kept players engaged after seeing the film.

With The Mortal Instruments (and another game coming out in September) we are creating original gameplay that stands on its own and enables players to interact with the characters, environments and storylines alongside the film. This is different from our initial collaboration, Hotel Transylvania Dash, where we married Sony’s IP to our much-loved time management mechanics.

Mortal-Instruments_CharacterSelect_Female-650Image via PlayFirst

ISG: Did Sony offer PlayFirst a lot of creative freedom in developing the game, or were you limited to specific gameplay genres or styles?

MD: We view the collaboration with Sony as a solid partnership to deliver great content to the mobile audience. We worked closely with Sony to understand the story, characters and action combat of The Mortal Instruments movie. We also read all of the books and immersed ourselves in the story world that Cassandra Claire created.

As the experts in gaming, we understand the importance of aligning a fun game mechanic with the theme of the story world. So our team brainstormed and prototyped different types of play that blend well with the action combat and character relationships in the film. It was imperative to all parties that the game have the same look and feel as the film, and we agreed that an action role-playing game was the best fit to capture the spirit of the series. However, we do not design the game to replicate the movie rather to extend it through original gameplay.

ISG: Mortal Instruments: City of Bones isn’t in the same “cute, cartoon” style found in PlayFirst’s most popular games, including the Diner Dash series. Did the team find that change to be a challenging one?

MD: We didn’t actually. We have been adding great design and creative talent to our studio such as Brian Booker and Tom Hall and have always had plans to broaden our genre and audience. The game provided the team with a new avenue to exercise their creativity, and they enjoyed getting into the story of The Mortal Instruments. We’re such big fans now, that we’re planning a company-wide Shadowhunter costume contest for launch day. Our creative team has the deep talent and experience to make awesome games for both Flo and Clary, and even beyond.

Mortal-Instruments_Runes2-650Image via PlayFirst

ISG: What would you say, or what advice would you give, to developers looking to forge their own partnerships with major entertainment brands?

MD: Developing great partnerships starts with having solid games and loyal fans. You need to develop great franchises and sticky gameplay, foster a strong community of players, and have the analytics to optimize retention and build in tactful monetization. As a result, at PlayFirst we extend the visibility for films with our vast reach across our proprietary publishing and promotion network.

Next, it’s about putting your partner’s brand first. With The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones mobile game, it isn’t about PlayFirst, it is about making the perfect game to extend Sony’s content in an interactive way that drives engagement past the release of the movie and introduces new people to the story and characters. We aim to build and maintain a mobile audience through a compelling and addictive game that ideally spans multiple movie releases of a franchise series. A successful partnership is a win-win for both companies.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones mobile game is now available to download for free on iOS and Android. You can track the game’s progress on AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.