Pocket Gems launches Animal Voyage: Island Adventure on iOS, Android [Interview]

animal-voyage-650-mainImage via Pocket Gems

Free-to-play gaming pioneer Pocket Gems has today announced the launch of its latest game on iOS and Android, Animal Voyage: Island Adventure. The game takes players on a quest to save animals trapped behind tall grass, trees and other obstacles, and then allows players to build a customizable refuge for those animals back at home.

Animal Voyage: Island Adventure is Pocket Gems’ first simultaneous release on iOS and Android, launching in nine languages worldwide. As players rescue bears, gorillas, leopards and more, they’ll be joined by a cute red panda as their faithful sidekick. Different animals come with different abilities, like breaking rocks or cutting down trees, so players will need as many animal friends as they can find to make the most progress.

We had a chance to chat with Pocket Gems CEO Ben Liu about Animal Voyage: Island Adventure, and what makes Pocket Gems’ games so successful even years after they’ve been released.

Inside Social Games: How did the Pocket Gems team come up with the idea of an animal-themed exploration game?

Ben Liu: We wanted to create a next-generation game for players of our other earlier animal games like Pet Hotel and Tap Zoo. We wanted to create a new and fresh experience for players who love this genre. There isn’t any other game out there that incorporates puzzle and exploration mechanics into the fun of animal collecting.

ISG: Is there a level cap in Animal Voyage? If so, how has Pocket Gems designed the game to keep players interested even after that cap is reached?

BL: There is no cap in Animal Voyage. We will continue to put in new, fresh content and features for as long as we can. We have a lot of ideas for new mysterious areas to explore, exotic animal collections, and new puzzles.

animal-voyage-650-1Image via Pocket Gems

ISG: What sorts of content updates can players look forward to in Animal Voyage: Island Adventure?

BL: We have a bunch of things we’re really excited about. We will have lots of new areas to explore and new island themes like volcanoes and fantasy that will show off the rich graphic capabilities of our game. We will continue to roll out these new features – this is just the beginning!

ISG: Can you talk a bit about the game’s monetization strategy and what players can spend their money on?

BL: Our game is free to play which means anyone can play it regardless if players plan to spend money. However there are a few special features that players can spend money on. Players can move quicker through the levels by expediting land, growing food quicker and giving energy to animals who can clear rocks and trees. There are also some extremely rare animals and animals with special skills that will be available.

ISG: Does Animal Voyage: Island Adventure have social features? If so, can you tell us about the specifics of those?

BL: Our first goal is to create a really fun experience for an individual player. And then we look for ways to add more fun through social features. We are working on ideas now that would integrate social into the game in a meaningful and fun way, but will continue to iterate them until we feel they really add to the fun of the game and are ready for launch.

ISG: Pocket Gems doesn’t flood smartphones with constant new releases like some other developers do. That being the case, what’s the company’s process like, in choosing which game concepts to pursue and which to skip?

BL: We are a company that creates games our players love. All our projects begin with a creative spark that we nurture and grow throughout the development process. By the time the game goes out, we attempt to have built an innovative and original title that pushes the limits of what has been seen before on mobile. We also spend a lot of time upfront thinking about what our existing player community would enjoy and what is really new and original for the industry.

animal-voyage-650-2Image via Pocket Gems

ISG: What do you think Pocket Gems does differently, that allows your games to have such staying power (and be so financially successful)?

BL: I think there are a few things that we do that have allowed us to remain in the charts for a long time like Tap Paradise Cove (18 months and counting!). It all begins by creating a really fun game. It has to be something that hasn’t been done before and that is a new and original experience.

Post launch, we spend a lot of time listening to our community and thinking of new content, quests and features that will enhance the fun of the game. Our best products go through a cycle of constant reinvention and evolution. By the time the game’s been out a few months, we hope our players see it almost as an entirely new game.

Animal Voyage: Island Adventure is now available to download for free on iOS and Google Play. You can track the game’s progress on AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.