Social game publisher RockYou announced a second contract with developer Loot Drop today, several months ahead of releasing the studio’s first game, Cloudforest Expedition.
RockYou and Loot Drop originally got together in January when the publisher agreed to fund and distribute Cloudforest. Since that time, the studio, founded by video games industry veteran John Romero, has been staffing up with other designers and developers from the traditional video games industry. In our recent interview with Loot Drop developer Brenda Brathwaite, we learned that the studios first game would launch on Facebook in summer. Today, beyond disclosing the title, the studio is also sharing another tidbit of information: The game is a story-driven exploration adventure. RockYou’s Jonathan Knight, senior vice president of games, said it decided to commission the additional game after seeing the performance of Cloudforest in alpha testing.
With Cloudforest Expedition, RockYou plans to use a “cocktail” approach to marketing the story-driven exploration game where the publisher will take out ads both on Facebook and off and leverage cross-promotion with its other games. RockYou’s newest game, Zoo World 2, will launch in May just ahead of Cloudforest Expedition with a similar go-to-market strategy.
Both RockYou and Loot Drop feel that the future of social games lies in quality of experience, rather than in rushing to grab new users. Though Knight admits that marketing plays a very big role in the success of a social game at launch, he’s confident that the real strength in RockYou-published games comes from excellent game design and an organic approach to targeting marketing at the users most likely to stay and play their flavor of game.
“Because if you have a bad game, marketing isn’t going to do a lot to help it,” says Knight, who incidentally oversaw an multi-million dollar ad buy of a Super Bowl commercial for console game Dante’s Inferno while he served as EA studio Visceral Games. “Now that the gold rush for users is mostly over, it’s much more about competing products [through quality].”
On the monetization front, Knight was able to confirm that both Zoo World 2 and Cloudforest Expedition will use Facebook Credits as the premium currency.
Knight couldn’t give us a specific time frame for Loot Drop’s second game, but he says RockYou is looking at a release toward the end of the year, closer to the holiday season.