Breaktime Studios sets itself apart with a less casual breed of casual game

By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Casual gaming startup Breaktime Studios wants to make the experience of playing a casual mobile game a little deeper, a little more complex and a lot more interesting.

Founded by former Playdom employees in 2011, the San Francisco-based company’s first generation of games were titles like Dream Dresses, Pocket Potions and Sweet Shop — slick looking, casual and female-focused affairs.

So far Breaktime has been pleased with the performance of its games, but CEO Matthew Davie tells us that going forward, his company intends to differentiate itself in the highly competitive free-to-play mobile gaming market by creating what he calls “mid-casual” titles.

“We will continue to focus on casual players, but our philosophy centers on the notion that these players are wildly underserved in terms of depth and richness of gameplay,” he says. “Our players have showed us that they want more complexity as long as it is introduced appropriately and not forced on them.”

This, he explains, will allow Breaktime to incorporate new features and monetization mechanics into its games that other developers might avoid for fear of making a product that seems “too core” for casual audiences.

The company’s upcoming game Dragon Skies has been designed to follow this “mid-casual” philosophy. Scheduled for release in early November, the title will blend traditional animal care elements like breeding and building habitats, but players will also be able to take the dragons they collect into side-scrolling, arcade style races as part of the gameplay.

“Our goal is to deliver the best mid-casual free-to-play mobile games. Period,” says Davie. “That means games with more complexity but less difficulty, enabling much richer social interactions than you currently see on the market.”

It’s an approach that will help differentiate the company from more established rivals like TinyCo, Zynga and Storm8 as it seeks to carve out a niche in the mobile gaming market and compete for users. Introducing more complexity into casual games has also already worked for another Breaktime rival, Pocket Gems.

Earlier this year the company took a bit of a gamble on its title Tap Paradise Cove, a game that blends traditional citybuilding mechanics with exploration elements inspired by the ultra-popular indie hit Minecraft. Although the game wasn’t a big hit right away — according to our traffic tracking service AppData, it took about a month for Tap Paradise Cove to rank within the top 25 on the top grossing iPhone app charts — the title hasn’t dropped below that position since May either. Tap Paradise Cove is currently the No. 19 top grossing iPhone app, the No. 26 top grossing iPad app and the No. 17 top grossing game on iOS.

So, while its impossible to predict if Dragon Skies will be a hit, if the performance of Tap Paradise Cove is any indication, there is definitely demand in the casual market for more complex elements borrowed from core games.

Breaktime Studios is backed by an undisclosed amount of funding from Azure Capital Partners and Sega Corporation. The company’s games are currently iOS only, but Breaktime is looking to launch Android versions of select titles before the holiday season.