Last week, Playdom’s Disney City Girl officially launched on Facebook, following a few weeks of it appearing on our weekly lists of emerging games. The game was developed by Playdom’s studio in Eugene, Oregon. Inside Social Games sat down to chat with Product Manager Rachel Nordquist, Senior Producer Alex Swanson and Lead Designer Martha Sapeta about the game and Playdom’s upcoming plans for it.
All three are social gaming veterans who have been with Playdom for quiet some time. Before this, Nordquist and Swanson worked together on Social City, while Sapeta cut her teeth at the company with Blackwood and Bell Mysteries as well as Sorority Life. For all three, Disney City Girl represented an opportunity to combine different genres into a single title. Even though it can be argued the appeal of lifestyle management games has passed based on the decline of more high-profile titles like The Sims Social and The Ville, Nordquist points out the game is the logical next step for Playdom.
“When we were originally looking at designing this game, that was one piece of the puzzle: the life management,” she tells us. “We have expertise in the builder space, as well as the fashion genre. So when we were looking at the genre as a whole, we saw a gap. There’s definitely some fashion games out there, but they just didn’t fulfill the need that we felt the need we could combining our expertise in the two spaces.
“We were looking at making a richer experience.”
The lasting appeal of 3D paper dolls
Even though fashion games haven’t appeared on any of our Top 25 Facebook games list for quite some time, Nordquist explains the genre is still quite viable. Sapeta likens these titles as “3D paper dolls”, which can have longer-lasting appeal than other social titles.
Nordquist cites an example with how Sorority Life is still a profitable game after five years, as similar titles like Mall World and Coco Girl. Fashion titles, she explains, “last an incredible amount of time, much longer than the average Facebook game.”
When asked why this is the case, Nordquist’s answer is simple. “People like dressing up,” she says. “That’s honestly the simplest answer. They like dressing up. They like pretty clothes. They like shopping. They like trying things on.
“We’ve seen in play tests — not just with this game, but with a number of different Playdom games— any time there’s a component of avatar customization, a lot of players will just sit there for 10 or 15 minutes just going through everything and enjoying setting up their avatars. This is even in games where avatars are a relatively minor component.”
Where will Disney City Girl go now?
While many developers are veering away from the standard casual gamers in lieu of the highly profitable core audiences, Sapeta explains Playdom is still pursuing adult female players with its fashion-oriented games. When we ask about whether the developer will market Disney City Girl towards tween girls — a player group that’s often overlooked on Facebook because of the age requirements on the social network — we’re told Playdom isn’t crafting any marketing campaigns specifically oriented towards them. However, Sapeta notes, “We certainly don’t mind tween girls, but we won’t target them. From out of the gate, our research shows us we should be looking at female gamer groups.”
That said, we’re told Disney City Girl is set to receive comprehensive cross-promotion from Disney itself. Nordquist notes the game will be marketed on Facebook from other Playdom games (which will be reviewed and chosen on a case-by-case basis), as well as from other Disney properties outside the social network. Details aren’t being revealed yet, but we’re told this could include cross promotion from Disney films and television shows.
Likewise, the game is now available outside of Facebook on Playdom’s own web portal and we’re told Playdom isn’t ruling out bringing the game to mobile devices or other platforms. “There’s always plans to look at everything,” Swanson notes. “The team is laser focused on the game that it is right now and making it as fun and enjoyable an experience as they can.”
Disney City Girl‘s audience is already increasing, according to our traffic-tracking service AppData. The game is still in the 100,000+ MAU tier (rank 1,228) and the 10,000+ DAU tier (rank 651). Further information on Facebook’s new tier-and-rank system for application data reporting may be found here.
Correction: We initially credited Playdom as the developer behind Mall World. This was incorrect, as Mall World is developed and maintained by 50Cubes. We’ve corrected this mistake.