Yesterday at the Casual Connect conference in Seattle, Kixeye developers Paul Preece and David Scott gave a small preview of the company’s next real-time strategy game, War Commander, due out in August.
War Commander is a military-themed game set in a modern era with a higher degree of realism than Kixeye’s preceding games, Battle Pirates and Backyard Monsters. The game also implements more traditional RTS gameplay mechanics established in classic games like Command & Conquer; the ability to select and control individual units or drag the cursor over a group of units to select and control them, for example. Players will have access to 27 different unit types at launch.
Kixeye’s history on Facebook is a strangely low-key one for a developer whose games are all about blowing stuff up. Back when the company was still calling itself Casual Collective, it took a cautious approach to the Facebook platform by designing Backyard Monsters for a wide audience with cutesy graphics married to well-balanced combat. About six months ago, Kixeye decided to “get hard,” as Preece and Scott put it, ditching the cutesy look for edgier monsters and a persistent world where the damage players did to one another didn’t just vanish into a pop-up notification of “So-and-so attacked your base.” As a result, the game went from being 40% female to 96% male and now has excellent retention despite shrinking overall in monthly active users.
Battle Pirates, meanwhile, was aimed at a male audience from launch. Like the revamped Backyard Monsters, the world was persistent and players could attack each other at any time after a tutorial period expired. Preece and Scott report emergent gameplay behavior from Battle Pirates players where they will work together to coordinate attacks on bases. We’ve also personally experienced Battle Pirates players policing themselves for bad behavior (i.e. griefing), though Kixeye does have systems in place to prevent players from picking on each other too much. The game has never enjoyed Backyard Monsters’ size, but it has shown steady overall growth in MAU and daily active users in the last 90 days.