PerBlue is gearing up to launch a major update to its flagship mobile game Parallel Kingdom. Dubbed the “Age of Ascension”, the update will provide Parallel Kingom players with a new world area to explore. We spoke to Per founder and CEO Justin Beck about the update, as well as what else is going with the company.
The game’s new Age unlocks when players reach level 10, which is when they’ll be able to purchase their first Airship vehicle to move anywhere in the game world quickly (“and with relatively few restrictions”, PerBlue tells us). Later on, higher-level players will have access to four specialty Airships from the in-game Skydock. These ships are will be crucial to accessing floating islands, which spawn randomly and work the same way mines do in the Land realm. A new form of combat will focus around the Airships, requiring players to arm the vehicles with cannons and staff them with crew members (each of whom needs to be equipped with combat gear); battles will take place between airships, but there’s also hand-to-hand combat when a user has to defend themselves on board the airship.
“By providing Airships, we increase monetization,” Beck says. “Players have to spend a certain amount of food [which serves as in-game currency] to upgrade their Airships and to travel them around the world. These Airships provide monetization sinks to work off of.”
The new Air Realm players are tasked with exploring doesn’t just contain new territory to roam around, PerBlue’s also launching a lot of new content for players to use. New metals can be discovered, crafted, or earned through epic adventures. Likewise, fifteen new skills are available in the new Age, and players can also earn six extra skill points.
According to Beck, the update was designed to reignite the game community’s enthusiasm in the title. “Parallel Kingdoms has been around for almost four years now,” he says. “With all these games in general, they have these life cycles, but in mobile gaming you tend to have a smaller life cycle. But what we found with our MMO was that we were able to have a longer one, though we felt it was starting to get stale. So we asked ourselves, ‘how can we liven this up? What’s the biggest idea we can come up with to reignite the fantasy of location-based gaming?’
“If we can reengage existing customers who’ve disengaged from the game, that’s one of the most valuable things we can do.”
Parallel Kingdom continues to be a runaway hit for the developer on Android, something Beck detailed during a talk at GDC Online in October. At the time, Beck said the game was generating $0.40 to $0.50 per day per daily active user. That number’s continued to climb, as he tells us December’s monetization reached $0.55. However, other platforms haven’t proven anywhere near as popular for PerBlue’s players.
“Android’s just been a freight train,” Beck notes. “iOS stays at proportion to our Android success, it maintains its percentage, but it hasn’t been growing by leaps and bounds like Android has. Likewise, with our product, on the web we haven’t been able to get that to take off. Rewinding the clock by twelve months, we tried a variety of strategies that were pretty aggressive with customer acquisition but we never got the retention or monetization rates to work. We’re a mobile-based gaming company, and that’s where we’re continuing to make our investments … us having a web strategy just isn’t going to be the future for us for the next few years.”
Meanwhile, PerBlue’s other games have met with mixed success. Beck tells us Parallel Mafia, which launched last Spring, is continuing to grow and perform well and the developer will probably put out a new Age for that game sometime in the future. Beck likens it to being a new version of Parallel Kingdom and says the developer is happy with the game’s progress. Parallel Zombies, meanwhile, hasn’t been as big of a hit and the company’s shifted its focus away from the game for the time being.
“From a developer’s perspective, it’s a lot of valuable lessons and we’ve put it as a financial failure,” he says. “But from the game perspective, it’s still fun for its user base. We weren’t hitting the bars we needed to hit in our business, so we’ve de-invested in it for the current time; but sometime in the future we may come back to it and put more money into Parallel Zombies.”
PerBlue’s latest game, Boardtastic, is moving away from geolocation titles. Boardtastic is a 3D skateboarding game for Android that’s been well-received so far, with an average of four stars on Google Play. “The Android game space, there’s something about it that we feel could use so much more love. We looked at it and wondered why there weren’t more awesome 3D apps on the platform,” Beck says. He notes PerBlue has had reasonable success with the game so far, but they’re shipping a new update on Feb. 11 with global multiplayer mechanics.
Parallel Kingdom’s Age of Ascension is expected to launch in Parallel Kingom on February 12. For more information about what to expect, check out the update’s preview page.