Playforge Takes The Slow and Steady Route in Growing Its Zombie Franchise

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comments

Playforge, one of the few bootstrapped mobile gaming companies left that’s holding onto a slot among the top grossing 25 apps, is finally following on its original hit Zombie Farm.

It’s launching a Sims-meets-zombies casual game called “Zombie Life.” Players assume the role of a zombie who must find a way to fit in among humans. Keeping the zombie theme is Playforge’s way of extending its franchise and being more than a one-hit wonder. The San Mateo-based company has taken some time with this game, investing at least four months into developing the title.

In the game, zombies must find a career and climb the corporate ladder. There are also some irreverent additions: players have to constantly apply deodorant to their zombies so they don’t smell too much. If they bite humans, their mood improves. But if the townspeople discover that the player’s zombie isn’t human and run away, the zombie’s mood falls. The game monetizes through the sale of virtual currency which players can use to buy decorations or clothing for their zombie.

Playforge was originally bootstrapped by a married couple. Vince McDonnell, a longtime console game designer left his job and started making iOS apps on the side. There were several that didn’t pan out, but Zombie Farm — a strange hybrid between Farmville and Plants Vs. Zombies — did. It’s managed to hover amongst the top 50 grossing apps in the iOS store in the U.S. since March of last year.

Unlike many of his top-grossing peers, McDonnell has steadfastly kept the company to its bootstrapped roots. Other rivals like TinyCo, Pocket Gems, Funzio and Gameview Studios have gone the venture or acquisition route.

McDonnell says that he wants to make sure the company stays in control of its own destiny. He added that venture-backed companies, with tall expectations for exits, often feel pressure to aggressively churn out titles with less regard for quality or originality.

This is Playforge’s first major launch of a new titles since Zombie Farm. They’ve also since taken Zombie Farm to Android with the help of DeNA’s Mobage network, although the title has seen fewer than 10,000 installs on the network.