TabTale looks to help small indie developers with Crazy Labs publishing label [Interview]

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By Brandy Shaul Comment

Disky

Educational app and game company TabTale announced its Crazy Labs publishing brand in late February, with the goal of creating fun new applications for audiences 13 years and older. Alongside the announcement of Crazy Labs came the reveal of Air Hockey Mania – Disky, an air hockey game developed by Playful Shark and Plaid Games.

Air Hockey Mania – Disky offers both single-player and local multiplayer game modes, as players take on the classic game of air hockey, using multiple disc types (each with different powers) to defeat their competition. The game launched for free this week on iOS.

We had a chance to chat with TabTale Co-Founder and CEO Sagi Schliesser [pictured], about what the company looks for in potential development partners and its future mobile projects.

Sagi_Schliesser_TabTale_CEOInside Mobile Apps: What was the inspiration for the formation of the Crazy Labs publishing label? Why was now the best time to branch out from children’s apps and games, and into those for an older audience?

Sagi Schliesser: Leading up to and through our recent 300M downloads milestone, we’ve developed expertise in marketing and monetization abilities as well as an extensive pipeline and backbone to support our core games. We felt that this would be beneficial for other smaller studios to leverage for their own games. And as gamers ourselves, we felt that offering this opportunity to other studios who create games for players of all ages required the establishment of a new brand that doesn’t conflict with TabTale and its younger audience – hence the creation of Crazy Labs.

IMA: What will TabTale / Crazy Labs look for in games it may potentially publish?

SS: We’re actually quite open to submissions, but generally fresh, creative, and strong teams that we can believe in and have something unique to offer mobile gamers. For example, Air Hockey Mania – Disky is our first game under the new publishing brand, a collaboration between Playful Shark and Plaid Games, two relatively small indie studios.

Air Hockey is a classic game that we all grew up playing, but it hasn’t changed much, nor have we seen it successfully implemented on mobile devices. Disky puts a unique spin on that, and grabbed some attention at GameConnection Europe 2012 by winning Best Mobile Game, reinforcing its polish and fun game mechanics. This was a great fit for Crazy Labs. We’d love to find more games that succeed in innovating while appealing to a mass audience, and encourage developers with a game that might fit the bill to reach out.

IMA: Will Crazy Labs have any impact on the number of games released under the original TabTale brand?

SS: Not at all. TabTale’s production cycle remains as strong and busy as ever, if not more so. Crazy Labs will be treated separately as we continue to build relationships with indie development studios.

IMA: There are plenty of mobile publishers out there. What does Crazy Labs bring to the table that makes it the best fit for independent developers?

SS: As mentioned above, we feel that we’ve proven our market knowledge and expertise in marketing games to mainstream gamers. With 300 million downloads under our belt and 25 million monthly active users, we can build and maintain blockbuster hits. And with the solid revenue stream that TabTale is generating, Crazy Labs allows us to take some risks in finding the next mega-blockbuster.

We’re not distracted with launching a group of games under the label at any given time; rather we’re maintaining focus on supporting each individual developer on a longer term basis. I think many other publishers might lean towards safer bets and/or limited support post-launch in order to shift priority to other publishing deals, which I don’t think is fair to the developer. This is what we’re trying to avoid.

IMA: Aside from Air Hockey Mania – Disky, are there any other titles in development under the Crazy Labs label?

SS: We do have several coming down the line, including a really fun take on one of the most popular games in the world, “Monster Match Mania – Mahjong” – this game is insanely addictive. Also, we have another one called “Primitives,” a creative and beautifully crafted puzzle game from a group of students that we can’t wait to push out. They’re both undergoing extensive testing and polishing at the moment, but you can expect to see these in the next few months.

IMA: How many games are you aiming to release under Crazy Labs this year?

SS: We’re likely looking at around 10 games in 2014, but this can change depending on the developers we meet and the potential of the games we come across. Yet, as I mentioned above, we want to keep it within reason so that we can properly focus on each game launch and invest in its success for longer than just a month or two.

IMA: Anything else you’d like to add?

SS: I’d just like to reinforce that we’re open to discussions with developers who have something amazing and unique that they believe in, but need some support on the publishing end to achieve financial success. I know the marketplace can be pretty tough, and I hate to see good games go unnoticed. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Additionally, we’re also on the hunt to acquire studios, so if you’ve built a studio that’s lean, talented, and have a vision for growth that sets you apart from all the others, reach out to us and let’s see where it goes.