Casual Collective Re-brands As Kixeye, Ramps Up Developing Core Games For Facebook

Backyard Monster developer The Casual Collective is re-branding itself as Kixeye as part of its strategy to refocus on Facebook game development and establish itself as a developer of “core” games.

Founded in 2008, Casual Collective was a casual Flash game developer and publisher known best for distributing the award-winning puzzle game, Desktop Tower Defense. In addition to acting as a games porta, Casual Collective was also a social networking hub where players could create and join clubs, participate forums and chat rooms. The company brought Desktop Tower Defense to Facebook in 2009 as Desktop Defender and then created another game of the same genre for Facebook, Backyard Monsters.

Will Harbin, CEO of the newly-named Kixeye, explains what the company plans to do under its new brand.

Inside Social Games: The Casual Collective is a recognizable name in Flash gaming. Why the name change?

Will Harbin: Well, we had a full refocus of the company on core games on Facebook over a year ago and we are only just catching up with changing the name of the company. It was due, as we are no longer a casual game company.

We’ve proven to ourselves that there are core gamers on Facebook that are seeking more than just a simple tower defense game. Backyard Monsters has over a million daily active users and the number is still growing steadily as we continue to re-vitalize the game with new art and new content. Monetization has been excellent and there has been renewed interest since our last major update which allows players to expand their “backyards” by defeating and claiming adjoining hexes on the new world map. Player feedback has us developing new monsters and we are currently in the early development of a customizable “Godzilla” which will be a guardian for the player’s base.

We basically validated our new approach and are now finally changing our name to reflect our new direction.

Inside Social Games: What will happen to the gaming portal and all its old games now that you’re so deeply committed to Facebook?

Harbin: They are still there. We relaunched our website in February, but the old website is only a click away from the landing page. Our focus now is on designing and supporting core games on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean we are dumping our beginnings. We still have loyal players of our casual games.

Inside Social Games: What are you working on then, to support or add to your cadre of games on Facebook?

Will Harbin: Backyard Monsters is our most popular game on Facebook right now and we are working hard on an alliance feature. This feature will be one that will eventually work across all our Facebook games, creating a network for Facebook friends that play our games. We are also just formally launching Battle Pirates, which is a fully synchronous multiplayer game. A game [that], if I might say, is monetizing extremely well at this early stage.

Inside Social Games: Are you at all worried about cannibalizing the Backyard Monsters player base by releasing games so similar in genre?

Harbin: We are measuring both games and testing some re-marketing. There are some that are playing both games, but we believe that the market is big enough to build a new user base. At the same time, the games are different enough that they will also attract different players. There are certainly more casual aspects to Backyard Monsters but Facebook is a wide open market for core gamers, and games will go where the gamers are.

Inside Social Games: What’s next after Battle Pirates? Zombies and ninjas?

Harbin: [Laughs] Actually, we’ve got a full scale military combat game in the works that we believe will resonate well with the traditional games market. We’re doing very well now and Kixeye is expanding and we’re hiring. We’ve got 50 positions open right now so if you have any interested readers, send them on over.

Be sure to read our reviews of Backyard Monsters and Battle Pirates.