Game Insight has big plans for Sunshine Bay on Facebook [Interview]

Image via Game Insight
Image via Game Insight

Earlier this year, casual game developer and publisher Game Insight launched Road 404‘s Sunshine Bay on Facebook, a tropical city-builder that challenges players with creating a lush beach resort while building its economy through the use of shipping routes to outside locations.

While the game is still in its soft-launch, it’s already found plenty of success on Facebook. According to our app tracking service AppData, the game has climbed to over 1.3 million monthly active players. That’s a huge increase over the 562,000 monthly active players the game had when we first previewed it back in September.

We had a chance to chat with Road 404 Studio Lead Max Donskikh about Sunshine Bay, and how Game Insight plans to use its experience with other similar games, like Airport City and Sky Adventures, to continue Sunshine Bay’s growth on the platform.

Inside Social Games: How long did Sunshine Bay take to develop, from concept to soft-launch?

Max Donskikh: It took exactly 6 months to develop the Facebook version. However, since we’re a cross-platform company that develops for mobile, we’ve also been working on additional versions for mobile platforms, and that has required more time.

ISG: Sunshine Bay has city building and resource management gameplay that’s similar to previously released Road 404 games. In your mind, what is it about that general gameplay formula that makes these games so successful?

MD: We think our games are successful for a number of reasons, and one of them is having a good combination of enjoyable game genres. We expanded the concept of a traditional city-building strategy game, in which players just need to oversee the growth of their own cities, with elements of transport strategy games, in which players send planes (like Airport City) or ships (Sunshine Bay) on voyages around the world.

This combination of gameplay not only makes the game experience more diverse, but it also expands the scale of everything that happens in the game for players. In most city-building games, all actions take place in one place—one city, their city. And that’s rather boring. The transportation elements in our games help expand the game experience beyond just sitting in their city, and it adds elements of adventure and travel to other parts of the globe, including arctic regions and tropical resorts. In addition, in our games, players also meet interesting characters and assemble collections of rarities that they can “charge” to unlock powerful bonuses.

So, by adding planes and ships, we not only expanded the gameplay, but also added a touch of romanticism with the travel component of our games. And who doesn’t love travelling? This helps us engage even those players who don’t like city-building games.

ISG: Was Sunshine Bay easier to develop than previous games, given Road 404’s experience with those similar titles, like Sky Adventures?

MD: Yes, it was. If you don’t go to extremes by trying to do every new game in a new genre and purposefully polish gameplay that has proven itself to be good, then on some level, it can be easier to make new games, because you have the benefit of technology, gameplay concepts, and even game balance that you’ve learned from and experienced while developing previous titles.

However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t ever intend to release something totally new! The success of our previous and current games lets us also develop more ambitious and risky projects…so stay tuned!

Image via Game Insight
Image via Game Insight

ISG: How has the game development process changed now that so many gamers are playing casino and puzzle-style games? What do you do differently to make sure those gamers come back to try your games in the simulation genre?