Room for Both the Familiar and the Unexpected in Glu’s Summer Lineup

Glu Mobile, a publicly-traded mobile gaming company that specializes in freemium apps, unveiled a summer lineup of games today that looked familiar with an even split between hardcore shooters and casual resource management titles. But it also included one very novel concept, Tunity, a location-based social music app that might have some issues with gaining critical mass because of how unique it is.

The hardcore part of the lineup includes Eternity Warriors, a Medieval-themed melee combat game, space shooter Star Blitz and a multiplayer version of Glu’s big hit Gun Bros. That game boasted $2.3 million in revenue and an average of 215,000 active users per day in the first quarter.

The other half of the portfolio is made up of casual sim games. They include city-builder Space City, another game where players manage a circus called Circus City and Wildlife Safari, which is reminiscent of Pocket Gems’ Tap Zoo except with higher-quality 3D graphics.

“We believe in innovation by evolution,” said Giancarlo Mori, Glu’s chief creative officer. “We don’t want to walk away from what people have learned.” That said, he said sim games will get progressively more sophisticated as players get used to appointment-based mechanics.

Mori pointed out that each of Glu’s upcoming titles adds some new elements to the genre. Even though Eternity Warriors and Star Blitz may be built off the Gun Bros game engine, they add new features like melee-style or vehicular combat. Multiplayer Gun Bros obviously gives users the ability to play with friends in real-time.

In Wildlife Safari, players will have to also defend their animals from poaching in addition to well-known mechanics around earning income from different animal pens and buying decorations. In another forthcoming sim game Circus City, players acquire buildings and performers in the build-up to a circus performance.

Even if Glu reuses the same game engine for multiple titles, the company says that doesn’t necessarily cut down on development times or budgets for individual games. “Consumers are demanding the latest and greatest of the genre,” said chief executive Niccolo de Masi. “Because we’re not essentially doing what we were doing before, we don’t have development times compressed to a week or month.”

The last game Glu mentioned today is Tunity, which is a much more inherently social title than any of the games the company has released previously. It’s a location-based game where players can tag songs to places around them, and in turn share stories of meaningful moments and the music tied to them with friends.

It’s the one app in the portfolio that at its core is really innovative, but that may also be its Achilles heel. Even if the other games aren’t conceptually new, they are far more marketable to the company’s existing base of players. There are a few other social music apps out there like Schematic Labs’ Soundtracking. But location adds a whole other dimension of complexity to the problem of seeding the app with a meaningful number of friends for the app to be useful.

As for the future, Mori said he’s hoping other genres like sports will start to mature on mobile platforms. Racing is another possibility. In terms of tablets, Glu is still designing games that can basically work in the same way on both phones and larger devices. Mori said that perhaps with the next generation of tablets and as the iPad and Android devices gain a larger installed base, the company will start building games specifically with that format in mind.