TheBroth Open to Funding for Facebook and Mobile Social Games, but Happy to Do Its Own Domo Thing

Barn Buddy developer TheBroth has had a long, healthy life on Facebook without raising funding or advertising on the platform, CEO Markus Weichselbaum tells us. With the release of Planet Domo and the developer looking at getting into paid mobile games, however, he says it may be time “if you allow me the pun, to harvest our investments.”

Weichselbaum is founder and CEO of TheBroth, which began as a community website based out of Perth, Australia in 2005. The company had some success with early apps on Facebook, including the 2007 jigsaw simulation game PuzzleBee. In 2008, TheBroth relocated to San Francisco and began steady releases of one major game per year to Facebook and eventually other social networks like hi5 and international social networks in Europe. This year, the developer worked with licensee Big Tent Entertainment to produce a social game based on Japanese TV mascot, Domo, which debuted on Facebook late last month with strong early growth.

“[Big Tent] heard through the grapevine that we were good with localization and multiplatform [releases] and they figured well, that’s the right kind of company to approach,” Weichselbaum tells ISG. “And we liked Domo. He doesn’t have a particular facial expression. He can be happy or angry and you wouldn’t know the difference. So you can project a lot onto Domo. If you make your own Domo, it’s really an expression of self. That makes him really ideal for a game because he’s so malleable and so accessible.”

Accessibility is a key component of TheBroth games. Having its roots in the early days of Facebook games gave the developer incentive to keep gameplay design simple and immediately available after only a few minutes of tutorial. Even today, the Barn Buddy tutorial is only six screens long and the Planet Domo tutorial is considerably shorter than other mission-based adventure games of comparable complexity.

The only downside to this quick-play approach is that TheBroth has sometimes had to sacrifice presentation. Particularly with its early games like Kickmania, the art style and presentation date the game in a way that could turn off a social gamer new to the space and therefore more accustomed to higher art quality. Weichselbaum says that TheBroth would like to go back to Kickmania and some of its older titles to bring them up to speed; but right now, its focusing its resources elsewhere.

“We’re a small company, we don’t have all the resources to do what we want to do right now,” he says. He explains that with Kickmania, TheBroth originally wanted to do a “female” version of the game because the premise of “kicking someone’s ass” was just too male-oriented to achieve mass appeal. That never came about, though, and now TheBroth is instead looking at bringing the game to mobile.

“Kickmania is my favorite and one of the most promising of gameplay types out there combining social aspects and casual gameplay,” Weichselbaum says. “The whole look of it is sort of 2008, so there’s a lot of work to bring this one into modern times. We feel this is going to be ideal for mobile.”

Right now, Weichselbaum TheBroth has a few free apps available on mobile devices, but he wouldn’t say what they were or where we could find them. TheBroth is still experimenting with game types and techniques for releasing games to mobile. Some of their older Facebook properties would actually be better suited to tablets and iPads, he says.

“We think that our games are less suited to smaller screens, but would have a fantastic place on tablets,” Weichselbaum says. The key concern, he explains, is finding games that are action-based, preferably grounded in physics as opposed to mission-based social games like Barn Buddy and Planet Domo. In the case of smartphones and feature phones, the game needs to use the core features of the platform in a way that jibes with gameplay. For exmaple, Weichselbaum says, TheBroth’s Hoop Fever Live would be the perfect candidate for iOS and Android because all players need to do is drag a finger to plan the trajectory for a basketball — and that’s it.