Zynga Partners for Mobile signs Digital Legends Entertainment

Barcelona-based Digital Legends Entertainment is the latest developer to join the Zynga Partners for Mobile program. The studio, which has worked on a number of licensed mobile titles like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Icebreaker Hockey, is teaming up with Zynga to lanch its new iOS game The Respawnables.

The Respawnables is a third-person shooter game that will include real-time multiplayer modes. As you can see in the trailer, its cartoony visuals are similar to Valve’s popular shooter Team Fortress 2, albeit without any of the bloodshed featured in that game. As opposed to several of Digital Legends’ previous titles, which appealed to hardcore games, CEO Xavier Carrillo Costas tells us the studio decided on the third-person perspective, simplified controls and humorous tones to appeal to a wider audience.

Although the game will contain a single player campaign that lasts approximately ten hours, it’s the real-time multiplayer Costas is especially proud of. He tells us his studio has servers all over the world to provide seamless, quick multiplayer matches; Costas tells us these are also highly snackable experiences, with some matches lasting less than three minutes.  The Respawnables will monetize via in-app purchases of both vanity items (like zombie costumes and electric guitar machine guns), as well as buffs with effects like earning experience points at an accelerated rate.

Bringing a shooter to Zynga’s network

The Respawnables isn’t the first original IP Digital Legens has produced. Shortly after it was founded in 2008, the company received a lot of attention when it was invited to demonstrate its action game Kroll on Apple’s WWDC stage. Following that, the studio acquired mobile game rights to Bruce Lee and wound up creating the fighting title Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior.

Neither of those titles featured multiplayer like The Respawnables, though, which Costas believes will help the game find a substantial audience. Costas explains the game’s proven addictive for those working on it: “We wanted to have that Quake 3 effect. A lot of us wind up staying at the office after hours, still playing the game, which we think is a very good sign.”

When asked why Digital Legends chose to team up with Zynga, Costas tells us, “We’ve been developing AAA games mainly for others. We have an expertise mainly in development, but not in customer acquisition. When we started talking with Zynga, we saw how they approached and treated our game, as well as the 33 million active users they have access to. For us, it was the perfect match.”

The Respawnables is not only the first shooter to be released by Zynga, but it’s also the first real-time multiplayer game to appear in the company’s mobile catalog. It also continues Zynga’s expansion into the lucrative mid-core game market, something the company’s been aggressively pursuing over the past year with acquisitions of studios like November Software and A Bit Lucky, as well as prior partner releases like Phosphor Games’ Horn and Eruptive Games’ Citizen Grim.

Zynga’s Mobile Partners program continues to grow

Digital Legends is the sixth partner to sign up with the Mobile Partners program, following Phosphor Games, Atari, Crash Labs, Sava, and Fat Pebble. Fat Pebble’s own claymation physics game, Clay Jam, is launching today, also. Zynga VP, Mobile Publishing Ben Jones expects Clay Jam to be a “sleeper hit” that will find an audience with both children and their parents.

Back in July, we spoke to Zynga’s then-CMO (and current COO) David Ko about the company’s expansion into mobile publishing. Now that user acquisition has become so expensive on mobile platforms, Zynga is providing a tempting partner for smaller developers based on two very big assets: the massive size of its user network and the fact that the company is willing to teach developers how to successfully implement social mechanics into their mobile games. Add in the fact that Zynga is looking for developers who make different types of games than the company is typically associated with, it’s not surprising that new studios with limited marketing resources are signing up with Zynga.