Week in Mobile: Conquest Age shows how mobile is changing the RPG
Making a hit mobile game isn't easy, especially if you’re grasping for success on the global market. What’s popular in the East may flounder in the West and vice versa. For Conquest Age developer Daylight Studios, the solution may be to appeal to both audiences at the same time.
“Mobile gamers are demanding more and more from titles, and there's definitely a shift from casual to more core experiences,” Jonathan Neville, the product manager for Conquest Age (free-to-play on the iOS App Store) at publisher Marvelous Games, told GameZone.
“Being based in Singapore, we see ourselves as the mobile-developer bridge between the East and West,” he said. “We've seen phenomenal [role-playing games] launch in Japan and China that are full of features that haven't made it to the U.S. and Europe, and we were fired up at the challenge of making a game that combines a Western-friendly aesthetic with Eastern core mechanics.”
While games like GungHo Online Entertainment’s Puzzle & Dragons can do enormously well in the East, where it makes millions every day, they can struggle to achieve the same success overseas. Cross-promotional campaigns (Supercell’s Clash of Clans is just one example) have made P&D more appealing here, but Conquest Age — available globally — aims to be more widely accessible from the start.
“Add in-game chat, an upcoming guild system, and a player-versus-player arena system that enables players to hire and rent other characters' warriors, and you've got a unique East-meets-West RPG,” said Neville.
The collection and fusion of weapons and items to make them stronger is a popular feature in Asian games, he said. Complex battles that can be enjoyed in the spare minutes during your day are another. That’s important on mobile, where players often pick up and play for short stretches.
However, Conquest Age isn't so complicated that it’s frustrating, unlike many Eastern games. Oftentimes, “sketchy” tutorials can make learning a game, let alone mastering it, much harder.
“That's brilliant for players who want to dive into a massive sprawling world, but it can be off-putting to a newcomer,” he said.
“Conquest Age keeps the depth, but we've been heavily involved from day one in the streamlining of the game interface and mechanics. We've completely revamped the tutorial and game interface and are pretty happy at the balance we've found — the player feedback has been exceptionally encouraging as well.”
Conquest Age is also a social game, so friends can team up on purely cooperative war conquests. “You can't win alone – you need to work with fellow players,” said Neville.
The typical integration of social features on mobile, such as Facebook, has made it easier to create a multiplayer role-playing game. “Simply put, players who are out and about, joining in a battle in between updating a Facebook status or sending a tweet, are far more likely to want to involve their friends in their games,” said Neville.
That just might sustain Conquest Age over the long-term.
“The benefit to the developer is that players who are playing with existing or new friends in your world are far more engaged and passionate about the game; that's a big win for an active player community.”