Mobile gaming has been dominated in recent years by a handful of companies, and competing for top spots with new games is tougher than ever. However, that doesn’t keep companies like Scopely, known for games like Yahtzee with Buddies, from trying to break through to the top of the mobile charts with releases like The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, which challenges players bring together a group of characters and level up their skills to survive in zombie-filled The Walking Dead comic book universe.  

Road to Survival reached more than 4 million downloads in its first week, and ranked among the Top 25 Grossing Games across 17 countries. The company also recently announced a cross-over event with the Telltale Games, which involves iconic characters from the critically-acclaimed Walking Dead adventure game series appearing in Road to Survival from December 10 to January 31. Scopely itself has been listed as among the Top 10 fastest growing companies in America in 2015 by Inc. and Deloitte consulting.

Jamie Berger[a]listdaily speaks to Scopely’s head of product marketing, Jamie Berger, and product manager Steve Wu, to discuss The Road to Survival cross-over event and what it takes to make a new mobile game a success.

How can mobile games stand out in an increasingly crowded market

[Jamie] We see aligning with great brands and intellectual properties as a critical path to success in a market that offer consumers essentially unlimited content choices. Brands like Yahtzee and The Walking Dead are ideal because they naturally translate to great game experiences, and come with mass awareness and a deep reservoir of consumer affinity. With strong brands you already “stand out” in a crowd of generic content, It’s then a matter of activating and exciting the fan base.

What steps can brands like The Walking Dead: Road to Survival do to grow audiences beyond the comic book and television series fans

[Jamie] Even with a an incredible brand like The Walking Dead, there are still millions of players who love the role-playing game genre and would enjoy Road to Survival even if they’re not a core fan of the IP. A successful branded game needs to innovate in design and features to reach beyond the core and attract new fans. Social play and features are a big part of growth for a branded game as well. If you are a fan of the comics and download Road to Survival because it’s a Walking Dead game that’s great. If you then join an in-game faction and recruit a friend of yours who may only be a casual fan of the IP then you are able to create sustainable growth within the existing audience.

What’s the most important thing to keep in mind after a game releases

[Jamie] You can’t stand still. In our product features, in-game content and marketing, we are constantly telling consumers something new and exciting – and making the game a better experience today than it was the week before. It can be an all-new way to play with others like “Dice Duels” in Yahtzee with Buddies, or surprising new content like our current Telltale Games cross-over event in Walking Dead: Road to Survival. This enables us to be more effective marketers; engaging our current player base through CRM, and successfully attracting new players through advertising and social.

Steve WuTell us about the partnership between Scopely and Telltale Games. How did it come about

[Steve] If you’re a fan of great gaming, then you’re probably a fan of Telltale Games, and the entire Walking Dead: Road to Survival team are huge fans of Telltale’s Walking Dead series; so, for us it was an aspiration to collaborate with them after our launch. Fortunately we share the same partnership with Skybound Entertainment, who set up a conversation earlier this year where we could show them our concept for a mobile RPG that incorporated the entire cast of characters and storylines from the comic series. We are continuously expanding the game with new stories, missions, and characters, so it was a natural opportunity to expand on the stories of the Season 1 characters, and particularly Lee and Clementine.

How will the Telltale characters fit in to the Road to Survival world What will happen to them after January 31

[Steve] We’re launching our events with a special roadmap area that follows the Telltale storyline and gives players an opportunity to battle alongside iconic Telltale characters. These characters will all be playable recruits that players can earn through in-game events and will appear throughout the game as permanent additions to player rosters, fighting alongside other recruits in the Road to Survival world.

Will the Telltale characters include any special abilities that set them apart from existing ones

[Steve] Each Telltale character will have unique character stats, leader skills and Adrenaline Rushes that set them apart from existing characters in the game. Additionally, we are very excited to announce that Telltale characters will be the first characters ever to be released with our new Specialist ability which is a new, reactive set of skills that can trigger during combat based on certain conditions. These skills will greatly broaden the game’s depth and provide players with more options and considerations when putting together their teams

Does this event indicate future cross-overs between Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Road to Survival

[Steve] This cross-over event will evolve over the next 30 days as we release new story-driven missions and characters from Telltale’s Season 1. So far the fan reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, so possibly this leads to new collaborations in the future.

How will Scopely and Telltale promote this limited time event

[Steve] There is a huge community of Telltale fans who will be excited about the opportunity to go on a new adventure with Lee and Clementine, so we’re actively promoting with Skybound and Telltale across our range of social and community channels as well as aggressive promotion to our millions of current player via our CRM platform. To welcome all these new players, Scopely is giving away a “Lee” in game character to all of our new and existing players during this event.