Cookie Jam, which has been downloaded over 100 million times globally, remains one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, prompting Jam City to create a franchise from it. The first step was in launching Cookie Jam Blast in May.
“Cookie Jam Blast is the first of many additional mediums that we’re going to be extending this brand to,” Jam City CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe told AListDaily. “So, you may see plush toys, food brands, or a TV show—we don’t know. But Cookie Jam Blast is something that we’re really excited about and we think it’s a great game.”
DeWolfe then went into detail about growing the Cookie Jam brand and the company’s strategy for continued success in the future for mobile games based on both original brands and existing IPs.
How would you describe the Cookie Jam brand?
The Cookie Jam brand started three years ago, and I think it’s defined by its deep graphics, a deep story (for a puzzle game), its fun characters, endless levels and the fact that you can pick up and play the game whenever you want.
How has Cookie Jam evolved over the years?
It has gone from being primarily a US-centric type of brand to a great global brand. Over half of our users are playing the game outside of the United States, and it has been translated to over 150 languages. Cookie Jam Blast will also be a great global brand and any follow-up brand will be global too. One of the things that we found is that it appeals very well to different demographics and cultures.
What considerations to into building a global brand?
A lot. There are nuances with the humor of the game, the pricing, the exact translation and the types of promotions that you do with the game. [Also] the partners that you work with in different countries. All those things are very important and quite complicated. We devoted extra time in knowing that anything we put out has got to be meant for a global audience.
How do you balance between all-original games like Cookie Jam and ones based off existing IPs such as Futurama?
We love doing both. Branded franchises like Family Guy and Futurama are fun because you can take awesome storytelling and work with the original storytellers. For example, with Family Guy, we work with the writers at Fuzzy Door to take the television format and translate it authentically to mobile gaming. It’s a lot of fun and has a built-in fan base.
But it’s also valuable to create your own brands so that you can create brand extensions. In the future, we see a day where we’re not only taking our brands and pushing them out to entertainment mediums, but about half of our new games will be based on established brands.
Do existing IPs have the same kind of global appeal as Cookie Jam?
Not necessarily Family Guy. Every game has a different purpose. Family Guy is more of a Western game, and that’s where the television show was more popular. But there are other IPs that we’re working on right now that have very global appeal. For example, we announced a Peanuts game that will come out in a couple of months, which has one of the top global appeals of any brand out there. But our own games developed in such a way where we believe they have global appeal.
What would you say is the relationship between television, movies and mobile gaming these days?
I think that mobile gaming is the fastest growing entertainment medium. It’s actually bigger than the movie business right now. So, if you own a brand or IP, thinking about what you’re going to do with it from a mobile gaming perspective is one of the first thoughts that will come to your mind. It’s a very strategic decision for any IP owner, and we’re fortunate enough to be one of the few mobile gaming companies that does a great job at translating television and movie IPs to the mobile gaming format.
What do you think is the key to standing out in crowded mobile gaming market?
Definitely extra polish and quality. You have to have the best artists, game designers, engineers and story writers in the world. You also have to be more innovative than the next guy. So, when we’re building a game now, we’re thinking about what’s going to be interesting in 2018 and beyond. We’re always taking chances and we think that that is one of the keys to our successes—taking chances, being innovative and having the best people around.
Cookie Jam has been around for a few years. What is the strategy for long-term engagement for mobile games?
Continued engagement is very important to us. Whenever we build a game, we think of it as being evergreen—or a game that can last for many years. The whole key to adding new content—if not every week, then every month with new levels, events, twists and characters. Every time a user turns on one of our games, they’ll get something new and fun that they’ve never seen before. The game is a sort of living and breathing organism that’s always changing, which makes it very different from a movie or traditional console game.
What are your thoughts on subscription models for mobile games?
We love subscription models, and it’s something that we’re experimenting with, but it’s not something that we’ve found a lot of success with yet. If you look at the microtransaction model, it works quite a bit like a transaction model. What I mean by that is that there’s a very predictable revenue stream from microtransactions that come in every month. We’re pretty sure, down to a fine number, about the revenues that will be coming in for the following weeks and months.
Some may perceive mobile games as a kind of disposable experience due to their high uninstall rates. What are your thoughts about that perception and how to overcome it?
That’s a great question because I think that’s the way the mobile game universe used to be. Mobile games got really big, then they crashed and a new game came into vogue. I think a lot of that came from the Facebook days where people were playing games on it. But if you look at the top grossing games on mobile, a few of them have been around for years. So, it takes a certain amount of expertise. You’re working with big data to make sure that your levels and game are tuned to ensure the most fun for users. You’re making sure that you’re constantly updating your content, that you’re focusing on those several games, and that you’re going a mile deep with a handful of games versus 10 or 20 games at a time.