Released in 2013, Cookie Jam is one of the most popular puzzles games in the world and once had as many as five million daily active users. Jam City—the game’s creator—announced on Wednesday that the game, which features match-3 puzzles and cute characters, has been downloaded 100 million times worldwide. This news also coincides with the launch of its sequel, Cookie Jam Blast.
The sequel marks a major step for the company because it is Jam City’s first original franchise. Although its gameplay is heavily inspired by its predecessor, the company is taking match-3 gameplay to the next level with expansive content, backed by regular and frequent updates, and a role-playing element where players seek to become world-class chefs by visiting lands like Sherbet Forest and collecting recipes to complete challenges. There will also be plenty of fun and memorable characters, including a sassy gingerbread man.
“The Cookie Jam brand is defined by its deep graphics, story and fun characters. There is a [near] endless number of levels that you can play, and you can pick up and play it whenever you want,” Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of Jam City told AListDaily before going into detail about the potential paths the Cookie Jam brand could take as the company looks to turn it into a multi-billion dollar business.
“Cookie Jam Blast is the first of many additional mediums that we’re going to extending this brand to,” said DeWolf. “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.”
The sentiment was echoed by Josh Yguado, co-founder, president and COO of Jam City, who told AListDaily, “We think of Cookie Jam as a franchise that is evergreen and will be around forever. This is our first opportunity to build on the franchise and there will be more Cookie Jam branded games in the future. This one happens to be also be match-3, but there will be other puzzle genres that we will attach to the Cookie Jam brand. We’re excited to continue building out this world and make it a franchise that our kids and their kids will be talking about many years from now.”
Yguado talks in-depth about the launch of Cookie Jam Blast and Jam City’s strategy for keeping a four-year-old brand sweet and fresh well into the future.
What is Cookie Jam Blast, and how does it differ from the original Cookie Jam?
Cookie Jam Blast is our first franchise, taking all that we’ve learned the original Cookie Jam to make a game that has many more modes, characters and high-end graphics for a next-level match-3 experience. It has all the characters you know and love from the original game, but they’re in new worlds and we believe that it’s a lot more fun.
Is Jam City hoping that players will migrate from Cookie Jam to Blast?
I think some players will, but the two games provide a pretty different experience. Cookie Jam Blast has a lot more variation in game modes, it requires more strategy, and it’s more of a “lean forward” than a “lean back” kind of puzzle game. It will probably attract a different player [type], but people have come to love the Cookie Jam IP and its characters over the years, and we hope that they’ll play both. Cookie Jam Blast might not be for everyone, but we think fans will love it.
What inspired Jam City to develop a new Cookie Jam game and why is now the right time to launch it?
The original Cookie Jam is played by over 100 million mobile gamers worldwide. It has become one of the biggest casual game brands [in the world]. But frankly, you’re somewhat limited in the original game in terms of trying new things because of that big install base. No matter what you change, however small, there’s always going to be blowback. So, we asked the folks who design, manage and work on Cookie Jam on a day-to-day basis, “If the sky were the limit, and you could create the perfect Cookie Jam game—putting aside the fact that the original players may be hesitant to try something new—what would you think would be the best game in the world with this IP?”
We gave them that challenge and they came up with this game. I think launching a separate title gave them more ability to take risks. We knew the IP was something that really resonated with people, and we felt that the gameplay needed to evolve in order to take advantage of how much this genre has changed over the years.
What did the original Cookie Jam teach you about standing out in the crowded mobile market?
Number one, you can’t put a game out and rest on your laurels. Games are about a constantly evolving experience. At the beginning, with the original Cookie Jam, we updated levels and provided new content once a month. Those days have passed, and now we have a whole new chapter with different characters, different modes and new 20 levels every Tuesday. The bar has risen in terms of providing a gaming experience that offers something fresh and new every week.
Number two, you always have to focus on the player. The second you focus too much on monetization or KPI, you might miss the fun factor. This team, which created the original Cookie Jam, is all about immersing themselves in what players want and creating a world-class puzzle experience. These are the games they and their families play, and they are all-in on this genre.
What are some of the social features in Cookie Jam Blast?
There are a couple of innovative features that you haven’t seen before in puzzle games. One is the “Bee a buddy” booster—where friends can give you one cute little bumblebee per day. You’ll be able to send these bees off to collect pieces that you need to help you solve levels. Also, besides the leaderboards in each level, we have “chef of the island.” If you’re the most advanced player in any of the island chapters, you get the recognition that you can share with friends. There’s a good mix of helping and competition in this game.
What is the strategy for getting the word out for Cookie Jam Blast and getting fans of the original game to try it out?
We absolutely will be cross promoting the new game from within the existing game. Cookie Jam players will have an opportunity to experience both games and choose which one they prefer. We’re also going to be doing fun and extensive digital and television campaigns, similar to what we did with Dr. Ken (Ken Jeong).
Will Ken Jeong be making a comeback?
No, he won’t. We’re focusing on a different concept.
In your opinion, what has helped Cookie Jam stand out amid other match-3 mobile games for so long?
I think it starts with quality. People have come to know that Cookie Jam stands for fun, playable and high-quality gameplay—you can’t fake that. From the outside, it may seem as though a lot of these puzzle games are very similar, but each level and each twist and turn on a mode is original and different. Our commitment to having this kind of daily innovation and high-quality from some of the best puzzle designers in the world has led to people associating the brand with quality.
I also think that people often turn to puzzle games for a very particular experience—a mix of relaxation, challenge and fun. You don’t necessarily want aggression and anger. You want a positive, constructive and challenging but playful experience. I think that Cookie Jam, with its cute characters and imaginative worlds, has resulted in a brand that resonates with people.
Has there been any discussion about having cross-game events using Jam City’s different games, such as having Family Guy characters show up in Cookie Jam?
That’s fun and we’ve talked about it lightly. The trick is, once you’re in that Cookie Jam world, you’re really in there. Having Peter Griffin or Iron Man show up will take you out of that world. We’d have to do it naturally, so people don’t feel like we’re forcing a cross-platform experience or cross promotion on them. We’d want it to feel natural and as an honest part of the gaming experience. We do some cross promotion, but we don’t typically have storylines intersect or characters interact with each across our games.
With over 100 million downloads, how do you top a game that’s as popular as Cookie Jam?
It’s not really about creating something that’s bigger. As game makers, we feel a duty to our users and ourselves to provide a better experience than we have before. We’re very happy with what we’ve created, and there’s a desire to feel like we’ve served our players well. Cookie Jam has been out for four years and there are such wonderful and dedicated fans. If we just slapped a game together that was low-quality and tried to ride the wave of the brand, we wouldn’t feel good about ourselves. We’ve created something here that we’re proud of and we feel that it’s a step forward from the original game. However big it is, we just want our players to feel like we’ve delivered something that is just as special and groundbreaking as the original.