With development led by industry veteran Bruce Shelley, along with other creative minds at BonusXP who are behind popular strategy games like Age of Empires and Halo Wars, The Incorruptibles is a newly released real-time strategy game for mobile devices and tablets. With it, players control the action and manage resources while taking part in lightning fast battles.

BCS cropped[a]listdaily speaks with Bruce Shelley [pictured right], Chief Designer at BonusXP, and MaxPlay’s Head of Marketing, Chip Blundell, to get a look behind The Incorruptibles‘ marketing campaign, and find out what it takes to compete in an increasingly crowded mobile market.

Tell us about The Incorruptibles, and how it stands apart from other mobile games.

[Bruce] We believe it is a true real-time strategy game, which we have not seen much of on mobile devices. A player in The Incorruptibles controls the battles, directing all unit movement and attacks. That is the big difference from other popular mobile strategy games where the battles are run by the device while the player just watches. Incorruptibles gives the player more control which, in our experience, is more gratifying. We also have an overarching story and deep crafting, both of which encourage players to upgrade heroes to handle the tougher battles as the game progresses.

In what ways are you promoting The Incorruptibles

chip blundell[Chip] Working with a quality developer like BonusXP and their game pedigree (Age of Empires, Halo Wars, Civilization, etc), team talent and design expertise gives us so much to work with to promote the game. We have been promoting The Incorruptibles on the merits of the game’s quality, the BonusXP team experience, and the product’s core positioning.

It’s very difficult to get consumers’ attention or the folks at Apple or Google if you don’t have a quality game with a hook and unique selling proposition. The Incorruptibles positioning as a “true RTS game built for the mobile player” has helped us get featured as one of the Best New Games in the App Store as well as continue to receive media coverage by gaming sources like Pocket Gamer, TouchArcade & Slide to Play to name just a few.

Bruce Shelley has been doing media interviews and other two-way conversations with gamers such as his Reddit AMA event. We also created a humorous video series that has fun with the current competitive landscape and the exorbitant amount of money being spent on mobile advertising and how that makes it tough on the indie developers. The video campaign and all of our activities and coverage are being pushed heavily within our social networks. We are also of course, promoting the product through paid media advertising on Facebook, Google Adwords and other top tier mobile ad networks. We will continue to promote the game with significant app store updates and in-game events to keep the players engaged.

Tell us a little about the making of the “Game of Ads” Video Series

[Chip] The underlying concept of the campaign, “we spent all of our resources making a badass real-time strategy game, and had nothing left over for advertising,” was primarily inspired by two things:

The first relates to strategy. It was simply the reality that as small independent developers, we would be unable to compete head-to-head on pure media dollars being spent by the big mega publishers; especially in the strategy genre. Not only are the these publishers spending tens of millions on television advertising, we are seeing their impact via traditional user acquisition, where their unprecedented spending is driving up cost per installs (CPI) on literally all of the mobile networks. Spending at those levels was not a model that made sense for an independent developer like us who has to prioritize our budgets on optimizing the game quality over a massive marketing spend. Especially when initially launching a new product. We knew we had to do something different to get gamers attention, it had to be sharable to drive down eCPI costs and had to make the game the star.

Inspiration also came from the over-the-top creative itself, that mega publishers unleashed with ubiquity upon the world. Super high-gloss video ads for various games, including Game of War (featuring Kate Upton), had the sustained presence that only FanDuel and DraftKings have achieved. If you can’t go toe-to-toe with regard to media spend, what do you do We needed to create a story that gamers would relate to, and be willing to share. 

MaxPlay’s Bill Young came up with the idea of spoofing those campaigns, developed some concepts, and sourced the right director who could pull this type of humor off. Over the months between concept and execution, it was quite common for a bunch of us to riff and joke around about it – like, what would a low-budget version of those incredibly expensive ads look like This ultimately helped frame the idea in a context that made sense for The Incorruptibles. 

The best ideas came through the use of parody and gamer humor, which allowed us to have some fun with the shoot in the process. The juxtaposition for the creative is that the video ads themselves are super lo-fi, but the game is awesome. We knew that The Incorruptibles was going to be a great game – potentially the best RTS ever for mobile; it just needed a platform to be heard. 

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when promoting a new mobile game

[Chip] Stay true to the game and target audience. Use soft launch long enough to optimize key retention and monetization goals while fine tuning target audience, paid user acquisition costs and channels. Start conversations with the App Store early and stay in touch over the course of soft launch and planning periods. Find a creative hook that helps the game stand out and as always have fun promoting it. 

How do you see the mobile games industry growing and changing in the coming year

[Bruce] It is difficult to predict, but my best guess is to look at what has been particularly successful recently and assume people are looking to compete in those areas. I would expect more collectible card games to compete with Hearthstone, for example. New games coming should be positive for gamers. Smaller studios have difficulty competing with massive advertising campaigns, so we have to compete by making better games and better experiences. I would anticipate a number of quality games to appear, but you may have to look carefully to find them.

What are your thoughts on virtual reality and how it might impact mobile gaming

[Bruce] I don’t see VR being a competitive platform in the near term. It will take one or two years (or more) to gain traction. It is one thing to whip out your phone or pad to play a quick fifteen minute game; it’s another thing to get geared up.

I believe it’s a significantly different experience to put on the headset and any other gear required for VR. I think form factor and content will play a role in the successful VR companies. If VR gets to the point of being not much more than a large set of glasses, then maybe the market changes faster. But will people being wearing those as they commute on a train, or while they eat lunch, watch TV with one eye, etc Then there is the issue of how many popular game genres will translate to VR orwill VR create new game genres that will be incredibly compelling Certainly exciting times and will be fun to see how it unfolds.