The relentless growth of the mobile game industry has seen some stellar titles with downloads in the hundreds of millions. Yet following up such a hit is difficult, with few developers seeing subsequent titles reach the same level of success. One of the mobile megahits is ZeptoLab’s Cut the Rope franchise, which has seen more than 700 million downloads worldwide since the game’s debut in 2010. The company’s latest title is King of Thieves, launched in February with some distinctive new game mechanics, and it’s being expanded even more with the launch of its new Guild Battles mode.
The new game mode vastly expands the social aspect of the game by pitting two guilds with similar ratings against each other in a competition. Battles run on a repeating cycle of three days, during which the guild that steals more gems is declared the winner. Additionally, the most active players of the winning party will be awarded with in-game currency.
“Players were able to join guilds in previous versions of King of Thieves as well, but now this feature truly opens its potential and offers some new and exciting possibilities. The Guild Battles update is only the beginning!,” said ZeptoLab’s Creative Director, Semyon Voinov.
The CEO of ZeptoLab, Misha Lyalin, spoke with [a]listdaily about King of Thieves and its reception, as well as the new expansion.
How has King of Thieves been received since it launched earlier this year? What’s coming up for King of Thieves?
We have achieved ten million installs to date without spending much money on marketing. Six million people play the game every month. This is just the beginning for us; we have already updated King of Thieves based on player’s feedback. Next, we’re launching our new Guild Battles feature to continue engaging our players, and are looking forward to introducing many more features down the road.
You built an enormous audience with Cut the Rope — how has that helped King of Thieves?
King of Thieves differs greatly from Cut the Rope. However, a unique visual style and easy-to-get-started approach is shared by the two, so many Cut the Rope players naturally picked up King of Thieves. We have a loyal community of players, and we hope to use this interconversion more in a future.
How has the mobile audience changed since you launched Cut the Rope, and how has that influenced King of Thieves?
I think the biggest change is that users no longer discover games through app stores, but rather through advertising and virality. We have to keep that in mind while designing and promoting games. Community should be at the very heart of the gameplay. For example, King of Thieves players can invite their friends to help them progress or to compete against them. We are going to implement even more viral features to make communication easier and more rewarding for the players.
What’s your marketing strategy for King of Thieves, now that the game is a few months old?
We have just started with King of Thieves. Now that we have fixed any initial issues and introduced the Guild Battles function, we will start more actively promoting the game. Eventually, we are hoping to reach every potential player in the world. That requires individual attention to each market.
How do you see the market changing for mobile games in the next year or two, and what will ZeptoLab be doing to respond to those changes?
I believe that more and more players will discover new games through advertising, media and viral channels. Also, Asia will represent an even larger part of the digital market, and games that launch there will have to be locally operated and marketed. We’re aware of both of these challenges and are heavily investing in data-driven development and globally-scaled marketing. Better hardware and new technologies like VR and AR will represent new opportunities for creating games, so together with operational excellence, ZeptoLab will have to continue cultivating innovation as a part of our company’s DNA.
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