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Hoping to extend a social game franchise, 6waves Lolapps is launching its new Ravenskye City game today.
The game is an expansion of the existing Raven series of games that have been a major hit for 6waves Lolapps. If it takes off, then 6waves Lolapps will have a more predictable way of maintaining its audience via franchise sequels. That’s very similar to the way console game companies extend the audiences for their games.
The expansion, which will be available for users today on Facebook, shows that the social game industry is evolving and becoming more mature. Other social game companies such as Zynga have followed the same tactic. By pursuing this strategy, Lolapps has been able to raise more money, double the size of its development team, and attract some key talent from traditional video game companies.
6waves Lolapps has more than 17 million monthly active users, according to market analyst Appdata. Its top game, Ravenwood Fair, has more than 4.5 million monthly active users. That’s down from its all-time high of 11.9 million monthly active users, so it’s time to give the game a shot in the arm.
Back in April, the company launched its Ravenstone Mine expansion for the original game. But Kavin Stewart, co-founder (pictured at top on the right) said in an interview that the development team is trying to make some big improvements in the game play for the new title. With the older games, you spend a lot of time “grinding,” or doing repetitive tasks to level up, such as chopping down 300 trees.
“We punched up the storytelling,” said Constantine Hantzopoulos, vice president of content at Lolapps, in an interview. “That’s one of the things we learned from Ravenwood Fair.”
In Ravenskye City, there’s more real storytelling and quests. You happen upon a floating city that is abandoned and overgrown with weeds. You have to clear the brush and restore the city to its former glory.
For the past four months, the Lolapps team in San Francisco has been working on the title. It is using the Fliso flash game engine, which speeds the performance of Adobe’s Flash software dramatically and allows for prettier graphics such as floating clouds and rain. Another game, Ravenshire Castle, is also in the works.
“We call this the Raven world brand,” Stewart said. “It is the overarching intellectual property and we can craft different game experiences under it.”
At its core, the title is an exploration and building game. Users undertake quests to unlock and restore various buildings in the city. The game is targeted at older female gamers and, in general, a mass market audience on Facebook. The characters are all bird-like, and some of them even look a little like Angry Birds characters.
The game has a lot of humor, with a chicken-like statue dubbed Poyo Loco. There are tornado storms that spin through the city and rainclouds that drop rain. The game is fast-paced. It has plenty of decorations and room for personalization. If you run out of energy, you can pay real money to buy some more.
Stewart said the team plans to release new content on a regular basis for at least six months after the game launches. 6waves Lolapps will cross-promote the game in hopes of snagging a lot of users. Overall, 6waves Lolapps has more than 150 people. A team of veterans from Sega, LucasArts, Bethesda Softworks, Blue Fang Games, Pixar and elsewhere built the game. Hantzopoulos himself was previously a studio director at Sega of America and before that a senior producer at Atari.
The company has offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong and elsewhere. It was formed by the merger of Hong Kong’s 6waves and San Francisco’s Lolapps. The aim of the Lolapps internal development team is to make increasingly addictive titles, so that you’ll always want to play one more game session before you go back to work or to bed, Hantzopoulos said.
Check out the trailer for the game below.