Jens Begemann is on a mission. Four years ago, the chief executive of casual games developer Wooga posed a simple question to people on the street: Do you play games every day? The overwhelming response (for a variety of reasons) was “no.”
By 2020, he wants everyone he asks to say “yes.”
This is partly why he helped cofound Wooga in 2009: to create games that can accommodate people’s busy schedules by offering bite-sized experiences across mobile phones, PCs, and tablets. In addition to Thursday’s announcement about its newfound profitability, the developer revealed its first batch of free-to-play games for 2013.
On the mobile side, Wooga is concentrating on developing for iOS devices. But this year, it’s also planning on delivering its “most successful” games to Android.
Though Pearl’s Peril is essentially a hidden-object game — where you tap or click scenery to search for clues — it sounded like the most ambitious project of the bunch. When it debuts on Facebook on March 5, the first five chapters will be available to play (iOS should follow in the second quarter of 2013). But after that, you can find a brand-new episode of the story-driven adventure every Thursday. Wooga plans on releasing new episodic content without any sort of seasonal break — at the moment, the team is working on chapter 25.
Set in 1929, the main character Pearl has just found out her father has died. But something doesn’t seem right, so she takes a plane to her family’s private island in Polynesia to find out the truth behind his death.
You earn coins from completing scenes (like in the cockpit above), which you later use to build structures in your home base on the island. But like in building sim games, you’ll have to wait for it to finish, which also prevents you from playing the rest of the scenes. You can spend real money to speed this process up. By using Facebook Connect, Pearl’s Peril is also cross-platform: You can play on your smartphone and then resume where you left off on your tablet or PC.
Wooga dives into the midcore genre — games that balance accessibility and wide appeal with deep mechanics, and it’s a space dominated by rivals like Kabam and Kixeye — with Kingsbridge. In single-player, you must build up your kingdom while defending it from bandits. In player-versus-player mode, you can visit your friend’s kingdoms and smash them to bits with different types of troops.
Begemann and his team believes that current midcore games aren’t approachable enough for the casual audience. They designed Kingsbridge for players who haven’t played such a game before. It’s set for an April release on Facebook.
What happens if you take The Smurfs and submerge them in a vat of yellow goo and beards? You get the Pocketeers, the proud citizens of your miniature town in Pocket Village. You can assign them to various jobs, like collecting resources, to improve your town. Tasks typically take less than a minute to complete.
Out on April 11 for iPhones and iPads, Pocket Village is Wooga’s first mobile-only game.
Monster World is actually an older Wooga game — it first came out on Facebook three years ago, where it remains within the top 30 of the most-played social games. Instead of pushing out a quick port of the quirky farming sim to iOS devices, Wooga “reimagined” it to fit the lifestyles of mobile players. As an example, Begemann said it’d normally take eight to 12 hours to grow something on Facebook, but in this version, the company reduced that time to about an hour. You can also visit your friend’s gardens via Facebook Connect.
Monster World launches March 21.