Big Fish Games is launching a new version of a zany golf-solitaire game series with today’s debut of Fairway Solitaire Blast. This publisher of casual games hopes the title will extend a franchise that has lasted for a surprisingly long time in the mobile charts.
Solitaire games seem pretty basic and boring, but they can mean big bucks. Fairway Solitaire has millions of fans, and it’s the top-grossing solitaire game in the App Store. Year over year, it doubled its revenue in the Apple iTunes App Store. It was originally a premium game and was adapted to free-to-play, and now it’s a full-fledged game service on smartphones and tablets. Big Fish supports it by launching a new course every day and maintaining live events.
“It’s now become an evergreen hit for us,” said Chris Williams, the vice president and general manager of studios at Big Fish Games in Seattle, in an interview with GamesBeat. “The original game has long-term retention. On any given day, more than 50 percent of the people playing it installed it more than six months ago. We think that Blast can further secure our leadership position.”
In Fairway Solitaire Blast, you play solitaire at a fast pace, using crazy power-ups to clear cards more quickly. The title is part of a strategy that Big Fish Games is adopting as it goes deep with casual mobile titles. The focus will be on getting the scale of a casual game and the monetization metrics of more hardcore games.
Blast is a companion app that is more arcade-like than Fairway Solitaire. You play a game of solitaire to move through a series of holes on a golf course. And you have to contend with a gopher that has a card-destroying laser blaster.
Fairway Solitaire Blast has been out for a couple of months in soft launch, and the data that Big Fish has received is good.
“We believe we’ve got a potential hit on our hands,” Williams said.
The title makes money through in-app purchases. You can buy the Midas Club, which is like a wild card that can help you in any situation. You can also buy Golf Bucks for clubs or upgrades of various types.
“People think of solitaire as boring and free and preinstalled with Windows,” Williams said. “But it has a fun take. It’s got a great character in McDivot the gopher. And it has great animated cartoons. People come into it and are surprised at what they find. That gives us confidence to go big with it.”
Fairway Solitaire Blast is debuting simultaneously on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon in eight languages today.
Big Fish Games has a number of other mobile games launching soon. They include Midnight Castle, Cascade, Blackpool, Greek Gems, and Mahjong Pandamonium.
“We’re really going to be deepening the definition of what casual games are,” Williams said.