HBO’s popular Westworld television show is getting a mobile game, and Apple just announced that it will be available for download on iOS on June 21. Westworld Mobile was created by the mobile game studio of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The game is a good way for fans to stay engaged with the fiction of TV show, and it’s also a good way for the companies to make money, as mobile gaming has become a $70 billion business worldwide, according to market researcher Newzoo.
I had a good look recently at Warner Bros.’ Westworld mobile game. It is based on the hit HBO show, and it translates the fantasy of Westworld to the small smartphone screen, allowing you to take part in the dream of being God over your own park full of artificial intelligence inhabitants.
— App Store (@AppStore) June 18, 2018
Jonathan Knight, vice president and studio head at WB Games San Francisco, showed me a demo of the game a while ago. He described it as an authentic title and stylized mobile game that you can carry around on a tablet, as employees handle tablets in the show. (It also works on your mobile phone). The user interface is inspired by the one in the show.
“You keep the park under control. But are you a good guy or a bad guy?” Knight said in an interview with GamesBeat.
The WB Games San Francisco studio started working on the title before the first season premiered, meaning before October 2016, or around two years. The game has a far different look from the TV show, which is a gritty and realistic science fiction tale that pits androids in a theme park in a rebellion against their human masters, who allow human guests to treat them as play things.
The game, on the other hand, is a cartoon-style game where you train new employees in the Delos-owned Westworld theme park. It fits in the timeline of the first season and it takes place prior to the Delores and Teddy timelines in the show.
“Your goal is to be the best Delos employee, designing hosts and scenarios for the guests,” Knight said.
Theresa May, the Delos leader from season one, onboards you as an employee. When you look at the screen, it has a Fallout Shelter look, with a 2D view of many different places in Park Operations where the Westworld employees are working. You can also go above ground to the Sweetwater Park area of Westworld.
Guests arrive by train and you assign hosts (human-like androids) to satisfy their desires and make them happy. You can use a host code to manufacture new hosts, which start at a low Version 1 level. Each one of them has a “cornerstone memory,” something from the show where the manufactured story provides a backstory that motivates the android. (I saw one that was scarred by having to perform an amputation). That memory affects how the host interacts with guests.
The game has the Westworld theme music, and you can go into familiar places like the saloon, Escalante, Abernathy Ranch, Pariah, Ford’s Cottage, and Las Mudas. The further the guest strays from the center, the more mature and dangerous the narratives become.
You see a happiness score for the guest, and that determines how much the guest pays you. You get a daily score card. The guests get more demanding and harder to satisfy. If guests kill hosts, you send the hosts for repair, and you have to be wary of hosts glitching from overuse. The game will be rated for ages 12 and up.
“There’s a story that unfolds in the objectives,” Knight said. “There’s a story about what is really going on, and a hacker mystery too.”
You have an inbox with messages. You can take the hosts to self-analysis up to three times a day, and that is part of how the hosts become aware. Your goal is to raise them toward higher versions. You can unlock secrets along the way.
“We think the show can run for many seasons, and we want to create something that could last for many years to come,” Knight said. “We think it can broaden the appeal of the show.”