Nexon M and Big Huge Games announced that DomiNations, the Civilization-like mobile game created by gaming veterans Tim Train and Brian Reynolds, has been downloaded more than 7.2 million times since December.
Nexon M, the mobile game division of Tokyo-based online gaming giant Nexon, also said the game is now available worldwide. Since launch, more than 49.5 million battles have been played. That shows a lot of engagement, and that’s key to getting gamers to stick around for the long term in a free-to-play mobile game.
DomiNations players have trained more than 1.6 billion troops. More than 166,000 multiplayer alliances have been created with more than 70.6 million troops being donated to fellow teammates.
DomiNations is a strategic combat game of advancement, exploration and conquest, giving players the chance to lead the world’s greatest civilizations from the Stone Age to the Space Age.The title is available on both Android and iOS. Since December, DomiNations has bounced around in the top 100 list of top-grossing games, according to market researcher App Annie. But it hasn’t yet come close to knocking out rival Clash of Clans, Supercell’s clan combat game that has topped the charts for a couple of years and generated a huge windfall for the Finnish company.
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Owen Mahoney, chief executive of Nexon, said in an interview with GamesBeat, “We’re really happy with it so far. We’re happy with development partners. We’re happy with what we’ve been able to bring to the table. The thing we like about it, it’s very much down the center of what you and I have been talking about for a while, which is to combine what they’re good at and what we’re good at. Tim (Train) and the team over there have a lot of knowledge about how to make a terrific game. Nexon has a lot of knowledge about how to make a free-to-play game that can last and build over time. We can be a good publisher as well.”
He added, “One of the challenges people have had over time, especially in the West, is that you sometimes ask where the game is. I get that this is a place, a pastime, but I’m really asking where the game is. What I like about DomiNations, there’s actually a game there. When you do that, then you can decide over time, in very subtle ways, how you boost retention. There’s a thousand small things that go into that. Hitting that line is where the art lies.”
To create DomiNations, Reynolds and Train rebuilt their Big Huge Games studio in Baltimore, and they signed up Nexon M as a publisher. Reynolds and Train got their start working for game design wizard Sid Meier. After a while, Reynolds branched out more and more to do his own thing, including leaving Meier’s company, Firaxis, and starting Big Huge Games in 2000. For his whole career, Reynolds focused on PC strategy games. But at Zynga, he veered off into casual games such as FrontierVille and CityVille 2. Now he and Train are back doing strategy.
I’ve been playing the game myself just about every day since it came out in December. They hate me because I haven’t spent money on it. Accordingly, I’m not really satisfied with how much progress I’ve made in the game. I’m still pretty weak when it comes to troop quality, and I haven’t taken the time to properly design my base yet. One of the things that is annoying is that I just can’t expand as I wish. First, I have to clear out the forest, which costs coins, or the virtual currency that you earn in the game. I tried to join my old clan, Clan Morgoth, which migrated over from Kabam’s The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. But there’s a limit of just 50 players in a clan in DomiNations, compared to 100 in The Hobbit. So I didn’t make the cut.
So my progress is slow. No doubt, Nexon really wants me to get so frustrated that I crack open my wallet and spend money in it. But I’d like to see more pay off. I’m interested enough in the combat and base building to keep coming back to it every day. But we’ll see if I’m ready to spend at some point. It’s a little like The Hobbit, in that I train troops, create buildings, fight battles, and then try to think about why I’m playing this game in the long run.
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