pocketgamer上一次采访该公司移动部门总经理克里斯·威廉姆斯（Chris Williams）的时候，PlayFirst正在庆祝包括《Dash》系列在内的PC版本游戏成功移植到iOS平台的喜事，游戏邦获悉，pocketgamer时隔四个月后再次与威廉姆斯进行交流，了解到了该公司最新游戏《Egg vs Chicken》等项目的发展战略。
我们每次推出的iOS版本新游戏，都会成为榜单上的常青树。手机游戏玩家喜欢玩《Dash》系列游戏，《美女餐厅》（Diner Dash》和《美女酒店》（Hotel Dash）的平均用户评价是5颗星。
PlayFirst最近在iPhone平台发布了《Egg vs Chicken》，你们对这款新作有何计划？
With nearly 11 million downloads, PlayFirst’s focus on iOS quality and updates is paying off
A controlled product line up and high pricing rarely translates into success in the mobile space. Yet that’s precisely how US casual publisher PlayFirst is managing to keep its small catalog of premium priced games ranking high in Apple’s App Store.
When we previously talked with Chris Williams, PlayFirst’s general manager of mobile, the company was celebrating the successful transition of its PC franchises onto the iOS platform; including the Dash series.
Four months on, we caught up with Williams again to get an update on PlayFirst’s platform strategy, including its newest title, Egg & Chicken, the company’s first game not based on an existing franchise.
PocketGamer: When we last spoke, your App Store download total was eight million. Has that momentum continued?
Chris Williams: Yes, it’s actually accelerating: we are now approaching 11 million iOS downloads. Most of these downloads are for our Dash franchise of games, which is arguably the most successful gaming franchise on the App Store.
There are only about thirty casual games in the US top 200 paid iPhone games chart on a given day that are premium priced at $2.99 or above, and five of them are Dash games.
Every time we launch a new Dash game on iOS, it becomes a hit that remains in the charts indefinitely. Mobile gamers love Dash – Diner Dash and Hotel Dash both boast five stars average user reviews.
How have you kept the games fresh?
We’ve transitioned the company to a live team development model where the games are never done. We are constantly updating our games with new content, features, and general improvements in response to our consumer feedback. This has helped keep our retention very high – almost 60 percent of the gamers who download Diner Dash are still playing it 30 days later.
What are you learning about the differences between mobile and PC audiences?
The massive and loyal customer base that PlayFirst built up around these franchises on the PC is now migrating a growing percentage of their time to smartphone devices.
Rather than just porting our games, we have rebuilt them to account for the touch interface, the shorter play patterns, and the unique features of the OS and the hardware. No matter how big a brand you have, you must account for these platform differences or you’ll quickly lose your audience to a game with a more native game play experience.
PlayFirst recently released Egg vs Chicken for iPhone. What’s the thinking behind this new IP?
We wanted to capture a broad audience with extremely addicting ‘pick up and play’ gameplay and a theme that was humorous and universal. We were striving for an innovative combination of a match-3 and tower defence gameplay that’s really easy to understand but requires advanced strategy to master.
How’s it doing?
It’s had a really strong launch peaking at #12 in the US paid game charts and is still hanging out in the top 50. It has gotten outstanding press reviews and currently has an average user review of 4.5 stars.
Your games are currently exclusively for Apple platforms. What are your plans for other operating systems?
We are definitely planning to move to Android later this year as the merchandising for premium content improves and other business models prove viable.
Why have you waited to move onto other systems?
We know our games are going to be huge hits on Android but we also know it’s proven difficult thus far for publishers to monetise high quality paid content. We’re looking at the various distribution options worldwide to figure out the best way to get our games to our fans. We want to make sure the games are discoverable and that we can assign an appropriate value to them.
As mobile games trend to the freemium, PlayFirst games remain at premium prices. Do you see this changing?
The key in mobile going forward is diversifying your business model to cater to a wide audience. PlayFirst maintains a large daily active user base that is happy to pay us a premium price point for the initial game download. We then drive substantial additional revenue by selling virtual goods within those paid games.
This model works really well, but with new releases and updates we will definitely be experimenting with freemium versions to see if we can embrace an even larger audience and incentivise some percentage of them to pay for additional features and content.
Is there any unrest from your audience regarding pricing?
Not at all. 90 percent of the over 12,000 user reviews for the current version of Diner Dash are five stars and those users were not only happy to pay $2.99 or more for the original game but they are also buying additional restaurants for 99c within the game at an impressive rate.
Where does PlayFirst go from here?
Our existing mobile games will just keep getting better as we provide frequent updates and we will more than double the size of our iOS portfolio by the end of the year.
There will be a blend of Dash-branded games and more original titles as well as a combination of premium and freemium business models. We will also continue to grow our audience on iPad and you will definitely see some of our games on Android.
Overall we expect to end 2011 with an even larger share of the mobile gaming market and will continue to provide industry leadership and innovation through high quality mobile games.（pocketgamer）