《Pudding Monsters》在iOS推出了付费和免费版本，《Cut the Rope:Experiments》则是免费版本，但这并不意味着《割绳子2》就会采用相同的做法。
我们试过许多平台：Windows、Windows Phone、Firefox OS等等。我们选择平台的标准是，判断该平台是否能让我们向用户传递出色的游戏体验，如果能我们就会向该平台进军。
Cut the Rope studio ZeptoLab: Games are an incredible marketing phenomenon
by Zen Terrelonge
CEO, Misha Lyalin, talks about 400m users, Cut the Rope 2, and why the company can afford to avoid freemium.
Following a recent Cut the Rope 2 presentation, Misha Lyalin, the CEO of ZeptoLab – who makes the game – kindly praised my gameplay by saying “you’re good.”
We originally spoke back in April around the release of Cut the Rope: Time Travel, when Lyalin said freemium is the future of mobile gaming.
With that in mind, it’s interesting that Zepto has gone against the ongoing free-to-play trend in the market to charge 99 cents for the new iOS exclusive.
After briefly watching me pretend I knew what I was doing with the new game, which is now ME App of the Day, we spoke about the decision to go premium and favour the App Store ahead of the Android launch, which will come in 2014.
When did you decide you were going to make a direct sequel to the original?
The sequel for Cut The Rope was decided around two years ago. After the original, we thought there wasn’t much scope for another but we started brainstorming and knew another was coming.
Now is the right time to do this because it’s been three years since the launch of the original.
You said that this is one of the only mobile games to have a direct sequel, rather than a spin-off, can you be more specific?
Well, there are people that do have sequels, but I haven’t seen many games that really change the level of the game. There are many follow-ups, but it’s really major for us and we’re really proud to call it number two.
What’s different to the original?
Everything. Om Nom is animated and now has little friends called Nommies and the characters are functional for the respective environments they’re featured in: they can lick, multiply, spring and glide.
There’s so much more gameplay variety that allows Om Nom to interact with objects and not just rope, giving him the freedom to move and get tossed around the screen.
Om Nom is now customisable too. He can embrace different clothes and themes, such as a Christmas hat and sweets. The idea is to make the game more personable to the user.
New game locations include forests, jungles and more, how did you decide on them?
Everything comes from game mechanics, so those locations were based on the gameplay, characters and it’s just part of the creative process.
The original game hit one million users in ten days, what predictions do you have for number two?
In terms of downloads, they’re a lot higher when the game is free, so the one million user figure was all based on actual sales as the game was premium at launch.
I’d be lying if I said we don’t have figures in mind, but they’re pretty conservative predictions.
Internally, we never plan for anything special, but we obviously think it has much greater potential now because the amount of devices on the market has grown significantly over the past three years. We’ve also done a lot of marketing to ensure people would know about the game.
What marketing methods have you used and when did you start?
We started a few weeks ago. We posted different clues on social media, generating a lot of conversations with fans. When people talk, we use it to offer more information.
So social media is actively used for two-way communications and not just one-way posting?
Yeah, we actively participate in conversations. Also, we recently introduced Om Nom stickers to Facebook so they can be used as emotions. That’s been really cool and people love to use them, so that’s an ongoing form of marketing. With social media you need to enter conversations and not just post.
Do you charge for stickers? If not, why?
No they’re free. People don’t really pay for stickers on Facebook, but in Asia that’s a different story, over there they’re more accustomed to paying for such things. Perhaps if Om Nom stickers work out in other messengers then we may start charging, but right now it’s more of a promotion.
In that case, would Line be a marketing option you’d look at?
Beyond social media, how else are you marketing your materials?
Our games are important marketing methods. Tens of millions of people suddenly saw Om Nom disappear from the game itself to promote Cut the Rope 2 – it wasn’t a banner ad we used and thatt’s a pretty cool way to impact people.
The campaign started on December 5th across all iOS games ahead of launch – he disappears to get your attention, but he does come back, though you’ll definitely notice he’s missing. We’ll have a similar approach for Android.
Not very many people realise that mobile apps and games have become an absolutely incredible marketing phenomenon. We’re working to realise that further for ourselves and other brands – ads are a third of revenue for us and we don’t see that slowing down.
What brands do you work with?
A lot of ads are for movie promotions, toys and other games.
When you work with other games, is that paid for or a mutual exchange?
It all depends, we support different models. Exchange doesn’t matter for us that much because we don’t buy our traffic, so we sell those slots. We’re very careful with our ads and make sure we don’t use the same formats that are found on the web.
For example, Om Nom missing from the game is pretty cool advertising to me.
You said a third of revenue comes from ads, where is the rest generated?
In-app purchases, paid apps, merchandise and licensing. Back in 2010, all revenue was based on purchases of 99 cents or 69p, so we’ve grown a lot since then.
You’re launching exclusively on iOS and charging $0.99 rather than going free, why is that?
We will still work on Android eventually, which will be free-to-play. The reason we’re launching on iOS exclusively and charging is that that the original game had tens of millions experience the game for 99 cents and we want to have an exclusive window of time for those people to do the same again with the sequel. The game will remain that price until sometime in the new year.
How much will the game cost when the window closes?
That’s still undecided.
When the Android game is released, will the iOS version have a freemium option too?
We know freemium is the way to go and that’s everything we’ve done in China has been freemium for a while, but it depends on the market.
We’ve been creating freemium games for a while, but eventually I think you may see free stuff from us on iOS.
Pudding Monsters has been paid and free on iOS and Cut the Rope: Experiments is freemium, but it doesn’t mean Cut the Rope 2 will have the same approach.
With free, the funnel is so much wider, but for us, we get users because they love the game – we don’t buy the users. Our business is different from many others, which is why we can afford to launch multiple paid options and do things unconventionally.
But if I was launching an unknown game on the market now then I’d go free.
The game has over 400 million downloads, why is it so popular?
And counting, they don’t stop. The game and character were exceptionally well done and they were designed just right.
But this notion of being able to embrace the mechanics by cutting the rope, using gravity and swipes filled a gap in the market, which is really cool. We’re trying to expand the franchise with the seeds we’ve already planted.
How many staff do you have now?
We started with two people three years ago and we’re now at 80 people. That’s a good size for us, there’s an amazing number of things you can achieve with so many people.
Everyone was involved in Cut the Rope 2 in one way or another, but there was a dedicated support team of around ten people.
How big is cross-game promotion for you?
Cross-promotional is a big thing for us and the level of response we’re getting is pretty amazing.
It’s also amazing that people talk about our brand and recommend it to each other, then buy and download it and so on.
How do you feel about different platforms like Windows and BlackBerry?
We’ve experimented with a lot of platforms: Windows, Windows Phone, Firefox OS. You name it, we’re on a bunch of different ones. The way we feel is if a platform allows us to deliver a great experience and if it’s going to matter, we’ll be there.
What’s the Firefox version like?
So, it’s on Firefox phones. It’s all HTML5-based and it was quite surprising just how great the experience is.
Obviously, Android and iOS are still dominant and Windows Phone is in there somewhere, but our eyes are always open.
It’s important because apps are somewhat limited, you get a game, play it and everything happens right there, so something web-based is very natural way to expose all of that. The world isn’t going to keep moving technology forward and we look at all of them, even augmented reality.
How did AR use come about?
We feature the technology on product labels. We started playing with it a while ago just like any other technologies.
Ultimately, we’re a games company so our merchandise has to be different. We think of the products as digital toys, we’ve had millions of engagements.
In terms of wider games, the PS4 and Xbox One are now on the market. Are they considerations for you?
Of course, we’ll eventually be coming to those platforms. We’re available on the Nintendo DS and 3DS and that’s gone well.
What’s the vision for Zepto in 2014?
We’re going to continue to grow and innovate the Cut the Rope franchise with new games and products.（source：mobile-ent）