Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, Here Again?: Kongregate CEO on Disappearing Android App

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Right. People can go the site and get it.

I mean, if this were in the iTunes world, the iOS world, if we were taken off the store, that would be it. It wouldn’t be available to anybody. In our case, if people are willing to adjust the settings on their phone, they can download it directly from Kongregate.com.

From the GameStop side of things, we’ll most likely also be working with retail locations to enable people to get it from there. So, I think it’s worth emphasizing that Android is still the most open smart phone platform, and technology evolves. I think the important thing is whether we can work with Google to meet their guidelines, and we’re willing to do that. It sounds like they probably are as well.

Evan: So, what kind of data was being cached that, that was being teased out as specific part of what might be going wrong?

So, the game files are Flash files. So technically that’s a .sws extension. It’s the exact same file that you would play in a browser. In fact, we do play them in a browser. It’s a bit hard for the user to tell that because Flash goes full screen and so forth. But it’s all being played. You download it into the Kongregate app.

For some games, they’re always played online. Others, we enable a feature that would allow you to download it to your SD card and play it from there. And that seems to be the particular feature that we’re hoping is the sticking point. It’s not entirely clear. Yeah. So. Of course, all browsers cache content. But we were customizing that cache and giving the user control over it as opposed to just using the regular browser cache. So, that’s one area of distinction. Maybe it’s the one that took us over the line.

But, again, I don’t know that Google has come to a decision about that yet. So I don’t think it’s, by any means, a certainty. But anyway, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to have a dialogue. As I said, in the meantime, we have tens of thousands of people who are still able to download the app directly from us and from other sources.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from users in terms of the individual games that they might be liking the most? What do you personally feel like people who check out the app should be playing?

Oh, yeah, good question. One thing is we take some of the best games and put achievements on them. So, my favorites are the ones that have those achievements and those run the gamut. So we’ve got a very, kind of old school, 3D arcade game called Vector Runner. Imagine a game like the old Atari BattleZone but turned into a racing game. It’s kind of like that. Super fun. Very addictive and fast. And then, another game I like a lot. It’s totally different. It’s a dice game called Zilch, where you’re playing against a friend or against a computer. A little bit like Yatzee or something like that, but just a super compelling kind of thing where you always want to take one more turn.

Then we’ve got deeper RPG games, role-playing games. A big part of our audience is sort of a core gamer audience, and that’s one of the reasons that GameStop, when looking at companies to acquire, acquired Kongregate because their bread and butter is the core gamer demographic that buys lots of console games.

So, a lot of those console games genres are reflected both on the Kongregate website, and now on the mobile app as well. So, there’s a game called Monster Slayers, for instance, where you’re controlling a party of adventurers, and you’re sort of a dead king floating above their heads and giving them orders to rush into battle. So, it’s a very lightweight, sort of one button version of a role-playing game but it really gets at a lot of what’s fun about it.

That’s what we’re really going for is taking genres that people are familiar with from big screen play, from console play, and finding developers who are really skilled at turing that into an experience that works great on your four inch mobile phone screen or your seven inch tablet screen, and to take with you wherever you go. The other point I want to make is that community is a huge part of what makes Kongregate work. Playing smaller games means much more if every time you beat one or get an awesome score, your friends can all see it. That goes in your profile, your leveling up. I think that’s what made Facebook social games so effective, and it works very well for a hardcore audience.

Xbox Live does it. World of Warcraft does it, frankly. And we think that the combination of a Web destination with a mobile community, having community in both places, works really well. Whereas Apple’s Game Center, that’s a mobile-only gaming community.

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