A lot of games on Facebook are pretty bad. They aren’t like the kind of games you’ll find on an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3.
Enter Rumble Games, a social gaming company that wants to make “real games” on mobile and web platforms like Facebook or the iPhone. These aren’t your typical Facebook games where you click your way to success.
Rumble Games wants you to swing your sword or fire your gun, not decorate your castle and spam your friends with invitations. It was a big enough idea to prompt investors from Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures to drop $15 million into the company in its first round of funding after it was founded less than a year ago.
Rumble Games has assembled a dream team of developers and industry leaders with that funding. It includes the likes of Greg Richardson, former CEO of BioWare within Electronic Arts, and John Yoo, a Zynga alumnus now serving as lead developer at the company. Rumble Games has 19 employees and will launch its first of two games in the first half of the year.
We got in touch with John Yoo, lead designer and co-founder at Rumble Games, to figure out how their idea got funded. Here’s what we learned:
- Social games are all the same right now. Even companies catering to “core” gamers like Kixeye and Kabam are making the same kinds of games that Zynga is producing — you click around to complete tasks.
- Rumble Games’ titles fall somewhere between hardcore games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty and casual games. The games are closer to core titles like those from Activision-Blizzard and Electronic Arts, though.
- Rumble Games wants to publish games as well as design them. That would give them an edge over other companies like Zynga, which only produce games internally. Rumble Games is still focusing more on developing their own internal titles, though.
BUSINESS INSIDER: What kind of games are you guys making?
Jay Yoon: We are not trying to pigeonhole ourselves into one specific kind of game. Zynga, Kixeye and Kabam try to make the same game over and over. We are not trying to make one game, we’re trying to find games that core gamers like to play. That could be a number of games — strategy or role playing.
We’re trying to make high-quality games that people would pay for in a boxed game, but deliver that as a free-to-play experience. Our games are catered more toward the mid-core audience — I would say more like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, but we have limitations obviously.
We want to be more action-oriented, but we have limitations with the platform. We’re trying to make the most advanced and interactive and visceral types of gaming experiences for the web spaces.
BI: What do you mean when you say more real?
JY: We want to deliver the highest-stability graphics with no download. We want to have a very visceral interactive experience rather than mindless clicks. We want there to be action, tension, some strategy. We want players to actually feel immersed in our games instead of clicking where they’re supposed to click on.
We’re targeting a different audience from Zynga. We very firmly believe that there’s an audience that is being under served in the market. All the people in our company, they are guys who want to play good games that are available to them but don’t find anything on the browser or social networks or on mobile or tablets. We want to provide that experience to our players.
I wouldn’t say we’re directly competing with Zynga, they’re going after the female and casual audience. We’re going after people that are turned off by social games that aren’t really targeting them.
BI: Does that mean you guys are building your own proprietary engines?
JY: We’re building it all from scratch. Our first game is going to be built completely from scratch, we’re leveraging the latest technology on flash and trying to deliver a high-quality gaming experience using flash 11. We’re trying to make a game that players would really come to expect in a box product and deliver it in that way. If we can do that, players will be excited and play the game and it’ll be accessible. If you make it fun and engaging and just highly immersive, players will gravitate toward it.Right now the market doesn’t seem to be very rich with high-quality games. We feel that Kabam and Kixeye’s games aren’t as immersive as our games will be. They don’t feel action oriented, they don’t feel very engaging or immersive. I do think our games will be different, when we have combat in our games we want it to feel like combat. We want you to actively feel like you’re taking a punch or swinging a sword. We want players to participate in the actions of controlling a character and battling it out to that effect.
We just raised $15 million and we definitely plan to continue building our internal teams and continue to launch games internally. Most of that funding is going toward internal development. I would probably say we’re more focused on internal development than external. We’re actively searching for high-quality third party developers, though.
BI: How does your strategy compare to Zynga? What about the work environment?
JY: We will still monetise like other social gaming companies. We believe in monetizing through the sale of various virtual items and micro transactions. On the publishing side, Rumble as a corporation, we strongly believe we want to focus on free-to-play games. Even as a publisher, we’re intent with working on developers also focusing on free to play games.
It’s gonna be totally different than my time at Zynga. My experience at Zynga was very different from my past experience as a game developer because I was focused more on other facets than the game design or the moment-to-moment gameplay. We’re focused more on gameplay and what players really want and focusing less on monetization. We’re focusing less on trying to eat numbers up and focusing more on providing players with the most fun experience that we can possibly deliver.
If we make a great fun game, people will play it and we won’t need to add stuff in to force players to try to spam their friends to try to plant he game. They’ll want to spread the game whether they can do that or not.