Interview

Glu CEO on why James Bond: World of Espionage is inspired by Game of War's LTV, not GoldenEye 007's gameplay

Glu CEO on why James Bond: World of Espionage is inspired by Game of War's LTV, not GoldenEye 007's gameplay

Given the success of previous James Bond games, especially in the shooter genre, it's a surprise that Glu's James Bond: World of Espionage is a menu-driven strategy RPG.

With a strong reputation in the touchscreen shooter genre with franchises such as Frontline Commando and Dear Hunter, Glu certainly has the technical expertise to take the FPS route.

However, CEO Niccolo de Masi is clear the company has approached the project - which he describes as "a significant bet" - in a thoughtful and strategic manner.

"It's been two years of work, and follows the evolution of Bond brand, which over recent movies has become darker, more serious and highlighting the ethical dilemmas of espionage," he says.

Just as the Bond films are not now primarily about shooting people, so the games are moving on.

A new trick

Of course, another key element is that World of Espionage is the first F2P mobile game for the Bond licence.

"Mobile does the RPG/RTS genre better than any other platform," de Masi points out.

And it's the combination of the genre choice and the free-to-play model, which de Masi has previously argued is ideal for gamers and game developers, that's shaped James Bond: World of Espionage's radical design.

James Bond: World of Espionage is designed around multiple menus and card collection mechanics

Simply put, it's a Bond game in which you don't play as Bond; instead you're building up a global spy network within the Bond universe.

The RTS/RPG genre is highly competitive. We realise it's risky.
Niccolo de Masi

This means the game is populated with images of the current Bond ensemble - the next film Spectre is out 6 November - as well as over 100 actors who Glu cast to provided a deep, alternative universe for the game.

Indeed, several times in the interview, de Masi uses the term "Bondian Universe" to explain how the game is part of - as well as separate from - the films, past and future.

Collecting agents

A difficult balancing act perhaps, what's more radical is that much of gameplay is driven by card-collection, fusion and gacha mechanics.

It's a subject that's recently been highlighted as a key opportunity for western developers to learn from Asian, notably Japanese, game design and operation.

For the player, it means the core gameplay loop is tapping buttons to perform actions that use up either some energy or some stamina points, not aiming guns or steering underwater cars.

James Bond: World of Espionage's action is about abstract resource management

A key part of many top grossing Asian mobile games, in the west, the genre's examplar is Game of War; a title which divides opinion, but which has the highest LifeTime Value (LTV) for any US-developed mobile game.

"We have games such as Kim Kardashian: Hollywood which have high install bases but we don't have games with high LTV," de Masi explains.

I understand that not all Bond fans will like the game.
Niccolo de Masi

"I understand that not all Bond fans will like the game," he adds.

Yet, he says the wide appeal of the licence, which will be reinforced by ongoing film releases, provides Glu with the platform to turn World of Espionage into a global, multi-year success story.

For example, he says the game has been developed with hooks so that in the regular cadence of updates and live events, it can reflect what's going on in the realworld of espionage, as well as the world of Bond.

Risky business

And it's expertise in live events combined with the underlying game design and licence that de Masi hopes will give Glu an equivalent hit to 2014's Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

"The RTS/RPG genre is highly competitive. We realise it's risky," he says.

"To get onto the top grossing charts, you need novelty and deep monetisation.

"But we only release games into new genre if we think we can get onto the top grossing podium and we think with this game, we have a competitive shot at being successful."

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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