Game Doctors' Hochsmann on why zombie killing gameplay will always be guilt-free

Welcome to ZombieSmash! Camp Nowhere

Game Doctors' Hochsmann on why zombie killing gameplay will always be guilt-free
Despite having Ph.Ds in genetics research, Matthias and Thomas Höchsmann turned to games, setting up as the Game Doctors two years ago.

They released iPhone hit ZombieSmash! in 2010, and since then have been working away on new titles, as well as supporting their debut.

So with a sequel's work of new content, including IAP, about to be released in the Camp Nowhere update, we caught up with Matthias to get his views on the current state of play for indie mobile game developers.

PocketGamer: It's been 10 months since we last spoke, so what's been going on at Game Doctors?

Matthias Höchsmann: We made the transition from working out of our living rooms to moving into a nice office with full-time employees and more than a dozen externals who we keep busy almost around the clock.

That was a big step for us and it's all been made possible by our debut hit, ZombieSmash, as well as Apple's App Store in general. We've also worked a lot on establishing Game Doctors as a quality casual games label and I am pleased to reveal our new homepage is now live. Check it out at

ZombieSmash! was a hit, but it's taken you some time to come up with a big content update. Why did it take so long?

We've had eight updates to ZombieSmash! and most of them featured new content. That said, by and large, these updates were limited to fun gimmicks such as skinning the game in an Easter or soccer theme. We invested significant effort into these updates but what our players really wanted in the end was a new world, Retina display support, and Game Center.

So, we took a step back and made those items our top priority. It's taken us a few months to complete the update because there's essentially enough content to make up a standalone game.

You're a small development team, so is that the main obstacle?

Yes, I would agree. But, on the other hand, this really drives you towards creative approaches for project management and outsourcing. We currently have two other titles in the later stages of production and one in pre-production.

We also have new people coming on board now, and are looking to find more over the course of this year.

The update will add in-app purchases, so what's your thinking in terms of IAP?

None of the IAP is required or essential for playing ZombieSmash!. After all, it's a paid game and players should rightfully expect it to be complete and comprehensive.

But in addition to all the new specials that come free with the Camp Nowhere update, there are special packs that can be purchased, and we offer three specials for 99c. For players who feel like 30+ ways to kill is not enough, we wanted to give them the opportunity to spend a dollar or two and get some new ways to smash zombies.

You've been one of the few developers to release this sort of game higher than 99c, so do you think the App Store can now sustain higher prices?

I think it depends on where you are in the charts. At the very top, you need to be 99c if you are not a known IP.

That said, at more average chart positions the price does not really matter. If the price is half, you sell double, pretty much, but a higher price always gives you the option to run a sale to give some extra push when you need it. Unless you have a strong franchise, I don't think higher prices are sustainable.

Do you think the zombie genre is over saturated yet?

There was a really crazy output of zombie games last year but it seemed to have slowed down a little bit. Zombies are such an easy and guilt-free target for killing that this genre will never die.

We have plans to expand the ZombieSmash! brand, but we are also working on titles that are completely unrelated.

More generally, what is Game Doctors' plan for 2011?

We are aiming to release six new titles for iOS devices in 2011, counting the ZombieSmash! Camp Nowhere update as a full title.

In essence, all of our games are casual titles that can also entertain and engage hardcore gamers. We have some crazy stuff in the making and I can't wait to spill the news, but have to keep my mouth shut for now.

In terms of platforms other than iOS, we are watching the Android and Window Phone 7 spaces closely, and we also have an eye on Xbox Live and PSN.

Thanks to Matthias for his time

You can check what Game Doctors get up to via its website.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at 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.