Interview

Backflip Studios on releasing DragonVale World five years after the original

Backflip Studios on releasing DragonVale World five years after the original

On November 3rd, Backflip Studios launched DragonVale World, a 3D sequel to the original DragonVale that was launched in 2011

The original went on to be a long-running F2P hit, enjoying a full year in the top grossing charts and racking up 40 million downloads.

But five years is a long time in mobile gaming, regardless of your brand. So how does DragonVale World intend to bring the series successfully into 2016? And is there life left in the five-year-old IP?

To find out, PocketGamer.biz reached out to Backflip Studios Creative Director Matt Coohill.

PocketGamer.biz: A lot has changed in the games industry over the past five years. What do you think has been the most significant, and how does DragonVale World reflect this?

Matt Coohill: Two things: the number of casual gamers has skyrocketed in the past five years, and mobile tech has progressed to the point that mobile developers can offer console-quality graphics that appeal to more serious gamers.

The number of casual gamers has skyrocketed in the past five years.
Matt Coohill

The rise of console-quality graphics in particular has had a huge impact on DragonVale World. This game is beautiful and we’re very proud of it.

And to reach that broader audience, we have spent a lot of time updating the DragonVale World gameplay experience to embrace the way those people want to play, which means a rich social layer that is a tonne of fun.

Ultimately we knew that we needed to ensure that DragonVale World had the highest quality, most collectible content around - not just dragons, but of the entire collection genre.

The original DragonVale showed remarkable longevity. To what do you attribute this, and do you think DragonVale World faces a tougher test in such a competitive market?

DragonVale has continued to be successful because of its engaging graphics, the fun nature of the collecting and Backflip's commitment to the live product.

We have a team of 50 people working around the clock to bring exciting new dragons, updates and events to the game, and we were the first in the industry to create a high quality product, committed to supporting our players for the long-term.

DragonVale World has stiff competition but we have the advantage of a deep understanding of the lessons learned from DragonVale.

We’ve spent almost two years developing and perfecting DragonVale World.
Matt Coohill

We think original DragonVale players and newcomers will have no shortage of reasons to keep coming back to their parks for a long time.

When did development begin on DragonVale World?

We’ve spent almost two years developing and perfecting DragonVale World.

How long was the soft launch period, and what did you learn from it? 

Our soft launch began in November 2015 and we gradually added seven more markets since.

This period has been tremendously helpful in understanding how to combine what players love about the original DragonVale with new features and dragons that enhance this game and take it to a new level.

Character was always a big part of DragonVale, but how much do you feel the new 3D visuals add to this?

DragonVale and DragonVale World are both all about character.

The new 3D visuals for this game give our artists and animators an amazing variety of ways to express the dragon’s personality, from facial expressions to their animated movements.

The result is a much closer, more intimate interaction with the dragons that feels more engaging than ever before.

Certain dragons that would become available only to coincide with certain events or holidays were always especially coveted. Will this also be a big part of DragonVale World?

Definitely. DragonVale World will include event-specific, seasonal and limited-time dragons just like the original.

We have no plans to decrease the support for DragonVale.
Matt Coohill

Our collectors love the excitement of new dragons and really respond to the challenge of trying to amass a complete collection.

Will DragonVale World be cross-promoted with the original DragonVale? And should active DragonVale players be concerned about the game's future?

We have no plans to decrease the support for DragonVale and intend to continue offering a rewarding experience for the game’s loyal fanbase.

We will use our extensive insights in this genre to provide exciting updates for both games.

DragonVale has continued to add new users during our soft launch for DragonVale World, so it’s clear that there is room in the App Store for both of these titles.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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