After a brief venture into midcore games development, last year Pearl’s Peril and Jelly Splash developer Wooga made the decision to focus back solely on casual games.
The game was received well by critics, but had seemingly struggled to bring in significant revenues. And ultimately, it didn’t fit in with Wooga’s refocus on casual.
But the Berlin developer was keen for the game to live on. As such, it has negotiated a deal to sell the Warlords IP to strategy games specialist InnoGames.
The Hamburg-based studio, which has worked on titles such as Forge of Empires and Elvenar, will now continue the development of Warlords, with ambitions to support it for years to come.
Speaking to PocketGamer.biz, Wooga CEO Jens Begemann says he was happy to talk to InnoGames after the studio showed interest in the title, and the move should satisfy players while letting Wooga shift its business away from midcore.
“I think any company, if you have a focus, you’re better,” he states.
“And we were just doing both, we were doing casual games and midcore games. By doing both, I think we were not best in both categories. Therefore we made the clear decision to choose between the two, and then the decision was very clear for me to focus on casual because that’s where we’ve had our success in the past, where I think we have a lot of competence.
I think any company, if you have a focus, you’re better.Jens Begemann
“We’re very strong in the field of hidden object games with Pearl’s Peril, and we’ve had a lot of success with games like Jelly Splash, Diamond Dash and Bubble Island in the puzzle segment.
“Therefore I think we have a lot of competence in casual and a lot of passion for casual. Therefore that decision then, when choosing between the two, to go for casual was very clear for us. “
A good fit
For InnoGames's part, Warlords seems to slot in nicely with the studio's portfolio of strategy games while also helping the company to continue building up its presence on mobile.
The developer aims to put together a team of more than 15 people on the project and has been in contact with some of the original developers at Wooga to ensure a smooth transition.
A few key team members from the original Warlords team have formed a new develpoment outfit with Snowprint Studios and will not be involved in the project going forward.
But InnoGames has some big, long-tern plans for the title that will take it in its own direction.
We have shown multiple times we can run games for many years. Our very first game Tribal Wars is now 14 years on the market.Hendrik Klindworth
“Warlords is already a great game, but we still have some ideas to further improve it and build additional content for the players,” explains InnoGames CEO Hendrik Klindworth.
“But it really fits into our portfolio, it’s really like one of our games and this will help us to continue our growth in the strategy segment. We’re very happy to have this game, and then of course we’ll also use the expertise we have for live game operations.
"We have shown multiple times we can run games for many years. In an extreme case, our very first game Tribal Wars is now 14 years on the market.”
When Warlords was soft-launched by Wooga, the studio claimed at the time it had enjoyed the best metrics of any Wooga soft launch title during a year-long testing period.
It was perhaps a surprise then that the game struggled for success in the top grossing charts upon its full release.
Begemann admits that much of this was down to Wooga’s strategic decision to shift away from midcore. As a result of that, Warlords had “no marketing investment whatsoever”.
This hasn’t deterred InnoGames however. Klindworth says the quality of the game, combined with the active userbase it’s still been able to gather without a big marketing push, means there’s room for Warlords to grow in future.
New plans include improving the multiplayer aspects of the game and adding a string of new content for users.
“At some point we’ll also start marketing activities to bring in new additional players, and we’re very confident that we can grow the revenues,” he says.