Dumb Ways to Die is a game series that has taken a major turn. From being a cornerstone of a public safety campaign in Australia, to being one of its most successful mobile games.
It’s been a franchise that PlaySide has hung their hat on. But what inspired them to acquire the franchise in the first place? What’s been driving the franchise’s success? And what’s their ambition for the upcoming Dumb Ways to Die 4? We got the chance to put our questions to PlaySide and talk to not one, but two of their general managers about their respective experiences working on the franchise.
PocketGamer.biz: What attracted PlaySide to finally acquire the rights to the Dumb Ways to Die Franchise?
Ben Kelly: PlaySide Studios acquired the brand in 2021 after spending many years working with Metro Trains and producing a range of mobile gaming titles on their behalf. We always held the view that the Dumb Ways to Die brand was one that had serious potential. We certainly saw it as having a bright future. We’ve held clear goals for the brand since the acquisition, to both reignite nostalgia with an audience familiar with the original viral success of the song, but also to explore new, popular entertainment mediums and platforms. We saw our chance to attract a new generation of fans for the brand, and to support Dumb Ways to Die in expanding even further beyond our existing verticals on YouTube, mobile gaming and our online store.
Danny, You’ve been involved with Dumb Ways to Die’s mobile game development since the beginning, how has that process changed over time?
Danny Amstrong: Working with an older title means that there are a number of systems that need to be refreshed and updated to ensure that things still run smoothly, which is quite a continuous operation. Recently we’ve been really focused on reducing the friction when creating new mini games and providing the fans with new content as often as possible. The gameplay in its nature is quite repetitive so we’ve focused more on development efficiency to boost our engagement.
The transition from “Public Service Campaign” to mobile game powerhouse is quite a drastic one, how do you attribute this?
Ben Kelly: I think we can draw this back to the entertainment factor of the brand. Dumb Ways to Die at its heart is about entertainment with a quite serious safety message that comes through. We use the entertainment part to drive engagement while landing a safety message by trying to keep these Beans out of harm's way with the mobile games.
Your recent media alert on DWTD4 said the game was going “Back to its roots,” can you explain what this meant?
Ben Kelly: The simplicity of the original Dumb Ways to Die game was what people loved. Saving beans, progressing through the game and collecting Beans to build out your train station. We want to make sure we are innovating on the game while still staying true to the ‘fun’ aspect of the Dumb Ways to Die brand and games.
What’s next for DWTD?
Ben Kelly: Since PlaySide Studios have worked on the brand, we’ve explored mobile games, sleep apps, and NFT collections around the Dumb Ways to Die IP. We’ve also announced a healthy slate of video game titles like Dumb Ways to Die 4 and BEAN LAND coming this year, plus an upcoming partnership with Netflix Games for Dumb Ways to Survive which we’re excited to share more about soon.
We’re always looking at opportunities to continue to bring Dumb Ways to Die to new audiences, on new platforms, and to work with partners who understand the blend of nostalgia and humour that’s made Dumb Ways to Die a household name.
How have the analytics for the DWTD series changed since the game took off on TikTok? Has it matched or surpassed its previous highs?
Danny Armstrong: We’ve seen a significant increase in downloads since the beginning of the viral TikTok trend. The original Dumb Ways to Die game hit number one in the U.S. App Store in games along with topping the charts in 33 other countries, which is incredible.
Through TikTok alone, we have seen billions of views across Dumb Ways to Die user generated content, and hundreds of millions of views across our own brand channels. This has led to millions of fans both discovering and reigniting their love for mobile games.
The impact wasn’t only seen on the chart topping original - we also saw huge increases in downloads across our other Dumb Ways to Die games.
Australia has been a significant part of game and mobile game development for years now, where do you see the market going in the near future?
Danny Armstrong: We have a really awesome pool of talent in this country, in the past we usually lost the top talent to overseas companies. More recent government initiatives have opened up the ability to retain these amazing people in Australia. With games it’s always hard to predict but we’re still in a growth phase here and the best is yet to come.