Smurfs' Village, not Angry Birds, is changing mobile landscape

Controversial title is more influential than Rovio's hit, says Behaviour CEO

Behaviour Interactive CEO Remi Racine believes that a single game is changing the mobile market, and it's not the one that most people think.

Speaking to from the company's Montreal studio, Racine singled out Beeline Interactive's controversial Smurf's Village as both the most innovative and profitable mobile game on release.

"Everybody is talking about Angry Birds, but the game, to me, that is changing the market is Smurfs' Village," he said. "Smurfs' Village is outstanding."

"I'd be curious to see who is making the most money between Angry Birds and Smurfs' Village. When you look at the charts it's always among the top three of four grossing games of the last seven or eight months. It's always there. Angry Birds is in the top ten, but Smurf is in the top three. It's amazing."

Smurfs' Village is free to download, but features an in-app purchasing system that allows players to spend large sums of money on "smurfberries", the in-game currency, in just a few clicks. The cheapest quantity of smurfberries costs £2.99, more than most apps, while a "wheelbarrow" is priced at £34.99.

Beeline Interactive, a subsidiary of Capcom, came under scrutiny earlier this year after the Washington Post broke the story of an 8-year old girl, Madison Kay, who unwittingly spent $1,400 on smurfberries.

The child's mother, Stephanie Kay, accused the game of "preying on children", prompting US congressman Edward Markey to write a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC responded by promising that it would, "look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications."

Following numerous complaints from angry parents, Apple placed a warning on the game's iTunes listing. Beeline Interactive also introduced a cap on in-game purchases in May, limiting players to 5 transactions every 15 minutes.

Racine declined to comment on whether Behaviour Interactive had a similar game to Smurfs' Village in development, but claimed that the freemium model will eventually become the dominant pricing structure in the mobile sector.

"About 30 or 40 percent of the top grossing games are freemium based," he said. "It's the new way."

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Latest comments (10)

"Following numerous complaints from angry parents..."

New game idea right there ;-)
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus10 years ago
I guess that is our industry in 2011. The game that is changing the landscape and causing everyone to be a follower is a "free" game that isn't free, actually costs a lot of money per transaction (3?), requires transactions to get *anything* out of it, and is so screwed up in terms of behavioural issues that they had to limit it to five transactions (again, at a minimum of 3 a pop) per fifteen minutes.

THIS is the industry leader.

Sometimes, I really hate this God damned industry.
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Tim Wright Managing Director, Tantrumedia Limited10 years ago
Wondering out loud... are Smurfberries the first virtual drug? Someone spending $1400 on them sounds like a really bad drug habit.
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James Gallagher Marketing Manager, Futuremark Corporation10 years ago
I downloaded Smurfs' Village for my four year daughter but she wasn't interested at all. I'm so proud of her.

Also, a great article that explains how and why social games, many of which are not even remotely fun in the traditional sense, continue to be played by millions of people:
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James Burns Portfolio Manager, Xbox Live10 years ago
Hey Tim,

I think EA may have beaten them to the punch with games modes like FIFA Ultimate Team...oddly enough, some of the cards you get in FUT actually act as "virtual steroids" that boost your players' abilities just before a match.

I think what would make a freemium model more interesting (most likely a pipedream) is if it actually generated real world product. Scary to think that some people might spend more time managing their farms on facebook than they do actually producing anything (service or product) in the real world!
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Mark Dygert Lead Character Animator, Her Interactive10 years ago
I think its an amazing game, I also think games like "Trade Nations" and Bakery story, fall in the same category and if they dealt with more recognizable IP it would probably be a bigger hit.

A big part of what makes Smurfs a good game is the mechanics but also the IP.

Smurfs is helping revitalize an ancient IP that will help boost ticket sales which helps boost in game sales.
Finally a hand held tie in game that is more than a simple puzzle cobbled together by interns using wallpaper art, that ultimately leads to a trailer. The game actually helped lay the ground work and prime the fan base for the movie. Beautiful, its not trite its perfectly well done.

I predict the movie will be colossal failure but the game will carry on.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Dygert on 5th July 2011 7:28pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus10 years ago
Good job bringing up Ultimate Team. That's an interesting dichotomy: a freemium game that has a cost of entry ($60 in the US), and becomes obsolete within 9-12 months. And yet it's popular; EA's bringing in the money hand over fist. I tried Ultimate Team (for NHL '11), and found it the most frustrating thing I've ever gone through. How can I win against some tosser who literally bought his entire team?

All this does is exploit the weakest parts of human psychology, and every time I hear "it's my money" or "that's what I'd pay down at the pub anyway, who cares", I just wonder if these people really realize how much money they're losing, and how badly they're being exploited.
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Simon Dimes blogger 10 years ago
fucking seriously,THE HUMAN BRAIN is 14 billion years in the making,are we gonna blame some 8 month old game on our behaivior.??///!@#$%%, free will and bad parenting is the cause for this.get a grip
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
2 short things:
1) Team Fortress 2 is a great game. I've only been playing it since it has been free. I can see myself investing in this game and that's what freemium games are, an investment. Not just of money, but of time and energy.
2) Gameplay and good/fair competition will always have a place in games. The it takes an exceptional freemium game to maintain that good/fair competition while still offering the developer a way to make money (and hopefully lots of it)
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@James: I heard on the radio one day, that with the millions of hours people are sinking into virtual farming, most of the hunger stricken population of the Earth could be fed, if those hours would be used into real farming. Makes you think.
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