A Bit Lucky's latest title was released at the end of last month and is aimed squarely at the hardcore gaming market, so much so that its developers describe it as "complex and overwhelming". The difference here is Lucky Space is a Facebook game, a format associated with farming simulations and casual play.
Here, CEO Frederic Descamps discusses the challenges, the early response and the search for hardcore gamers on Facebook, how to engage them, why he's prepared to target a niche, and the problems with inflated data.
There are two types of feedback that we're getting. Probably the most important is what we've had from users and gamers. We did a two and half week closed beta which went really well. We had a high level of engagement for the game across all metrics, things like the average time for the first session which was 26 minutes, which is huge for a social game. With the closed beta anybody could get in and we were rated 4.8 stars out of 5. The second type of reception we've had is from the press, the consumer press and the hardcore gaming press - a group that we've specifically targeted with Lucky Space - the reception has been really, really good. With hardcore PC gamers we didn't know what reception we'd get. Our intention was to make them see that there is a future for hardcore PC games in the social space. The first reviews have been positive. So far so good.
Yes, I think that audience does exist. On an anecdotal level I have a lot of friends who are hardcore players, professional Counter-Strike and professional StarCraft players, and they are on Facebook, they play social games. Some of them went from a career in professional gaming to social games. The other thing is these people are on Facebook but they may not be necessarily playing games, they are sharing pictures and chatting. What we need is the right bait, the right mousetrap in the form of games to get them in. We've seen a few that have done that, then all of a sudden there will be talk that the hardcore gamer is back. But they've always been around, these people are playing for lots of hours and spending lots of money but it's just that the right products haven't been presented to them. With A Bit Lucky, our roots are in hardcore games development and we play way too much League of Legends and Counter-Strike, and board and card games, so that's the type of game we're going to make. With Lucky Space we're trying a number of things. The first is super-high production quality. And depth of gameplay, and also the sci-fi theme helps as well.
What we need is the right bait, the right mousetrap in the form of games to get hardcore players
The first generation of social games was dominated by low quality, simple, cutesy games targeting the female demographic. To the point that when we started A Bit Lucky in November 2009 some people expected us to fail because of we had absolutely no idea how to target the older female demographic. But we could see all our friends on Facebook, we know they were are all gamers, and if they are already there what would it take to get them to play? And we looked at the games on offer, realised they were pretty terrible and they were not the games we wanted to make. There was no way to sugar coat it, these games were terrible. We didn't look at the social games market from a cynical perspective saying "these games suck", we saw opportunities. We were looking at a young, immature market but once it matures we will begin to see niche audiences. We looked at the numbers in terms of retention, monetisation and engagement and we found them to be much, much closer to free-to-play, very high. So we wanted to bridge the gap with very high quality games and production values. And to make them truly social like a board game or a card game with your friends.