Rumble ready to roll out Nightmare Guardians to tablets, preps multiplatform publishing

KingsRoad developer Rumble Entertainment activates on its multiplatform strategy with a second game, Nightmare Guardians, launching on tablets in early 2013.

The company has an aggressive growth strategy aimed at being both developer and publisher right from the point of launch. Rumble secured a $15 million first round of funding nearly a year ago before any of its games had been released. But, as CEO Greg Richardson tells Inside Social Games, Rumble was already hard at work on developing a suite of titles to straddle mobile, social and open web platforms. By covering all the rapidly growing bases, the company is better set up to act as a publisher of third-party titles on any or all of these platforms.

“We [wanted] to be a publisher from day one,” Richardson says. “We needed a platform that could reach multiple devices and [support] multiple genres. KingsRoad and Nightmare Guardians work on the same backend, which shows the strength of our [publishing] platform.”

While KingsRoad is a graphically rich action role-playing game for the open web (and eventually Facebook), Nightmare Guardians is a tower defense strategy title that leans heavily on synchronous multiplayer to drive engagement. There are a handful of titles on iOS and Android that currently support synchronous multiplayer, but Richardson says Apple told him that so far, “nobody’s done it right yet.”

“What we learned from [developing] KingsRoad is that there needs to be an overriding social imperative beyond just playing together,” Richardson says. He goes on to explain that in its closed beta form, KingsRoad multiplayer was largely limited to light cooperative play on the assumption that that would be enough to make the largely single-player main game “social.” Richardson reports, however, that this assumption didn’t pan out and that more structured experiences, similar to what we see in fantasy sports leagues, create more compelling reasons for players to show up and play. To that end, Nightmare Guardians will feature leaderboards that track the progress of players in real-time cooperative play, which will likely drive engagement.

An interesting use case comes from releasing Nightmare Guardians straight to tablet. Based on research collected by Rumble, tablet players spend an average of 25 to 35 minutes in a game session. In contrast, smartphone players only spend 3 to 5 minutes — which isn’t enough time for most games to do the matchmaking needed to create quality synchronous multiplayer. Additionally, smartphones run on a range of connection types — 3G, 4G, WiFi, etc. — while most tablets tend to run games on WiFi only.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t care about smartphones,” Richardson explains. “We definitely have ambitions for smartphones, but we wanted to hit [tablets first]. Our 3D graphics and production values are better suited to tablet screens.”

Tablet or smartphone, mobile is an area of explosive growth for most developers at this point, leading many to consider abandoning the Facebook platform altogether. Rumble — and particularly, Richardson, who was an investor at Elevation Partners when it bought up Facebook shares on the secondary market in 2009 — have faith in the long term prospects of the Facebook games platform, however, and continue to develop and seek publishing opportunities for it.

“Everywhere you read, that’s the topic — cost per acquisition going up [on mobile], creating the same kind of margin compression people saw on Facebook a year and a half ago,” Richardson says. “That’s the complaint of folks that are not building great products. When you talk to the folks that are pushing the envelope, they’re not the ones complaining about CPA.”

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