Big Blue Bubble’s Bryan Davis — Retention is a Byproduct of ‘Fun Factor’

Mobile gaming is an incredibly competitive industry, and keeping players’ attention for any length of time can be a challenge. Game developer Big Blue Bubble is defying the odds, creating memorable titles across a variety of genres and branching out into the PC market. With 15 years of experience, this dev knows a thing or two about retention — one of its most popular mobile games has been going strong for seven years!

To learn more about Big Blue Bubble’s approach to making mobile and PC games, Tapjoy spoke with Senior Vice President of Business Development, Bryan Davis.

 

What we learned:

  • When it comes to gaming, the fun factor is the key to high retention. Achieving this requires frequent updates to add content and ensure the user experience is running smoothly.
  • Stellar art direction and accessibility are excellent strategies for boosting conversion rates.
  • Mobile game devs shouldn’t be afraid to experiment; there’s still plenty of untapped potential, especially in the multiplayer market.

 

Hi, Bryan. Can you start by telling us about Big Blue Bubble and how it came to be?

Our founder, Damir Slogar, began his extensive video game career in his native Croatia in the ‘80s. In 1999, he immigrated to Canada, where he continued his professional career as a lead programmer. In 2004, Damir established Big Blue Bubble, built upon the leadership values and vision that he cultivated in his years of industry experience. Big Blue Bubble has created award-winning titles for a variety of gaming platforms, including our flagship mobile franchise My Singing Monsters.

 

What can you tell us about the latest games from Big Blue Bubble? Are there any upcoming projects you’re able to share with us?

We have a couple of exciting titles coming to players this year. In October, we have our worldwide release of Super Dinosaur: Kickin’ Tail. Players will team up with the heroes from Skybound Entertainment’s cartoon and comic series Super Dinosaur in this action-packed mobile game. They’ll take on daring missions and weekly challenges in a deadly PVP arena!

At the end of the year, Steam players will get the chance to play Foregone in early access.  Foregone is a combat-focused action-platformer that combines the challenging gameplay of Diablo and Dark Souls with fluid pixel animation popularized by Dead Cells.

 

We hear that Big Blue Bubble has some impressive retention numbers. What strategies do you typically use for that?

We look at making sure the fun factor is really at the core of our games. Part of this involves revisiting our UX. We look at each update as an opportunity to optimize and improve the experience for new and existing players. Retention is a byproduct of making sure our players are having fun and, of course, inspiring worlds of creativity.

 

Big Blue Bubble works across a range of genres including traditional RPGs and platformers. What has been your experience working in these fields, considering how many modern mobile developers focus on casual or hyper-casual markets? Are there any unique challenges to marketing or UA that you’ve faced?

We have had great success with RPGs, platformers, and other genres in our 15-year history. Our amazing team plays everything under the sun, so for us, it’s always exciting to utilize that talent and have the opportunity to showcase what we can do.

Regarding UA strategy, we’ve been extremely lucky with My Singing Monsters. We’ve seen higher-than average-conversion rates, notably due to art direction and how accessible everyone finds our game. Like most core-based games, we’ve faced the same challenges in terms of spending with a positive ROI and volume.

 

In 2017, you published Zombie Bloxx on Steam. You’ve also announced Foregone for PC. What prompted the decision to expand to PC markets?

What works best for the game experience is what drives the decision on where our games end up. We’ve seen great success with PC and Console games in the past, so jumping in with  Zombie Bloxx as our first cross-platform game releasing on both PC and mobile wasn’t really anything that new to us. We’re always looking at how best to enhance/present the gaming experience for the player, which, given the type of story we wanted to tell in Foregone, we felt were the PC/console environments.

 

Most mobile games have a short lifespan, but My Singing Monsters is still going after seven years! What makes it stand out? What has the team done to extend its lifespan?

My Singing Monsters is extremely unique in giving users the ability to create both their own worlds and music! This is the key to the sustained success we’ve seen. Our amazing team has been busy with new, ever-creative content and keeping an active audience. We’re constantly seeing updates with new monsters, music, worlds, and depth of gameplay.

 

My Singing Monsters is also expanding into a TV series and toy line. Are these initiatives expected to attract new mobile players and what is BBB doing to prepare for them?

Building a multi-media franchise, beginning with a consumer products program and an animated series, has been a natural extension of our brand. We fully expect to attract new users and generate an even broader audience with this program. Working closely with our partners, we are integrating reciprocal callouts to each arm of the program to ensure growth for all lines of business. As each toy line and the animated series roll out, new users will be introduced to the game, and game players will be introduced to the products and series.

 

Big Blue Bubble is based out of London, Ontario — far outside of the typical tech bubbles of cities like San Francisco. Are there any unique challenges when competing with mobile developers around the world? Or are online storefronts creating a level playing field?

Having our main studio in London holds many advantages for us: the convenience of a large city like Toronto in close proximity, a thriving game industry, and a city that really supports our tech sector. We feel we have a niche here that allows us to attract industry professionals who see the appeal of being at an agile indie studio. Online stores and the access mobile gaming has provided to users all over the world certainly gave us a foot in the door globally when we launched My Singing Monsters.

 

As a developer, what are the biggest untapped opportunities you see in mobile gaming? Which ones will Big Blue Bubble pursue?

I would love to see more studios to go out on a limb to really experiment with new and unexplored multiplayer game designs. Also, a fundamental use of devices to their full potential to expand in-game playability. We’re always exploring new and interesting ways to interact with our games, but we’ll keep that under wraps for now.

 

Which current high-level mobile trends are particularly exciting to you? What innovations are you looking forward to moving ahead?

A full 5G rollout is definitely exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing how games will innovate.  We’ve been hearing VR/AR/etc. for years now, but nothing compelling for the mainstream. Once the barrier of use is resolved, I would love to see how this progresses as well.

Tapjoy would like to thank Bryan Davis for taking the time to chat with us. To learn more about Big Blue Bubble’s approach to game development, check out its website for a full list of titles.

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