London-based social games developer Bossa Studios made the headlines even before publishing its first game. Founded in late 2010, Bossa was acquired in September last year by Shine TV, owned by Rupert Murdochs News Corp.
The acquisition was an accelerator for the small company. “Overnight Bossa Studios started to gain momentum, being able to go after the incredible talent we needed to execute our plans,” Bossa’s co-founder and Marketer-in-Chief Roberta Lucca tells us. Getting acquired so early wasn’t the plan, it just happened. Shine was looking to complement its digital strategy with a games division, and Bossa was looking for long-term funding. “On top of that came the incredible TV brands and formats Shine owns, now open to become social games,” says Lucca.
Social is about making an impact – such as ruining a friend’s city
Bossa’s first game Monstermind was released on Facebook in early November 2011. Lucca describes it as a departure from traditional social games, but not a complete rupture with the format. “We look at social gaming as necessarily multiplayer, in real time, while other games simply use friends as resources,” she tells us. “It’s player-versus-player arena, where your actions have a social impact on your friends’ play experience. That’s what social is all about, not begging for things and being forced to recruit more people in order to keep on playing,” Lucca believes. In Monstermind players can (and should) destroy their friends’ cities by releasing giant B-movie monsters against them, and defend their own city from a subsequent revenge.
Hardcore social games still have the ‘chicken and egg’ issue
Under the hood, Monstermind is more like a MMORPG than the traditional social game. This approach was a lot of effort, Lucca admits, but she is very confident it was worth the trouble. “We built a platform that is years ahead of anything our competitors currently have, and that will enable constantly more advanced games.”
To live up to the big words, Bossa Studios will need a lot of staying power. Though Monstermind was well-received, the game shared the fate of many others and has been losing players constantly, down to 190,000 monthly active users.
Maybe Bossa’s second title, to be released later this year, will turn things around. Development is in full steam under guidance of creative director Yoshifusa Hayama who joined Bossa from Sony late last year.
Not unlike companies such as Kabam or Supercell, Bossa Studios is betting on hardcore social gaming. “But social players are not ready for hardcore gameplay experiences, and sadly hardcore gamers think social games are not worth their time, so we have a kind of ‘chicken and egg’ situation here,” thinks Lucca.
What’s next? 3D graphics and real-time storytelling
So what will the next Bossa game look like? “With Monstermind we traveled the player-versus-player roads, now we’ll embark on cooperative gameplay instead, but again in real-time if your friends happen to be online along with you. And the production levels will raise the bar for others to follow, as we’ve shifted to 3D, characterization, storytelling and, as you can expect, a strong and established IP behind it all,” Lucca explains.
Needless to say, the company will also be testing the waters for mobile games this year, starting with a Monstermind companion app. Other fields of interest include location-based games aligned with the second-screen usage linked to television and streamed shows.