Interview with Renegade Kid’s Jool Watsham
I had the pleasure of interviewing Renegade Kid’s co-founder Jools Watsham last week.
Renegade Kid has always been one of our favorite game studios. If you follow our site at all it will come as no surprise to you that I’m a particularly big fan of Mutant Mudds.
I’d like to thank everyone at Renegade Kid and Jools Watsham not only for granting this interview but for all the great software they’ve released over the years. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads and visits our site frequently. It is because of you guys that we’re experiencing all these amazing things like interviewing developers, attending media events and reviewing games professionally.
Mutant Mudds is a great call-back to how games played in the 90′s. Hard as nails and filled with a multitude of secrets. I could talk about why I like the game all day but you guys are here for the interview and I don’t plan to disappoint you.
When I heard about Mutant Mudds releasing on iOS I wasn’t too surprised. Renegade Kid had been talking about releasing the game for Apple’s mobile computing platform in the past, as recently as October. But what did surprise me was the price point. The game releases on iOS today for just $1.
So I sent some questions over to Renegade Kid and Jools Watsham was kind enough to answer. You can read our full interview below.
Renegade Kid’s co-founder Jools Watsham answers our questions!
Gimme Gimme Games: What motivated you to release Mutant Mudds for iOS?
Jools: “I recently got an iPhone 5. Before that I had an Android, which I was happy with as a phone, but not as a gaming device. There were a lot less games available for Android at the time. That seems to be changing now though. Anyway, as I dug deeper into the library of games available on the App Store I was surprised to find myself genuinely entertained by many of the games. This cemented my thought that this was a legitimate gaming platform.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still prefer physical buttons over virtual buttons; but, if done right, a platform game can be very enjoyable with virtual controls. We started experimenting with ideas on how to best tackle the controls for Mutant Mudds on iOS devices and our results convinced me that an authentic Mutant Mudds experience could happen. So, we went with it!”
Gimme Gimme Games: Will the iOS version take advantage of any specific features of particular iPhone models?
Jools: “The pixel-perfect nature of the art style is very important to Mutant Mudds, so we ensured that the different screen resolutions between the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPads are individually supported. Beyond that, we simply focused on making the gameplay feel as good as possible.”
Gimme Gimme Games: How would you respond to Mutant Mudds players on 3DS or PC (and eventually on the Wii U) who feel like they should be getting the game for the same price as iOS players will?
Jools: “The 3DS version of Mutant Mudds offers real buttons and awesome 3D. The PC and Wii U versions of Mutant Mudds offer real buttons and that big screen, console experience. We attempt to position each version of Mutant Mudds as strategically as possible to maximize that market. Each market is different, and each platform is different. Mutant Mudds on iOS relies on virtual controls. No matter how good we make the virtual controls, they will never feel as good as physical buttons.
That isn’t to say that the game is not playable or fun on iOS. I have completed all 60 levels numerous times on my iPhone 5 and genuinely enjoyed the experience. We wouldn’t have released the game otherwise.
Another important aspect, which many will probably find ridiculous, is the fact that the $0.99 price-point in the App Store market is one of the most effective price-points for an original and/or indie game. Look at the top selling “paid” games on the App Store and count how many are priced at $0.99. If, for example, you can sell 100 copies at $0.99 you can probably expect to sell less than 50% of that if the game is priced at $1.99 – unless you’re a big brand or have some state-of-the-art art and technology kicking it. Then, you can start looking at $4.99 or more.”
Gimme Gimme Games: Do you think releasing the game for $1 on iOS devalues the other versions of the game on 3DS and PC? If not how so?
Jools: “No, because the other platforms offer tangible benefits, such as real buttons, awesome 3D, and the big screen, console experience.”
Gimme Gimme Games: Do you believe platforms like the 3DS, Wii U, PC are your primary concerns while iOS versions of your games are a great bonus, providing an extra source of income while opening up the game to a new set of players?
Jools: “Yes, in a nutshell I think that is accurate. The 3DS and Wii U are our primary focus because we’re able to make “gamer” games for an audience who wants and appreciates that. The iOS market is more of a crap-shoot due to the fact that the majority of the audience are not necessarily looking for “gamer” games. They may want a simple “puzzle” game to pass the time for a few minutes on the bus, or at work. However, if we’re lucky enough to find an audience on iOS who like Mudds and want more, that may change things for us.”
Gimme Gimme Games: Is there anymore DLC planned for Mutant Mudds for any of the platforms it is available on?
Jools: “As of now, the only new content planned for Mutant Mudds is unique content for Mutant Mudds Deluxe on Wii U. Next up will be Mutant Mudds 2!”
Gimme Gimme Games: How is Mutant Mudds 2 progressing? Will it release on all of the platforms the original game did, and if so will they all release at the same time?
Jools: “That is to be determined. We’re a small team, so we have to plan carefully.”
Gimme Gimme Games: Are you open to the idea of a Mutant Mudds game with full 3D worlds now that the first game has been successful?
Jools: “Maybe. :)”
Gimme Gimme Games: After reading fan response to what Mutant Mudds could cost on iOS have your fans been supportive of the need to price the iOS version lower in order to gain access to a large audience? Have most of your fans understood the need for this move?
Jools: “I haven’t got a firm perspective on what the fans think about the price. I expect some will hate it and some will understand.”
Gimme Gimme Games: What are the toughest hurdles for you when you try to explain the pricing differences between platforms to your fans?
Jools: “All of it, really. Most people don’t need to face the decision of what to price something in a different market. It is easy to assume a game should be priced the same no matter what platform or country it is available in. But, it is not as simple as that. We have to be competitive within each market. We have to make sure we’re making money on our games or we can’t make more games. Even though the business aspect is the furthest thing from my mind when developing a game, there comes a time when the business hat must be worn when pricing and such needs to be decided upon. Lots of hurdles. All over the place. That’s what keeps it fun. :)”
To end the interview Jools elaborated on the importance of the $0.99 price point on the iOS platform.
Jools: “The quality of games that can be purchased on the App Store for $0.99 is very high. Titles like Jetpack Joyride and Bad Piggies make it a very competitive market. We have to try and compete with that quality and price-point.”
Jools makes great points about why the other versions of Mutant Mudds justify their higher prices.
The 3D in the game is some of the best I’ve seen in any 3DS game and helps make it a good purchase for all 3DS owners. Renegade Kid gives Nintendo a run for their money in terms of effective use of the 3D screen and that isn’t something many third party developers can say.
The PC/Wii U versions justify their price tags easily by giving the game the HD treatment, displaying the game in the highest resolution available.
I appreciate that Jools didn’t shy away from questions about fan criticism about the pricing of Mutant Mudds on iOS. He is very down to earth and didn’t give a typical PR answer. He acknowledges that some people won’t be happy that Mutant Mudds cost so much more on “traditional” game consoles. Jools also did a great job explaining why some games (like Mutant Mudds) need to be sold at a lower price on iOS than what we would normally expect on the eShop.
Mutant Mudds will be out later today (December 6th) on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Do yourself a favor and pick it up if you haven’t played it already. You won’t regret it.