How will Insomniac's Outernauts be the next Angry Birds? [Interview]

Outernauts Plush Toy
Outernauts Plush Toy

"Actually, we're making plush toys for this game," Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price reveals. When Insomniac's first Facebook game, Outernauts, launches this summer, so will a series of plushies based on the social game's key characters. But unlike Angry Birds and more like Activision Blizzard's Skylanders, these plush toys have a purpose.

"Basically, there are five different beasts that you can pick at the beginning of the game," Outernauts designer Rowan Belden-Clifford elaborates. "Each of the plushies that we've made is one of the five starter beasts, so buying these is a way that you can get more starter beasts than the one you've chosen."
The idea behind the push, Insomniac Games brand development director Ryan Schneider tells us, is to expand the game's universe in a way that benefits the player in-game. Such a strategy has worked with Rovio's seminal Angry Birds franchise--albeit with less cross-media flair--but the Finnish developer casts a much wider net than Insomniac looks to with Outernauts.

"I kind of see us going for myself as the audience--I'm 23 years old and I'm a console gamer primarily, but I've also been playing a lot of Facebook games over the past year or two," Belden-Clifford admits. "And it's something that I've seen a lot in my own friends group, starting to play Facebook games during lunch breaks at work and having as much enjoyment out of those as their favorite other games."

In short, the studio has it sights on the 13 to 25-year-old demographic, an (perhaps slightly older) audience that developers Kixeye and Kabam have tapped rather successfully with their strategy-heavy war games on Facebook. But will a similar player base latch onto Outernauts and its plush toys? That depends upon whether the game packs fun and depth, ultimately.


"I think it boils down to bringing our console game experience to a new platform, and making a game that has real, core fun gameplay at the center of it," Belden-Clifford says. "It's something we've always been known for at Insomniac and I don't think Outernauts is any different." And to Price, that's what will keep Outernauts in the backs of players' minds this summer and beyond.

"I think number one is fun. You have to create an experience that's entertaining, is engaging and keeps you thinking about the game frequently because of the story, the options that players have to continue improving whatever it is they have in the game. In our case, we have a lot of RPG [role-playing game] elements in terms of character evolution--the creatures that you capture. It's a lot of fun to watch your creatures evolve, get stronger and earn new abilities. That's one of the things that keeps me, as a player, coming back to the game."

Are you excited about Outernauts? At first glance, could this be the next big social game franchise? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.