Kixeye CEO: 'CityVille is a good game,' but its 'exact opposite audience'

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Kixeye CEO Will HarbinThe real question is, however, is would Kixeye CEO Will Harbin (pictured) call Empires & Allies, the number one strategy game on Facebook, a goodstrategy game? During an interview with Gamasutra, Harbin got into his company's struggles to prove that Facebook truly is a legitimate gaming platform. He mentioned that, based on his first interactions with FarmVille that he "wouldn't call it a game." However, when CityVille released in late 2010, Harbin was visibly impressed.

"When more of the traditional game guys came into Zynga, you started seeing more original titles," Harbin told Gamasutra. "CityVille is a good app, it's a good game! They kind of took like the interesting parts of, say SimCity, combining with the harvesting mechanics of FarmVille. I was pretty surprised when Zynga launched that game; it was a lot better than I expected of what they could do."

It's interesting that Harbin makes this point considering Zynga's CityVille has under fire from companies like Brazilian developer Vostu, which claims that the big time creator has copied other games while designing its own city-builder. But more importantly, Harbin makes a distinction between his audience and the FarmVille crowd: They're not the same at all. Harbin has no interest in catering to this audience, and that approach has apparently done Kixeye quite well. (And the company likely hopes it will do even better with its upcoming game, War Commander.)

"... Battle Pirates launched about a little while ago, and it's doing super well, it's very sticky in terms the users that are playing," Harbin gushed to Gamasutra. "That game was really driven by us wanting to make cool games that we wanted to play that aren't on Facebook. That's the bottom line. I'm on Facebook hours a day, and all these people are playing games are putting stupid crap on my wall. There's something to this, but there's no content that appeals specifically to me."

While Harbin goes on to elaborate, which you can read here, the main takeaway is this: Harbin and Kixeye claim to attract an audience that is not your average social gamer, and they're doing quite well at it. In fact, players of games like Kixeye's Battle Pirates--the company's most recent real-time strategy game--are coming from their Starcraft's and Call of Duty's for a hardcore experience on Facebook, according to Harbin. So, will the existing nearly 80 million hardcore Facebook gamers grow? If Harbin and Kixeye have anything to do about, then absolutely.

[Image Credit: Kixeye]

Do you think Kixeye is smart in approaching an entirely different audience from Zynga? Do you see more hardcore game genres coming to Facebook than simply strategy games? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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