Last week, WPCentral revealed that Bug Village would be the first freemium game on Windows Phone. We shared a few details about how it would work and promised more to come. Here then is the next installment of our Xbox Live Developer Interview series. This time, we grill Mike DeLaet of Glu Mobile about Bug Village’s revolutionary features and the challenges of bringing a freemium game to Xbox Live.
Hi, Mike. Please tell us about yourself and what you do at Glu Mobile.
I am Mike DeLaet, VP of Sales & Marketing at Glu Mobile. I’ve been at Glu for over 2 years now and am responsible for the global smart phone business, marketing and public relations.
Glu has an impressive library of games under its belt. Does your company have an overall approach to mobile game development?
Obviously our development strategy is highly confidential. Our overarching goal is to create games that are fun and enjoyable for our consumers.
Let’s focus on your next big Windows Phone release, Bug Village. The game is already a popular casual city building game on the iOS, Android, and even the Chrome browser. What do you think makes the genre appealing?
Bug Village is one of those titles that have a mass appeal to all demographics. The high production value of the title also makes it appealing with the 3D characters, which isn’t something you typically get for FREE.
What is the overall goal in Bug Village?
Like any resource management game, the goal is to build the biggest and best village. Bug Village has a ton of content and quests to keep the consumer engaged for hours on end.
Bug Village utilizes two forms of currency: acorns and coins. What is each currency used for, and how is it acquired?
Acorns are obtained by playing through the game and can be used to buy items in the store. Coins are given out at the beginning of the game to get the player started and can also be bought via In-App Purchase as well; also allowing the user to buy items in the store. Some items require acorns, while others require coins.
What payment methods can players use to purchase gold coins? Can they use Microsoft Points?
Windows Phone payments work like any other piece of content. You can use a credit card tied to your Xbox LIVE account or use carrier billing if your particular carrier supports that option.
If I may ask a selfish question, will Glu be able to provide reviewers with codes for coins?
Unfortunately we have no technical way of providing virtual currency to any reviewers. Microsoft does not give us this ability.
The other versions of Bug Village have regular sales on currency and items. Will these sales extend to Windows Phone as well?
Unfortunately we will not have the flexibility of making dynamic changes to the Bug Village economy after the fact like we are able to with iOS and Android. That being said, we do expect the capabilities of our titles on Windows Phone to improve in due course and once that happens, we will extend the same capabilities to Windows Phone as well.
Are there any Parental Controls in place to prevent children from making unauthorized purchases?
Our titles will take advantage of any parental controls built into Windows Phone. (Parental controls were promised with the Mango update but have yet to materialize. –ed.)
How many GamerScore worth of Achievements will Bug Village have? Will all Achievements require the purchase of premium content before they can be unlocked?
Bug Village will have 7 Xbox LIVE achievements at launch worth a total of 200 points towards your Gamer Score. No, you will not be required to buy premium content to unlock these achievements.
Can players visit their friends’ villages like in the iOS version?
No, the version of Bug Village for Windows Phone will not have a friend-visiting feature; however, we will build out our feature set for Windows Phone as the platform matures to support such functionality.
Speaking of version differences, updates to Windows Phone Xbox Live titles are tricky business thanks to the Xbox Live certification process. While games like Bug Village on iPhone receive regular updates, the Windows Phone versions often go much longer between updates (see Fruit Ninja, Pocket God, Doodle Jump, etc.) and thus lag behind the primary version in content. How will you handle updates to Bug Village on Windows Phone?
We will adhere to any guidelines that Microsoft imposes on Windows Phone. It is an entirely different process than iOS or Android.
Slow update process or not, it’s awesome that you guys are ushering in the official microtransaction model for Microsoft’s mobile platform. How did Glu Mobile end up as the publisher of the first freemium Xbox Live game on Windows Phone?
We have been working with Microsoft very closely since the launch of Windows Phone and given how our business has shifted to freemium, we were obviously very keen on doing this on Windows Phone as well. Like any new technology there are technical challenges that must be overcome; however, we were able to work through these with Microsoft to get Bug Village submitted.
Will Bug Village require the Windows Phone Mango update?
Yes, Bug Village will require Windows Phone Mango (7.5) to run. It also supports Fast App Switching…
Bug Village features colorful 3D graphics. What is the frame rate on the Windows Phone version?
We are operating at 30 fps on Windows Phone.
Will the game support Push Notifications? If so, what information will they relay to players?
No, this is not available on [the Windows Phone version] at this time.
Does the Windows Phone port have a target release date yet?
We plan to release Bug Village in the coming months.
Guitar Hero 5 and Deer Hunter 3D have been our strongest performers. Both are huge brands and have a mass appeal.
Deer Hunter 3D has one Achievement - ‘All Year Round’ – that is completely unattainable by players. Will this issue ever be fixed?
We are not aware of any bugs related to any of our Deer Hunter 3D achievements. If this is indeed an issue, we will work with Microsoft to resolve it. (Don’t say I never did anything for you, dear reader! – ed.)
Finally, does Glu Mobile have any interest in bringing its licensed games like The Lord of the Rings: Middle Earth Defense or Family Guy Time Warped to Windows Phone?
No, our focus is on brining our top tier original IP to Windows Phone.
WPCentral will have more news on those original IPs very soon! Can’t wait to play Bug Village? Chrome web browser users can try the PC version right now for free.