Posted by Rob LeFebvre on May 6th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
In case you missed it earlier, Topple 2 is coming back to the app store, this time via Mobage. The ngmoco:) classic block stacking game is a classic in the iOS App Store, hearkening back to a time when ngmoco:) was the critical darling of the nascent game scene on the newly created Apple mobile platform.
It’s a low $0.99 now, so head on over to the App Store and get yourself this piece of iOS gaming history.
We recently ran into Barry Dorf, Senior Director of Third Party for DeNA, previously ngmoco:). Dorf mentioned that we just might be surprised what we saw in the App Store this week. And surprised we are indeed. The ngmoco:) classic iOS game Topple 2 is getting re-released!
You may or may not remember ngmoco:), so a little history first. ngmoco:) was the first game development studio set up purely for iOS game development. Heavily funded by the iFund, and founded by industry veteran Neil Young, ngmoco:) was a studio created before its time. Unfortunately, its games were critical successes, but relative sales failures. This was when the market was considerably smaller and focused only on paid games. ngmoco:) tried to make the switch to free to play games with Rolando 2–the first game to take advantage of in-app purchases on iOS. But that was not enough to make the ngmoco:) model a success. In came DeNA from Japan, looking for a US foothold. ngmoco:) was the perfect fit and was absorbed into the company. Initially ngmoco:)/DeNA US released a few games that did well, but not amazing. These were great games, now pulled from the App Store like GodFinger, We Rule, etc. Those have all been archived. Recently the majority of the games released by DeNA in the US have been English versions of games popular in Japan. Rage of Bahamut is an example of an extremely successful import. In my opinion, these are less interesting games, but obviously money makers.
Topple 2 is the now-classic block stacking game first released by ngmoco:) way back in what could be considered the golden age of iOS gaming. All of the early games from ngmoco:) were interesting, designed well, unique, and all sported a very touch-centric control scheme. But these early games are, if nothing else, a huge part of the short history of gaming on iOS. So it’s great to think for a moment that those classics may be updated and re-released for modern iOS devices and playable by the now 400+ million iOS gamers. An iPad version of Star Defense or Rolando would also be amazing.
We spoke with Barry Dorf about the updated classics.
148Apps: So, Topple 2 is coming back?! That’s fantastic. What lead to it being revived from the archive?
Barry Dorf: At DeNA we always strive to delight consumers. We saw an opportunity to bring back Topple 2 from the archives and provide fans a fun gameplay experience while also introducing new players to the game.
148Apps: ngmoco:) has some fantastic games in the portfolio. Some of the first big iOS games from 2009-10. I would even argue that the ngmoco:) games were ahead of their time and that could be why they didn’t make amazing amounts of money. We’d love to see more of them come back, updated for the new screen sizes and for the iPad. Any chance we’ll see Star Defense, Rolando, Dropship or any of the other classics too?
Barry: How come you didn’t mention MazeFinger and Dr. Awesome?
DeNA’s portfolio of games is pretty amazing. We’re going to wait and see how Topple 2 does before we consider reviving more titles. We encourage everyone to download Topple 2 and give us a reason to revisit bringing back other games.
So there you have it, the classics may live on. Hopefully we will all enjoy this updated game from the early days of iOS gaming. Let us know–do you think it was a game before its time, or does it seem dated now? What other ngmoco:) classics would you like to see come back?
Take a look at this video of the original Topple 2 trailer. We’ll let you know when Topple 2 hits the App Store; it could be as early as today.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard that Apple is now allowing in-app purchases in free apps. Yes, this creates many possibilities including the extinction of lite versions and new app store charts, but I think that none of these possibilities will come to fruition, for one simple reason: DLC simply won’t be widely implemented. One reason, and the reason I think developers have been loathe to implement DLC so far, is the public perception of DLC. The average app consumer is wary – perhaps rightfully so – of DLC, and automatically assumes DLC is there to rip off the customer. I think developers will even be aware of this when making free apps with DLC, as the fear of being nickeled and dimed could lead poor public perception, starting with bad iTunes reviews, which will be open to anyone who clicks the “Get App” button. In addition, I think consumers simply purchase less through in-app purchasing. Once you already have an app, that app can become boring quickly in this ADD app store, so instead of purchasing more content for that app, you are likely to impulsively buy a completely different and new one.
Rock Band released
Last night, EA mobile’s Rock Band was released onto the App Store. Sure, it’s got that EA polish, but is it really worth 10 times more than Tap Tap Revenge 3, its $.99 competitor. Early indication may be no. While Rock Band features four different instruments, they are all similarly tap-based. The gameplay is fairly unchallenging but fun, and the background graphics are very repetitive and there are no special backgrounds for songs as in TTR3. In addition, the game comes with an anemic set list of only 20 songs, compared to over 100 free songs for TTR3. DLC packs for Rock Band are scarce so far and come packaged as two songs for $.99, the same as TTR3. I think the Rock Band game itself is better than TTR3, just not ten times better.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-19 :: Category: Games
Free ngmoco:) games!
Largely as a promotion for their Plus+ network, ngmoco:) has made three of their older games free. These are the full versions of the games, now including the excellend Plus+, and they’re all worth checking out:
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2009-10-01 :: Category: Games
This week’s upcoming app that looks freakin’ sweet:
There are a few good turn based strategy games on the iPhone, but the Battle for Wesnoth could just blow them all away. Here are a few features:
Over 200 unit types in six major factions, all with distinctive abilities, weapons and spells
Experienced units gain powerful new abilities as they advance.
Bring your battle-hardened troops with you as you fight through campaigns
Hundreds of campaign scenarios available, easily download user-made content
Day/night cycles, fog of war, racial traits
The Battle for Wesnoth has not been submitted, but you can download a free PC/Mac/Linux demo here.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse:
Ngmoco:) has recently been tweeting about, and advertising in their games, Epic Pet Wars, another dumb code-sharing text-based MMO. I thought you had high standards ngmoco:)…
App of the Week
Last week, I disappointedly reviewed Cocoto Kart Online, which simply wasn’t up to snuff. Happily, Gameloft’s Shrek Kart has provided a great karting experience. While the controls could still use some additional tuning, they aren’t nearly as awful as those found in Cocoto. Though there is no online multiplayer, the single player mode has enough content. The graphics are unbelievably crisp, the track design is good, and the Shrek license is actually used pretty well. At $4.99, it’s the best Mario Kart-esque game on the App Store.
When the release date of Rolando 2 was announced, ngmoco:) also indicated that Rolando, the original, was going to be pulled from the app store when the sequel goes live. It’s an odd move, very smart, and yet wrong at the same time.
I recently asked Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco:), why the original Topple was no longer in the App Store, his comment was “We pulled it, trying something.” Short response and at the time I didn’t think much of it. I assumed they were planning on trying some new marketing technique with it. Turns out they were testing a fundamental business idea in preparation for the Rolando 2 release. Something new, something that really may change the way we think of games in the app store. Apps aren’t forever anymore.
According to our App Store database, Rolando was released originally on December 8, 2008. That effectively puts the lifespan of the original Rolando at 7 months. Is that really all the life Rolando has left in it? I doubt it. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be pulled from the app store when Rolando 2 is released.
While Rolando is their product and they have the absolute right to do with it what they choose, pulling it just doesn’t feel right. Something about the spirit seems wrong. They aren’t doing anything odd with the price to rise up the charts and increase the price to ride the higher exposure as many high profile developers have been doing lately. But they are sacrificing a product and it’s customers for increased expose for the next episode. Maybe I’m just being too sentimental, but I want to see the game stick around.
Back to the original test that ngmoco:) did, removing Topple from the app store. I’m not sure that it relates directly, removing Topple, a free app, to see what it does to sales of Topple 2 at $0.99. But there is something obvious to it. By removing Topple, they see if that increases sales of Topple 2, the more recent game.
By removing Rolando when the sequel comes out, they don’t lose any sales to the original, cheaper version. When users search for Rolando, they will get just 1 result, and 1 price. That makes sense as a certain percentage people would probably choose the cheaper one, and it removes any confusion of their marketing message for the new game.
What doesn’t make sense is why remove one of the best games on the App Store? Rolando may not have been a runaway commercial success, but it is a great game, very well reviewed, and still has some life in it. You know, what about the long tail? What about all those articles that point to Rolando on the app store. They won’t point to Rolando 2 automatically — you’ll just get the error on the app store that the app is not available.
This decision is also bad for people who have purchased the original Rolando. The app store is a digital delivery system. The only way to get Rolando is to download it from iTunes either on the desktop or on the device. If you don’t have a backup, and you lose it, you’ll never get it back if it’s no longer in the store. In addition, there have been weekly updates for a while from Rolando, building up to the release of Rolando 2. If you haven’t updated in a while, and you wait until July 1, you’ll never see those updates.
And what about the people that try Rolando 2 and want more? They know it’s a sequel, why can’t they get the original. Perhaps the original Rolando levels will be available as in-app purchases in Rolando 2.
It seems as though ngmoco:) is willing to live with a little bit of bad customer experience to try to increase the sales of a new game. Not a great thing, but considering the constraints of the App Store and the very limited ways that developers can operate, it might be the best decision. If nothing else, you have to hand it to them for trying something different and thinking about how to best build a business in the maddening chaos known as the iTunes App Store. It will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit and do the same. Let’s hope not.
I hope we’ll see Rolando and Topple back in the store, re-released as classic versions maybe, at some point in the future. For now, I think I’ll make sure I have the latest version, do a back-up, and play a little Classic Rolando while I wait for Rolando 2.
Artist Kyle Lambert created a portrait of actor Morgan Freeman by using Procreate on his iPad Air. Below you can find the video of the entire creation process of the image as the artist uses only his finger to create the portrait.