Interview: astragon Entertainment discuss the latest entry in its long-running simulator series, Bus Simulator City Ride
Following the release of its cross-platform simulator, Bus Simulator City Ride, we took the opportunity to speak with astragon Entertainment’s PR & Marketing Manager, Yvonne Lukanowski, about its latest entry in the series and the reasons for the franchise's continued success. Here’s what we discussed..
First off, congratulations on the launch of Bus Simulator City Ride. Unless we're mistaken, this is now the 7th release in the series?
Thank you very much. Bus Simulator City Ride is the latest installment of the Bus Simulator series and the first for mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch, which really marks the beginning of a completely new journey. Since the very first game back in 2012 the series made big steps. After bringing the last Bus Simulator games on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, we are happy to now give an even broader audience the chance to dive into the world of a bus driver.
What aspects of the game do you think will appeal most to players?
The official licensed buses are one of our main features which also differ us from other bus simulator games on the mobile market. We believe that driving a real bus that players know from real life really helps to increase immersion.
But the driving controls are also one of the most important aspects of the game. It was a real challenge to bring realistic bus driving physics to a mobile device. But this was definitely an important investment and something that is essential for a simulation game.
What do you feel has been the secret to the series' success and its longevity?
Listening to the needs of the community but also sticking to the core pillars of the series and giving the best possible way to reconcile all expectations, needs and wishes – such as the balance between a realistic simulation and casual game element, easy accessibility and of course the official licensed buses we have in the game. All of this as a foundation allowed the series to grow in the past and also allowed us to reach new people with every new entry.
You just mentioned license holders as one of your core pillars. What we can see is that astragon offers real life brands in all their games. Why are official brands so important to you?
Yes, that’s true. The brands not only increase the level of immersion of the game, but also give players a special feeling by using the officially licensed vehicles. A large part of our player base are enthusiasts of the respective profession - in Construction Simulator, for example, we have many players who work on construction sites in real life or have a great interest in construction machinery, either because of the technical aspect of the machine or because they are simply impressed by these big and powerful machines. The possibility to use real machines or vehicles in the game is a big deal for them and they appreciate the joy of controlling a big excavator or a huge crane. The same is true for our bus simulator games: Many of the players are bus drivers in real life or are fascinated by buses. They usually know a lot about the technical features of the different bus brands and enjoy driving different types of buses.
That is why we are very keen to implement officially licensed vehicles as realistically as possible in every game we develop: For Bus Simulator City Ride, the cockpits, sounds and the entire design were developed in cooperation with the manufacturers. The number of license partners grew with each new entry. With now 10 partners from all over the world, we have a wide range of different brands in Bus Simulator City Ride. We also have different types of buses in the game, from electric buses to articulated buses and even a double decker.
What were some of the inspirations for the design of the city maps and what were some of the key considerations for making the driving experience as authentic as possible?
The appearance of the fictional city of Havensburg is inspired by various northern European cities and features a variety of eye-catching buildings and landscapes, including the nautical warehouse district, the harbor, the old town and the countryside. The traffic rules that apply on the streets of Havensburg are, as the name might suggest, based on German traffic rules. They also contribute to the immersion of a simulation game. Traffic rules always find their way into our games and are an important part of the gameplay. You can even get a speeding fine in Bus Simulator City Ride!
Lastly, how much of a factor has fan reaction and suggestions been in helping to shape and improve the series?
Fan feedback is always an important factor for us, not only with the Bus Simulator series, but also with all our other simulation games. The simulation community is very engaged and puts a lot of effort into the games they play. We constantly get a lot of feedback, which we always listen to carefully. It's also something we keep doing even long after the game is released, and it's something we're currently doing with Bus Simulator City Ride, too.