|Headquarters||San Francisco, United States|
|Products||Backyard Monsters, War Commander, Battle Pirates, Desktop Defender, Vega Conflict, Tome|
Kixeye (formerly Casual Collective) is a San Francisco, California based developer of online strategy and combat games with over 5 million monthly active users.  It creates games for competitive gamers and its titles Backyard Monsters, Battle Pirates, and War Commander prominently feature "explosions and gore and mayhem". Its real-time strategy game Backyard Monsters has had over 20 million installations. Kixeye expected to generate more than $100 million in revenue in 2012.
Developers David Scott and Paul Preece began Kixeye as Casual Collective, where they developed 13 Flash games. The developers wanted to "make games that we grew up playing and that we love playing."
In mid-2009 when searching for new venues for their strategy games, Scott and Preece decided to take their Flash knowledge and move it to Facebook. After developing Minions on Ice and TSG: Missions, Casual Collective hired Will Harbin, the co-founder of Affinity Labs, as CEO and moved its headquarters to San Francisco, where they developed Desktop Defender, a Tower Defense game for Facebook. After its release in December 2009, the game reached 675,000 monthly active users and produced more revenue in one day than their previous games made in one month.
Growth and Kixeye re-brand
In 2009, Casual Collective began developing Backyard Monsters, a real time strategy game, for Facebook. Early versions of the game had cartoon-like figures and less gore, but the company later changed the aesthetics to feature more intense images and, as David Scott said, "make the game we wanted to make.”
In April 2011, the company re-branded itself as Kixeye, which reinforced its hardcore user base, men in their 20s to 40s who are looking for a hardcore game experience, contrary to the user base of other social games. Harbin said, "We looked at the space of what was currently available on browsers and Facebook, and all I saw were games like Farmville, basically just targeted to the female soccer mom... So I thought, why not target the more traditional gamer?"
In 2011, Kixeye was eleven times more profitable than the previous year, with most revenue generated not from virtual goods, but from speed-ups. Kixeye is currently working on launching its own game platform that will integrate with Facebook Connect while also allowing users to play without a Facebook account.
Kixeye is projected to generate nine figures in revenue in 2012, with the company's revenue for each daily user being approximately 20 times that of the average social game. Kixeye currently has over 400 employees, and over five million monthly active users. and is backed by Trinity Ventures, JAFCO and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Kixeye is currently developing eight games, on both desktop and mobile platforms. The two most recently announced games are a fully re-designed mobile version of Backyard Monsters, titled, Backyard Monsters: Unleashed, and a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game titled, TOME: Immortal Arena.
Backyard Monsters is a real-time strategy game on Facebook with, unlike other Facebook games, "destruction and gore and mayhem." Players begin by building a yard for their monsters, designed so that essential buildings are protected by defensive towers. If the player’s yard is designed correctly, the defenses will stop invading monsters who try to damage the buildings and loot resources.
Executive Producer David Scott said he designed the game to "be able to play a [real-time strategy] game in short sessions. I like to think that we’re providing some of that RTS magic to people who used to play them quite frequently, but now have a job or maybe a family, and just don’t have the time." Kixeye has been updating Backyard Monsters every week for two years. Currently, 20 million people have installed the game. An expansion for Backyard Monsters titled Inferno was released in January 2012 and in November 2012 the new world map was released. In addition to this, Backyard Monsters also has outposts in the new world map when the new world map update came. On February 18, 2013, the Kongregate version of Backyard Monsters was shut down.
Battle Pirates is a Massively Multiplayer Real Time Strategy (MMORTS) strategy game with PvP synchronous combat, released May 2, 2011. The game takes place in the year 2067, where, due to a terrorist-sparked world war and a 95% extinction level, only a small amount of Earth’s original landmass and population remains. The remaining survivors are split into two factions: the Forsaken, the impoverished who rely on engineering hacks, guerilla warfare, and piracy, and the oppressive Draconian Empire, the once elite citizens who have now become a giant military complex. Players build an island base, place defensive turrets and create armored ships. Battle Pirates also allows for customization and personalization of armadas.
The game is the only browser-based massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game with a 24/7 persistent environment on Facebook. Harbin explained the game as the "first synchronous real time strategy of its kind, and we’re very proud of that." Battle Pirates is focused on player-versus-player gameplay. The game has 1,100,000 monthly active users and 220,000 daily active users (as of April 2012).
War Commander is set in a post-apocalyptic landscape 30 years after civilization and governments have collapsed. In the game, man is divided into small, warring factions fighting for control of Earth’s remaining natural resources – Metal, Oil and Thorium.
To survive, players must assume the leadership role of an army commander who assembles and trains bands of infantry – ranging from Riflemen to Snipers to Suicide Bombers – to defend their base against waves of enemy attacks. In addition to building and managing production and resource facilities, players control tactical ground force units that will slaughter any insurgents encroaching on their base. War Commander currently has 5,200,000 monthly active users and 660,000 daily active users.
In October 2012, Kixeye implemented a “live battle mode” in its title, War Commander. The new mode gave players the opportunity to react instantly in the game’s battles. War Commander is still in Open Beta, and has since 2011.
In Desktop Defender, players defend their desktop from creatures called "creeps." Players deploy defensive turrets that attack anything in range. Each defeated creep rewards players with coins which players can use to unlock new towers that shoot frost, ink, swarms of missiles and other defenses. Players can also purchase special bonus powers that slow down enemies, speed up tower guns and cause damage.
Players can invite friends to compete for high scores and special benefits. Players receive 500 coins for each friend they invite and an additional 50 coins whenever a friend is playing Desktop Defender. The game currently has 60,000 monthly active users (as of April 2012).
Desktop is no longer supported by Kixeye but continues to run on Facebook.
Kixeye’s games generate 20 times more revenue per daily active user than other social games, and they have retained active users 5 times longer on average. The company currently makes substantially more revenue per user than Zynga, a game developer who created Words With Friends, Farmville, and Mafia Wars.
Business Insider named Will Harbin, Kixeye’s CEO, one of the "25 Hot CEOs Of Silicon Valley Startups You Can't Afford To Ignore". Venture capitalist Tim Chang said that Kixeye is “pursuing the notion of next-generation social gaming, instead of the standard FarmVille copycat.” At the 2012 Game Developers Conference, Matt Wyndowe, Facebook's games product manager, said:
We’re really focusing on quality games and less traditionally mainstream audiences. I think no one epitomizes this more than Kixeye. This is a team that is focused on a more hardcore gaming market. They skew way more male than most of our game developers, but what really stands out is that this is the games they produce. These are really high quality games that drive incredible engagement. Our users love them and Kixeye is building an incredibly profitable business. When we see people building a massive base and businesses entirely on Facebook, it is incredibly rewarding to us as a games team.
After three months on the market in early 2010, Backyard Monsters had 500,000 monthly active users, and by July 2010, it had 4.5 million monthly active users. The game currently has 2.5 million active users per month, 580,000 active users per day, with a 23 percent retention rate. An average play session lasts greater than 30 minutes, players average between three and four sessions a day, and retention is over seven months. The game currently has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 500,000 votes. Gamezebo gave Backyard Monsters 4.5 out of 5 stars, and said, “To release a game of this caliber for free on Facebook is a real achievement.” VentureBeat stated that War Commander "Represents a big step forward in the evolution of Facebook games." Facebook banner adds continue to draw in new players. Backyard Monsters also won the Mochi Award for Best Social Game of 2010.
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- which is an online Massively Multiplayer Real Time Strategy (MMORTS) game on Facebook made by Kixeye, released May 2, 2011.
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