Kixeye

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Kixeye
Subsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FoundedJuly 2007 (2007-07)
FounderPaul Preece
David Scott
Will Harbin
Headquarters
San Francisco
,
United States
Key people
Board: Will Harbin
Paul Preece
Ravi Mhatre
Christopher Michel
Patricia Nakache
Andrew Trader
ProductsBackyard Monsters, War Commander, Battle Pirates, Desktop Defender, Vega Conflict, Tome
ParentStillfront Group
Websitekixeye.com

Kixeye (stylized as KIXEYE, formerly known as Casual Collective) is an American video game company founded in July 2007 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States. The company creates, develops and publishes massively multiplayer online real-time strategy games (MMORTS) for PC and mobile devices. Kixeye gained popularity with games working on the social networking website Facebook.[1] The company prides itself for making games for gamers by gamers. Hit titles include Battle Pirates, War Commander and VEGA Conflict.

History[edit]

Kixeye office reception in 2012.

Beginnings[edit]

Developers David Scott and Paul Preece began Kixeye as Casual Collective, where they developed 13 Flash games.[2][3][4] The developers wanted to "make games that we grew up playing and that we love playing."[5]

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.[3][6][7] 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.[8][4] 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.[4]

In early 2010, after three months on the market, Kixeye's new game Backyard Monsters had 500,000 monthly active users, and by July 2010, it had 4.5 million monthly active users.[4][6][9] The game reached 2.5 million active users per month, 580,000 active users per day, with a 23 percent retention rate.[4][10] An average play session lasted greater than 30 minutes, players averaged between three and four sessions a day, and retention was over seven months.[11][2][2][4] The game earned a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 500,000 votes.[3] 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."[12] Backyard Monsters also won the Mochi Award for Best Social Game of 2010.[13]

In 2011, VentureBeat stated that Kixeye's game War Commander "Represents a big step forward in the evolution of Facebook games." Facebook banner ads continue to draw in new players.[6]

In 2012, Business Insider named Will Harbin, one of the "25 Hot CEOs Of Silicon Valley Startups You Can't Afford To Ignore".[14] Venture capitalist Tim Chang said that Kixeye is "pursuing the notion of next-generation social gaming, instead of the standard FarmVille copycat."[15] 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.

Kixeye's games generated 20 times more revenue per daily active user than other social games, retaining active users 5 times longer on average.[2][16]

Acquisition[edit]

On June 3, 2019, Kixeye was acquired by the Stillfront Group of Stockholm, Sweden for $90 million dollars. [17][18]

Controversy[edit]

In 2012, the company sparked a small controversy after they released a video advertising for programmers that an article interpreted as sexist, and which the article argued represented a common problem of sexism in tech industries. A response from their female vice president of engineering stated that the video was misinterpreted by the journalist, and was not intended as sexist.[19] Later that year, Kixeye took action against racism by laying off employees reported for misconduct, following a former contractor post on Tumblr.[20]

Games[edit]

Backyard Monsters[edit]

Development of Backyard Monsters started in 2009, but the game was not released until January 2010 as Desktop Creatures before being renamed by fan vote to Backyard Monsters seeing as the game had nothing to do with desktops in its original release on Facebook. Backyard Monsters is a real-time strategy game on Facebook with, unlike other Facebook games, "destruction and gore and mayhem."[3][21] 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.[12][22][23]

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed is a port to iOS released in October 2013.

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."[24] Kixeye has been updating Backyard Monsters every week for two years.[24] Currently, 20 million people have installed the game.[24] An expansion for Backyard Monsters titled Inferno was released in January 2012 and in November 2012 the new world map was released.[24] In addition to this, Backyard Monsters also has outposts in the new world map when the new world map update came.[24] On February 18, 2013, the Kongregate version of Backyard Monsters was shut down.[25] Backyard Monsters is no longer supported and player numbers have fallen significantly since its groundbreaking inception.[26]

Battle Pirates[edit]

Battle Pirates[27] is a Massively Multiplayer Real Time Strategy (MMORTS)[28] game with PvP synchronous combat, released May 2, 2011.[4][29] 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, with the remaining survivors split into five factions.[9] The game has managed to acquire over 1 Million users. Harbin explained the game as the "first synchronous real time strategy of its kind, and we're very proud of that."[30]

War Commander[edit]

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.[6]

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 Shock Troopers and more incredible units – 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.[6] War Commander currently has 5,200,000 monthly active users and 90,000 daily active users.[31]

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 2009.[32]

Desktop Defender[edit]

In Desktop Defender, players defend their desktop from creatures called "creeps."[33][34] 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.[33] The game currently has 60,000 monthly active users (as of April 2012).[35]

Desktop is no longer supported by Kixeye, and, as of the end of August, 2016, no longer runs on Facebook.

Vega Conflict[edit]

Vega Conflict is a real-time strategy game developed in April 2013, and gone beta in August 2013. Vega Conflict is a brand new game focusing on VEGA, an over controlling empire or government that miners are rebelling against, and outer space. In June 2014 KIXEYE moved Vega Conflict to another dimension by rebuilding the flash game in Unity. This move was driven by the game team's desire to create a cross-platform experience so users could play on mobile and computer platforms. Every month, Kixeye will produce new and old events to satisfy the player's needs for weapons and other technologies. Three resources are mainly featured here, Helium-3, Mineral Ore, and Antimatter. In 2015, Unity stopped supporting Vega Conflict in a browser. The game was then made available on Steam where players could download the game.

In VEGA Conflict, players will be a commander of a mining base orbiting around a random planet. Players are slowly introduced to the story and given combat training by Burr, an unofficial leader of the rebellion against VEGA, and Sybil, the base AI that rebels stole from VEGA and reprogrammed to be sympathetic to their cause. As players grow in level, new ships, weapons, and base parts are unlocked. Users can get even more advanced weapons by attacking NPC fleets and taking their blueprints, such as advanced projectile weapons and more powerful battleships. Players are also able to attack other players' bases to take resources. The game includes a variety of classes, such as corvettes, frigates, cruisers, destroyers, battleships, cutters, and specialists. 8 tiers or factions exist in the game, each with their own version of the various ship classes and each more powerful than the last.

TOME: Immortal Arena[edit]

TOME: Immortal Arena is a MOBA formerly developed by Kixeye. Official development by Kixeye ended February 5, 2015. Kixeye CEO Will Harbin mentioned several issues with the development of TOME. Harbin stated TOME was only meant to be a browser-based game, and that several features removed by the engines utilized by the game forced Kixeye to develop its own game engine, and eventually put TOME on the content delivery system Steam. Citing a lack of "economic sense," Harbin said Kixeye would keep TOME's servers running, but would not add any more features or content to TOME, focusing instead on "support(ing) our existing browser titles and our ... mobile games." No announcements have been made about which company would take over TOME's development.[36]

War Commander: Rogue Assault[edit]

War Commander: Rogue Assault is a mobile-based MMORTS game developed by Kixeye. War Commander: Rogue Assault takes place in a hypothetical post-apocalyptic World War III era. Players build and train their armies in an effort to take control of the remaining world with the help of their alliance.

War Commander: Rogue Assault was released in December 2016 and developed with the help of Command and Conquer creator, Lou Castle.[37] What separates War Commander: Rogue Assault from other games in its category is the ability to instantly build buildings, units, and all other items in-game with no build times.[37] War Commander: Rogue Assault is a free-to-play game available on both iOS and Android platforms.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai. Kixeye Is The Lucrative Dark Horse of Facebook Gaming. TechCrunch. April 18, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Gaudiosi, John. Kixeye Kicking to the Curb Notion of Boring Facebook Games Forbes. April 5, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Social Games Don't Have to Suck YouTube. August 18, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Thompson, Mike. Two Years Later Backyard Monsters Continues to Thrive on Facebook. Inside Social Games". March 20, 2012.
  5. ^ Ayzenberg A-List Summit John Getze Kixeye Interview. GamerLiveTV. March 1, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Takahashi, Dean. Kixeye's War Commander brings real time strategy to Facebook gaming. Venture Beat. September 13, 2011.
  7. ^ Slangen, Simon. The Casual Collective - Fun Online Multiplayer Flash Games Make Use Of. January 15, 2009.
  8. ^ Takahashi, Dean. Kixeye re-brands and pivots into hardcore social games with Battle Pirates. VentureBeat. April 28, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Rao, Leena. Gaming Startup The Casual Collective Rebrands as Kixeye; Launches Battle Pirates on Facebook. Tech Crunch. April 28, 2011.
  10. ^ Hyman, Paul. Gaming the New Era of Facebook Gamasutra. February 9, 2011.
  11. ^ Takahashi, Dean. Kixeye quietly makes big bucks on hardcore Facebook games. Venture Beat. March 16, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Ashby, Alicia. Backyard Monsters Review GameZebo. May 7, 2010.
  13. ^ Lemaire, Elodie (3 January 2011). "Le Mochi Award du meilleur jeu social 2010 est attribué à..." Picabum (in French). Retrieved 2 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Lynley, Matt. 25 Hot CEOs Of Silicon Valley Startups You Can't Afford To Ignore. Business Insider. May 2, 2012.
  15. ^ Takahashi, Dean. Venture Capitalist Tim Chang Describes the White Hot Landscape of Game Investments. Venture Beat. July 25, 2011.
  16. ^ De Vere, Kathleen. "Monetizing Social Games on Facebook". Inside Social Games. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  17. ^ https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/761396
  18. ^ https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/03/stillfront-acquires-kixeye/
  19. ^ https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/real-problem-sexist-video-game-hiring-strategy/325039/
  20. ^ http://www.ebony.com/news-views/what-can-be-done-about-racism-in-technology-981
  21. ^ "Ravenwood Fair Crosses 10 Million Players on This Week's List of Fastest-Growing Facebook Games by MAU".
  22. ^ "Gamasutra - Features - Gaming The New Era Of Facebook". Gamasutra. UBM TechWeb. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Backyard Monsters on Facebook".
  24. ^ a b c d e Gibbons, Pat. An Interview with Dave Scott, Backyard Monsters' Executive Producer Archived 2012-06-25 at the Wayback Machine. Gamers Daily News. March 18, 2012.
  25. ^ "A Message from Kongregate". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  26. ^ "Backyard Monsters usage". Archived from the original on January 8, 2013.
  27. ^ "Battle Pirates".
  28. ^ which is an online Massively Multiplayer Real Time Strategy (MMORTS) game on Facebook made by Kixeye, released May 2, 2010.[1]
  29. ^ "Battle Pirates on Facebook".
  30. ^ Osborne, Joe. Kixeye answers Rumble Games. Gamesnews.com. January 4, 2012.
  31. ^ http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2012/09/25/war-commander-re-review/
  32. ^ Eli Cymet,, bakwas game. Kixeye continues synconous strategy with “Live Battles” in War Commander Archived 2012-11-10 at the Wayback Machine. GameZebo. October 17, 2012.
  33. ^ a b Meunier, Nathan. "Desktop Defender Review". GameZebo. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  34. ^ "Desktop Defender on Facebook".
  35. ^ Desktop Defender Archived 2010-11-08 at the Wayback Machine. AppData. May 4, 2012.
  36. ^ https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/526129
  37. ^ a b Venture Beat

External links[edit]