Game Development Reference
This isn't to say the company's success was preordained or easy. In 2009, KIXEYE (then called Casual Col-
lective) was at a low point and came close to bust. This had nothing to do with the quality of their follow-up
games, which were as polished and well designed as Desktop Tower Defense. What they lacked was a good
monetization and marketing strategy. Thanks in part to the entrance of Will Harbin, who took over as CEO and
helped steer the company's product and revenue plan, and who advocated giving the company a more hardcore,
game-sounding moniker, KIXEYE, the turnaround came very quickly.
This game was KIXEYE's first breakout success.
By 2010, KIXEYE was making as much in a day as it had made in all of 2008 and 2009, and it has been prof-
itable ever since. By 2012, it was one of the most successful game developers on Facebook, proving (and pretty
much pioneering) the market for games on the social network that appealed less to fans of FarmVille and more
to lovers of Warcraft and Command & Conquer. KIXEYE's games include Backyard Monsters , Battle Pirates
(see Figure 5-1 ), and War Commander, all variations of real-time, resource-management strategy games.
But how did KIXEYE reach this high point? To learn the KIXEYE way, I visited Preece at the company
headquarters, which, unsurprisingly, was located on the top two floors of an elite San Francisco corporate
skyscraper. In a wide-ranging conversation, Preece outlined some of the design principles that helped make
KIXEYE games so successful. These principles are discussed in the following sections.
Figure 5-1: KIXEYE's Battle Pirates