If 2010 is going to be remembered for anything in the gaming world, it’s going to be the overwhelming shift to social. In the first half of the year that focus was on Facebook. More recently, however, publishers have been exploring the opportunities to be had in mobile social games. We recently had the opportunity to pick the minds behind one of mobile gaming’s biggest social players, TeamLava.

Responsible for Farm Story, City Story, Restaurant Story and Empire Story, we were lucky enough to hear a little about TeamLava’s own story from VP of Business Development Johnny Coghlan.

Are you finding that social games are having a harder time gaining traction on mobile devices than they did on desktops?

TeamLava has always created games exclusively for mobile devices. So we do not have the data from the other side to compare. Our role-playing and virtual world titles have focused on addictive, compelling gameplay that rewards and excites our fans. The community and support we receive for the games is phenomenal, and we really feel an obligation to ensure we reward that loyalty with regular free new content updates to maintain interest.

Do you see any value in spreading your wings beyond the iPhone? What are the chances we’ll see TeamLava’s games on competing platforms like Android, or even on a social network like Facebook?

These are certainly platforms we are considering but for the time being we’re very happy with our position on the iOS platform. The future is very bright for TeamLava on every platform and device that we support with our top-quality games.

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While all of your games natively run on both iPhone and iPad thanks to universal support, player’s aren’t able to sync their games, forcing them two run two completely different farms/cities/restaurants if they happen to use both devices. Any chance we may see that change in the future?

One thing that you can be sure of is that the team constantly reads the feedback from our users and factors their requests into our updates and product development.

TeamLava offers all of their games for free, preferring to draw their profits from in-app purchases. How effective are you finding this business model? Is “freemium” everything it’s cracked up to be?

Our key objective is to get as many people as possible globally playing and enjoying our free games. The in-app purchases are primarily there for players that want to progress faster, make up for lost time or get premium items. Every TeamLava game can be enjoyed fully when played free, as you can see by the really positive player reactions we get on our forums and on the App Store. Right now freemium is the best model for us.

Over the past few months, Japan-based DeNA has been buying up a variety of American iPhone developers with a penchant for social gaming. How is this changing the App Store landscape for independent social game developers such as yourself?

I recently left my position as Head of Publishing at Chillingo and prior to that I spent around 10 years at Ubisoft and SEGA, so I’ve seen a lot of change in the games industry. Like everyone else at TeamLava, we strive to making games with high quality gameplay that surprises and delights users. We also supply a lot of free new content to players, ensuring that they can still discover and enjoy new experiences as they play and socialize with friends every day.

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Each of your games so far seems to mimic a successful genre that can normally be found on Facebook. So far we’ve seen farming, city-building, restaurant management, and empire-building. What’s next for TeamLava?

That would be telling! There’s a lot of exciting new games coming from both TeamLava – we’ll make sure Gamezebo hears about it first when we announce new developments!

Judging by the influence they’ve had on your titles, it seems safe to assume that the TeamLava crew are big fans of Facebook games. If you could tell your iPhone fans to tuck their mobile devices away for a moment and play a game on Facebook, what game would you recommend?

Anything that’s exciting and makes you want to come back. The future is definitely on mobile devices though, so whatever you like there are plenty more TeamLava games to discover and dive into!