Majesco Entertainment has published several popular casual games on the Nintendo DS and Wii, including versions of Cake Mania, Babysitting Mania and Fish Tycoon, as well as its own popular Cooking Mama series. Majesco’s upcoming game Orchard, however, will be the company’s first game published for the PC download market.
Combining resource management with simulation-style gameplay, Orchard is a game that will challenge players to salvage the neglected family orchard from its state of disrepair after it’s left to you by your only remaining relative.
You’ll hire and manage workers, plant and harvest crops, construct processing and storage facilities, and advertise and sell products to make a profit. You can also use the bounty of the orchard – including strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes and apples – to create 20 recipes from Blackberry Pie to Strawberry Fudge, all while striving to win awards and build your trophy collection.
Gamezebo spoke with Gui Karyo, Executive VP of Operations at Majesco Entertainment, about the company’s first foray into the world of casual online gaming.
The online PC casual download game is not a traditional market for Majesco. Why have you chosen to enter it with Orchard?
Our focus whether on Wii, DS, or PC is to bring fun game experiences to the casual gamer, and there is a big audience for quality product online. Moreover, Majesco has been very successful transitioning online PC games like Cake Mania to the DS and we see it as a natural evolution of that process is to develop our own IP for this space that we can later leverage on other systems.
Who is Orchard’s target audience?
These more entrepreneurial sim-oriented casual games have traditionally appealed to an older target audience above 16 with a more female skew. That said, we also think Orchard has a widespread appeal that gamers of all ages and genders will enjoy.
Of all the traditionally "hardcore" game companies, Majesco has been one of the most casual-friendly in terms of bringing PC download games like Cake Mania and Escape the Museum to a console audience. Why are causal games such an important part of Majesco’s business strategy?
We believe that digital games, regardless of the platform, becomes a more common part of the average person’s entertainment mix every year, and we want to appeal to that growing audience of people who enjoy a fun game. The Wii and DS platforms have been particularly successful at attracting this new audience of gamers and as a result their installed bases are growing the fastest.
Why did you choose BoomZap as the developer of Orchard, and what has it been like to work with them?
BoomZap has a great deal of experience building quality games for the casual online gamer. It’s been a collaborative process from the beginning and they’re making great progress on the game.
How do you plan to distribute Orchard?
We will be working with established online distribution portals for the time being, though we are exploring our own distribution opportunities. Our focus is on the traditional try-before-you buy model, although given the nature of the game dynamic, our eyes are open to other possibilities in the long term.
Can you give any insights into Majesco’s longer term strategy in terms of online casual online games?
Our core goal is to bring fun, casual games to consumers across multiple platforms, evaluating each proposition individually. In the long term, I would expect to see more online games from Majesco, utilizing a variety of technologies and business models. [Editor’s note: Majesco in fact recently announced that it was publishing the Facebook game Bananagrams, developed by Large Animal Games.]
Overall, how do you see the casual games industry evolving over the next five years?
We believe this segment will continue to grow at a rapid pace and change the demographic of “the typical gamer.”
It seems like every person, company and media outlet has a different definition for the terms "casual game" and "casual gamer." What is Majesco’s?
There is no perfect definition for these terms. And instead of trying to define what they are we instead focus on what we do: build games that offer simple yet fun, easy to pick up and play gameplay that can be played for hours, but does not require it to have a meaningful, entertaining experience. We think almost everyone who plays games, can be a "casual gamer" at one point or another. The key is the experience.