The return of Triple Town

Triple Town for Facebook and Google+.

I’m pleased to announce the public beta of Triple Town, our original twist on the match-3 genre, which is launching on Facebook and will soon appear on other platforms as well.

Triple Town has always been a very special game for Spry Fox. It was one of our studio’s first titles, and it was good enough to be chosen by Amazon as the first indie game to be released on the Kindle. Triple Town also has the highest user rating of any game we’ve ever released (4.72 out of 5 on Amazon.com based on 158 reviews as of the time of this writing.)

So, when Danc and I started talking about how we might want to dip our toes into the turbulent water that is Facebook, Triple Town seemed like a natural fit. We knew the game was fun. We knew it would appeal to a broad audience. We knew it wouldn’t require a massive development expense because it is a relatively simple game. And we had observed a relatively limited amount of content in what I’ll call “the Bejeweled Blitz genre” on Facebook… a market opportunity that we felt we had a decent chance of capitalizing upon with Triple Town.

Additionally, we thought that if Triple Town failed to make traction on Facebook for whatever the reason, it wouldn’t be hard to reskin and release the game on Flash portals. Those platforms have historically been our bread and butter, and we generally feel more comfortable with a project if we think it can eventually find a home in the Flash portal ecosystem.

Of course, the game needed a revenue model. Fortunately, Triple Town is an extremely deep puzzle game once you really wrap your head around it. An expert player can stretch a single game out for hundreds of turns… and that depth creates plenty of opportunities to sell virtual items that might appeal to players. Play the game for a while and you’ll discover how surprisingly tempting it is to purchase that final tree you desperately need to complete your magnificent plans… plans that you’ve been working towards for the past 100 turns!

But, as with most good f2p games, we don’t force you to buy the tree and many skilled players will probably learn how to succeed without doing so in 98% of situations… and in the other 2% of situations, they’ll have earned enough virtual currency to buy what they need for free. Is it possible we’re leaving money on the table? Yes. But we’d rather err on the side of leaving money on the table, rather than send a message that this game is for paying customers only.

We also decided to experiment with limiting the number of turns a player can take for free during any given time period. This is something that most social games do (i.e. limited energy in CityVille, for example) but most puzzles games on Facebook do not do this. It might work for Triple Town; it might not. We’ll find out during the beta. The questions for us are first and foremost: does limiting free play hurt retention? If so, is the revenue generated from selling more turns enough to outweight the downsides? Once we have the answers to those questions, we’ll re-evaluate our design.

I look forward to telling you more about our plans for Triple Town in the weeks to come. We intend to build a whole world around this concept; the current incarnation of the game is just the first step towards that goal. While we work our way towards that grand vision, please do check out the current build and let me know what you think!

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