Interview with Magic Fuel Games, the developer of Cityscapes: Sim Builder

In this insightful interview, we delve into the strategic approach and visionary spirit that drive Magic Fuel Games, a renowned developer of immersive simulation games. We learn about the company’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and creativity and how they employ advanced AI tools to enhance game development.
cityscapes: sim builder title image. developed by magic fuel games.

We explore how Magic Fuel Games deftly navigates shifts in the mobile gaming landscape and their dedication to organic growth through strong community involvement. A highlight of the discussion is its flagship title, Cityscapes: Sim Builder, and its unique gameplay mechanics that distinguish it from other titles in the genre. This conversation provides a rare glimpse into the innovative strategies and forward-thinking mentality that define Magic Fuel Games, underscoring their passion for delivering exceptional gaming experiences.

What is the long-term strategy for Magic Fuel Games? How does the company envision itself evolving and growing in the coming years?

We pride ourselves on our rich legacy of developing exceptional simulation games, and we believe that there is still untapped potential in this genre across all platforms. Moving forward, we are committed to further enhancing our simulation games and addressing the existing gap in the market. We will continue to expand our portfolio by creating innovative and immersive experiences in the simulation space while also seeking out new partnerships that align with our vision. By doing so, we aim to provide players with even more diverse and engaging simulation games on various platforms.

How does Magic Fuel Games foster a culture of innovation and creativity? Are there any specific initiatives or processes in place to encourage new ideas and push boundaries within the mobile game industry?

We are a studio of seasoned game developers and avid gamers, so creativity and innovation are a natural part of our DNA. Our standups typically start at 9:45 AM, but the rooms are open 15 minutes early. This is where the team chats about the latest game they’re playing, cool new features, or events that might be happening. 

These conversations will sometimes spill back into team chats later to continue the discussions or learnings. I’ve often been in design meetings that reference these morning discussions and how to apply them to what we’re doing. Our engineering team hosts a book club, where they keep up on the latest industry practices and take those learnings back into how we work, like running a game on a highly available service. 

Can you describe any recent developments or initiatives that reflect Magic Fuel Games’ commitment to staying at the forefront of the industry? How does Magic Fuel Games embrace emerging technologies or trends to drive its future growth?

There are some really cool advancements going on in AI at the moment that are probably going to change the ways games are made. We’re seeing companies developing tools to speed up art creation, write code, and enhance in-game content. We will use tools like Chat GPT to bootstrap the creation of development tools and help fix bugs. We’ve used Midjourney to assist in design documents and prototyping to help sell ideas internally. This has greatly sped up our ability to make games of a higher quality, which means better experiences for players. It’s still early days, but we’re at the forefront of a historical change in game development. 

How does Magic Fuel Games adapt to changes in the mobile gaming landscape and evolving player preferences? Can you provide examples of how Magic Fuel Games has successfully responded to shifts in the market and maintained its relevance?

We have observed a notable trend in the mobile gaming industry where there has been a shift from hyper-casual games to mid-core games. Simultaneously, the Simulation genre has experienced a surge in popularity. This can largely be attributed to the advancements in hardware capabilities, empowering developers to deliver high-quality experiences on mobile devices.

With our latest title, Cityscapes, we have successfully brought a AAA simulation city builder experience reminiscent of console and PC gaming to the mobile platform. One of the key challenges we faced was striking the right balance in UX design to cater to both casual and more experienced players. However, we are proud to say that we have achieved a fine equilibrium, offering accessibility without compromising on depth.

What strategies does Magic Fuel Games employ to monetize mobile games while maintaining a positive player experience? How do you balance revenue generation with creating engaging and enjoyable gameplay?

With Apple Arcade’s subscription model, we didn’t have the distraction of figuring out how to monetize and convert players to spenders. We focused on making a great game in that players could spend 100s of hours, not dollars.  While developing our game, we did draw inspiration from successful features in the free-to-play realm. One such feature is our City Pass system, which takes inspiration from Battle Passes. However, our City Pass is offered to players completely free of charge. It serves as an excellent vehicle for introducing new content and providing players with exciting objectives to pursue. 

How do you balance introducing new content and updates to keep the game fresh while maintaining the core gameplay experience? How does this impact the marketing and user acquisition efforts for the game?

In Cityscapes, we’re very focused on acquiring players organically and growing our community. We have a fairly active Discord channel where our devs hang out daily. When it comes to new content or features, we typically open up discussions with the players directly to see what they want. The goal of our content is to excite our players and allow them to interact with the core game in a new way. For example, our second City Pass, called Beach Day, had buildings that could only be placed on Beaches. Beaches were a part of the map that was under-utilized, but now could be filled with wonderful piers, restaurants and even a boardwalk roller coaster. By incorporating player suggestions and actively involving our community in the development process, we strive to create a game that resonates deeply with our players.

How do you measure the success of user acquisition and marketing campaigns for your games? What key metrics and indicators do you consider to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies? What are the key channels and strategies employed to attract new players? 

We’re more focused on growing organically through our social channels, which is a little more difficult to measure than UA. It’s a slower growth curve, but ultimately each player we get into the ecosystem is usually more dedicated than someone who joined through a UA campaign. So, if you join our Cityscapes universe, know that you’re not just a statistic. You’re an esteemed member of our ever-expanding community.

Can you provide an overview of the gameplay mechanics and key features that make Cityscapes: Sim Builder unique compared to other games in the same genre?* 

Many of the features and experiences in Cityscapes are quite familiar if you’ve played city builders on PC or Console, but quite different from what you’ve seen on mobile. There’s no crafting in this game. This is a real simulation of things you’d expect to see in a city builder. You’ll get to manage Traffic, Crime, Health, Fire, Power, Water, and many other systems in your city, each having a ton of depth. 

For example, you can reduce Traffic by placing shops and jobs close enough that they can walk instead of drive. Place your water pumps in polluted areas, and you’ll see a rise in illness due to bad water conditions. Some maps consist of dry biomes, which have an increased risk of fires. Believe me, even as a member of the development team, I’m still uncovering fascinating tidbits about the intricacies of our simulation. It’s like peeling back the layers of an urban enigma—truly mind-blowing stuff. 

One unique feature in Cityscapes is the Trials mode. This is a special game mode where there is a new Daily and Weekly map for players to play in and compete against others for high scores on the leaderboards. There’s always something different about the rules of the Trials map, and the simulation speed is a little faster to crank up the difficulty. It’s where our top mayors play and flex their city-planning muscles. 

For Cityscapes: Sim Builder, what specific strategies, features, or aspects of the game do you believe resonate with players and contribute to successful user acquisition?* 

The beauty of any modern city builder game is how relatable it is to people of all ages and backgrounds. We all live somewhere and have a rulebook in our heads on how cities work. Cityscapes is visually stunning, rendered in full 3D, and has instant “curb appeal.” People naturally want to pick it up and try to recreate their own city or maybe a place they’ve visited. The open sandbox-style gameplay makes for a great time killer that fosters experimentation and creativity. Ultimately, we hope that players can make share-worthy cities that they are proud to show their friends and family. 

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