Designing Facebook Strategy Games the KIXEYE Way

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Before Paul Preece could help launch KIXEYE, he first had to get fired. That happened after his boss, who expected him to put more energy into his day job as a Visual Basic coder, noticed a widely read GigaOM article about Desktop Tower Defense, the breakout success Flash game Preece developed after hours. His boss, Preece told me then, “was not a happy chappy.” (This put me in an awkward place, because, you see, I was the one who wrote the GigaOM article.) But the game was also noticed by someone else: Lightspeed venture capitalist Jeremy Liew, who put $1 million in seed funding together to fund and launch the company with Preece and his development partner, David Scott.

CROSSREF To read more about Desktop Tower Defense, see Chapter 9, “Web Game Developer Profiles: Kingdom of Loathing and Desktop Tower Defense.” Read more about Jeremy Liew in Chapter 15, “Is Your Game Ready to Get VC or Crowdsourced Funding?”

This isn’t to say the company’s success was preordained or easy. In 2009, KIXEYE (then called Casual Collective) 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 ...

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