Cookie Run is a mobile running game featuring many cookies as heroes (or heroines). This game is based on a cookie’s attempt to escape to avoid being eaten. The more you (representing the cookie) run and get items, the higher your score will be. You may compete with your mobile messenger friends in getting the highest score.
Cookie Run is a famous mobile game app abroad as well as at home. It was originally called “Oven Break.” Oven Break took the top honor in terms of app rank in 20 countries, and was downloaded by 20 million users. When the game was imported by South Korea, its name was changed to Cookie Run. After the registration of the KakaoTalk game app, Cookie Run became a sensation. According to the foreign game magazine App Annie, Cookie Run was ranked 3rd in May 2013 in “Google Play Top Game Apps by Monthly Revenue.” Also, the game’s development company, Devsisters, ranked 10th in “Top Publishers by Monthly Game Revenue,” based only on its revenue from Cookie Run. Recently, Cookie Run recorded 10 million downloads in 12 weeks.
ST met Kim Jong-huen, the representative of Devsisters, to hear from him about the development process and management plan of Cookie Run, and to get his advice for those students who want to go into the game-development-related business.
ST : What made you join the mobile game industry?
Kim : I predicted that some big revolution would happen in such industry due to the introduction of the smartphone. I thought much about what would become competitive owing to the development of the smartphone. Finally, I thought that smartphone games would be nice, so I decided to engage in game development.
ST : Did you make Cookie Run yourself?
Kim : Cookie Run is the result of the collaboration among many people; I did not develop the game. I just take care of other things related to it, and the company’s employees. My role is similar to that of a movie director. On the contrary, Oven Break was developed by only one person. Now, however, we have such aspects as the game, social, and art aspects, but the whole thing involves cooperation rather than division of labor. It involves assembling the parts made by individual talents into a complete unit.
ST : Then, are the game characters the artists’ works?
Kim : Yes. There are four people involved in the art aspect of the game, all foreigners: three female and one male. The cookie characters reflect these four people’s individual artistic talents very well, so if you take a closer look at such characters, you will find out that you can divide them into three kinds. For example, the princess and angel cookies are made by a crew member who likes lovely styles whereas the zombie and ninja cookies are made by a crew member who likes another style.
ST : Unlike other mobile games, we couldn’t see advertisements of Cookie Run in buses or in the subways. What is your marketing strategy?
Kim : We didn’t advertise in public transport units. In the first place, it’s too expensive to do so. Besides, we believe that if we posted advertisements in buses or subways, people will not pay much attention to them. Instead, we use the strategy of exposing our characters to smartphone users. When we launched Cookie Run in the market, we offered the KakaoTalk theme to the users for downloading the game. The users visited such item store to see the free item that was Cookie Run. As KakaoTalk is used every day, applying such theme is a successful advertisement strategy.
ST : New games are launched every week. We want to know more about the direction that Cookie Run will take and will try out in the future.
Kim : Our company is concentrating as much as 200% of our efforts on further developing Cookie Run and Oven Break. One of our related projects is to produce and sell brand goods ? dolls, T-shirts, smartphone cases, ttakjis ? using the Cookie Run characters. The reason for this is that gingerbread is familiar not only to the game’s users but also to its non-users.
ST : Nowadays, the mobile game industry is the most popular industry among university students. What advice would you give them?
Kim : If you want to be successful in the game industry, you must be smart and highly professional. The game industry doesn’t involve only a competition between games. It is an endless competition that is against strong applications such as KakaoTalk and Facebook. Thus, those who want to be successful in the game industry should know much about the psychology of the public and should make sacrifices for the community. What’s more important, however, is communication ability, which will allow you to persuade others to embrace what you value, and your thoughts. Furthermore, those who want to join the mobile game industry have to be creative and ambitious because this field is not about material assets. In this connection, I may add that people tend to think that Google or Apple became successful because of their great welfare system, but it’s not true. These companies have a great welfare system because of their success. The result always has a cause. Set a clear goal and head straight for it.