Fable III Kingmaker is a brand new geo-location app for Smartphones which allows you to join either the Royal or Rebel faction and earn honour and gold ahead of your Fable III game. We caught up with Stephen McGill, Director of Xbox and Entertainment to get the low down on this brane new pre-launch game.
The Fable series has a little bit of a tradition of pre-launch games - why did you choose the particular format of Kingmaker this time?
Xbox has always been about innovation and coming up with new ways to engage and excite our loyal audience. Advances in mobile technology and the rich story of Fable III meant we had a great chance to bring the game to life in the real world. We know that gamers like to play 'on the go' and we think Kingmaker now makes this possible for Fable fans.
How was the game developed and how did the idea originally come about?
Our advertising agency McCann Erickson came to us with this innovation about how to engage gamers before launch and provide an additional reward for pre-ordering. We thought it was just the thing we were looking for to innovate the way games are launched and build excitement.
Fable III has drawn influences from action-adventure games as well as RPGs, so it is definitely broadening its audience. Kingmaker is helping to capitalise on that expansion by engaging and exciting new players as well as fans of the franchise.
How closely have you worked with Lionhead on Kingmaker?
It was a three way partnership with each party bringing their expertise to the table and helping to shape a really positive experience. Lionhead were invaluable at making sure it was a traditional 'Fable' experience; McCann understand exactly how people engage with communications and at Microsoft our goal was to ensure that Kingmaker is exciting and fun.
The idea combines both geo-location and a little bit of augmented reality - very ambitious ideas - how difficult was it to set up and how was Kingmaker the game built?
Well it certainly wasn't easy! We knew we could do it as the technology already existed but no-one had yet managed to pull it all together. First we built the maps and territories which was entirely new code so that took some time. Once that was in, it was a case of linking technologies together and testing, testing, testing.
You launched on October 4th, how pleased are you with the response so far?
Response has been great so far - over 8,000 active players and 10,000 unique visitors a day and growing [This figure was from a couple of days after launch - Ed ]. Aside from a small marketing promotion, this has all been generated by the players themselves. As I write this, the iPhone Kingmaker app is still in certification, so we are very pleased with the current response.
The game launched across multiple territories across Europe. Who do you expect to be the most prolific kingmakers in Europe?
It's a tough question and depends how you look at it. The UK is showing the greatest appetite for the game however the French players are dominating the leaderboards.
What does this kind of pre-launch activity add to the overall buzz around a game nowadays?
Well I think if you look at Twitter, blogs and forums you can see the buzz is growing. People are beginning to experience what Fable III is all about through Kingmaker, and excitement for the game is growing. As we say in Fable III: "It's a revolution!"
How important for you is the ability to share your kingmaker achievements on social networking sites?
If there's one thing we have learned from achievements, it's that gamers like to share and show them off, and this is integrated in Kingmaker. These are different to your standard Xbox LIVE achievements and will not improve your beloved Gamerscore, but they will help to encourage healthy competition and reward success.