Before you get too excited, I have to clarify that this post is not going to reveal Patient Zero in the rise of the undead. Instead, I’m going to provide a glimpse into how the first official free to play mobile game based on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead came to be.
From day one we realized we had an incredibly special brand on our hands. Working directly with Kirkman and his partners at Skybound Entertainment, it was clear that this universe and the characters that live within it had amazing depth and a huge, passionate fan base: 50MM Walking Dead fans worldwide, to be exact. To get into the mindset of our core fans, the Product Management team at Scopely immersed ourselves in the world of The Walking Dead, reading every issue of the graphic novel cover to cover, all of The Walking Dead Series novels (co-authored by Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, who provided scripts for our game), even camping out at Comic-Con to interact with diehard fans firsthand and participate in the interactive Walking Dead Escape event.
On the road to becoming the super-fans, we realized that while The Walking Dead may take place in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, what makes it special are the iconic characters and unique stories that unfold in their quest for survival. Pulling from this insight, we set out to make a mature, character-driven RPG unlike anything the market had seen before. Like the graphic novel/TV series, the game begins as players fight off hoards of walkers (zombies) roaming the earth. Telling a compelling story would be key, and we would need to face our players with gritty, morally ambiguous decisions that could mean the difference between life and death.
To deliver on our ambitious goals for the game, we teamed up with Robert Kirkman, Jay Bonansinga, and other members of the core Skybound team to craft a story that would be familiar to fans of the graphic novel but provide a new and unique twist. The Walking Dead: Road to Survival centers around the town of Woodbury and follows the Governor’s rise to power, forcing players to eventually choose sides between the Governor and Rick Grimes in the epic prison battle… and live with the subsequent consequences.
Creating an authentic Walking Dead experience deeply interwoven with world-class RPG mechanics like Factions, Character Progression, Item Crafting, head-to-head PvP Battles and Story Missions required working with a special partner. True to our mission of collaborating with the best of the best independent developers, we teamed up with IUGO Mobile Entertainment, responsible for the top grossing mobile game Knights & Dragons. Leveraging their expertise in RPG development and a deeply integrated cross-studio team, we were able to bring The Walking Dead: Road to Survival to test markets in record time along with an immersive system of live events. On any given day we run between 4-6 special events offering players unique stories, challenges, gameplay modes, and rewards to ensure players are just as excited coming back to the game after one day as they are after one year.
After months of qualitative and quantitative analyses through player research studies and geolocked beta testing we are confident we have an engaging, sticky and authentic product that RPG and Walking Dead fans alike will enjoy. In Australia alone, we have seen early adopters kill more walkers than the entire human population of the country (23M+). We are incredibly excited to share The Walking Dead: Road to Survival with fans from around the world in ten languages, and look forward to seeing who has what it takes to not only survive, but thrive in this intense and thrilling rendition of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.