Ben Cousins took up the challenge of evil game design by making a game based off the secret theme: Minecraft into “an evil, free-to-play experience with a focus on retention, engagement, acquisition, re-engagement and most of all, draining the players of all of their money.”
Ben Cousins, General Manager of Scattered Entertainment, actually claims a PC with keyboard and mouse as his favorite platform for playing games. Unfortunately, as with many of us, he finds free time a rare thing, particularly as he runs his own studio and is parent to a three-year-old. And he doesn’t own any consoles, simply because he never has several hours to sit in front of a screen and play a game. So he most often finds himself playing on an iPad. The main problem with this situation is, he claims, “There are so few games to my taste on this device.”
Playing and Building Games He Loves
But Cousins has a simple solution: At DeNA, he makes the type of games he enjoys, particularly as he believes there are many players who prefer the same games he does. Currently, he is playing Scattered Entertainment’s latest game (yet to be announced), as well as Terraria, Angry Birds Go, and Papa Pear Saga. But he feels the last three definitely need more violence and explosions.
Cousins’ present work focuses on free-to-play shooter games on mobile. Previously at Electronic Arts, he was making free-to-play shooters on PC, so the transition was a natural one. He chose to leave EA because, as he puts it, “I was tired of playing second fiddle to AAA games in boxes.” And at ngmoco (as it was then known), he found the people he most wanted to work with. He tells us the one of the most satisfying accomplishments in his career was turning around Battlefield Heroes from a mediocre business to a very successful one within only a few weeks.
Interestingly, Cousins is a developer of free-to-play games who believes his value as developer in this genre stems from his reluctance to spend on free-to-play. He says, “An IP has to be extremely appealing to get me to buy it. I think the most expensive thing I’ve spent money on is a run of extra turns in Candy Crush that ran to about $10. I was trying to catch up with another player.”
Enough is Enough
As Cousins considers the direction the games industry is going, he sees the biggest impact coming from “devices ‘good enough” for the biggest addressable audience getting smaller, cheaper, and drawing fewer watts.” He tells us his company will be most affected by the development of new classes of devices running iOS and Android, including TVs, watches, glasses, and headsets, although, until he knows more about these platforms, he can’t be sure how he will implement the newest trends.