Executive Creative Director Mark Beechy on Apple Arcade’s LEGO Brawls, Bringing It to Console, Crayola, Solitaire, Premium Games, and More – TouchArcade

By admin Mar7,2024

Having covered Apple Arcade games, updates, and news since the start, a few developers have stood out with their releases and support for the service over the years. One of them is Red Games Co. who has released standalone games, done games for other publishers, worked on existing games for Apple Arcade, and more over the years. Red Games Co. has even done console titles with a port of the Apple Arcade game LEGO Brawls. Ahead of tomorrow’s launch of Crayola Adventures () on Apple Arcade, I had a chance to chat with Mark Beechy (Exec. Creative Director at Red Games Co.) to discuss the team’s games, mobile, working with Apple, Apple Arcade, potential standalone releases, and more.

TouchArcade (TA): Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Red Games Co.

Marc Beechy (MB): My name is Mark Beechy, I’m an Exec. Creative Director at the studio, and I oversee the development of our kids games and I love it. Working on kids titles has been the most fun time in my career. By quite a bit.

TA: I’ve been covering Apple Arcade games from the start including new releases and updates each week. Red Games Co. is one of the biggest supporters of the service across self published titles like Solitaire Stories and the upcoming Crayola Adventures, and also partner releases like LEGO Brawls. What were your thoughts on the service pre-release?

MB: We were excited about the platform. No ads, no user tracking, a safe place for families to play together. And when each family member has their own device, suddenly Apple Arcade is the multiplayer console you didn’t know you already had in your pocket. Nobody knew exactly how Arcade would be received by players but Apple was motivated and we were excited to be a part of the launch for sure. We love mobile experiences that people can share together, Apple Arcade makes it pretty dang easy.

TA: Now that Apple Arcade has been around for a while, how do you view the service for your own titles?

MB: Yeah it’s been great, I feel like every year we learn more about Arcade’s audience and what different segments of that audience are looking for from it. One of the learnings from the last couple of years is simply that all members of a subscriber’s family engage with the Arcade, and so there is a need for games that appeal to younger players like Crayola Create and Play+, aging up from there to Crayola Adventures, and on through tweens, teens, and all the way up to grandparents. Apple has recognized that as well and has brought more games aimed at a broader range of players to the platform. For a family it’s pretty hard to beat the value of an Arcade subscription.

TA: Red Games Co. has some games exclusive to Apple Arcade, some games sold standalone and on the service, and some titles not on Apple Arcade. How is it for the team to maintain games on both standalone releases and Apple Arcade versions?

MB: It can be tricky at times. The biggest hurdles are if you have differing economies across versions, or different paths to unlocking content, different privacy and COPPA constraints, and release timing. For our marketing team, it’s a completely different way of thinking about promoting a game. At a high-level though it all works out well and we work to keep all platforms in parity with each other.

crayola create and play update space

TA: Tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Crayola for not one but two Apple Arcade titles through the upcoming Crayola Adventures and Crayola Create and Play+.

MB: We’ve had a long standing relationship with Crayola and developed Create and Play in partnership with them. We felt the game would be a good title for Apple Arcade as the platform is intended to serve the entire family and this was a perfect fit for that younger audience. We worked with the team over there to offer Create and Play on Arcade. At the time Apple Arcade didn’t have any titles aimed specifically at younger players so it was a bit of an experiment, but it all worked out well.

Two plus years later Crayola Create and Play+ is consistently a Top 3 iPad Arcade title (and spent a couple months at #1 recently) and we couldn’t be happier.

At the same time, we had been kicking around the idea of Adventures internally for a year and so. We were interested in a game that leaned into reading and storytelling for younger players. Crayola is all about celebrating a child’s imagination. Create and Play is largely focused on the visual output of that and we wanted to explore a title where kids’ imaginations could shape other mediums, like stories. We walked the Arcade team through the vision and off we went.

Throughout all of it, Crayola has honestly been an amazing partner. Our partner who heads up all of Crayola’s digital efforts is as supportive as they come, is very passionate about what we’re doing, and has helped us build the games we have.

TA: LEGO Brawls is a game we saw go from Apple Arcade to also release on consoles and PC platforms. You now maintain the same game across all platforms. I’d love to know how it was working across Apple platforms to then bring the same game to so many console platforms and PC. How has the response been on other platforms for the recent updates?

MB: Some of the design work we had a head start on because Brawls was always playable with a controller and on Apple TV. But launching on the major consoles is no small undertaking. The team worked hard to ensure a consistent experience, and cross-platform multiplayer was a top priority. Console players had the advantage of getting years of content we had put out on Arcade all at once which was fun. We’re probably most excited about the increased competitiveness we’ve seen since branching out, and it’s been positively received by players.

TA: Solitaire Stories has seen Red Games Co. collaborate with famous people, invigorate the classic game, and continue to bring in events and new stories over time. Solitaire Stories feels like Red Games Co.’s most updated game ever. Are there plans to bring it to other platforms?

MB: Solitaire is one of the most popular card games in the world, so yeah — we see a large-scale opportunity in the category for sure. Although it’s very competitive. Solitaire Stories shows there’s still room to innovate and push the genre further – deeper meta, progressive challenges, unique game modes like multiplayer, and robust live ops. We may or may not bring Solitaire Stories exactly as it is to other platforms, but it’s safe to expect Red Games Co to continue innovating in the card game space.

TA: What’s next for Red Games Co.?

MB: Well, without getting myself in trouble, I’d say we’re looking at bringing on some fun new partnerships for both existing titles and new ones. Continuing to grow and improve the live games we have. And if stars align, start work on an original IP title. We tend to grow slowly and cautiously — 2023 (and the beginning of 2024) saw a lot of layoffs in the game industry, so we’ll take our time and look for the right opportunities. And we’ll continue to be pretty squarely centered on family-friendly games for all ages, that’s what we do.

TA: Going back to the studio’s creation, Red Games Co. has had the same leadership since 1999. How has the team evolved since then?

MB: Yeah it’s pretty cool and a lot of the folks here at the studio have been working directly with our CEO and Owner, Brian Lovell, for almost all of those years. I just hit the 13 year mark with Brian and others here are closer to 20, wild.

Our original Exec. Creative Directors Jared Kroff and Adam DeVincent, and Creative Director Matt Mangus (who are all still here leading games) and the small team around them really set the bar for the studio with those early games. Each game kept getting better and growing in its scope and complexity.

An interesting note about the studio is that we do almost everything internally. So as we started to develop more titles we needed to grow our data and analytics capabilities, our marketing and UA efforts, QA, customer support, all of it. And as the games have grown exponentially in scope and complexity, we’ve matured in our approach and process and added some very talented and passionate folks. We started with 7 people and are now at 70.

We’ve got ambitions way beyond where we’re at but it’s been a fun ride so far.

TA: Are there plans to grow beyond a boutique mobile publisher and developer?

MB: We’re eager to continue to grow our games (and our studio), and we want to be thoughtful in the way we do that and where we put our time and effort. Currently we’re working on several initiatives that should help us continue to level up!

TA: Tell us a little bit about working with Apple for the Apple Arcade Originals and App Store Greats you have brought to the service.

MB: Yeah they’ve been great partners. We’re aligned on a lot of core values around family friendly gaming. They’re ambitious, same as us, and so we’re always looking for ways to grow Arcade and our games together. And just a side note – their service requirements are no joke! They take privacy and creating a safe environment for all players very seriously. It’s been a good partnership and we’re excited to continue on with them.

TA: Will we ever see a premium game self published from Red Games Co. on iOS in the future?

MB: I’d say it’s almost a certainty yeah. I just can’t tell you what it is.

TA: What has been your favorite project to work on so far across every title Red Games Co. has released?

MB: Hooooo, that’s a tough one. Crayola Create and Play and Crayola Adventures are my two babies, you love them both even if some days you want to yell at one to behave and stop throwing bugs at you. I don’t work on Solitaire Stories anymore but I was overseeing the development of that game for its launch and I still play a ton of solitaire on it.

I’d say – Create and Play brings me daily joy in how much the team cares about the game, and how much fun we have making it, and seeing kids enjoy it. I hope it continues on forever.

Crayola Adventures has been a very ambitious game in scope, technology, player experience — it has been properly fun to try and figure out what a reading and storytelling game should be. It’s a unique sort of gameplay. Is it a book? Is it an adventure game? Is it a creative platform? All three? A lot of the Adventures team also work on Create and Play and so all of that passion for making fun kids games has been put into Adventures. We’re just getting started with this one and see a big roadmap ahead of us, but it’s been really fun watching it come together.

what the car gameplay

TA: Last year was huge for gaming in general. What were your favorite games from 2023?

MB: On Arcade I love WHAT THE GOLF? and have loved playing WHAT THE CAR? this past year. I find myself chuckling along as I play, which is the vibe I’m after right now.

TA: What are you playing right now?

MB: Retro Bowl+, Transformers Tactical Arena, and a lot of release candidate builds of Crayola Adventures.

TA: Do you have a message for fans of your games?

MB: For our Crayola players, our team reads all of your reviews and takes them to heart. Reading through messages of how you’re enjoying our games is really meaningful to us. It absolutely makes our day. As our Producer Karleigh mentions a lot, always while smiling — we all remember the games we loved as kids and have nostalgia for, maybe one day in 20 years a kid will remember the fun they had in our game. We’ll do our best to keep creating fun moments for you going forward. Thank you for playing.

I’d like to thank Mark Beechy, Red Games Co., and Jennifer Tam at Apple for their time here.

You can keep up with all our interviews here including our recent ones with Digital Extremes for Warframe mobile, Team NINJA, Sonic Dream Team, Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, and more.

By admin

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