An Interview with Arkadium


Arkadium is a great New York City-based developer of quality casual Flash games. Feel like picking up a game and not needing to go through a half-hour tutorial just to get through the first level? These are the folks you go to. They’ve made games for tons of big dog companies like the NY Jets, the Discovery Channel, Warner Brothers, and Nickelodeon. Well I recently got to sit down with them and ask some real tough questions to see how a company goes about making games to appeal to the casual demographic.

1. How was Arkadium started? What’s the secret origin story behind the formation of a fantastic casual games developer? Were there any radioactive spiders involved?

In 2000, Kenny and I (the founders) were working together at a dot com. We were looking to do something new and were always bouncing ideas off of each other. One night we started talking about growing up and how much time we spent at arcades. We got into a battle over who the better Ms. Pacman player was. When we couldn’t find a place online to settle our bet Arkadium was born.

2. What were some of the first projects you worked on that got the Arkadium name out there?

We did a lot of multiplayer poker systems early on when poker was white hot. We created a free online casino for Camel that got us some notice, as did a multiplayer TV trivia game we did for TV Guide.

3. Who was your first “big” client and what sort of game did they ask you to make them?

We started the Company with some big clients, Reader’s Digest, was one of our first. But one of our biggest early projects was for Mattel, we built them a virtual world that tied into an offline toy, it was called UB Funkeys.

4. What goes on during the development process of one of your games?

It’s a very creative process with a lot of input from everyone that’s working on the game. We try to utilize the best of waterfall and agile development methodologies. Towards the end of the development process there are usually some late nights and stress but we always celebrate when it’s all over.

5. What kind of games have inspired the games you make? Any specific favorites that motivated you to get into the business?

Classic casual games, both offline and video games, motivated us early on and still do. Games like Tetris, Monopoly, Ms. Pacman, Backgammon, Super Mario. They are all fairly easy to learn yet have addictive play mechanics.

6. How many people usually work on a given project at a time? Do you have the whole Arkadium team together working on one project or do you split projects up amongst people?

It really depends on the size of the game. Teams can range from 2-40 people. We have 110 employees and always have multiple games in production at the same time.

7. While “casual gamers” are an easy flock to cater to when it comes to games, the so called “hardcore gamers” are a little tougher to get to. Flash games like the unauthorized Super Mario Crossover have proven that it is possible to appeal to a more “hardcore” audience through Flash based browser games. Do you have any projects lined up that you think could draw in these types of gamers?

I don’t agree. I think you see a lot of crossover of core gamers on sites like adultswim and kongregate. Sometimes its an interesting mechanic that attracts them, but lots of time its the subject matter. In the end, a great game is a great game is a great game, so yes, iwould anticipate that if we’re doing our jobs, we’ll release a number of games that will attract core gamers.

8. Are you currently developing any games for iPhone, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare? If not, would you want to expand your horizons to those markets?

We are currently developing iPhone, iPad and Android games. Nothing yet for PSN, Live or Wiiware, but we’re keeping our eye on those platforms and the opportunites they present.

9. What projects do you currently have going on right now, and what can gamers look forward to from Arkadium in the coming months?

We’re spending lots of time on Facebook games right now. We have five on the platform and have three more getting released (with big IP) before the end of the year. I wish i could tell you about them but they’re all a big secret, stay tuned!

Well there ya have it folks! I’m really interested to see what Arkadium has in store for us down the road, big IP Facebook games? I’m curious to see what it could be!

Check out Arkadium at their website

Howdy y'all, The name's Chris, though I'm known far and wide among the internet as Kail, nerd-musician known for the Sonic 2 parody "Tails is Hot" and the Jim Jones/Led Zeppelin parody "Ballway to Heaven". I'm currently working on a graphic novel called "Destroy All Slackers" that I hope to publish by the end of the year. I started playing video games at the age of 2 with my mom's Sega Master System, and I could never get past the first boss in Alex Kidd in Miracle World. As I grew older, I moved up with Sega Genesis, then Nintendo 64, then Dreamcast, GameCube, PS2, Xbox, Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. I'm a big retro gamer, but I love my PS3 and Wii dearly. I'm a friendly guy, maybe we can be friends? Probably not? Well okay I see how it is.

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