iPhone and iPod Touch gamers have likely already heard of Fruit Ninja, a game where you coldly murder different offerings from nature's bounty -- by tapping and slicing across the screen, you cut down watermelons and the like. It's a pretty simple game and at only $.99, it's quickly climbed the charts of the most popular Apps in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden. So we decided to grill Halbrick's creator and lead designer of Fruit Ninja, Luke Muscat, on all things iPhone.
Joystiq: You sent out a press release before the weekend claiming 140,000 copies sold of your iPhone/iPod Touch game, Fruit Ninja. What's the current total at?
Luke Muscat: Over 200,000 now. That's a pretty big milestone for us, we are very happy to have achieved such great success in a market that can be pretty unpredictable. If you're reading this and have purchased the game – you rule the App store!
How has developing for the iPhone been compared to your usual development on consoles and handhelds? Which do you prefer?
I really enjoy developing iPhone projects, because they way you approach them has to be completely different. If you stuck to traditional handheld or console genre conventions you may not achieve the unique qualities which are pretty much required for iPhone games to be successful.
An added bonus to iPhone development is the short dev cycle. We never want to go overscope or overbudget, so keeping the timeline quick is a great way to keep everyone focused and excited. Of course, other platforms have their distinct advantages too, but obviously right now we are enjoying some success on the iPhone and can easily find praise for it.
What would you attribute the success of the app to? The price? The gameplay? Word of mouth? All of the above?
All of the above! We were at a point during Fruit Ninja development when we felt that everything was in the right place, and we had covered all bases for it to be successful. We had the simple, addictive gameplay, the timely marketing efforts and a pretty rad trailer. There's always a dice roll with the app store, and thankfully the gamers embraced Fruit Ninja and the word of mouth began to spread. We hit the top five in pretty much every major market around the world, where Fruit Ninja continues to happily reside!
What have you learned from the success of this game and how will you apply it to projects going forward? Are you solely in the Fruit Ninja game now (pun totally intended)?
A good idea and simple game mechanic can always be successful. We know what the game would be and the value gamers would get out of it, so we spent a lot of time polishing and tweaking to carry that core gameplay to an immensely satisfying level. Juice-inducingly satisfying.
We're in the Fruit Ninja business, but certainly not blinded to other opportunities. Basically we can check it off as a successful IP which will always be part of our repertoire as a developer, and from here start exploring our next awesome idea!
Also, worst pun ever.
Has this quick success on the iPhone meant a shift in development priority? Are you guys all gung-ho on the iPhone now or are you still very much a console studio?
We always had a pretty concise plan for the iPhone. We needed a small library of simple, fun games which were basically a test for us to explore the viability of the iPhone. There's always going to be risks and we wanted to minimize that. Our experience so far has simply confirmed our original plan, so we're not suddenly going to go all out on the platform, we keep doing what we do and hopefully people will dig it!
iPad-enhanced version in the works?
OR IS THERE?!?!11
Hardly an answer, but okay. Where do you go from here? Fruit Ninja 2? Or do you continue to build on the first game through updates and the like?
We have a second original iPhone game in development, but part of the team is also working on Fruit Ninja updates. We always take feedback and suggestions on board, and this update will include a pretty popular suggestion – we're adding an entirely new game mode and a new gameplay function. You can absolutely look forward to several Fruit Ninja updates in the coming weeks and months.
Finally, who would win in a fight: a Fruit Ninja or a Vegetable Pirate?
What would a Vegetable Pirate do? Sit around making vodka out of potatoes? Sorry, but a Fruit Ninja is a master of all forms of combat. They'll slice up a Vegetable Pirate faster than you can say "This vodka tastes like crap."