The million-selling Cooking Mama franchise found an untapped audience hungry to test their virtual culinary skills on DS and Wii.
Last December, franchise owner Majesco Entertainment made its first foray into the social gaming market with Cooking Mama Friends Café for Facebook.
Free-to-play and supported by microtransactions, the WarioWare-like social game currently has over 800,000 monthly active users, and has opened a new revenue stream for the publisher.
To hear more about what Majesco have been doing with Friends Café and what their plans are for social gaming, we contacted their chief marketing officer Christina Glorioso.
Why was the Cooking Mama brand suitable to be adapted for Facebook?
Cooking Mama is a highly successful global franchise, selling over 12 million units worldwide over the past six years. We know the audience who originally starting loving Mama is getting older and on Facebook, as well as all the mums who are familiar with Mama through their kids. Additionally, other cooking games have done well on Facebook, so we thought bringing a branded, engaging cooking experience would work well.
How did creating Cooking Mama for Facebook differ from that of the DS and Wii versions?
Cooking Mama Friends’ Café for Facebook contains all the fun of the console games and lets players chop, mix, stir, fry, bake and pour to create more than 40 recipes with infinite menu combinations.
But in designing the experience for a freemium social game model, it meant we needed to consider features to drive virality and monetisation. Thus, you’ll see opportunities to customise your kitchen, visit your friends’ cafés, receive mail and gifts from friends, and of course, share news on your menus and accomplishments.
Additionally, we are planning new and engaging features and content to be released over time, be it recipes that tie into a particular holiday season, or new features to engage the fan that comes back every day to play.
Unlike the offline games, users can comment and provide instant feedback in the discussion boards. Has this affected your development and/or future plans for the Facebook game?
Of course! We see our Facebook games as ever-evolving. We monitor player feedback as well as our internal analytics very closely and are making constant changes to the game to see how it affects play patterns. We look at everything from availability and pricing of ingredients, access to and number of recipes, customisation of kitchen items, what people are using Facebook credits on, as well as Mama money, and more. Every day we are honing our formula for what makes a great game and are applying this to the games we have in development.
Cooking Mama Friends’ Café is Majesco’s first Facebook release. Are you likely to develop more of your brands for Facebook?
Yes, we have more games in development. In fact, we just announced our second Facebook game, Parking Wars. Regarding other games, I can’t discuss publicly yet, but what I will say is we believe in brands, and as Facebook gaming matures, we think having big brands combined with fun and addictive gameplay will be the key to our success. Our next few games will very much be focused on big brands.
What do these new distribution platforms, like Facebook and smartphones, mean to a publisher like Majesco?
Digital and mobile is enviable in the evolution of gaming, so it’s necessary for us to not only explore but be successful in the digital arena. The great news for Majesco is that we’ve already demonstrated success in the casual gaming market targeting mums, kids, and families. We see that as one of our core competencies, which is different from most of the top traditional gaming publishers who mainly focus on the core male gamer. As gaming goes social and mobile, it’s opening up the casual mass audience, our sweet spot, so we feel it’s a natural progression for us and a place we already have past success.