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iOS Interview: Q&A with Thomas Bleyer of Ravensburger Digital

Gabe Alvaro
United States
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Shortly before the release of the new official iOS implementation of Scotland Yard a couple of weeks ago, I had a short exchange with Thomas Bleyer, Managing Director of Ravensburger Digital. Few need any introduction to one of the oldest and most respected makers of quality board games. Fans of iOS board games, however, may not often think of Ravensburger as one of the most prolific producers of digital board game apps for iOS. Ravensburger has over 30 different apps of about a dozen properties and five board game apps including FiTS by Reiner Knizia, Ramses II, and modern classics such as Puerto Rico HD, THE aMAZEing Labyrinth, and now Scotland Yard. Do be sure and check out our recent review.

Gabe Alvaro of iOS Board Games: Congratulations on winning the German Computer Game Prize for Amazeing Labyrinth HD! A distinct honor and 50,000 euros! Which is better? What will this do for the future of board game apps from Ravensburger?

Thomas Bleyer of Ravensburger Digital: We were extremely honored and pleased to receive the most prestigious award in the German Computer Games industry for Labyrinth. The prize money is great but I’d honestly say that the sign of recognition by the industry is even more important in confirming that we are building great board game apps and are on the right track for delivering more of those in the future.

GA: When last we spoke Ravensburger had just come out with Puerto Rico, how successful has that app been for Ravensburger? What about the other board game apps? Will their success determine future plans for board games apps from Ravensburger?

TB: Puerto Rico has been very successful and continues to sell very well week after week. When we first started the development project for this app, we of course knew that Puerto Rico had a loyal fan base around the globe and we were certain that it would sell well. However, given that it is a fairly sophisticated strategy game, we were positively surprised how broadly it actually made its way into the market; is has surpassed our initial expectations.

GA: We also learned that Codito has submitted Puerto Rico to you for approval on the asynchronous multiplayer update. How is it coming along? What impact do you think it will have in player enjoyment? On increased app sales for Puerto Rico?

TB: Yes, we had always intended to add this feature as it makes a lot of sense for this type of game. We are currently in the review and testing phase together with Codito and I hope that we’ll be able to submit this update for release fairly soon. I’m confident that this will be well received by our players as it simply gives them one more choice to enjoy the game. I am honestly not sure whether this feature alone will have a significant effect on sales but we want to add it in any case as it simply seems appropriate to offer to our users and allows us to demonstrate our commitment to ongoing improvement of our apps.

GA: Scotland Yard looks great! This one ticks a lot of feature boxes: a tried and true SDJ modern classic game, a slick and very responsive interface, 3 tutorials (!), AI for allies and opponents, statistics, achievements...and even voice chat for network games. What's going to keep this one from becoming a hit?

TB: We are extremely pleased with the successful launch of Scotland Yard, which has turned out to be a huge hit upon release: it went straight to #1 of the overall German iPad charts, and came into the top 10 overall in UK and a number of other markets. In addition, it has received great user reviews across the board.

GA: Does Scotland Yard make use of the turn-based features of Game Center?

TB: At the moment there is no turn based feature in Scotland Yard. Puerto Rico will be our first app which includes this Game Center feature.

GA: Does the voice chat work on wifi/bluetooth as well as Game Center?

TB: The voice chat within Scotland Yard actually only works on Game Center.

GA: Is there a text chat?

TB: Both strategy games (Puerto Rico + Scotland Yard) include a text chat. In the case of Puerto Rico it also supports turn based text chat.

GA: Ravensburger Digital has released lots of apps, but it's the board games that our audience is interested in. Can you describe Ravensburger Digital's commitment to the board game apps versus the more children-targeted apps?

TB: So far we have been very pleased with how our board game apps have been received in the market and also how they performed business-wise. We are definitely very committed to expand this part of our product portfolio and looking at this year’s line-up it is the number 1 priority of all app-based products at Ravensburger.

GA: With Puerto Rico, aMAZEing Labyrinth HD, Ramses II, Fits, and now Scotland Yard, you've got a quite a stable going. What's next on the board game front for Ravensburger Digital?

TB: I am happy to say that within the coming weeks we will absolutely keep the pace and release a number of great new titles: among them will be Think – Mindpath (a logic puzzler designed by Reiner Knizia) as well as Andreas Seyfarth’s San Juan, which is a popular card game variant of Puerto Rico. So our fans can definitely count on us to deliver more great titles in the future.
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