Kabam product VP Tyler Black didn’t just reveal new game King Arthur: Legends Rise at Epic’s State of Unreal event in March; he ushered in new era at Kabam as a crossplatform game company.
While best known for mobile-only games Marvel Contest of Champions and more recently Disney Mirrorverse, Kabam had already dipped its toe into PC gaming with its first crossplatform game Shop Titans.
Its next game, King Arthur: Legends Rise, is also coming to PC and mobile at some point – a strategy that’s here to stay, Black tells us.
“This game ushers in a new era for Kabam,” he says. “We really believe that. You’ve got to meet players where they’re at and you’ve got to build games to reach as many players as possible. And we think being a crossplatform company is absolutely the way to do that. We’ve got this history of being a mobile game company. But I think our future will show that we’re a crossplatform game company.”
“King Arthur: Legends Rise is focused on mobile and PC right now,” Black continues. “But there’s nothing to say that if we see that players want to go from commute to PC and relax on the couch and play on console, that’s not out of the question.”
And while Black acknowledges that mobile is tough right now, it’s not the only reason Kabam is expanding its remit.
“Yeah, I mean the user acquisition market has definitely changed, no one can deny that,” he tells us. “That’s not really the driving force, though, of what is causing us to go on this direction. We just want to build games for players, to entertain the world, and to do that we’ve got to meet people where they’re at, right? To build games for the platforms that players are on.”
King Arthur: Legends Rise has been in development for over two years. The project is led by Kabam’s Seoul studio with support from its teams in LA and Vancouver, and the Unreal partnership announced at GDC has helped Kabam’s teams bridge the knowledge gap when working on PC in Unreal Engine 5, says Black.
“They [Epic] are trying to build that ecosystem and that’s their big message: they want to enable and help developers get their games out there,” he tells us. “We’re very good at and have lots of experience launching on mobile so I think for this kind of partnership is what we need as we move to PC.”
What won’t be changing all that much at Kabam is how selective the company is with new launches, and the market it is addressing.
“Kabam has a real sweet spot and if we want to talk about product strategy we’re a midcore game company,” says Black.
“We’re not trying to shift to one end of that spectrum or the other – King Arthur’s style may be a little bit grittier and harder but as you play the game, you’ll find that it’s really quite accessible.”
“I think what sets Kabam a little bit apart is that we don’t want to ship mediocre games,” he continues. “We have a pretty strict internal control process and staged approach to getting through development and out the door. When we believe in a game, we really push it and we really believe it. And so we end up with games that are the scale and quality of King Arthur – if we’re not proud of it, we’re not going to ship it.”
Kabam is best known for those flashy Marvel and Disney licenses, but King Arthur will follow Shop Titans in being an owned, original Kabam IP. Black says there are both new IP partnerships as well as fresh original games incoming.
“We’re really trying to balance our portfolio,” he adds. “We’ve got an amazing track record of licensed IP – we have Contest of Champions, a phenomenal hit of a game, one of the best licensed IP games that has ever been on mobile. And we’ve got great expectations for King Arthur – we think it can be a Contest of Champions-level hit.”