Building Better Brands
by Chris Jorgensen on December 18, 2015
Cascadia Games partially rebranded in early 2012. I say "partially" because while the site and logo were drastically improved (thanks to Fully Illustrated), the brand was never fully established. Over time, certain non-visual aspects were updated — for example, the goofy play on Cascadian secession / independence was dropped — but I didn't refine much beyond that. Specifically, what types of games are we focused on? What kind of reputation are we seeking to build?
When I first started selling indie games, I did it under the brand "xenoclone." It was a terrible name, though an honest one — I wanted to clone popular games and put a twist on them. Call it a little-too-honest way of admitting to what a lot of game makers do, especially within a genre. Little success came out of this.
With the rise of the iPhone, I had a new opportunity. It was a chance to move into a new market and establish myself with new identity: Cascadia Games. While the name was inspired by the faux northwest rebellion, the style was also meant to evoke the region. I planned on making board games with a timeless look, heavily featuring wood, stone and metal. I imagined they would be the kind of games that you would play at a Starbucks. My early games like Mini Shogi fit this theme well.
Then Pizza Boy happened right on the heels the indie puzzle platformer boom (Limbo, Braid, etc). I saw a chance to do something different. My games grew from one man projects to a small team with four or more people working on each. Cavorite was born and succeeded at a level well above prior releases. I decided to continue down the retro route.
After time, the mix of "classic" board games and retro console games didn't make sense. With the latter doing well, I ditched the board games and stuck with the platformers. The money made from this decision afforded me the ability to do the partial rebrand. The result, however, has been fairly hodgepodge. There's the boardgames-for-coffee-people name, Cascadia Games, the growling cartoon bear mascot that pairs only with the claim of our "ferocious" independence, and the games catalog consisting of cute, fairly laid back 16- bit style platformers. It has needed some focus for awhile.
In early 2016, another opportunity for change will arrive. Starting with the launch of Wacky Wheels, our first Steam game, and continuing with the debut a project I'll cryptically refer to as "B5," there's a chance to step up our game and define who we are for a new group of customers.
After much consideration, I've decided to split Cascadia Games into two sub-brands. Behind the scenes, the company and its name will remain intact, but externally it will be presented as two different brands for two different markets.
Ferocity 2D is the first new DBA for Cascadia Games LLC. It takes over the primary website and the bear mascot. It features two games: Wacky Wheels and B5. These are big budget games (relative to past games here, anyway) targeted primarily at Steam and consoles. Other markets will be considered secondary.
Naturally, Ferocity 2D is all about 2D (or 2.5D) games. Putting 2D in the name is a statement that we're interested in a specific subset games and genres. There are great experiences out there lying dormant, waiting to be discovered by a new generation. At the same time, older gamers might enjoy a revisit with some of their childhood favorites — only with modern graphics and updated gameplay.
Ferocity 2D games will heavily feature animals or other creatures, a cartoon HD art style, and licensed IPs when possible. They will have clear goals, an uptempo pace, and a healthy amount of action. The early 90s will still serve as creative inspiration. Simply put, the goal is that once this new brand has been established, the answer to "Who should make a new Sonic game?" will unequivocally be These Guys.
Retro Phone Games
The existing mobile games catalog doesn't fit the Ferocity 2D brand. They have been shifted to a second new DBA: Retro Phone Games. This brand is focused on pixelated games, primarily platformers, for phones and tablets.
The goal is to produce these games at extremely low cost in order to thrive in the highly competitive mobile games market. I want the games to be as automatic to make as possible. For example, the original Cavorite took over 500 hours of development. Cavorite 2 and Cavorite 3 took about 250 hours. 2-bit Cowboy took 250 hours but its non-development budget was half that of a Cavorite game. Ammo Pigs took 120 hours to produce and had a quarter of the cost of 2-bit Cowboy. There's no reason this trend can't continue.
That doesn't mean the games quality will suffer. In fact, I anticipate the opposite. As the core development costs go down, there will be more room to focus on design and polish. We should be able to efficiently produce something like the wonderful Super Dangerous Dungeons. There are two more games on the way for Retro Phone Games. Each I think will be a unique and worthy contribution to the new brand.
Social Media Changes
There have been a few updates to our various social media accounts. On Twitter, Cascadia Games becomes Ferocity 2D and GameDock becomes Retro Phone Games. There is a new @cascadiagames handle for Twitter that will be for tweets from me. The other accounts will focus more on the products and cut out my opinions. If anything is confusing, just ask via the new @cascadiagames. Facebook will be updated soon as well.