The last session of CGDC this year was a roundtable discussion that opened with Mark Soderwall’s observation that where faith-laden works had made real headway in movies and books, when it came to games Christian content had scored a “big Goose Egg.” Now to be fair, Mark’s assertion was not accepted by all the members as accurate but I certainly agree that from the purely ‘sales=success’ metric used in basically any other conversation on a game’s success then we ought to be candid in saying that even the best-selling Christian games have come far, far short of secular games we’d call hits…but perhaps that’s a’changing.
Hexify recently released their hit Facebook game Journey of Moses as the first Bible-based game on the platform – and its success has been self-evident. A whole raft of articles have been written in both religious outlets like the Christian Post but also secular sites including CNN, Inside Social Games, and One News Now. But press coverage is one thing – what’s really impressive is the game’s track record. On October 4th Hexify released some ground breaking news:
I had the chance to have an informal interview with Brent Dusing* of Hexify to discuss some of the less-publicized aspects of the game. His insights should be of interest to anyone thinking about adding religious content to their video games but it should be of particular interest to the folks who want to add God to the game and ALSO make a profit.
Chris Skaggs (CS): Journey of Moses is Hexify’s third title. The first two, Legend Hunter and Treasure Legend, are secular titles plus your business partner isn’t a believer. How did you go about the decision to make a faith-based game and what did your partner feel about the business opportunity?
Brent Dusing (BD): For one thing, my business partner is not at all hostile to religion, so it wasn’t as though there was a barrier to overcome there. But more importantly we both saw the real and demonstrated market that exists for Biblically-themed entertainment. The Passion of he Christ was a movie that had a big impact on me personally and was very commercially successful. In the end, we applied the learnings we had from our experience making our first two games.
CS: That touches on something I’ve suspected for a long time – that Christian Indies tend to be pretty shy when it comes to marketing their products. There seems to be an unspoken rule that somehow a faith-based game should be free and to market it would be like selling doves in the temple.
BD: I can certainly understand that as a question people would struggle with. The game is free-to-play, and consumers can choose to buy goods inside the game. For us, we are a real business with talented people who work for us who need to be paid salaries.
CS: Building on that, what has your experience been with earlier Christian games? What was your impression of the market?
BD: We knew of people who had made some console games way back when and, of course we’d heard of Left Behind. We certainly heard of CGDC but I’m glad for all the contacts we’ve made since then.
CS: What about backlash? Have you had any kind of negative press or customer feedback?
BD: A little, but in proportion to the positive feedback it’s been tiny. Still, I take even what we have seen as a badge of honor. Jesus makes it clear that people will hate us for his sake so I don’t really worry about it.
CS: How about future plans? Do you expect you’ll make another Bible-based game?
BD: We haven’t nailed down any specific plans yet. Journey of Moses is just finding its stride and we expect to keep working on it for a while yet. New content is itself a pretty big effort. But based on its success we’re certainly open to developing more games that can tap that same theme.
CS: One more question – can I out you? Can I tell people that you’re a believer or would you prefer to keep that private.
BD: (laughs) Of course – I’m proud of my faith. Tell ’em all.
So the interview went really well and Mr. Dusing struck me as a solid guy who was able to blend his faith with his professionalism in a way we don’t always see. Here’s to hoping we see more great content from Hexify, and more game developers cut from a similar cloth.
Hexify is located in Mtn. View, CA and in case you’re a Christian indie developer…they’re hiring!
* In the spirit of full-disclusure, Brent was asked to review this article prior to publishing. Nothing here is meant to be an expose of any kind and I really just wanted to make sure I was quoting him accurately.