Matthew Lee Johnston full interview for our Subscribathon!

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Apr 27, 2012


FELICIA DAY: What is this?
Right on cue, Matthew.
Hey, what is that?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I don't know who you're talking about.
FELICIA DAY: It's a sunflower.
Because I was crying about George the cat who doesn't
have a home, and you just came and brightened my day.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Is that you, Felicia?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Hey, how's it going?
FELICIA DAY: Hey, what's up?
FELICIA DAY: What's going on?
Are you giving a concert?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Can you hear me pretty well?
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, we can.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I'm just sitting here in my little
studio kind of enjoying the show, watching you rock this
thing down.
How are you hanging in there?
FELICIA DAY: Well, I started crying.
We saw George the cat video.
So maybe I'm not going to do that again.
But although, you guys, if you want to adopt a cat or a dog,
definitely go to Best Friends Videos and pick one up.
FELICIA DAY: Oh, people are hugging me.
So everybody, just to give you a little context about Matt,
he works for PopCap, which is, I think, the entry level drug
of all gaming.
And I wanted him to come in and talk about casual games,
about how you get into games, how you make a
great casual game.
And then I did not know that you played the guitar.
So what's going on with that?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Music is something I think that
everybody should be able to do, regardless of ability or
whatever talent you might have.
I grew up in Hawaii, and my elementary school teacher
every Tuesday and Thursday would get the entire school
into the cafeteria.
And we would all play ukulele and sing the songs.
He would put them up on this overhead projector, and we
would sing for 45 minutes as just part of school.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And there were bad singers and
good singers, but we all just did it.
And ever since then, I've always made sure that I allow
a little bit of time in my life for music.
FELICIA DAY: That's awesome.
Because a lot of people feel, I think, whenever you're
looking at having a hobby or you're looking at creative
stuff, you feel like I've got to be perfect at it or I'm not
going to try.
And then people don't try for years.
With writing, I didn't try for years because I was like it's
got to be perfect the first time.
And the fact that we forget that not only there are
professionals that do things but you can do it as a hobby
and have it enrich your life without being some kind of
Britney Spears or something, right?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: That's absolutely right.
I think it's really the worst thing ever when people try to
discourage people from doing anything that they feel
compelled to do, especially if it's a positive expressive
thing, like playing music.
And with music, you can sing.
A voice is an instrument.
You don't even need anything else.
You can just take that wherever you go and do it
whatever you want to.
But there are other things too.
There are so many different types of musical instruments
and ways that you can express yourself that way.
It's great.
But visual art it another great example of something
that people feel like oh, you know, I'm
not a very good artist.
I can't draw.
And I think that it's a really sad when somebody doesn't just
at least encourage you.
Well, you know what?
Just draw in your own way and do whatever fells good.
And hang it on the wall and enjoy it.
Because I think we all kind of forget that what is special
about us is what we can create individually.
Like the fan art competition.
I told everybody the same thing.
I have them the same parameters, like redo a
And every single one of them were awesome in their own way
and had such a unique twist that I wouldn't have thought
of, yet they had the same concept.
So creativity is the one thing you can channel that really
expresses who you are as an individual.
And I think whatever level you're going to do that, you
kind of owe it to yourself to discover who you are and share
how unique you are through what you create, whatever it
is and how well you do it.
So that's cool.
Hey, can you sing us something?
FELICIA DAY: No, you don't have to.
You were just in your studio.
So as somebody who's awesome, clearly.
We met at DICE, actually, last month.
And I got to meet some of the coolest people who work for
the coolest companies at that award ceremony.
So it was very, very neat that they asked
me to present there.
Because there are a lot of different awards shows, but it
felt like a place where they were really celebrating the
people who make these games.
And I'm just really curious about how you got into gaming
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Well, I've been a video gamer most
of my life.
And yes, I am that old.
But like I said, I grew up in Hawaii.
Hawaii was a prime stop over for arcade games coming from
Japan to North America.
And so arcades were really popular there really early.
And as soon as I saw my first Space Invaders machine at
Magoo's Pizza in Hawaii Kai at Koko Marina shopping center, I
was hooked for the rest of my life.
It's never changed.
It's never stopped.
I've done everything I possibly can to be in front of
a video game all the time.
Playing the newest games has always been a passion of mine.
And it only was right after I got out of college--

I went to a very, very liberal arts college called Evergreen
in Olympia, Washington.
I studied a whole bunch of different things, but I got
into video games through sound design and music and ended up
sort of working my way through video game development through
the sound and music angle, which is something that I had
already had a passion for and then video games.
And the thing about video game development as an industry is
that it's this deep discipline.
You can be a real business-y type of person and find a
place in the video game industry.
You can be an amazing visual artist, you can find a place
in the video game industry.
There's so much room for people of all types in the
video game industry.
It's unbelievable.
So I got in there through music and sound design.
And then somebody gave me a chance at PopCap five years
ago and said, hey--
FELICIA DAY: Now was it a small--
Because PopCap has really set the bar for casual gaming, I
think, in a really smart way.
But I don't really know a lot of history about the company.
Like five years ago it was pretty popular.
But was there a point at which it really kind of reached that
big paragon of casual games?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I don't know if anybody even feels
that way now.
Because whenever I tell somebody, hey, my girlfriend
or boyfriend won't game, I'm like buy them a PopCap game.
And nobody told me to say that.
I will always be like Peggle, Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled.
Download those, and then soon enough they'll be
raiding next to you.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: That is a huge compliment, Felicia.
Thank you so much for that.
FELICIA DAY: You're welcome.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And I think that--
sorry, what was the question again?
FELICIA DAY: How did the company evolve?
And when did you get into it?
What level were they?
And how do you feel you guys have come from beginning to
end, as kind of like a little survey?
So I started there five years ago, so halfway through.
We're 10 years old this year.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And the company's grown a lot since
I've been there.
But so has our audience.
And so it started out as a company that was making games
that we loved for people that we loved.
We wanted to make games for our
families and for our friends.
And we wanted to basically make games for everybody and
entertain as many people as possible.
And at that time in the industry 10 years ago, there
weren't a lot of companies that were aiming for that
goal, surprisingly enough.
A lot of people were just sort of making games for the
hardcore crowd, and the stereotypical video gamer was
kind of this narrow stereotype.
Well, it still is.
But at the same time it seems like technology--
It does seem weird because I guess it was all browser-based
when you first started.
And it's like that was not considered a
legitimate gaming form.
And you wouldn't necessarily go out and buy a
DVD game, a CD game.
That's how people 10 years ago would get their games.
It wasn't download and stuff and streaming and iOS devices.
And in fact, it was a lot easier to play one of our
games, right?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And it was free, right?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: It's funny how freemium and all of
this sort of free-to-play stuff is so huge right now.
And a large, large part of our audience was people playing
Bejeweled for free on the web from the beginning.
Not to interrupt, but I think that's kind of interesting
parallel with what we are doing in web video, is that
you guys started out just making a free product.
And was it hard to make money that way or be successful?
That's a big risk.
It's almost like I'm going to give something away for free.
How do you justify that to people who
invest in you, right?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Well, I think you need to have faith
in your product.
You get a lot of different types of feedback when you put
something out there.
And one of those types of feedback is definitely money.
But you can't ignore the other types of feedback, like just
people coming up to you and saying, hey, I
really enjoyed Bejeweled.
I love your game.
Like you telling me that you recommend it to your friends,
that is the kind of feedback that as long as we're getting
that feedback I think that the other stuff will happen.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And we're not like altruistic, and
we don't have our heads in the sand in terms of the business
side of things.
But I think that it's really important not to forget all
the other things, because they definitely produce those
Your business comes to you by making something you're
passionate about.
And you are able to infuse passion into anybody, even if
it's on a small level.
Like I just love Bejeweled, and I'll play at 15 hours
straight and ruin my final.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: So at that point, if we ask you for
$5, you're like OK, sure.
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, you're like, all right.
This is definitely entertaining.
It's really interesting, because that's definitely 10
years ago was on the forefront.
How has it changed, especially when iPhone came out and
they're like, it's a gaming thing?
Even me was like who's going to game on their phone?
And of course, I'm first in line for all the new games
because it just happens to be the
technology that's provided.
And so technology has taken casual gaming to a whole new
level, don't you think?
I think people can enjoy gaming.

It's a lot easier to play a game now.
It's a lot easier to play a game whenever you want and
wherever you want now.
And as game makers, I think we have a responsibility to
really address these new gamers with the respect that
they deserve.
And I think that--

MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Sometimes it worries me,
because I think that a lot of people are finding their ways
into gaming.
Their first game is really important.
I remember what my first game was.
FELICIA DAY: What was it?
What was your first game?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: It was Space Invaders.
And that set me on a path of where I am today.
And I've played a million games and I've made games.
So I remember how important that experience was for me.
In fact, you know what?
I take that back.
My first game was probably--
I don't know if I have it here.
It was probably a Mattel Football, the
LED football game.
FELICIA DAY: I don't even know what that is.
Was it a hand-held thing?
Does anybody in the chat know what that is?
There's some people who are like yes, I know what you're
talking about.
A lot of people are like zork.
I remember my first game was watching my mom, sitting in
her lap, playing Leather Goddess of
Phobos, which is weird.
It's a text game.
But I just remember her spending the evening there and
me thinking oh, that's such a cool way to figure something
out is to type "look around."
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I remember playing that game
surreptitiously in my bedroom, trying not to get caught.
Because it was racy, right?
Well, she's let me play Leisure Suit Larry, so there
clearly wasn't supervision there.
We have people in the chat definitely remember that.
And Underling had a basketball one.
He still has it.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Yeah, those are great.
And you know what?
What's funny, because Underling is right.
They're still fun.
So anyway, back to the point.
Somebody's first gaming experience is really
important, not only just the video game industry but just
to them and to humanity.
There's a little bit of a snobbery with gamers and
casual games.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: What do you mean?
FELICIA DAY: Well, I just think there's this kind of
attitude that-- and I talk about this a little bit in one
of the Flog episodes that'll come up--
there's the idea that you're not a real gamer.
And it's like well I don't understand why that is.
What is that?
Why bring that into it when we're introducing people to
games in a way that may bring them all sorts of joy and lead
to them playing more complicated games?
Because sometimes games are really hard
to jump in on, right?
And I think the other thing too is people say that certain
games aren't real games.
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, come on.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And I've got to be honest, I fell into
that at first too.
And I certainly had to sort of come around on
that a little bit.
But I think that it doesn't matter what the game is.
If somebody is enjoying it and they're playing, then let's
call it a game, and let's do our best to treat that person
with respect and give them something new to try next and
really grow them as a gamer.
Because it's really important.
And I think there's tons of science and tons of stuff that
speaks to how important it is for us to be
playing in our lives.
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, absolutely.
I'm sorry I have to pause for a second, because Kim Evey is
standing here, and she has an outfit on.
FELICIA DAY: So I'm going to make her dance.
But she, for some reason, was downstairs.
She has--
So I don't understand what's going on.
We have another furry over here with a--
Wait, somebody bring the flower head from downstairs.
FELICIA DAY: Do we have a flower head too?
Oh my gosh.
I have to
wear a flower Head.
So Matthew also sent us a big bag of schwag that we're going
to be giving away.
And after I take some questions from the audience in
about 15 minutes, when our interview is done, I'm going
to give away a bunch of stuff.
And Matt, you can help me give that away.
KIM EVEY: Oh, Matt, I just wanted to say that I am so
addicted to Plants vs. Zombies.
I love it.
So I was late to the game.
I have it on my iPhone, my husband's iPhone.
I have two different versions on my iPad.
And I play it like--
I'm ridiculous.
FELICIA DAY: I think it's the only game that I own on about
seven platforms.
I'm not even kidding.
KIM EVEY: I play it to relax sometimes at
the end of the night.
But then I end up staying up until like 2:00 in the morning
playing levels that I've played already.
I've totally played this game till the end.
I will just continue playing.
FELICIA DAY: Oh, gimme a flower head.
I'll put it on.
KIM EVEY: That's probably the back.
KIM EVEY: You got to put your head through.
FELICIA DAY: My head goes here.
Oh, OK.
KIM EVEY: Yeah, it's squishy.
It squishes my face, but that's all right.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: So have you guys ever met the original
Plants vs. Zombies team?
FELICIA DAY: Have we met the original
Plants vs. Zombies team?
We have not, actually.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Their names are George Fan, Tod
Semple, Laura Shigihara, and Rich Werner are the--
FELICIA DAY: Now, Laura, did she write a
theme song as well?
FELICIA DAY: Because I saw her play that.
And you haven't seen her play it live, I kind of started
crying because she's so sweet and adorable.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And they are super low-key, and they
don't often get the credit that they deserve
for making that game.
So I just want to make sure that I get their names out
there, because they're great.
They're great.
And I'm crossing my fingers for a follow-up or expansion
pack or something because it's time.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Why would we do that?
KIM EVEY: Why would you do it?
FELICIA DAY: It's not going to happen.
FELICIA DAY: I'm going to take some
questions from the audience.
There are plenty of them who are interested
in asking you questions.
I love this flower.
It's like the best thing ever.
Alex Stevens wants to know do you do any "serious gaming"
quote, unquote.
The semantics of that, I don't know if we want to say that.
Oh, you're going?
KIM EVEY: I just wanted to say--
FELICIA DAY: She also has balls.
This costume is no joke.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Those are huge balls.
KIM EVEY: [INAUDIBLE] in Japan to have--
FELICIA DAY: In Japan it's a [JAPANESE]?
Oh, don't show that.
FELICIA DAY: What are you doing?
OK, go away.
I think we have to censor that now.
Oh, boy.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Give a girl a penis.
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, and then she just will play
with it all day long.
So the question is do you play any more longer-form serious
games yourself on your off time?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Now wait, do you think that means
serious games or hardcore games?
FELICIA DAY: Well, he says "serious gaming".
And based on our conversation, I'm not sure if we should
encourage that.
FELICIA DAY: Is it serious?
Or is casual like an insult?
Because serious is the opposite of casual, so it's
almost justified, right?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I don't like the casual gaming name,
and I wish it would go away.
But I think it'll probably be here to stay.
They're just games.
They're not casual games.
They're just games.
So I'll answer that both ways, then.
I don't really play serious games.
But I think serious games are pretty cool.
And I think there's a role for gaming in things like treating
PTSD and in education and really, really addressing
major social issues through gaming.
I think that is actually a really, really awesome growth
area for games.
That is interesting.
Have you read--
What it it?
Her name is Jane McGonigal.
That book is brilliant in a way that it's like gaming can
change the world in a way.
She did a TED talk, so if you guys want to look up the
video, it's totally inspirational [INAUDIBLE].
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Recommended, yes.
FELICIA DAY: Another question, "How did you feel about
Blizzard playing an homage to Plants vs. Zombies in WOW?"
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: We love those guys.
PopCap, we make casual games, but we're also a bunch of
hardcore gamers too.
And so there's tons of WOW-heads.
There's tons of people who are just waiting for Diablo III.
So I think we were super stoked when they did that, but
we also weren't totally in the dark about it either.
FELICIA DAY: Oh, you guys knew.
Well, they to because it's copyright.
They weren't going to just put that in there without your
permission, right?
But it was totally an homage.
And we love those guys, and we love what they do.
FELICIA DAY: Megan Sullivan writes, "Playing Bejeweled
actually helped my mom from having nightmares after a
terrible car accident." That's pretty cool to hear.
Do you hear a lot of things like that?
That's cool to hear that you have an impact
on somebody's life.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: That's why we do it.

It's really, really great to hear stuff like that.
And as somebody who spent the first 10 years of his career
in the game industry making stuff that didn't get me
feedback like that, it just really makes me feel good
about my decision and about the things that I do 10 to 12
hours a day.
Now Ricky Charbineau asked, "What's the most fulfilling
part of your job?
And what kind of advice do you have for aspiring game
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Well, Ricky, you just saw it in
action right there.
Hearing feedback like that where the games are actually
making meaningful changes and differences in people's lives,
that right there is good enough, perfect.
But advice for getting into the game industry--
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, a couple people are asking how do you
get into the game industry.
And specifically because you have this background in sound
and music, how would you recommend somebody go about
getting into that end of the video game?
Well, I think it's tough, and it's very competitive.
But I don't want to discourage anybody.
I think that what's really important and what's always
been important for me, especially as somebody that's
come from a creative discipline and then kind of
worked my way into this producer job where I need to
know a little bit about everything, I think that it's
really easy to become an expert and think that that's
the path, but then kind of not learn enough about what
everybody else does.
And I think it's super important for people to
understand at least
fundamental programming concepts.
I think it's super important for people to understand the
other disciplines.
So if you're a visual artist, and you want to be a game
animator or an illustrator or something, I think it's really
important for you not only to know what the other artists
are going to be doing and how they do it, but learn a little
Learn a little about what goes in these other
areas of the team.
Because you have to work as a team together.
It's not like you're sitting in your own little microcosm
making your art, and then you go home at the end of the day.
There's integration work.
There's all kinds of stuff that has to happen, right?
FELICIA DAY: Well, I think that's really interesting.
Because I think in the film industry as a whole--
and it's hard to have a serious conversation with a
flower on my head.
Because in a bigger TV and movie world, I think a lot of
people, from executives to grips to actors, there's a lot
of disconnect between ever experiencing what
everybody else does.
And that's what's taught me from acting--
I did eight years just being an actor.
And then I changed to a producer and a writer and
producer designer and PA and social media and everything.
And it has given me such a huge amount of appreciation
for other people's jobs.
And in that way, it informed the way that I do my job in
all the other different ways.
Because I'm more sympathetic, I understand people's needs
more, and I think having been in a video, I wouldn't want to
go to a place where I didn't empathize with what everybody
else, you know, their expertise.
And it's interesting you say that about video games because
I think there's analogy there.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And you know what?
I think that they respect you--
you're very respectable anyway.
FELICIA DAY: I'm respectable.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: But I think they respect you a lot
more because you show an awareness and a sensitivity to
what they're dealing with.
And so you can have that conversation.
You can meet them halfway.
They don't have to like explain everything's to you.
And think it's based on respect.
No, that's interesting.
Katherine writes, "Will we ever see Noah's Ark again?
I love that game and would love to see it
on my iPad." OK.
That's just a quick suggestion.
No comment.
FELICIA DAY: No comment?
Well, you can read--
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: To all the fans of Mummy Maze, stop
emailing me.
No comment.
FELICIA DAY: Do you get harassed all the time?
Of course, people are like--
FELICIA DAY: No, not really?
You don't have a big Noah's Ark fan page?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I bet there is one.
And we do have a lot of really great fans.
And that's the awesome part of this job is
just getting those--
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: The most flattering thing is that
somebody even cares.
Do you know what programming languages that
PopCap usually uses?
I don't know if you can have that as a question.
I don't know how you would make a game.
Yeah, how?
There's a bunch of stuff going on.
So there's lots of C++.
There's some C# going on, which is kind of a new thing.
And that kind of feeds into HTML5, which is great.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: But we're on every platform.
I worked on a game that was on the back of an airplane seat.
I worked on the game that was like a little plastic joystick
that you plug into the TV.
I worked on a game that was on a little LCD.
So every time you're on a new platform, you kind of have to
adapt to whatever technologies that you [INAUDIBLE].
That's interesting.
Brice Sheoning asks, "What part of the gaming industry
needs more people?" so what would be an area in the gaming
industry that you think would be a higher percentage chance
of breaking in, actually?
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: There aren't enough people walking
around offering massages at PopCap.
FELICIA DAY: So you're saying that if you are a programmer
with great skill and you a registered masseuse,
you might get hired?
FELICIA DAY: Don't rule it out.
Don't rule it out.

Let me think here.
You know, engineers are always hard to find, really.
Actually, it's really hard to find good
people, no matter what.
So don't get discouraged if you want to
break into the industry.
Because if you develop, and you're good,
you will get a job.
I guarantee it.
But engineers are really, really hard to find.
Audio engineers, people who know how to code and write
audio engines are super rare.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: But I think that's kind of the wrong
way to approach it.
I think what you need to do is you need to just figure out
what your passion is.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And being a fan of video games
doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be good at
making them.
And I think that's a huge sort of disconnect with people.
I think that before you get too far down the road of
trying to figure out whether or not you want to get into
the industry or start learning these things or enroll into
school or whatever, make sure you understand what it takes
to make a video game and what's involved.
Because it's not just sitting around playing games all day,
as we all know.
And so it's not necessarily a one-for-one thing where it's
like, I love video games, so I'm going to have a great time
making them.
That's not always true.
No, no, no.
I totally get you there.
We're going to take one more question.
Or we're going to take a couple.
I think we have time for two more questions.
Unless you want to play music.
If not, no pressure at all because my mom used
to make me do that.
And I'm like, no, mom, I don't want to play
any music right now.
You play music too?
FELICIA DAY: I was a violinist before I became an actress.
I have a degree in it from the University of Texas at Austin.
FELICIA DAY: No, classical.
I recently to picked it up again, because I'm doing a
couple of segments in the Flog later this year.
But it's harder than you'd think to get the skills back,
because I kind of dropped it for a while.
So it definitely actives a part of my brain I haven't
used in a while.
So I'm kind of excited about it.
Have you heard of Susan Voelz?
How do I know Susan?
FELICIA DAY: She's from Austin too.
She's plays with a lot of different people.
I think she's played with Tom Petty and some big artists.
FELICIA DAY: Oh, yeah, yeah.
She's more of a rock band kind of player?
FELICIA DAY: I was in the symphony.

Well, OK.
FELICIA DAY: Let's see.
Let's see.
We have questions.
Let me just find one.
So somebody, I Went Poo, says, you know, whatever, "Games
like Bejeweled have been used during occupational therapy at
children's hospitals.

Do you have any interest in expanding that sort of
therapeutic gaming role?"
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I think in another life or later on
down the road I'd love to do something like that.
That's just a natural extension of what
I'm doing right now.
I'm actually just one guy at a company full of people who are
doing really, really great important work, making these
games that everybody's enjoying.
And that's really our main focus, and I think we're going
to continue to do that.
And I love doing that, and so it does everybody at PopCap.
But as gaming develops, as more gamers come into the
fold, they're going to have different needs.
And people aren't going to just simply need to be
entertained anymore.
They're going to have more complex needs for gaming
And I think that there's going to be some room for some real
innovation in gaming where we can address some of those
specific needs.
FELICIA DAY: What do you think about this whole thing about
fan-funded video games.
Obviously, Double Fine and Wasteland 2 now are huge
examples of raising a lot of cash doing--
But I've actually donated to smaller games too.
What do you think about that idea?
And obviously, you don't have a problem with free-to-play,
because that's how PopCap started, but a lot of people
are having problems with that.
How do you pay for bigger scale games?
It's kind of like web series.
How do you make a big web series?
How do you get the budget to do a big web series?
You can get smaller web series done, but how
do people do that?
What about the Kickstarter thing?
Kickstarter thing is great.
I think that people need to be creative about how they fund
games, especially indie projects.
The truth is there are so many games being
made, which is great.
And the barrier of entry is so low now.
For $100 you can get up into the app
store, which is awesome.
I think it's all awesome.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And so I'm not totally sure what you
mean by your free-to-play thing, but I think that--
FELICIA DAY: Well, I've just seen some articles about all
the MMOs are going free-to-play.
But how do you fund something then, right?
Because it costs money to start something, right?
So you can either start really small scale and get really
big, but you can't start with something super complex.
How do you get something like that funded?
But the cool thing is that Kickstarter has been able to
raise all this money for these games, so they'll be able to
start at a very high point and a high production level
But is it going to get so saturated that people are just
going to get lost?
Because personally, I get flooded every day with
Kickstarter people trying to give me to retweet them.
And if I did it every single time somebody sent it to me, I
would do it every second.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: I would block you.
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, exactly.
So it's really hard.
I try to really pick things that I think my
audience will like.
But do you think it'll reach a point where that's saturated
to the point where you can't really get anything off the
ground in a sense?
Probably There's probably a point where Kickstarter
becomes the new app store, where it's impossible to
discover things sometimes because there's so much stuff
up there, right?
FELICIA DAY: Yeah, that's true.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: But there'll be ways to cut
through the noise.
And I think Kickstarter is awesome.
But I think that the real nut at the center of what you're
talking about is funding games and getting
games off the ground.
It definitely depends on what kind of game you want to make.
But if you have a small game idea, I think the best way to
go if you're just starting out right now is to start with
something small that gets to the essence of the game that
you want to make, make it free, figure out a way to
monetize in the game, and then plan on building on it for as
long as you can until you realize, OK, maybe this isn't
resonating with gamers and we should change our idea.
Or this wasn't the idea we want.
But I think that it's a really great time, actually, to come
out with a free game.
Get a bunch of people playing your game.
Make sure you put instrumentation into your game
so that you can actually get meaningful information back
from the people who are playing it.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: And give people an opportunity to pay
for it in the game.
And one thing that people aren't doing a ton of right
now, but I think they should, is build a Kickstarter-esque
monetization scheme into your game.
So put your game out there, and then every once in a
while, instead of putting up a window that says, hey, you've
been playing the game for 30 minutes.
You need to pay now or we're going to shut it off--
I hate those.
I get so intimidated.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Just put up a window that says, hey,
you've been playing our game for 30 minutes, you blasted 20
asteroids or you've achieved X, Y, and Z. How about giving
us some money?
And you know what?
It's up to you.
Here's a way that you can pay whatever you want, whatever
you feel is appropriate.
Go for it.
And that would be a cool way to sort of build a
Kickstarter-esque kind of--
FELICIA DAY: But as you go along.
Yeah. that makes more sense, because then you're like wow,
if I was paying for a movie, I would have paid $15
for this two hours.
I can totally throw these guys a couple bucks, right?
And if you make it clear to people how much enjoyment
they're getting out of it--
it only works, really, if your game is awesome.
Because if it says you've played this game for two
minutes, nobody's going to pay.
But I think you can get five people who will be
like you know what?
I want to help these guys out.
Here's $500.
FELICIA DAY: That's great.
That's great.
Well, that's an awesome tip to leave on.
And thank you so much, Matt.
FELICIA DAY: And we'll be, of course, consuming everything
you make in a huge way.
And thanks for taking time out today and inspiring people.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: On behalf of everybody at PopCap,
I just want to say thanks, Felicia.
And you're doing a great thing here.
And we love Geek & Sundry.
FELICIA DAY: Thank you so much for supporting us.
And we're going to have a huge launch tomorrow.
So I love it.
MATTHEW LEE JOHNSTON: Looking forward to it.