Indie Mobile Game Shoutout: How Cytus is Breaking the Music Game Mold

Developer Stories

August 10, 2015


min read

Welcome to a series of posts spotlighting indie mobile games that have won the hearts of gaming?s toughest critics: industry insiders.For indie mobile games entering an ever-crowded market, differentiation is what separates a chart-topping title from one that gets lost in the app store ether. Most music mobile games follow a similar formula: present a familiar song and allow players to "play" the song through a series of taps or strums. But Legacy Games' producer Jamar Graham has found a music game that's different ? and he's hooked.


Graham describes the flow of the game as an almost meditative practice for the player, who uses different mechanics to match the rhythm of each song as hand-drawn art flows in the background. The game not only offers a new way to approach "playing" a song on your mobile device, it has also implemented new monetization tools ? like crowd-funding for new levels and charging iOS players to download the game while remaining free-to-play for Android players.Plus, "it's pretty," Graham says. Here's a deeper look at a game that's making music in a different way:The game: Cytus. A chart-topper in Asia, it uses what Graham describes as "Japanese-inspired music ? sometimes classical, other times more mechanical" for each level. Players must tap along to the rhythm of the music in order to move forward. But it's not an in-line tap that most music game players are familiar with, says Graham: the taps come from all angles. There's also a story element, wherein characters find emotion through the songs players play, setting it apart from other strictly music games.The developers: Rayark Games. The Taiwanese studio has won awards for the rhythm game and is experimenting with new promotion strategies as the Cytus audience grows.[caption id="attachment_9756" align="aligncenter" width="900"]


Image[/caption]Monetization strategy: Playing Cytus requires attention and concentration. During each song, a player must flow with the rhythm to tap bubbles. So, says Graham, the 30-second break between levels (or songs) is a welcome reprieve. The game uses this time to monetize, presenting ads or IAP options. Cytus is free-to-play on Google Play with some in-app purchases and $0.99 in Apple's App Store ? a purposeful distinction from a monetization standpoint, Graham says.Rayark has also implemented a crowdfunding approach, promising that for every 100,000 paid downloads the game earns (at $1.99), the devs will release a new chapter (complete with 10 new songs). Of course, if you're impatient and want the songs now, they'll release the chapter earlier to players who want to pay a premium price ($4.99). When the game reached 1 million paid downloads in July, Rayark released a new version complete with 100 new songs as a thank you to fans.[caption id="attachment_9757" align="aligncenter" width="900"]

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Image via[/caption]What makes it different: In addition to the compelling story and thoughtful artwork, Cytus' music sets it apart, says Graham. Unlike other better-known music games of Western fame (such as Tap Tap Revenge), it offers original music that players haven't heard before (with inspiration drawn from different composers around the world). Instead of locking content to a few pop songs that you?ve already heard before (and then purchasing more music that you?ve already heard before), the player is curious to what the songs sound like each time they start a new level. ?It adds a sense of exploration and discoverability to the gameplay that?s often missing from ?from Western music games,? Graham adds.