The majority of the admittedly light traffic to this site is from people looking for a sequel to Coconut Queen. Search Engines send them here, to an explanation for why Coconut Queen 2 was never made. Basically, the publisher never recouped their investment. There are a few reasons why:
- Coconut Queen was an entry in the category of Building games, an established genre with a clear leader: Build-A-Lot.
- When it was released, it was a brand new franchise. That always takes more work to get noticed than a sequel. Like, say, Build-A-Lot 3.
- iWin releases a game a day. The budget for marketing any one title is minimal, unless strong early sales indicate that a marketing push will earn back the money right away. Coconut Queen didn’t generate strong early sales.
- The wrong marketing art went out to everyone. We had rough images of our title screen that somehow went into circulation instead of this:
they sent out this:
- The highly anticipated Build-A-Lot 3 came out the week before Coconut Queen. This was iWin’s choice, to release at that time. That made it difficult to ask people for more money for a similar game a week after they spent money on a known, low-risk sequel.
- iWin also decided to release Coconut Queen at a premium price of $20. Build-A-Lot 3 was a third of that cost, at $7.
- iWin insisted on an exclusive to their site for the first month, limiting visibility in the hopes of driving up sales at the highest profit margin.
- When Coconut Queen was made available, iWin attempted to recoup their costs by insisting that all partners carry Coconut Queen at the higher price.
- The name didn’t resonate with male customers.
It was an experimental business model that had proven successful and profitable for iWin on their established franchises such as Jewel Quest, Mah Jong Quest, and Jojo’s Fashion Show. It didn’t work. iWin attempted to find other projects to use my game development talent for a few months. I pitched several ideas, but the market was in flux as mobile games and social games were dramatically transforming the playing field and business models. After a few months without any projects being approved, I was let go.
iWin owns the rights to Coconut Queen, and iWin will not make Coconut Queen 2. End of story.
…or is it?
The business models that drive game development have changed a lot in the past few years, and very dramatically in just the past few months.
- While there are tens of thousands of game developers, the world knows the names of half a dozen. Doublefine Entertainment’s Tim Schafer is one of those names, and when he solicited game development funds via Kickstarter, the product was crowd-funded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. That kind of investment is a no-brainer for game fans.
- The Indie Fund covered the development of the game Q.U.B.E., and made back their investment in four days.
- Even more amazingly, the Indie Fund recouped their $55,000 investment in Dear Esther–which is not only not even a game, but is also a remake of a free product—in under six hours.
The major event here that allowed these amazing success stories is just that: the story. The same held true for the remarkable indie game MineCraft. The world paid attention to the stories of the creation of these games, and so people became engaged–and subsequently invested–in the stories that compelled them. People around the world saw opportunities to, for a few dollars, become part of the solution.
So the story of the game being born matters to people now. That’s great. Customer and Creator can connect to each other like never before. What else? There’s plenty more.
Free-to-play games and microtransactions are two business ideas that have made a huge impact. The investment risk has been eliminated for customers, and that raises the comfort level with spending a little money on entertainment. Customers can now even decide what aspects of a game to spend their money on, and while not everyone pays to play, the percentage of people who do are paying more than an estimated retail price, and doing so more comfortably.
Online updates have changed things, too. Packaging costs have gone out the window. The cost to update, at least on more modern delivery sites like the App Store, Android Market and Steam, is negligible. It used to be that patching a game was as pleasant as standing in the RETURNS line at a department store. Basically, you were there because a product was defective, and you had to go through the hassle just to have what you already paid for. What a pain!
That has changed. It’s not just bug fixes. It’s easy to update your games and apps, and developers can continue to enhance, improve and extend the game at no extra cost to you. It’s more like someone stopped by, cooked you a nice meal in your own kitchen, and did the dishes before they left!
“Wow! Andy, does this mean you’re going to make Coconut Queen 2 now?”
Yes, and no.
Here’s the no. iWin still owns Coconut Queen. They own the product, the license, the art, and the programming code. I will not make another game in that universe. That particular story, incomplete as it is, is finished. I can’t afford to fund development of such a big game. I have a day job that involves 40-60 hours a week of Not Making Coconut Queen. And my wife and I are expecting our first child in a matter of weeks.
Here’s the yes. I can’t make a sequel, and I won’t make a knockoff of my own darn game design (Cumquat King, anyone?) but I can make a spiritual successor. It will have a new world, new characters, and a new plot. But it will feel familiar. When you play at nurturing this world, you will know that it was created by the same folks.
This time around, the development cost can be dramatically reduced, as I can release the game a piece at a time. The distribution can be broader than ever before, as I’m not tied to iWin for marketing and game exposure, and I can target Macs and PCs and phones and tablets all at the same time instead of just going for Windows.
But I can’t do it alone. I need a team, and I need the time to do it. I can get both of those things with money. There are dozens of fans. With hundreds, I can begin production!
Oh, and I have to decide: will this next version start on another tropical island, deep in a forest, or at a desert oasis?
I think another tropical island or perhaps the other side of the island but give a different name? Then you could still throw in glimpses to whats going on. If thats possible
Any game you develop with the same gaming style as CQ would be a definite winner. Big Fish Games put CQ up as a special, I did the free 1 hr download and fell in love! There are so many aspects like being able to build where you want, the fun plotline and dialogue, etc. that any similar game will be at the top of my list! Something other than a tropical island will give us fans a different perspective with new fun choices and still keep you from stepping on iWin’s toes. Please keep us updated on when you think you’ll release it.
I have no idea why I searched (again) to see if anything had changed in regard to CQ 2, but here we are and you have good news! I’m eager for any game you’d design that’s in the same theme (basically), so please let us know how we can help.
Id’ help in any way that I could immediately. Still have the fondest memories of CQ 2.
I’d help immediately in any way that I could. Still have the fondest memories of CQ2
I would love a cq2 but we the answer I believe oasis queen or king(which doesnt have that same ring to it) would be cool a desert island perhaps so you can thumb yr nose at them… I will keep checking back and I will keep replaying the original… thank you for all your efforts. and by now Congrats on the baby!! 🙂
coconut queen has become my all time favorite game of every game I have ever played. It is the only game that i have played over and over again. I am subscribed to both shockwave and bigfish and there is no comparison. I loved this game so much that I had asked if anyone knew how to make a game similar to this one but use a variety of treehouses and possibly dollhouses. Before I had asked that question, I did research on if there would ever be a number 2, and the research on the internet basically said no. So i went with my other idea to make a similar game. Anyway, I got the response of “why dont you contact the developer of the original game?” so thats what I am doing. I was going to pay someone to build me a game with the treehouses etc. I love the hawaiian guy and the comments he makes. I actually crack up laughing every time i play. Thank you for making the game. what a shame you cant build number two. If interested in building a game similar to it, i might be able to help fund it a l ittle bit. just a thought.
I vote Desert Oasis!
I would go with the forest. Its different. Second choice would be the desert oasis. I am a member of Big Fish. It seems that good time managment games are few and far between. I play coconut queen often when there are no new games available. And would definately purchase any similiar style of game. Congratulations on the new addition to your family!
I and many others would love to Coconut Queen 2 in fact, Many have stated they would either outright buy the game or even help support it on a kick starter. There is even a steam group supporting your game here http://steamcommunity.com/groups/Brawny
Any news/progress? I’m sure it takes a long time to do this, but are you any closer? Personally, I’d be interested in any game that has the sense of humor and interesting goals that CQ has. I’ve completed CQ so many times that I think I can do it with eyes closed, so much as I’ve enjoyed it, I’m bored now, and there isn’t another game as good as this one, IMHO. Like others, I’d buy the game outright if that would helps at all.
It seems I’m a bit responsible for starting a bit of a Coconut Queen trend among a group of Steam users on the Cheap Ass Gamer site and I’ve gifted away probably way too many copies. Of course having it on sale 75% off for $2.49 didn’t hurt either.
I have to admit the over the top silly description of the game made me buy it at first kind of expecting a train wreck along the lines of Secret of the Magic Crystals (ie My Little Pony: The video game) but something really funny happened, I realized that Coconut Queen is actually great game. It’s fun, well put together, has a story mode that is funny and quirky while also giving you enticing little bits that keep you wanting to know more and it’s something that you can play equally in short bursts or long addicted play sessions.
I’m sorry that you weren’t able to keep the rights to your game but I really hope you do get to make Cumquat King. I would definitely purchase it and/or throw my support behind a Kickstarter for it, as I think others would as well.
Thanks for the unexpected surprise that is Coconut Queen!
Whimper Whine I want my CQ2! OK admittedly I’m down with a sinus bug and cranky but still this is the best game ever. I have played B-a-L which is ok, but this, this is better in so many ways. If you do something else make it a forest version with lumberjacks. Iwin is a bunch a shoopids for not keeping you around and not finishing the story.
Thanks for the kind words, Rebekah! Coconut Queen didn’t sell enough to warrant anyone believing that investing in a sequel would be a good idea. While the original sequel was going to be “Arthur, King of the Jungle”, I like the lumberjack angle!
I would kickstart your projects shame they own the rights to CQ would have loved a shirt with coconut queen on it. They really missed the boat with this one and it has a lot more followers than they think. hmm maybe make a collectors edition and a kickstarter only edition.
Especially with all the boring rehash of code thats out there its like some developers say lets paint it a little and add a number to it.
I love coconut queen, its one of the few building games i actually enjoy. I think something in a fantasy world based on candy would be awesome. Chocolate fountains, soda lakes, gingerbread houses and birthday cake hotels would be fun, and go well with the quirky funny characters you make. I need another of your games please.
Thank you for your post! Making an environment out of candy is something I have considered in the past. It’s a tricky proposition. Walt Disney considered it, even, with an attraction called Rock Candy Mountain, before deciding that a world made entirely of edible sweet stuff could very easily overload and leave people with negative symptoms like bellyaches. The idea was scrapped in favor of a different attraction called The Matterhorn Bobsleds.
So I like candy in short-session games, but would hesitate to make an immersive, sugary environment where one spent a lot of time!
So here it is, years later, and I’m still looking for a sequel to CQ…I downloaded it AGAIN from BigFish, and played it through to the end AGAIN, and it hasn’t lost any appeal at all. A great game with a great design, and a wonderful sense of humor.
You were expecting a child…how’s parenting life treating you? is the spiritual successor idea even on a back burner somewhere? Have you thought more about a GoFundMe or something similar?
I just want you to know that this game you designed still brings great pleasure to me. It’s the kind of world that I can retreat to when I’ve had a hard day and know that Manu is ready to do more work, (‘cuz that’s what he’s talking ’bout…that and my mad shoe skillz) and it’s SO relaxing, even as I’m time managing the hell out of that island.
No matter where you’re at now, I still thank you. And I hope it’s not completely forgotten for you by now.
Wow, Kathy, you made my week!
I would very much like to revisit all the games I worked on during my time in the casual games industry. They need to be brought to life on mobile devices. They need to be revisited with everything I’ve learned about design since then. And all of those worlds deserve to be revisited. Thank you for sending this letter. As you guessed, family life and steady paychecks keep me away from making games for a living. I think about them every day, though. Who knows what the future holds, though?