TouchArcade‘s Eli Hodapp sat down with M Shadows at Mayhem Festival’s stop in Tinley Park, IL to hear the story behind Hail To The King: Deathbat and try out the game.
It’s an action adventure RPG that’s dripping with Avenged Sevenfold imagery, without ever having the link to Avenged Sevenfold in your face, at all. It’s a clever way to do it, as if you’re an Avenged Sevenfold fan, chances are you’re going to grab the game day one and love how you’re essentially playing through their songs. If you’ve got no clue who Avenged Sevenfold is, it’s been intentionally designed to just be a fun, hardcore, premium mobile game dripping with a heavy metal theme. Basically, they’ve figured out how to do what amounts to a branded game, with the only people really knowing it’s a branded game are the folks familiar with Avenged Sevenfold IP. Maybe it’ll even bring new fans to Avenged Sevenfolds from people who like the game who haven’t heard their music.
I was able to sit down with Avenged Sevenfold front man M Shadows last night and hear the story behind the game, which basically made me go from “Eh, band game, whatever” to “OK this actually sounds really cool.” We actually have pretty similar gaming roots, as most 30-something gamers seem to have these days. As M Shadows explained what they were going for with Hail To The King: Deathbat, he made constant references back to wanting to incorporate his favorite elements of old school games. I lost count of the number of times he mentioned Zelda.
Stepping back a bit, if you ask someone what kind of game you should make for the App Store, that answer almost always to look at what’s hot at this moment and just make that. We saw a bazillion Flappy Bird clones, and developers are still releasing their own re-skinned Clash of Clans knock-offs. M Shadows mentioned being advised similar things, but, that’s not how Avenged Sevenfold the band has remained relevant. They’ve continually done things that are different from what they’ve done before, and instead of following the crowd, they position themselves as the ones who are followed.
So, in a similar vein, Hail To The King: Deathbat is bucking basically every trend on the App Store right now. It’s designed to be difficult and unforgiving, it’s a premium game with a half million dollar budget, you don’t need IAP to play it, and they’re already planning a sequel. M Shadows is making the game he wants to make, instead of the game everyone thinks you should make to maximize profits, and I can’t wait to see how it’s received. It’s hard to not have massive amounts of respect to someone who is willingly designing something for what amounts to a supreme niche on the App Store.