Pocket Gems breaks new ground with Tap Paradise Cove

Pocket Gems is following through on its earlier promises to push the creative envelope. It’s unveiling Tap Paradise Cove today and the game will be available worldwide next week.

Dubbed an “exploration simulation” by Pocket Gems’ chief operating officer Ben Liu, the game draws inspiration from the open-ended exploration found in games like Minecraft.

In Tap Paradise Cove, players arrive on a deserted island and are tasked with establishing a new civilization from scratch. This brings in familiar citybuilding mechanics and clear goals — if the player wants them.

During our demo of the game, Pocket Gems’ creative director Rich Cooluris proudly pointed out that there are several different ways to play Tap Paradise Cove. Players can choose to develop their cities, or they can expend their energy exploring the game’s vast, fog-shrouded world. This allows them to uncover secrets and treasures hidden in the world map.

The game also incorporates elements of gacha — the raffle-esque mechanic popular in Japanese social games that allows players to invest a small amount of resources to get a random return. In Tap Paradise Cove the element is tightly incorporated into the gameplay through sea voyages. Players send ships off to foreign lands and they will return with later with some sort of random prize, typically an item needed to upgrade a one of the player’s buildings.

Although the game won’t be launching with a lot of social features, the Pocket Gems team will be integrating more social elements into Tap Paradise Cove in future releases. Its a tactic the company has used before in its earlier game Zombie Takeover.

For Pocket Gems, there is a lot riding on Tap Paradise Cove. The game is an unproven format, which means it isn’t guaranteed to be runaway hit like Pocket Gems’ early titles Tap Pet Hotel and Tap Zoo. Mounting competition in the App Store from companies like Zynga and TinyCo has also increased pressure on Pocket Gems’ games on the charts. At the time of writing, the company’s highest title on the top grossing charts was the No. 50 ranked Tap Pet Hotel.

One side effect of this is that Pocket Gems is taking a closer look towards Android. The company is currently at work bringing more titles to the platform. However, according to Pocket Gems’ chief operating officer Ben Liu, the new market conditions on iOS aren’t necessarily a bad thing for the company.

“The number of installs we’re seeing is still pretty steady,” he say. “Something we’ve started to do and I think you’ll being seeing more developers do in the future, is focus on profitability. Rankings are obviously very visible, but I think you’ll see the drive for companies of some scale, like ours, to focus on business objectives like making profits rather than just top-line revenues. Over the past year we’ve learned who our customers are and we’re going to be more focused on them instead of taking a shotgun approach. I think that’s a side affect of the maturation of the market and the companies in it.”