Appiphilia: A chat chat with Tapulous CEO Bart Decrem
Earlier this week here at the oh-so-posh cafe de LAT (aka the L.A. Times cafeteria), Tapulous Chief Executive Bart Decrem and I chatted about the company's new Tap Tap Dance app and the upcoming Christmas With Weezer, which features six holiday tracks recorded by the group exclusively for the iPhone game.
Decrem spoke about the iPhone's influence on the tech landscape and also gave a glimpse into what 2009 could hold for Tap Tap Revolution addicts.
Talking Tap Tap Revenge
BD: Tap Tap Revenge really took off and became the No. 1 app on the iPhone and has continued to do really well.
I think the reason it’s done so well is it’s a nice game, and it’s at the intersection of a whole genre that’s done well.
What we’re doing now is we’re putting the bulk of our energies as a little company –- because we’re only eight people in my company -– behind building on the success of Tap Tap Revenge in a social way.
MM: Tap Tap Revenge was launched in July with four songs. Now it boasts a catalog of about 60 songs, across musical genres.
BD: First, we were approached, when we launched it, by indie artists. And so we put some indie music in there. And then ...
... we did a contest where users voted on their favorite songs. And then we started getting interest from labels. We started featuring a song every week, and they just kept getting better and better.
So a few weeks ago, we featured Katy Perry “Hot N Cold" -- 200,000 downloads in one week, that song in the game. A million game plays over the weekend. Every weekend we do a tournament, a million game plays.
MM: Last week, Tap Tap Revenge featured its first hip hop track -- Q-Tip's "Gettin' Up."
BD: I really enjoy this stuff because it’s fun to cross genres and to try out new things and to see different groups of users respond. It keeps the whole thing sort of dynamic and alive in a way that’s very hard to do on consoles. So one of the cool things here is the sense of community and energy and constant freshness of the app.
This thing went out ... last Thursday, and yesterday I got a call from a manager of one of the biggest hip hop artists this year saying "Hey, we want to build a game with you." And the reason is he saw that Q-Tip was featured.
Now added to the family is the rave-in-your-hand Tap Tap Dance.
BD: We basically have enriched the visual effects here. ... The cool thing is every song can have its own look and feel now, and that’s sort of the more interesting part.
To me what’s interesting about this is that when you play the original game, it feels kind of like a Guitar Hero knock-off. But now when you’re looking at this thing, to me it feels almost like an interactive music video.
This is just our first take on it. Over the next six months, we’ll still keep pushing stuff forward.
And then there's Christmas With Weezer
BD: That’s our first family one. There’s like a kids mode in there. If you’re in kids mode, you can’t really mess it up. It’s really fun. What’s significant about it is Weezer is like a major band. And they went in the studio and recorded these six songs just for this game. You can’t get this anywhere else. ...
[Fans, Decrem says the developers put something special in there for you if you finish the whole game. Look for two bonus tracks and a message from lead singer Rivers Cuomo.]
BD: As we go now into the next year, we’re now talking to labels and saying, well look, if you have a big new release coming out, we can do a custom game like we’re doing with this one and the one with Weezer. And if there’s a hit single, we can create a custom skin, a custom game for that song.
So as you’re launching one of these big songs, you can launch the music, the music video. We could also launch the interactive game part of it. So that to me is fairly significant and very exciting.
We’re putting 75% at least of our energy on Tap Tap Dance and these related products.
In January, we’re going to upgrade the free version –- maybe the beginning of February -– so there will be a 2.0 version there. We want to be able to do one of these special editions every month, but we’re going to end up doing them like upgrade packs –- add-on packs. You’ll be able to buy these things and when you go back to the free game you’ll be able to import them.
[Decrem also suggested that Santa might offer fans an additional early Christmas gift from Tapulous, saying cryptically possibly something from "a big band with a crazy following."]
BD: To me, there’s sort of three parts to this: great music, great gaming experience and then the social part. And the third part, I think we’re going to spend a lot more time on as we go into 2009.
-- Michelle Maltais