A year after release and retail shelves are thick with Xbox 360 titles. But if there's a gap in the product line-up, it's for titles aimed at a younger audience. Sure, there are plenty of games making use of popular licenses - but barely any targeting the kids market with original IP.
Developed by Twycross-based studio Rare, Viva Piñata is Microsoft's first big push to entice younger gamers to Xbox 360. With a development period that has included collaboration with 4Kids Entertainment on a spin-off TV show, neither developer nor publisher has any qualms about making a game for children. And why should they? It's a market clearly under-exploited on Microsoft's next-gen system.
GamesIndustry.biz visited Rare and talked with lead designer Gregg Mayles and production director Simon Farmer to discuss why Microsoft needs to open up to a younger audience, the lessons learned from working with another creative medium, and extending the life of a product through downloadable content.