The Brains Behind Zombie Match Defense
A longtime veteran of the games industry, Jake Sones had done work on such beloved titles as Diablo 3, Ratchet & Clank Future, and EverQuest 2 among many others. After 13 years as a game designer at various major companies, Sones wanted to try going out on his own. He founded Shovelware Games in November of 2014, and he already had his first idea in mind.
Sones and a friend had been talking about gaming trends and how some of them had been overused to the point of being tropes. Sones thought it might be interesting to mash up some of the most popular ones and see what came of it. His friend felt a good game couldn’t come from such an approach, but Sones bet him that it could be done. He began work on a prototype, mostly as a challenge. He had identified three major elements of some of the most popular games in the mobile market: zombies, match-3 puzzles, and lane-based defense. His game, then, would try to combine the three into something satisfying enough to win the wager.
After finishing the prototype, Sones felt like he was onto something. The game he had designed was quite fun, and he thought it had potential as a proper full release. Work on the game that would come to be known as Zombie Match Defense began in late 2014. Much of the work was done by Sones himself, though several friends also made important contributions in the form of art and music. The game’s working title was the rather catchy 28 Plays Later, a reference to the popular zombie movie 28 Days Later. Although a clever title, it wasn’t very descriptive of the game itself, so Sones ended up going with the straightforward title the game carries today.
Sones rightly identified early on that in a market as crowded as the mobile game one is, it was important to start marketing as early as possible. He attended as many trade shows as possible, and entered his title into several contests. He even won one of those contests, PocketGamer’s Big Indie Pitch. One of his more creative stunts was showing up at IndieCade wearing a costume patterned after an arcade cabinet that housed a playable version of the game. All of his hard work certainly put the game firmly in the minds of the people that attended those events.
Zombie Match Defense released in October of 2015 on the App Store as a premium game with no additional purchases, which was quite a bold move for a puzzle game at the time. While that move may not have paid off financially, it certainly endeared the game to players looking for a no-nonsense matching puzzle game. Reviews were generally positive from critics and players, with the game’s quirky presentation and novel combination of game mechanics garnering praise from most who played it. The game’s tense Endless mode appealed to many players, keeping them playing the game for a long time.
In 2019, Zombie Match Defense was updated and brought into the GameClub library, allowing these brain-hungry undead creatures the chance to rise once more.