Interview with Johnny Coghlan of TeamLava

By on Nov 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

Moving mountains with top selling apps, especially in the gaming category, is a daunting task. When you create a new team with veteran players such as Johnny Coghlan (previously from Chillingo) and combine them with new social games, the results are bound to pay for themselves.

I sat down with Johnny Coghlan, VP of Business Development for TeamLava, to discuss the creation and development of the TeamLava brand, it’s current games, and what experience Johnny brings to the table for the new company.

Company Name: TeamLava
Name: Johnny Coghlan
Title: Vice President of Business Development

Q: What separates your company from your competitors with mobile phone applications?

The key focus at TeamLava is creating really high-quality games that are the best in their category. They need to be appealing and accessible to players, as well as offer unparalleled depth to encourage fans to keep playing, with multiple layers of discovery and achievement. We always listen to feedback from fans and treat them as family, to ensure that we are providing the best support and new free game content at all times.

Q: Tell us about your most recent releases. How have they performed?

TeamLava has a total of four games available currently: Farm Story, City Story, Restaurant Story and Empire Story. Each of them is free to download and play, and each has charted high and been extremely popular. Restaurant Story was a real hit for example, with full Retina Display and iOS 4 support along with fun gameplay and great graphics.

Q: Do you outsource any projects or development, if so, how much?

All of our games are proprietary and internally developed. That means we are constantly innovating and adding to our existing games, as well as upgrading our technology for new games. We also answer any customer questions and often implement cool ideas that they suggest to us!

Q: Advancements in graphics and animations in the mobile phone industry have astronomically grown within the past couple of years. How much time does your company devote to graphical, animation, and sound production for mobile applications? Are there areas that you focus on?

We spend every hour of every day ensuring our games are as high-quality as possible regarding gameplay, visuals, sound, user interface and overall innovation. Ensuring the best quality experience for our fans is key to ensuring our games continue to become hits and top the charts, so we’ll never lose that drive.

Q: Marketing an application can be a very difficult task. With so many applications being developed and released on a daily basis, capturing user attention in an App Store is challenging. What have you found to be an effective way to market your products to users?

First, ensure the game is really appealing and rewarding to players. Our fans and supporters are a great at generating word-of-mouth buzz for our games. We recognize that and are always expanding our efforts to keep them excited and enjoying playing as much as possible. Giving attention to key high-quality sites like Appmodo is also a focus. I was once a journalist before moving into PR and then marketing with Ubisoft and SEGA. My position as head of publishing at Chillingo also enabled me to put my experience to great use to ensure development, PR and marketing for games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope was always top-notch. TeamLava is now headed on the same trajectory, which is a really exciting journey and one that our fans are definitely a fundamental part of.

Q: What do you think of Appmodo?

: It’s a great site, shown by the support and respect we give it. There are many sites that cover mobile games and entertainment, but a site like Appmodo really distinguishes itself with its reliability, informed opinion, humor and high-quality editorial journalism. And the Appmodo folks are truly nice, genuine people as well, which really helps in any business! ;)

Q: What is your most popular application? Have you received any awards or achievements for that application?

All of our existing games continue to be popular, so there’s no one game better than another! Games within TeamLava’s “Story” series are Restaurant Story, Empire Story, City Story and Farm Story.

Thank you very much Johnny Coghlan and TeamLava for your time.

Want to see more interviews? Leave a comment below!


Filed: BusinessInterviewsiPhoneNews
  • Muerteesaqui

    Except they never update their games like promised. Check their forums it’s choke full of complaints.

  • Donnapetersen

    Their games are full of bugs. People lose items,lose gems, city cash. No updates as promised, constant sync issues you name it. I suggest you load some of their games and hook up with some of the higher level players, you’ll get the truth

  • Anaka

    Check their forums at teamlava. com, their lying ripoff artist, no updates for months, and they have these discovery chests where you get random items at $5 a pop where you keep getting duplicate items and if you want anything good you have to spend a fortune. Everything written above in the interview as far as I’m concerned, and the people in the forum would agree, is a lie.

  • Xyz

    Lies.. and more lies THERE IS NO UPDATES WHATSOEVER

  • Devin44

    I totally agree with the comments below! I am one of the people that they completely ripped off. I spent $25 on gems to get items from their “magic chest” the only thing magic about it is that it will magically make your money disappear and give you crappy items over and over. I was trying to get a piano and instead out of five tries (which cost $25), it gave me THREE awful claw machines and TWO awful bird baths. That is anything but random! To get the piano for my restaurant, I would have to give them at least $100 and their customer service department is HORRIBLE!! Every email response said “we will refer it to our development team.” They could have given me a piano for all the money I spent and it would have cost them NOTHING!! All in all, I wasted $100 on that company and all they do is give you the same crappy items over and over!!! And they have no compassion for the money I have spent or that I was a loyal customer. No more!!! This is the worst game I have EVER played and the comments are right. There are NEVER updates. All they do is keep updating a stupid holiday box that gives people huge Santas in March. Please tell everyone not to spend one dime with this company. All it has given me is frustration….. all of this because they won’t sell a piano separately. They hide the item in a box where you have to try over and over again and get items that you don’t want!!!! All they would have had to do to get rid of all the complaints is to have an extra button that asks if you want to keep the item or try again. That would have taken about 30 minutes of development time and instead they lose customers and revenue. It is a TERRIBLE COMPANY!!!!! And it is impossible to find ONE good comment about them! And they don’t care about the negative comments!!! Their email responses are a joke!!!

    • Shericlo

      Ok it clearly says…. That u get random prizes so it’s your stupid fault u paid 100 for 4 surprise boxes HINT: it’s called a surprised so stop ur complaning

  • Tberkman

    Teamlava Fashion Story deceived my 6 year ok’d daughter into buying hundreds of dollars of stuff she had no idea she was buying. We f,eel scammed and cheated and my poor daughter cried for hours. This company is a scam making money from deception and fraud. Really, it’s criminal.

    • Chuck

      Same here tBerkman, Apple is just a sduplicit in this scam. They have no iTunes phone support. I called iPhone support and got the iTunes charges reveresd. It took a real lot of anger to do it.

      • Dupedby

         Chuck, I just received a 1000$ bill for  free app for buying jewels by a 6 year old  These guys are really fraudsters , Was Apple good to you  ?

    • Dupedby

       They are definetly fraudster and need to be sued or banned by itunes

    • Shericlo

      Seriously honey 1000 bucks this is ur fault ur 6 year old should be some where learning how to read not playing on a iPhone this is just plain old bad parenting right here

      • Pinkbarbie123

        I don’t have kids but you’re an idiot. Kids play all kinds of games and technology isn’t something going away. I feel sorry for your kids.

      • ShericloisIDIOT

        You ARE an idiot. You can’t even write.

      • Now Occupy

        You are an idiot.

  • Support


    • TeamLava LLC = Petty Theaves

      This is a crazy scam that seems to be allowed to happen more and more at the App Store.  Why are Apple not lucking into this. My 5 year old downloaded the FREE restaurant game and them unknowingly bought hundreds off dollars of “Gems”.  This kind of deceit needs to STOP

      • Shericlo

        Ok dude u let a five year old play this game apple and team lava aren’t at fault here u are ur just pissed u have to pay all this money so don’t blame others for ur stupidity

        • Fry

          Why u sticking up 4 this rip off teamlava u aint getting any special favours u fool! Stop brown nosing and think outside the box clown

        • Now Occupy

          The game is deliberately made to look as if it is made for a 5 year old because it is trying to suck in children deliberately. So quit being an idiot.

      • Shericlo

        Ok I have actually bought gems for thus game and I kno u have to gave. Credit card on file to buy the gems why would u hand this game to ur 6 year d and just let them go at it ha I feel like u got what u deserve

        • Jberard

          Your an idiot.  Young kids don’t know they are using play money from real money.  The games a pitched as “free” yet they embed real money purchases that trick kids into contributing to their sales.  Unethical at best!

        • Fry

          Fuckin idiot shut it sherilco dozy twat!

        • Now Occupy

          “for thus game and I kno u have to gave”

          How can you know anything that you are looking at when you don’t even know how to talk?

  • Marcus Marvin

    bought “gems” from team lava and never received them.  they called me a liar and would not refund my money or even credit the gems.  HORRIBLE customer service!!!  they like to take money from people and not give the products paid for.  SUCKY!! SUCKY!! SUCKY!!

  • Cynthiakaszuba

    I bought gems and they disappeared. Contacted team lava and got an automatic response of too bad too sad basically. They won’t receive another penny from me. And as far as people saying it’s there fault for letting their kids play on the phone, are you kidding me? I don’t have kids but my niece and nephew love playing angry birds and stuff and the problem is team lava has pop ups every two sec to buy something or download something or there is a lag. They do not have a confirmation button, that is how they are scr****g people over. They know about it, but the way they make 80% of their money is from the lack of a confirmation button. I can see how kids click on things in these games not knowing they are being charged money. iTunes should demand that team lava implement a mandatory confirmation button.

  • Tina Dotson

    Here’s the thing, what Mr. Cohhlan is saying is all fine and dandy…and the truth is these games are great…but you have the part where the Co. Came up with these fun and awesome games and than you have the part that makes people want to keep shelling out money and coming back and playing them….teamlava is under the impression that the second part is because there game is just awesome..well its not because of that its because we make friends on these games…we connect with others from all across the globe and that’s the main reason most people continue to play any and all of the Story games. I say that with full confidence because TeamLava lacks one major factor in there company and its customer service…let me put it like this…I have Sprint as my cell phone provider, I will never Switch to any other company because Sprint rocks when it comes to customer service…I do pay a little more than I would if I had say Virgin mobile but I am happy nay thrilled even to pay the extra because you know what…even though no one at Sprint’s customer service department had ever even met me they treat me as though I am there most important client…it customer be the customer is always right..but with TeamLava the money is all they want…here’s a little proof..back in I believe June of 2011 they interviewed someone from TeamLava and they had in one day an estimated net profit of approx 1 million $, this was on a day when gems were 40% off, they said there was about 4million players on any given day. I realize that was net profit but never the less they are making .25cents a day off each person. Now there is no way they have less people playing now almost a yr later. And the prices have gone up on everything. They have raised prices even on the food. The players all got upset about this so what did TeamLava do they lowered the cost of the food back to there orig prices but only on like 3 food items..and the sad thing is no one realized that they did that. The players saw that the red cake was back to making 12 coins and never looked past this. Teamlava didn’t care. I do not have one neighbor who has not been ripped off by teamlava and when they would ask teamlava to fix it they wont. I personally have had so many items bought with both coins and gems just disappear when my phone would say it needed to sync and teamlava wouldn’t even replace the wallpaper purchased with Coins… day I had over 12million coins and by mistake hit purchase coins…I mean I know it was my fault but who in the world would believe I wanted to actually pay 10 gems I bought with cash for 10,000 coins when my bakery makes over 100,000 coins a day and like I said I had over 12mil bad I get it…but what about the weekly specials, all of my nbrs and I have had this problem, one if us doesn’t get the offer and I emailed TeamLava once and they told me “This offer was not made available for Android users.” HA Guess what 5 of my nbrs. Use Android and they all had the leprechaun hideout. So when I emailed back with this info I than got zero response. Why the lie? And what about this several of my nbrs have not had a sale on gems for months? The funny thing about this The neighbors that are not ever getting even 20% off of gems (well cuz we all know they are never going to give us 40% off anymore) are the neighbors who spend a lot of cash, the nbrs who get sales all the time don’t spend much….makes you wonder. I believe that right niw people love there friends they have made and its still enough to keep them playing but with such horrible customer service it wont be long before people start to quit. Its super sad. I just want to know why? Why TeamLava? Why can’t you be a little flexible? Set boundaries but be kind….if you make others feel special even if you say no they will still love you.

  • Scam Company

    Scam Company!! Dont play their games!! They could suspend you account for simply asking for equal gem sales! Its unbelievable!! Sending my complaints to Apple, wish I never spent any $$$ on this horrible game! Freedom of Speech? Team Lava hasn’t heard of that apparently…

  • Ovrit

    Hi Johnny since we’re like family I’d like my 24 gems back!  Good luck getting any customer service.  There responses via email are “we’re sorry that happened to you” which translated mean “to bad sucker we already got your money”!

  • Neata

    maybe if the truth was printed ppl would have a clearer picture of Team Lava, and their racist, childish, excuses.

    THE TRUTH . . .
    Good Morning,

    I would like to bring to your attention the situation that has been occurring for quiet
    Sometime now, on your forum, and now with the media focus on your games.

    Countries acoss the board, are supporting the Australians, in hopes to get their flag in your game Restaurant Story. This has been brought to your Forum Mods attentions for over a year now, with replies that a) there are not enough Australian’s playing TL Games. b) your feedback as been forwarded on and c) no replies just Shutting down forum posts and threads.

    Then when it comes down to the forum mods asking for ideas and what members would like to see in the games,anything to do with Australia is shot down in flames, with Us being called Silly Australians!

    A prime example is that of which food items would members kike to see, when Pavalova was mentioned a mod,mexcused the idea as they didnt know what it was. I find this unaccepable and I am sure i speak on behalf of all Australians we did not know what snores where or a cup of joe yet there is a search engine to find out what in fact they are. Australia is a diverse country that imbraces all cultures and countries.

    There are protests and boycotting going on at the moment in aid to get the Australian flag in a game that we all play on a daily basic.

    Anything to do with Australia, is being sweeped under the rug or any posts or threads on your forum is being deleted / closed. A Group of Australians, will be forwarding on all correspondances from your forums/ game walls and media, thus proving the discrimmination that your mods and company are showing towards Australian game players. This is all being released in blog which will be released in the media circuit in the next comming days.

    Australians have supported the USA in all that you do, from finance to wars.

    Your game City Story, has the Australian flag in it, art work has been forwarded on yet all requests are to no avail. To be told that all this is nonsence and useless, does not sit will with me.
    I am Australian, that means we fight for our beliefs.

  • TheJunkie

    Team Lava is the biggest scam there is.
    They deliver low quality apps that try to pass as games. Then they get you to spend money buying in game currency. This part is obviously fine. They sold you in game currency, you buy.
    Then they trick you losing all the in game currency by
    1. mis click on buttons because they intentionally place them next to important functions that your fingers are likely to touch
    2. you misclick on buttons they intentionally switch up
    3. they just devalue in game currency so whatever you purchase is now worth nearly nothing

    These guys have absolutely no morals. They just want to steal money from people who play that includes kids who just don’t know better.

    Guys like him should just be put out of business and even locked up next to madoff.

  • industry expert

    teamlava = rip off artists

  • sk1

    Johnny, do you feel it’s ethical having buttons that cause kids to buy gems for real money when they don’t understand what they are doing? To me it’s not honest…

  • K

    TeamLava does not “listen to feedback from fans and treat them like family”!! They ignore any type of negative feedback and do not care what their customers have to say. TeamLava has many devoted customers who have spent so much time and money on their games, yet they have no respect or consideration for them. From what I, and so many others have seen, they have proven themselves to be selfish and greedy. Whenever a drastic change is made (ridiculous changes that upset players), TL makes no announcement at all and expects players to be ok with it. There have been many issues that have greatly angered players, but TL has not addressed it officially or even truly responded to their customers’ complaints. They refuse to hear anything negative! TeamLava has no idea how to run a business which customer care and support is a big part of!! They will sink themselves in no time.

  • BLK Ops

    This so-called “company” is scamming money like snake oil salesmen of the 1800-1900’s. Their games are loaded with glitches and bugs and “resets” as they call them. The juveniles that admin the forums and feedback and complaints are given forms to copy as responses to legitimate problems that players experience. These form letter type responses just blow-off any and all complaints with a, “we cannot do a damn thing to help you” type response, but they do apoloize for not helping you, LMFAO. Here is a brief reply I had when they stole 25 gems from me and responded as stated above with some juvenile calling itself a “support agent” :
    support “agent”? who gave you that title son? you offer ZERO
    support? Did you just make a badge in 5th grade that says “agent gizmo duck” and
    color it gold with your crayons?what exactly are
    you for then? this is YOUR GD game, right? no? yes?, yet
    you have No powers to do anything to assist players? What does your self
    initiated job title do exactly? send pre-written “blow off” form letters to
    players and customers, there are programs that can do that.
    Theres actually some websites I just found all about your “so-called
    company team lava”, these adults are NOT happy with team oomie zoomie, eh um I
    mean lava i am sharing your juvenile business practices with them right now, and
    complete LACK OF customer service over something SO EASY AND
    SIMPLE TO REMEDY, and you make NO EFFORT what so ever to help. Apparently, they
    were foolish enough to give you kids their credit cards, boy are they
    pissed-lol. Its rough to face the truth sonny, but take a look at your own
    words, its obvious youre just a little punk at this “company”, dont hate on the
    messenger. We can train monkeys as Astronauts, and you cannot even control your
    own GD game? LMFAO. Where do these trogs come from anyway? Do they actually pay
    you to send the forms, or do they make you pay them to be just a little jr.
    businessboy with a clip-on tie, awww. All over a lame little game, how sad and
    immature. You should at least demand a bowl of jelly bellies for your little
    desk. I know the gaming business, and run servers, so many take money for admin
    capabilities, and its always kids who pay so they can have these admin powers,
    and those are the absolute WORST run servers. My servers are world wide and
    ranked in the TOP 10-20 out of millions of servers. This nonsense will catch up
    to this company, its already gaining momentum, and I’m about to join in on the
    witch hunt just for priciple reasons, just keep pissing people off, and youll
    wind up paying so much in law suits, all over something you can fix for free.
    Just immature piss poor business skills, when you think youre clever. Youre
    chasing players away just for spite, and going to piss off the wrong
    person/people and youll get to watch your scam all unwind and wrap around YOUR
    piggy bank soon.
    Ok, with that said, I have never, I would never, give these TROGS a nickel of my money, so remember, A fool and his/her money are soon parted. If youre so inclined to continue to play their games, just play and have fun, DO NOT but anything for any reason, be smart and wise, and patient. If you do not have enough coins or gems or gold etc etc etc. then DO WITHOUT until such time as you can earn it, if you cannot possibly earn it, then again, DO WITHOUT, its not the end of the world, in fact its a new beggining if you save your money and buy things you actually need or can use in your real life.

  • Retired teacher

    Unfortunately, I am one of those people who have spent too many hours and invested way too many dollars in one of Team Lavas games only to discover too late what scam artists these people are.

    Complaints and requests for help fall on deaf ears, or are answered after many days with a standard reply of “…we have a policy that says we can’t —insert any phrase here that would fit your situation —“. If you can’t fix your problem by restarting your device, then you are just simply out of luck.

    At first, when I started to hear rumblings from other players of things such as “gem traps” (situations that make you lose gems that cost real money, and that many, many players have repeatedly asked for confirmation buttons for, and have been denied) I was skeptical. I started paying closer attention. It was true. Tasks that required certain amounts of a resource would suddenly change the requirement in the middle, or all your progress would just disappear.

    And the policy of not replacing missing or lost gems or resources is very handy.

    The most troubling thing, though, goes beyond the replacement of assets and money. It speaks to the heart of everything we are. And that’s censorship. Many of us who play the game Castle Story have had our game walls censored, and the comments on the “support” forum censored or deleted altogether. Since this game is played by people of all ages, I do support monitoring the game walls for language that might not be suitable for young people and children. However, to delete or censor comments about problems faced by players as they play regarding missing items, increasing costs, or other issues, goes beyond prudent. I’m leaning toward illegal and certainly immoral.

  • Nisaerjjhhggtrtg

    Give me diamond dragon

  • Nisaerjjhhggtrtg

    I don’t like any game abut dragon story

  • Nisaerjjhhggtrtg

    TL doesent give me a diamond it only give to special people my good friend got it and I don’t !!!

  • Dragon

    Fucking morons with all their gem traps. People have been asking for confirmation dialogs for years but these cunts are completely ignoring it version after version, game after game. They do everything to make the user fall into using gems so you have to buy them when you really ‘need’ them. Gem-use buttons are huge compared to all other buttons in their games. Popups with conveniently placed gem-use buttons. Timed messages with.. well, you’ve probably guessed it by now… bunch of immoral dickheads. That inhuman being needs a big punch in its ugly face.

  • Now Occupy

    This is one of the most evil gaming companies on the planet and what they are doing is sick. I mean look at the picture of him– he has “that grIn” on his face.