As much as erotic games are common products, unfortunately there are few outstanding ones among them. However, on the horizon there’s a game called ‘The Lovers‘ from Polish game developer Plazacraft, which is completely off the beaten track, thanks to its unique approach to gameplay and playthrough length. Roman Plaza, the game’s creator and owner of the Plazacraft brand talked to us about ‘The Lovers’ and the game’s future.
The game had its premiere in late 2018 when the first level – Romantic – was released. At the time, it was a small side project that hardly anyone had heard of. It was until the release of the game’s second level in April 2021 that the project received first marketing support and very positive reviews from most people who had the pleasure of playing it.
‘The Lovers’ is a completely unique card game where the gameplay lasts for several weeks or even months, instead of one evening. It becomes an integral part of the players’ erotic lives and takes them on a journey to deepen intimacy, ignite passion, and explore their own desires and erotic fantasies.
To get a better idea and understanding of the uniqueness of ‘The Lovers’, we contacted the game’s creator, Roman Plaza, who told us the story of the game’s creation, its rules and the flexibility of choosing the gameplay to suit the couple’s preferences, as well as plans for the future.
Roman, before we focus on the game ‘The Lovers’ itself, first I would like to ask you how did the idea of creating an erotic game for couples originated?
Roman Plaza: Just like most of the best ideas – by brainstorming in the bathroom under the shower (laughs). I was inspired to make an erotic game because of the insufficiency of this type of games available on the market nowadays. The repetitive mechanics of these games, the poor quality of execution and ‘decency’. By the latter I mean the lack of boldness in the descriptions and tasks of these games. Of course, this should not be confused with bluntness, which is not lacking in these games. I thought what kind of game could make me and my partner happy – and that’s how the game mechanics were born. To be honest, the idea that was born in my head initially referred to level two of the series. It wasn’t until I got around to implementing the idea that I decided to divide the games into levels.
It’s been a while since the game’s premiere, can you tell how it was received by customers in Poland and around the world?
RP: The game has not yet been promoted that much in Poland, let alone internationally. Any actions related to the visibility of our product on the market have only recently begun, but we can see the first effects of these. From time to time, we receive feedback, which is very positive. People who bought the game appreciate the idea above all, they also pay attention to the quality of the product. Reviewers to whom we send the game, in most cases are also excited about it.
And why did you decide to release the game only in English?
RP: There were two reasons why the game has only been released in English so far. The first was the aesthetics of the language. While Polish is a beautiful language, when it comes to things related to eroticism, I think English is much better suited for that. The second reason is the universality of English, and of course the cost. We want the product to have at least a European scope, as a small startup we don’t have enough funds at the moment to print multiple language versions, and all free money is spent on further development of the game.
One of the first things players learn after, or actually even before, the opening is not to peek or mix cards, why?
RP: To have as much fun and enjoyment from the game as possible. The uncertainty and element of surprise are aphrodisiacs in themselves. With most games, partners automatically unpack the game after purchase and review all of its contents. During the game, you know what to expect. Here it is different, partners can be surprised any day of the week at any time. And that’s the point, to bring back a little bit of spontaneity that is sometimes so much forgotten these days. With such game mechanics, ‘The Lovers’ for young couples can bring about a breakthrough in adventurousness or a boost in passion, and for longer couples, it can be a reminder of times when everything was not so obvious and repetitive.
The Lovers stands out for many things, the beautiful illustrations, the solid quality, but the most unique element is the gameplay mechanic, which is not counted in minutes or hours, but in weeks and maybe even months. How does the game, engage couples in gameplay for such a long period of time?
RP: It’s simple, partners draw cards, but those cards by intention are not immediately playable. Most of the cards drawn require preparation and commitment to implement. The cards usually describe not just one activity but an entire setting.
Considering the above, how would you respond to the statement that The Lovers is a kind of guide to strengthen intimacy and reignite passion in a relationship. And the score itself is just a side element to motivate players to complete the tasks and receive the mysterious prize?
RP: Indeed, hit the nail on the head. Scoring is an element of variety, useful for those who like competition. However, the main point of the game is to inspire and encourage people to act, to arouse passion, and to support them in breaking taboos.
The basic version of the game is divided into 3 levels: Romantic, Hardcore (in Master&Slave and Switch versions) and the yet to be released Pervert level. The higher the level, the more daring the challenges presented to the players. Can you give one example of a task from each level?
RP: I don’t want to quote the missions directly here so as not to spoil the fun for potential players, so I’ll describe it more generally. In the first level, the missions are more peaceful, romantic, such as preparing a naked dinner or initiating intercourse in a specific place. The second level consists of the tasks associated with submission and domination, these are elements of the BDSM, such as restraining, gagging, spanking. The third level is intended to have tasks also related to submission and domination, but even more daring, and for some tasks more than two people are expected to participate.
I must admit that I was especially interested in the Joker card. I don’t know if you want to reveal its details, but would you agree with me that such a Joker is a kind of dream for every person who is in a long-term relationship?
RP: I hadn’t actually thought of Joker that way, but it’s possible that it is. The Joker was created with the intention of balancing gameplay so that each partner is always able to have something for themselves, no matter what tasks they draw. The card is so interesting and amusing because it can be used to swap roles not only in actions and tasks played from cards, but also in everyday activities. Yes, ‘The Lovers’ strongly interacts with the daily lives of its players (laughs).
And can you tell when lovers of the most lewd pleasures can expect Pervert level to appear?
RP: At this point, the release is scheduled for early 2023, but I can’t say how realistic that plan is. I think more will be known in mid-2022.
Soon the first expansions for the basic version of the game will be available. How will they advance the gameplay?
RP: The add-ons will be usable in many ways. They are designed to be quite flexible. The manual gives four possibilities as examples:
– playing the add-ons together with the mission cards of the base version of the game
– playing with add-ons together with action cards from the base game
– playing only with add-ons in a way that each partner draws a card independently
– playing with add-ons only in a way that partners draw and execute a card together
I think that the biggest advantage of the add-ons will be the possibility to combine them freely, e.g. combining gadgets and disguises (i.e. when playing together you not only have to disguise yourself but also use a given toy). Such mechanics add variety to the game and make it playable many times, each time in a different, equally interesting way.
And for example, if a couple wanted to combine 2 levels of The Lovers into one game, is that possible?
RP: This is possible in a number of ways. You can, of course, play level one first and then level two, but you can also alternate, playing one card from level one and one from level two. Another idea, for example, might be to draw all the action cards and play two of them every night. However, I always recommend playing level one in its entirety first, once partners become familiar with the mechanics of the game, many ideas will surely come to them that will work best for them.
So you could say that by owning the different levels of The Lovers and their add-ons, it will be possible to better tailor the gameplay to your own expectations, preferences and fantasies?
RP: Definitely yes. Remember that partners should know and respect each other’s limits. The cards that are simply not right can be eliminated from the deck after the first game, and only those that fully meet your partner’s expectations can be kept.
This sounds like a great way to break down your own resistance and encourage your partner to explore areas of sexuality that you are interested in….
RP: I think it is. Unfortunately but our sexuality is still often a taboo topic. There is a lot of intolerance in society towards various behaviors that are not bad at all. As a result, we sometimes close ourselves off from our fantasies. Games like this give us courage to break these taboos. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, in every behavior you have to remember to respect your partner’s boundaries.
Add-ons aren’t the only new features planned. Recently, Plazacraft launched a campaign on Kickstarter to introduce two new versions of the Romantic level. These will differ from the one already available in that they will target unisex couples, both male and female. This brings up the question, what exactly will the difference be?
RP: The difference will mainly be the graphics on the cards. The tasks in the current version are so generic that most of them will remain the same. We have started a crowdfunding project to raise funds for the release of the new version and at the same time to test market interest in this type of product. Whether it will succeed – we will see.
Now I would like to ask you about something completely different. Entering the adult products market is definitely not the easiest of tasks, especially for new companies. As the owner of a new brand in this industry, can you tell us what were, or still are, the biggest challenges in producing and selling an erotic game?
RP: Let me preface my answer to this question by pointing out that manufacturing, selling and marketing a product are completely new areas of business to me. And I mean here not only the area related to erotica, but any other area as well. Making a design with the help of a graphic artist was probably the easiest of tasks. Printing was a bit more difficult, because not every printing house is able to comprehensively perform such a task, let alone do it with the appropriate quality. On top of that there was the problem with the refusal to print because of the product itself, but luckily we managed to find a good printing house nearby in Krakow.
Being on the market is the most difficult part of the puzzle, learning how the distribution and marketing mechanism works requires a lot of practical experience. The key for us is to get the right contacts to people with whom we could cooperate. I have no comparison with the non-erotic industry, but it is clear that many opportunities and doors are closed because of the type of product. Other problems that have arisen in Poland include the language of the game, and it’s not about the end customer, because they rarely ask for a Polish version, but about retailers and wholesalers who don’t want to introduce a foreign-language product. One of our current activities is to expand our offer in order to make cooperation with us more promising.
And can you say more about the refusal to print the game? The illustrations on the cards can certainly stir the imagination, but they are absolutely not something that should shock or offend in this day and age. What exactly was the reason?
RP: Shocking maybe not, but erotica and pornography are probably still sometimes treated as something incorrect and inappropriate in society. The first level of the game was printed without any problem, I would classify the graphics as purely erotic. Graphics in level two, admittedly are a kind of artistic work, but they depict people in a dominant and submissive relationship, and on top of that they show it in all its boldness. Two of the biggest printing houses and game producers in Poland said that printing this type of material ‘is against company policy’.
Now on the other hand, have you had any positive surprises related to the erotic industry?
RP: A positive surprise for sure is that once you manage to break through and contact someone, it is often a very helpful contact. This was the case with the editors of ‘ErotisNews’, among others. It seems to me that in this industry it is possible to find very honest and open people. This attitude gives us a lot of hope for the future.
Finally, I would like to ask about the future of Plazacraft. As I can see you still have many ideas on how to expand The Lovers. Do you also have ideas for other products? I don’t want to discourage you, take it as a compliment, but The Lovers set the bar very high.
RP: There are many ideas, but not enough funds so far to implement each one. One idea was actually born just a week ago and even has its own title ‘The Lovers – Stories’. It’s a continuation of the series, the game mechanics, where the key element is the gameplay stretched in time, will remain the same. What is new is the type of description on the cards, it will not be a typical task or action but a simple story to play out. The story will be divided into two cards (one for each partner), so it will leave an element of surprise for both sides. The idea still has to lie in my head for a while, but we’ll see, maybe next year we’ll start implementing it.
Roman, thank you very much for all your answers. I have no doubt that The Lovers is an exceptional game that offers much more than just a good time. I wish you that your success so far is only a prelude to what the future holds.
RP: I would also like to thank you and the editors of ErotisNews for the interview and all the support that is shown for our game.