Double Stallion decided to get rid of the free to play model in its Bronze Award-winning brawler Big Action Mega Fight! (BAMF!) last month.

It's a move that it hoped would increase players' enjoyment as well as the money it was bringing in. A month later, we decided to catch up with Double Stallion to see how it went.

"It felt wonderfully cathartic to remove BAMF! features that conflicted between our design intent for the game and the ongoing concern for our company's sustainability," BAMF! designer Nicolas Barrière-Kucharski told us.

"We removed features such as premium currencies, ads, push notifications, scheduled rewards and more. We rebalanced the entire game, polishing gameplay, adding new content like cutscenes, controller support."

Big Action Mega Fight

Barrière-Kucharski added that it felt good to address long-standing issues with BAMF!, and the player reaction was extremely positive. But that's not all...

"On a business level, during our $1.99 launch week June 25th to July 1st, revenue from the premium version of game across all versions surpassed lifetime revenue up to that point," Barrière-Kucharski said.

So adapting a premium model over a free to play one for BAMF! has been a success on all levels for Double Stallion.

Learning the ropes

In the process of making the switch in pricing models, Double Stallion has learned a lot of lessons about the mobile games market.

Barrière-Kucharski even offered some theories as to why BAMF! didn't do so well as a free to play mobile game.

"BAMF! free to play was trying to compete under a "games-as-service" model. For a host of factors, economic, development and others, it was unsustainable."

"The game could not keep up with bigger, recurrently updated and featured games. As developers, we were not satisfied with a "dead" free to play game due to not being updated."

It wasn't just a matter of not being able to keep up with the demands of the free to play model that was dragging BAMF! down, mind.

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Barrière-Kucharski also pointed to the fighting game genre's reputation on mobile as a reason for it not performing as well as was hoped.

"Most fighting games on mobile are ports and often feature unwieldy virtual control. Genre expectations were against us, meaning that we had everything to prove."

"Luckily, word of mouth on the matter was incredibly positive from the start. After the art, the controls are always mentioned as one of BAMF!'s highlights."

"Which, in the end, didn't really matter, since players passionate about quality fighting games didn't overlap with people interested in free to play games."

1-2-Punch

It was in realising this lack of cohesion between free to play and fighting games that caused Double Stallion to change the pricing model when it did.

"Successful games on mobile often don't allow direct input and physically skill-based challenges, mainly relying on menu-based actions."

"Despite that we considered BAMF! to be accessible and possible, but input-based controls proved to be too overwhelming for the majority of mobile players."

"Realizing this after the fact, changing the game to become paid was our only option."

The lessons learned from BAMF!, and its difficult road to success has changed the future of Double Stallion.

That's not just in terms of it being more financially secure, but also in the types of games it will be producing in the future.

Big Action Mega Fight

Double Stallion revealed to us that it's currently working on a number of projects outside of free-to-play models. Unfortunately, these new projects are also not initially intended for mobile.

This is due to the mobile space "becoming increasingly saturated with heavy players and ongoing curation / discoverability problems" according to Barrière-Kucharski.

He is, however, hoping to see Apple tackle this issue with iOS8. Perhaps if Apple makes the right moves, Double Stallion will be tempted to return to the mobile space.

For now, Double Stallion is running away from the mobile arena with its bruises, and the slight victory it has managed to earn while on the ropes.