Asphalt 8: Airborne+ interview: Roman Chernoliasov discusses how the free-to-play game has been tweaked for Apple Arcade

Asphalt 8: Airborne+ interview: Roman Chernoliasov discusses how the free-to-play game has been tweaked for Apple Arcade

Asphalt 8: Airborne+ is an upcoming addition to the growing Apple Arcade Greats section. The popular racer has achieved huge success as a free-to-play title, but its arrival on Apple's subscription service means this version will not have IAPs, which means the game had to be adjusted slightly.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Roman Chernoliasov to discuss this. We also talked about how the idea came about in the first place, whether the free-to-play version of the game will continue to receive updates and if Gameloft is worried about discovery on Apple Arcade.

Could you introduce yourself and your role on Asphalt 8+ for our readers, please?

My name is Roman Chernoliasov and I’m a Game Manager on the Asphalt 8: Airborne+ project. Basically, it means that I make the final decision on every bit of the game you experience as a player.

How did the decision to bring Asphalt 8: Airborne to Apple Arcade come about? Did Apple approach you, or was it the other round?

Asphalt 8: Airborne is reaching its 8th Anniversary this year and it proved to be huge success in term of players’ response and involvement. The editorial team from Apple Arcade has been really supportive on the matter of bringing such a classic and engaging title to their platform. The idea was hanging in the air and we are really happy that it resulted into a pretty productive and fun collaboration.

Apple Arcade allows us to focus on pure gameplay and not the business model to fit and consider. It is a great new way to reach new players with the streamlined and direct gameplay experience we are aiming for.

The Apple Arcade version of the game removes all IAPs and advertisements. Did you have to adjust the game at all to account for this?

Yes, it was our initial decision that with IAP and ads removal we would like to maintain all game mechanics and gameplay systems and balance them accordingly. Through eight years of continued support Asphalt 8: Airborne received more than 40 updates, each introducing new vehicles as well as different features – big and small ones. We really wanted to properly inherit all those additions and build the game of the same scale on top of the premium-oriented subscription model which Apple Arcade platform provides us with.

The Action Phase – the behaviour of the cars and all the things you are doing during the race – remained untouched. But we’ve adjusted the way you progress through the game, unlock the cars and upgrade them. One of the crucial changes we’ve made was dropping Tokens and Fusion Coins from the in-game economy loop. Since those two types of currencies are the part of free-to-play basis of Asphalt 8: Airborne they were not fitting Asphalt 8: Airborne+ in any way.

Is there anything new in the Asphalt 8: Airborne+? Would there be a reason for long-time players to switch to playing the Apple Arcade version?

Overall in-game progression has been completely revamped. It doesn’t mean we’ve adjusted the way how MAX or PRO upgrades work but rather re-arranged the whole unlocks logic for the content available in the game and to make the introduction of different gameplay modes as smooth as possible.

For example, the Achievements List was transformed into Racer Path progression board which reflects the progress you do on different aspects of the game with special rewards you get for each milestone achievement.

Also, long-time Asphalt 8: Airborne players know that the big chunk of the vehicles available in the game could not be obtained without direct participation in different time-limited activities and periodical timed activations. In Asphalt 8: Airborne+ all 230+ vehicles are there for you to unlock, obtain and upgrade. Making it only a matter of your gameplay involvement and in-game activity.

We really hope that Asphalt 8:Airborne+ would become the best racing arcade game on Apple Arcade platform for the newcomers as well as for the players who already experienced Asphalt 8: Airborne at some point in the past.

Will you continue to bring new updates and events to the existing version of the game? And will these changes then make their way into the Apple Arcade version?

We have pretty ambitious plans for both versions of Asphalt 8.

As I’ve mentioned, Asphalt 8: Airborne will be celebrating its 8th Anniversary this fall and we will be bringing one of the biggest and surprising updates we have ever worked on. So stay tuned for the next Asphalt 8: Airborne update!

Asphalt 8: Airborne+ is going to get new updates as well. Just note that due to the in-game economy differences any new addition requires proper adaptation for the needs of Asphalt 8: Airborne+.

You know, it’s like building two houses from the similar materials but following different architectural designs – you use same bricks and pieces but put them in a completely different manner and places. This is just to make sure that both approaches would be fitting well with the chosen direction.

We are making sure that we have long-term updates roadmap for both games.

Have subscription services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass changed your approach to creating games at Gameloft? Or do you view it as an additional avenue?

It is always interesting to see how gaming platforms evolve. We are really happy to develop the game for such great service as Apple Arcade. It really feels like with Asphalt 8: Airborne+ we are getting back to roots of the project – which was initially released as a fully premium game and gradually changed toward the freemium model – now coming to a subscription platform. In general, we usually look into new opportunities to bring more exciting and fun games to play.

With Apple being a fantastic partner to provide us with such awesome opportunities as giving players a new way to join and explore Asphalt 8: Airborne+, we did our best to deliver an iconic and nitrous racing experience the Asphalt brand is famous for.

Do you worry about discovery on a service with 100 plus games? Or do you find it's more you're competing for player's time with other racers in the Apple Arcade library?

Well, we are keeping an eye on all the racing games that are being released on both mobile and console markets. Every time we play a new arcade racing game it feels that Asphalt 8: Airborne still has its own flavour, such as how the physics of the vehicle, aerial tricks and constant nitro pushing through the tracks’ short-cuts work, create a pretty unique driving experience in the end. The game has its own voice and I truly believe that this voice stands apart among many others.

Plus we have a huge catalogue of licensed real-life cars and bikes available in the game. In other words, your own garage of posh vehicles is available on your device. With more cars to come in the future updates!

It is an honour to be a part of the Arcade Greats portfolio and I really hope that Asphalt 8: Airborne+ takes its special place in the hearts of all racing enthusiasts on the Apple Arcade platform.

Asphalt 8: Airborne+ will arrive on Apple Arcade soon. It is a subscription service that costs $4.99 per month. For more information on other games available in its extensive library, check out our dedicated hub page.

Interested to know what others games are available on Apple Arcade? Check out our definitive list of everything you can play right now