Fishlabs on why its approach to F2P games will be different from everyone else's

The galaxy is expanding...

Fishlabs on why its approach to F2P games will be different from everyone else's

Over the past decade, Hamburg-based studio Fishlabs has become renowned for pushing the mobile gaming boundaries.

Starting off in the Java era with graphically groundbreaking titles like Snowboard Hero, the German outfit is most recently recognisable for creating the huge virtual smartphone sandbox that is Galaxy on Fire (GoF).

I sat down with Michael Schade, CEO of Fishlabs, just a few days prior to the launch of Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD on Steam to talk about the company's plans for the future, and to ask the question that's on all GoF fans' lips: where's Galaxy on Fire 3?


The reason for the continued absence of a true-blown sequel to GoF 2 is actually a lot more complex than I first thought.

According to Schade, the code being used to run one of the most impressive-looking titles on the App Store is actually still based firmly on the original Java version - in fact, the engine takes up only 1.5MB of the download size.

While it is possible to build upon this codebase further still, Schade believes that the series "needs to have multiplayer" in the future - and this just isn't possible with the way the software is currently coded.

According to Schade, it'll take at least two years to create the next game with a new engine, so the team is instead planning to launch a few spin-off entries at the end of the year that focus on "key game mechanics" that could feature in GoF 3.

Ah, yes: GoF 3. While Schade is naturally unwilling to talk too much about a game that's not been officially confirmed yet, he tells me that Fishlabs will be watching how well these end-of-year spin-off titles fare. This research will then influence the production and design of GoF 3.


One thing that seems certain regarding future releases, though, is the business model Fishlabs will be using.

Once a staunch supporter of premium games, Schade tells me it was "plain stupid" to ignore freemium and F2P, and that developers "ignoring a business model that is flexible will go out of business".

Hold the pitchforks, mind, for Fishlabs isn't making this move lightly. In fact, Schade calls it "the next big transition for the company".

Instead of taking its cues from the endless farming social games, Fishlabs will be once again looking to the PC for inspiration.

Schade states that Turbine games like Lord of the Rings Online (of which he was a paid subscriber before it changed) is the F2P model Fishlabs is looking to emulate, not the games that, in his words, "give a bad experience of F2P".

Double agent?

In fact, Schade tells me he used to be very "anti-freemium" on account of his love for epic role-playing and adventure games on PC, but that Turbine's efforts have really helped persuade him there is still a way of keeping the gameplay intact within the F2P business model.

Given the company's history as one of the most dedicated defenders of premium games on the App Store, I wouldn't bet against it finding that sweet spot between the two camps.

Galaxy on Fire 2 - Supernova will be hitting iOS in September.