After a relatively quiet year at Halfbrick Studios, developer of wildly popular games Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, the Brisbane-based game maker says it plans to release as many as eight new titles in 2013.
Halfbrick spent last year developing ports of its hit games, bringing Jetpack Joyride to PlayStation Network and Fruit Ninja to Windows 8, and releasing a series of DLC packs. It's also been developing its internal technology to adapt to the ever-changing free-to-play market, says Phil Larsen, the studio's chief marketing officer.
The studio has also been developing all-new games, Larsen says. Halfbrick plans to reveal some of those soon, perhaps at this month's Game Developers Conference.
"We are in a fortunate position," Larsen said in an interview with Polygon, explaining Halfbrick's quiet year. "If we don't think a game is ready, we don't have a publisher breathing down our necks. We don't have investors who say 'Your money's running out.' We can do whatever we want.
"It can be a blessing and a curse."
"The longer we take, the more the mobile industry changes. It's a completely different beast from the way it was a year ago," Larsen said, explaining that Haflbrick's in-development games "need to be current" with the business when they ultimately release.
Larsen predicts further evolution of the free-to-play model and in-app purchase behavior, which he said does "okay" for Fruit Ninja and "really well" for Jetpack Joyride.
Also doing really well is Jetpack Joyride's PSN port, which has surpassed one million downloads since November.
For Halfbrick's new, unannounced games, Larsen says the team has a huge portfolio of hundreds of game prototypes to build from. The developer occasionally holds "Halfbrick Fridays" where developer stop working on regular projects, break up into teams and "make shit," Larsen explained.
Jetpack Joyride, Larsen said, was born of experiments like that, based on an addition to iOS game Monster Dash. Larsen and the game's lead designer believed the game's machine gun jetpack could the basis for its own game, he said, and the project kicked off with a "This could be its own game" and a "Sweet, let's go make it."
"That was the one game where we were like, 'We're just going to make this quickly and release it for free,'" Larsen recalled, "but it became so good, that we kept adding more stuff.
"We spent maybe a little bit too long it, but it worked out because the game kicks ass."
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