Fruit Ninja maker Halfbrick is going all-in on subscriptions


Halfbrick is pivoting out of free to play and into the subscriptions business, CEO Shainiel Deo has told us.

The Australian studio has been making games for 20 years, and has scored some of mobile’s biggest ever hits with Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. But as the business shifted to free to play, Deo says that the model was never a natural fit for the studio.

“Making great premium games was what inspired us to become developers in the first place,” he tells us. “We’re a studio made up of passionate gamers, so even though we tried our hand at free to play games, it’s just not in our DNA. Halfbrick+ is a way for us to get back to what we love, and what we do best – high-quality, super-fun, premium games.”

The new Halfbrick+ app is now live on Google Play, and is coming to iOS soon. Subscribers can access all of the studio’s past games free of ads and IAPs, and the app will also host ‘early access’ type projects and prototypes. The studio’s existing titles will continue to be available on iOS and Android as free to play games, but really the goal is to move players over to a subscription.

“This is all-in for us,” Deo continues. “We started releasing the games for Halfbrick+ in July, and we’re releasing new games every month. We’re learning and growing as we go, but the whole studio is committed to Halfbrick+ for our players and for the long term. It’s a really exciting new chapter for Halfbrick.”

Halfbrick’s pivot comes as many mobile studios face up to a much tougher discovery and marketing environment, though Deo tells us Halfbrick has been fortunate to have several huge organic hit games.

“UA has never been a big part of our marketing strategy, with organic downloads driving the majority of our installs,” he says. “Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride and Dan the Man – they’ve been enduring successes for us. We’ve also created a lot of other titles that we’ve loved – and our players have loved – so this is a way for us to bring back those games and aggregate all of that value for the players. For us as developers, it means that we don’t have to focus on every single game paying its own way.”

The Australian firm is looking outside of mobile as it turns the page on this new chapter too. “Cross-platform for Halfbrick+ is definitely in our plans,” adds Deo. “We’ve got great games across different platforms that we’d love to bring to the service. Players have also been crying out to see some of our classic games on non-mobile platforms, and we have plans to port these games across soon. In addition to these, we’re super excited to bring new titles to other platforms in the future – stay tuned.”

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