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Rockfish CEO interview: Jumping from freemium to premium

The development team behind Everspace made the leap from mobile games to consoles and PC. We speak with the Rockfish CEO about the team's approach to building games.


Navigating a crowded marketplace is always a concern for indie developers. Thanks to a resurgence in popularity over the last decade, indie gaming is bigger than at any time in video game history. With millions of potential dollars on the table, there are thousands of developers offering software in an attempt to get a piece of the pie for themselves. The team at Rockfish Games made an attempt at a free-to-play game on mobile, but met little success. The developers re-grouped and released Everspace on Steam and consoles in 2017 to critical and commercial success.

During Reboot Develop Blue in Croatia last week, the Shacknews Video Team got the opportunity to speak with Rockfish CEO Michael Schade and get the details on the team’s pivot into PC and consoles as well as some teases about the company’s upcoming software.

Rockfish established loads of buzz with space game aficionados with the release of Everspace. The game offered lots of action and space simulation satisfaction with roguelike elements sprinkled in. Despite its indie origins, the game had a visual presentation that was indistinguishable from the expectations of a AAA publisher-backed project. The game went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies on the Steam platform as well as on the consoles and Nintendo Switch.

During the interview, Schade explained how the vision that their team had for the project was often at odds with the realities of free-to-play game economics. The focus on a single-player action experience does not lend itself to the microtransaction-heavy monetization that rules the mobile landscape. Once the project moved away from mobile devices and embraced the strengths of consoles and PC, it began to resemble the team’s original ambitions.

Schade also touches on how Twitch streaming helped get the game in front of new audiences while also teasing Rockfish’s follow-up title, which he implied will be larger in scope than Everspace.

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Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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