Why NetEase believes Frostpunk is different to every other game on the market

NetEase producer Chao Luo on bringing the PC giant to mobile

Why NetEase believes Frostpunk is different to every other game on the market

The process of creating a game is difficult, long, and stressful.

No matter the size of the game or how long it ultimately takes to make, each new title involves a lot of hard work, tough decisions, and a little bit of luck before it even gets out the door and onto devices.

And that's only the first step to making the title succeed.

To highlight the extensive work that goes unseen in the background, is reaching out to developers to learn more about the process of releasing a video game, with our 'Making Of' series.

This week, we spoke with NetEase producer Chao Luo about the development and launch of Frostpunk: Rise of the City, a new mobile adaption of the popular PC title Frostpunk. Can you start off by telling us about Frostpunk: Rise of City?

Chao Luo: This is a post-apocalyptic and "Frostpunk-themed" city simulation game. It depicts the story of the player (captain), who leads his people to survive and build their last home. For the first time on the mobile platform, the game has replicated the true aspects of snow - including its volume, texture, thaw, weather, disasters effects and so on.

All of these great designs have not been available to the mobile platform before...
Chao Luo

For gameplay, in addition to retaining the original law and research game systems, we have also optimised the exploration system and the humanity storyline. On top of that, we have added new ways to interact with the environment such as saving endangered species (which are currently extinct) during the exploration.

In terms of gaming experience, we are proud to say that we are different from all other games currently in the market. There are many game modes that we have uniquely designed to provide players with a brand new experience.

Where did the initial idea for the game come from?

We really love the Frostpunk experience. Aside from the eye-catching ice and punk style, adding in moral decisions and unique laws to govern the city is an intriguing notion. All of these great designs have not been available to the mobile platform and therefore we really hope to bring this great experience to our mobile users.

How long did development take, and how many people worked on the game?

We officially started the project in July 2020, and the team now has more than 60 members who are all dedicated to perfecting the game.

Frostpunk: Rise of the City will launch on iOS before arriving on Android at a later date.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during development?

We had two major ones actually: one being technical, the other being the gameplay. On the technical side, the biggest challenge for us is to figure out how to make sure a game with such great effects could run on a mobile device.

We went through tons of optimisations and iterations to make sure that the game would be compatible with Android devices produced after 2015. This was extremely hard to do, but according to our latest internal tests, we think we’ve nailed it.

We went through tons of optimisations and iterations to make sure that the game would be compatible with Android devices...
Chao Luo

For the gameplay aspects, we want more players to experience and have fun with the game and so we’ve chosen to go with a free-to-play model. But to provide players with a more exciting and fulfilling gaming experience, we must dig deeper and expand further into our systems - making it enjoyable for players in the long run.

This is a great challenge. Questions like, how to improve the system so it is more fun? How to make sure that the gaming experience is smooth on a mobile device? How to continuously reward players with the sense of achievement etc. These are the things we are currently working on.

At what stage in development did you feel you had a game that you were happy with?

We hope by the time of the alpha test we can have a product that the team is happy with.

Who do you find to be the game's main audience?

We hope that users who enjoy single-player games, strategy games, simulation games, fans of post-apocalyptic survival and fans of Frostpunk can experience our game. We are also making sure that the game is enjoyable regardless of the intended audience, so we welcome everyone to come and give it a try.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted development in any way?

COVID-19 had a big impact for sure. There was a period when everyone worked from home, and it had impacted our efficiency greatly. A lot of testing and iterations were delayed because we didn’t have the lab environment to test them. Even currently, we are having crew members working from home.

How are you approaching live ops?

We will keep optimising the existing gameplay and expect to update two to three brand new gameplay annually in the future for the live ops.

Can you provide any download or financial data about the series as a whole? Any DAUs or other stats?

With the free-to-play model, we are conservatively expecting to bring in at least 10 million or more downloads.

What can you tell us about your future projects?

We are currently focusing on making this game available to all players as soon as possible.

Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.