Freeverse's Morrison on turning Warpgate from paid to freemium

Learning the new rules of App Store trade

Freeverse's Morrison on turning Warpgate from paid to freemium
Long anticipated, Freeverse's space combat and trading game Warpgate was a launch iPad game and has since been released for iPhone too.

But despite generally positive reviews, its $4.99 (iPhone) and $7.99 (iPad) price tag seems to have been a barrier to entry. Well, there are an increasing number of apps being made available for free.

So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Now Warpgate is available as a free download with open access to the main story up to the Delta Aquarii solar system. At that point player can continue to trade commodities and carry out procedurally generated missions, but cannot progress further plot-wise without paying.

We caught up with senior producer Bruce Morrison to find out more about the change of direction.

Pocket Gamer: Why have you decided to change the business model for Warpgate?

Free is definitely the buzzword for games at the moment, and we wanted to help Warpgate get more exposure and to get it into the hands of players who might be tempted but want to try out the gameplay first.

How much time will people have playing before they have to spend any money?

In regards to the main questline, it's about two to three hours. But there are side missions and procedurally generated missions that players could play forever.

What plans you do have to update the game?

We've already put out two major updates. The first added more depth to the combat system, the second added Plus+ saving allowing you to play the game on multiple devices, while the newest iPad update lets you play on your iPhone and continue on iPad.

And we're looking into further ways to expand the game.

Can you explain the thinking that the free version only enables you to save games to Plus+, not download them?

You can't download saves for three reasons.

1. Not all of the game world exists inside the free one version. Say you accidentally download your save game from Warpgate into Warpgate Free. That would reference content that does not exist.

2. To prevent people from account sharing.

3. To keep the game from crashing if someone tried to load a save that referenced content that did not exist.

With the App Store changing so fast, in retrospect, do you think it would have been better not to have delayed the iPhone version of Warpgate for the iPad?

While Warpgate for iPhone did get delayed, it wasn't by more than a few days. We were actively working on it right up to the end. The fact that it launched right around the iPad was just lucky timing for us.

If the iPad hadn't existed, Warpgate might have come out a week or two sooner, but that's it. And if it wasn't for the iPad, a few late in the game features would not have made it to the iPhone (such as glowmaps on the starships).

Thanks to Bruce for his time.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.