Czech developer Madfinger Games has always prided itself on doing things a little differently.
Starting with its hack 'n' slash Samurai series, the studio quickly established itself as one that was keen to raise the bar on mobile - both visually, and in terms of gameplay complexity.
In 2011, it turned its attention to the shooting genre with the Gears of War-inspired Shadowgun, which boasted near console-quality visuals and proved to be very successful.
And now, with Destiny-esque persistent-world shooter Shadowgun Legends scheduled for 2017, it's a franchise that's been with Madfinger through a number of transitions in the mobile game market.
The right mix
“When we did Shadowgun, all of mobile was around premium games,” reflects Madfinger CEO Marek Rabas at White Nights Prague.
“Then we tried multiplayer [with Shadowgun Deadzone] and now we're mixing it all together.”
Indeed, Rabas tells PocketGamer.biz that ever since the launch of Shadowgun Deadzone in late 2012, Madfinger has been “always thinking how to mix single player and multiplayer experiences.”
The result is that a full single player campaign and multiplayer missions are accessed from, and played in, the same game world - a novel idea for a mobile game.
Out on its own
“Everybody is trying to copy success stories,” says Rabas of the wider mobile game development landscape in 2017.
I don't like this 'midcore' name. I don't understand what it is.Marek Rabas
And the push towards midcore, as a developer who's been focused on core mobile gaming from the start, has him similarly unconvinced.
“I don't like this 'midcore' name,” he says. “I don't understand what it is.”
Instead, Madfinger is ploughing its own furrow to make Shadowgun Legends an experience - still very much in the core camp - that hasn't been seen before.
What Rabas calls its “secret sauce” is “mostly about the metagame and social stuff inside the game."
“It's about mixing the genres,” he goes on. “If you look at Destiny, they are mixing a lot of stuff. There are a lot of free-to-play elements.”
Engagement first, money later
But unlike other genres on mobile, no developer has yet set the blueprint - like Supercell with strategy - for how shooting games should monetise.
For Rabas, it's an opportunity to experiment.
“We're trying something different for the monetisation, because we think that FPS games could monetise well,” he considers.
“You can see it from RPGs, or even in China where FPS games are making a lot of money.”
While the full extent of the monetisation strategy is yet to be revealed, Rabas explains that his first priority is to get players engaged enough that they are playing for long periods every day.
“When people are playing more games, they are willing to spend more money,” he states.
“There will not be any typical mobile stuff like timers, energy bars or whatever. We will do it completely differently.”
In the staid world of mobile free-to-play, it's a tantalising prospect.