What a year for FISHLABS! All of our mobile games were showered with awards. German and international online magazines gave top marks by the score to Powerboat Challenge™, Rally Master Pro™, Gladiator – The Mobile Game, and Snowboard Hero™. As a result, FISHLABS led the international charts for the best mobile games in 2008. Not bad for a small company with just 30 employees. Naturally, we were tremendously pleased with all of this recognition and are very proud of it.[full]
Unfortunately, none of this guarantees that high quality and innovation will earn back the expenses of the costly production of such mobile games on the open market, to say nothing of making a profit – the purpose of every professional company. There are a number of diverse reasons for this:
- Even high-quality mobile games are offered at a relatively low price
- Mobile network operators keep at least 50 % of the revenue
- Distributors help themselves to up to 25 % of the end-user price for the more or less simple task of passing on the mobile game
- Mobile games are marketed like ring tones – the name of a mobile game is the only distinguishing feature, the customer only learns about quality and innovation after the purchase
- There is no effective copy protection for mobile games. They are downloaded illegally over the Internet in huge numbers – there are roughly ten times as many illegal downloads of our mobile games as legal (and that is just those that we are aware of)
All of this would not be so serious if these problems had not been known for years. Unfortunately, almost nothing has changed in this regard, and we do not expect there to be fundamental changes in the market for mobile games in the future. Mind you, by this we only mean the market for mobile games which are sold by network operators and Internet portals.
New sales channels for mobile games
In 2009, FISHLABS will rigorously pursue other methods. Above all, we will, for the time being, not develop any new Java mobile games for sale via network operators and Internet portals.
With the long-awaited sequel to our best-known mobile game, the space shooter and trade simulator Galaxy on Fire™, we will rely entirely on the new marketing concept which we successfully introduced with Rally Master Pro™: Galaxy on Fire™ 2 will be available for free download directly from our website and a few selected partners. Anyone who wants to can download the game to their PC to save the mobile transmission costs. In any case, Galaxy on Fire™ 2 can be played for a few hours (!) absolutely free. Only in the later course of the game must the game be unlocked for 100,000 myFISHLABS credits. In western countries, the purchase of a myFISHLABS Credits Gold Package for 5.97 Euros is enough for this. We have also taken great care that myFISHLABS Credits are priced lower in emerging markets in accordance with their purchasing power and that the most important payment systems of each country are available.
Copy protection for mobile games with extra benefits
In order to adequately protect Galaxy on Fire™ 2 against piracy after the free playing period, the mobile game uses an online connection to our OCEAN™ server to check whether the individual player is authorised to use the paid premium area of Galaxy on Fire™ 2. This check occurs only once per game session and the one-time 10 KB data transfer is minimal, in order to keep the cost to the player as low as possible. The game security data are kept in the phone’s memory until the game is ended. Thus, Galaxy on Fire™ 2 will even work in the underground, so long as there has been a brief connection to the OCEAN™ server beforehand.
Of course, honest users consider copy protection to be an imposition. Why should honest buyers have to accept difficulties or even extra costs for a product they have paid for in full? The answer is simple: because this product and other like it in the future will not exist if it is too easy to obtain a free (illegal) version and the manufacturer cannot make a profit from their product.
But our copy protection also has its good side: above all, download fees do not apply. Depending on the mobile phone contract, that could be up to 15 Euros for a large mobile game like Galaxy on Fire™ 2. Furthermore, we offer up to two cross upgrades. Thus, players can start playing Galaxy on Fire™ 2 on one mobile and keep playing even after changing to another model from a different manufacturer (!) for the second time. The saved games are stored on the OCEAN™ server with every authorisation and loaded as needed. Even without changing mobiles, this is a useful function, for example when your mobile receives a firmware update. And at the same time, all premium players are entered in the international high scores table.
We can’t wait to see how Galaxy on Fire™ 2 and the new sales concept are received in the market. Even if data flat rates have not yet been widely established and we will probably lose some users in the short-term, online connectivity in mobile games is the future and FISHLABS is always one of the leaders!
With that in mind, game on and a successful 2009!