Interview: BreakQuest: Extra Evolution Developer on Braving the Free-to-Play Frontier
Posted by Sammy Barker
We loved BreakQuest: Extra Evolution in its initial guise. The colourful Arkanoid-esque excursion earned a respectable 9/10 in our PlayStation Minis review, and now it’s smashing back into the spotlight courtesy of a spangly new PlayStation Vita port. But rather than adopt the same model as its predecessor, Ukrainian developer Beatshapers is aiming to experiment with a free-to-play format.
As confirmed earlier in the week, when the title launches on 13th August in North America, you’ll be able to download the full client for free. However, the initial download will only include 33 balls, and you’ll need to pay extra to replenish your spherical resources in 100, 200, 500, and infinite increments. We caught up with studio gaffer Alexey Menshikov to chat about the change.
Push Square: BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is technically already playable on the Vita via PlayStation Minis. What made you want to re-release it?
Alexey Menshikov: Unfortunately, the PlayStation Minis sales significantly declined after the Vita’s release. That was predictable, as the audience moved on and wanted better graphics. But we released the PlayStation Minis version too late, and the sales didn’t meet our expectations, so we decided to release the game natively on the new handheld.
PS: What improvements have you made to the revamp?
AM: We’ve redrawn most of the graphics to native Vita resolution, changed the interface for some levels, made better particle effects – with the same guy who did the particle effects for StarDrone Extreme – added more shuttles with bonuses, and incorporated higher quality music. Every level has its own scoreboard and global scoreboard now, too – plus we have 13 shiny Trophies.
PS: Why did you decide to go free-to-play? What would you say to people who may be disappointed by that decision?
AM: We were very careful with free-to-play – we’re currently having big debates about [recently announced Vita title] ZRun regarding this, and we are still talking about it. But as for BreakQuest, we felt that the mechanics were very close to classic pinball, and thought that it would work.
A couple of years ago at the London Games Conference, I listened to the CEO at BigPoint talk about the model, and I really liked the idea. Your game can appeal to people with $1 to $100. As long as you don’t demand money with frustration loops, it makes the game available to all players with all budgets.
So, if you like the game and you want to support us on our future titles, there’s a full unlock DLC for a single purchase. For those who want to try the game don’t but want to spend a lot of money, you can beat the title 100 per cent with the 33 free balls and an extra 100. There is no pay-to-win or anything like that. I think we made a compromise for all players. It’s not real free-to-play – it’s freemium.
PS: You’re also working on a second Vita game, VRun. How are you finding Vita development?
AM: We actually have four Vita titles in the pipeline: three ports and one of our own IPs, which will be cross-platform compatible with the PS3. We’ll have more to announce by the end of the year. But on the subject of Vita development, we totally love it. The tools, the system performance – everything is great.
For ZRun in particular, we’re really pushing the system to its limits, with 50 animated zombies on the screen at once. That’s quite CPU hungry, but currently the console can handle it. We’ll be taking both BreakQuest: Extra Evolution and ZRun to the Casual Connect US Indie Showcase next week.
PS: We understand that you also have a PlayStation 4 title in the pipeline. What can you tell us about it, and when can we find out more?
AM: Yes, we have a PS4 launch window title in production, but it’s too early to talk about it. We’ll probably announce something around September or October time.
PS: Thanks for catching up with us, Alexey.
AM: No problem.
Are you looking forward to bashing some blocks in BreakQuest: Extra Evolution, or has the free-to-play model put you off? Let us know in the comments section below.