Fieldrunners was a first for iOS. Not the first tower defense game, but the first with amazing animation and variety in game play to really draw players in. Released in October, 2008, just three months after the App Store launch, it quickly gained a following.

It took a while, but the follow up, Fieldrunners 2 was released in 2012 and grossed over $1M in the first five weeks it was available. We talk with Jamie Gotch about the App Store, Subatomic Studios, and more.

148Apps: How has the App Store changed your professional life?

Jamie Gotch, CEO & Co-founder at Subatomic Studios: The App Store has made a significant impact on the game industry and the way in which game makers approach development.  Prior to the launch of the App Store, it was very hard for a game developer to make a living creating a game that didn’t follow a particular formula, as publishers were generally not interested in distributing unproven game ideas.  The App Store changed all of that by removing most of these strict requirements.  

148Apps: Fieldrunners really took the App Store by storm when it first came out. Did the response surprise you?

Jamie Gotch: Definitely!  We never expected such an overwhelmingly positive response!  When we first set out to build Fieldrunners, we had some very ambitious goals, all of which focused on building a high-quality tower defense experience.  But some things like gameplay are very difficult to quantify before you getting the game into the players’ hands.  Thankfully, all of our hard work paid off and the players really enjoyed what we built!  And after launch, it was the fans that helped to keep the game alive.  They inspired us to continue to build new content and to grow the game into what it is today!

148Apps: In the five years since launch, the App Store has gone through considerable changes. The number of users has skyrocketed along with downloads, prices for paid apps has stabilized way lower than many expected, free to play has dominated the top grossing charts. If, knowing what you know about the App Store now, you could go back and influence your path five years ago, what would you say?

Jamie Gotch: If I could go back five years, I would tell myself to throw out all assumptions of what I as a hardcore gamer and a traditional developer think a game is, and to really think hard into what a mobile user really would want in a game.  In the past few years developing mobile games, I have learned that the majority of mobile gamers want games that they can play in small bursts of time, are asynchronous so they can play with others but only when they find the time to do so, and have little to no learning curve.

148Apps: What have you seen on the App Store, outside of apps you are associated with, that has surprised you most?

Jamie Gotch: I am surprised by the number of people that would rather pay to win a game than play through the game as the designers had intended.  Many people, more than I would ever have imagined, just want to experience everything the game has to offer but not invest the time required to do so.

148Apps: Any predictions for what the App Store will be like five years from now?

Jamie Gotch: As the number of apps available for users to choose from nears 1 million, app discovery is  becoming even more difficult.  Eventually, however, the number of apps will begin to exceed even the best methods of discovery, forcing developers to build higher quality products in order to stand out and compete with the rest of the market.  The saturation of the market will make it more difficult for indie developers to enter, and the market will shift more towards a traditional publishing model that is seen in PC and console development today.

Many thanks to Jamie Gotch for his time. You can check out all of the games from Subatomic Studios on the App Store.

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