In this interview, Ben Lee, one of the creators of Phantom Galaxies, talked about this project and how blockchain technology was inserted into it. As well as giving some interesting information about his background and how Blowfish Studios came to be.
Phantom Galaxies is a game that combines open-world space sim with fast-paced mech shooter. It is currently in Early Access, but the development team already has a roadmap for the release of the various contents in the coming months.
Q: Can you discuss Blowfish Studios’ journey since its inception 13 years ago, before being acquired by Animoca Brands?
A: We started with the advent of iOS and the App Store, which democratized game distribution. Initially, we built games for iOS apps, like our first successful puzzle game. This opportunity allowed us to self-publish, bypassing traditional barriers. Siegecraft, launched in 2011, was a significant milestone, reaching number one globally. The industry’s evolution, with digital distribution becoming dominant and new business models like free-to-play, has shaped our journey.
Q: As co-founder, what roles have you played in Blowfish Studios?
A: My focus was on managing the business, engineering and game design. I collaborated closely with a visual effects artist. We’ve grown significantly, now encompassing a diverse team. My current role is less hands-on in programming, but I remain deeply involved in design decisions.
Q: How has Blowfish Studios evolved as a developer and publisher?
A: Apart from developing our own games, we’ve been publishing third-party games for about five years. Our approach to publishing varies based on the game’s potential and budget constraints. Currently, due to our focus on Phantom Galaxies, we’re not taking new projects but continue to release titles from our backlog.
Q: Let’s talk about Phantom Galaxies. What inspired its creation, and what can players expect?
A: Phantom Galaxies is a combination of space exploration, mechs, and spacecraft. Players can engage in solo or cooperative multiplayer missions, emphasizing social interaction and strategy. The game supports both co-op and PvP modes, offering a diverse gameplay experience. Our goal is to create a game that stands on its own, independent of its Web3 or crypto aspects.
Q: What are the unique features of Phantom Galaxies in terms of gameplay and digital assets?
A: The game includes player-owned planets and customizable buildings, which are part of our broader vision of digital collectibles and asset ownership. We’re currently in early access, focusing on expanding content, introducing new game modes, and enhancing player experience. Our roadmap includes tournaments, guild-based PvP, and player-run organizations.
Q: Regarding the early access phase, what does it entail for Phantom Galaxies?
A: Early access is a critical phase where we integrate on-chain items, expand multiplayer experiences, and test digital asset functionalities. We anticipate being in this phase for at least 12 months, continuously adding new content and features based on player feedback and our development roadmap.
Q: How do you approach the integration of blockchain technology and digital assets in Phantom Galaxies?
A: We aim to make the transition to digital asset ownership seamless for players. Our version on Steam is devoid of Web3 integrations, catering to players who prefer traditional gaming. For those interested in Web3, we provide extensive support and educational resources to ease their transition. Our backend systems are designed to simplify the creation and management of digital wallets and assets.
Q: Is Phantom Galaxies free to play, and what’s your strategy regarding user acquisition and marketing?
A: Yes, Phantom Galaxies is free to play. Our marketing strategy is tailored to both Web3 and traditional gaming audiences. We leverage a combination of influencer marketing, paid advertising, and platform promotions. Our experience in the gaming industry guides our approach to engaging and retaining players.
Q: Could you elaborate on the challenges and opportunities in paid advertising for games?
A: The landscape of paid advertising has shifted significantly, particularly with privacy changes affecting targeted advertising. This requires a more holistic approach, combining traditional advertising with influencer marketing and platform promotion. Success in this area is increasingly dependent on creating compelling, word-of-mouth experiences.
Q: As for Animoca Brands, how do they fit into the broader picture of game development and publishing?
A: Animoca operates as a comprehensive entity in the gaming sector, moving towards a more pronounced publishing role. Their support and expertise, especially in Web3 gaming, are invaluable. We collaborate closely, especially in areas like tokenomics and blockchain integration.
Q: How do you perceive the current state of the crypto and NFT market, particularly in relation to Phantom Galaxies?
A: The market is experiencing a transitional phase, with regulatory changes and a shift in public perception. We’re observing these trends closely, as they have direct implications for Web3 gaming. Our approach is to focus on creating quality gaming experiences that transcend the current hype around NFTs and crypto.
Q: Could you touch upon the concept of DAOs and their relevance to Phantom Galaxies?
A: DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, represent a new organizational structure enabled by blockchain technology. While Phantom Galaxies doesn’t currently involve DAOs, there’s potential for future integration. Understanding and managing DAOs in the context of game development is an ongoing learning process for us.
Q: Moving on to the specifics of your game development process, can you share insights into the technologies and platforms you’ve utilized over the years?
A: We started with Unity for our initial mobile games, but for Phantom Galaxies, we’ve transitioned to Unreal Engine. Our team is proficient in both Unity and Unreal, as well as web browser technologies. I have a personal background in programming. However, as the studio has grown, my involvement in hands-on programming has lessened, focusing more on overall strategy and direction.
Q: Considering the scale of Blowfish Studios now, can you talk about the team’s size and structure?
A: From our humble beginnings with just two people, we’ve grown significantly. A year ago, we were about 120 people internally, but we’ve since adjusted our size in response to ongoing industry changes. Our team is diverse, encompassing various skill sets required for both traditional and Web3 game development.
Q: Blowfish Studios has a unique position as both a developer and a publisher. Can you elaborate on how you manage these dual roles, especially when dealing with third-party developers?
A: As a publisher, we carefully assess the sales potential and investment requirements of games from third-party developers. Our decision to publish a game is based on a balance of its potential success and our available resources. Currently, our primary focus is on Phantom Galaxies, but we still have a pipeline of third-party games that we are releasing.
Q: With the gaming industry being highly competitive, how does Blowfish Studios stay ahead of the curve, especially in terms of innovation and market trends?
A: Staying ahead in the gaming industry requires constant vigilance of market trends and technological advancements. Our foray into Web3 gaming is a testament to our commitment to innovation. We’re continually exploring new genres and technologies, ensuring our games remain relevant and appealing to a wide audience.
Q: Regarding Phantom Galaxies, can you delve deeper into the gameplay experience, especially the aspects of space exploration and mech combat?
A: Phantom Galaxies combines the thrill of space exploration with intense mech combat. Players pilot starfighters, capable of transforming into mechs, and embark on missions either solo or with others. The game offers a dynamic experience, allowing players to explore vast universes, engage in strategic battles, and participate in cooperative or competitive missions.
Q: What future developments can players expect in Phantom Galaxies, particularly in terms of content and features?
A: Our roadmap for Phantom Galaxies includes a plethora of new content and features. Players can look forward to expanded storyline missions, new playable races, and diverse game modes. We also plan to introduce more interactive elements like planet ownership, where players can control and customize their celestial territories.
Q: How does Blowfish Studios approach the balance between making a game enjoyable and integrating blockchain and Web3 elements?
A: Our primary focus is always on creating an enjoyable and engaging game. The integration of blockchain and Web3 elements is secondary, designed to enhance the overall experience without overshadowing the core gameplay. We strive to create a seamless blend where these technologies complement the gaming experience rather than dominate it.
Q: In the broader context of the gaming industry, how do you see the role of indie game developers evolving, and what advice would you offer to aspiring developers?
A: Indie game developers play a crucial role in the industry, often driving innovation and creative storytelling. My advice to aspiring developers is to stay true to their creative vision, continuously learn, and be adaptable to the changing dynamics of the industry. Success in game development often comes from a blend of passion, persistence, and adaptability to market needs.
Q: Lastly, can you share your thoughts on the future of gaming, particularly in relation to emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI?
A: The future of gaming is incredibly exciting, with technologies like VR, AR, and AI opening up new possibilities for immersive experiences. We’re closely monitoring these developments and exploring how they can be integrated into our future projects. The key will be to use these technologies in ways that enhance gameplay and storytelling, providing players with unique and memorable experiences.