As a followup to yesterday's inteview with ngmoco CEO Neil Young, this morning we spoke with Freeverse President Ian Lynch Smith to hear what the recent purchase of Freeverse by ngmoco means to them. The full audio is attached below, but here is a summary of the talk.

Originally founded in 1994, Freeverse's earliest titles were Mac shareware games. They later branched out in to games for Windows, XBOX Live Arcade, and most recently the iPhone. Freeverse's MotoChaser was one of the few 3D games that launched with the App Store. Also immediately available were Big Bang Sudoku and Jared. They then went on to release a catalog of great iPhone games, both developed in house and and by outside developers published by Freeverse.


Photo by Crain's New York Business

Since the surprise announcement yesterday of ngmoco's purchase of Freeverse, what we've all been wondering is what is going to change. Ngmoco has recently shifted gears to an entirely free to play business model, while Freeverse has been happily releasing massively successful 99¢ games like Skee-Ball and Flick Fishing while working on highly anticipated games such as Warpgate.

The short answer of what is going to change initially is almost nothing, with very little changing in the future aside from the shift in payment models. According to Ian Lynch Smith, they wouldn't have done the deal if it wasn't for the shared vision between both companies, as each of them focus on the iPhone and iPhone OS. This doesn't mean they're abandoning the Mac games, applications, and everything else they do either. Freeverse will remain its own company in Brooklyn, just as a wholly owned subsidiary of ngmoco.

In addition, Freeverse will continue to publish the works of other iPhone developers, with the same level of quality and care we've seen in the past. As Smith put it, "[Ngmoco] did not buy Freeverse to make radical changes. They bought us because of our success, and they bought us because of what we've been doing right."

From Freeverse's perspective, the main motivation behind agreeing to this deal is the immense potential for growth. Through the years they've done everything they could to reach a larger audience, originally starting with shareware, then making the jump to retail shelves, then bringing their games to both the PC and XBOX, and finally jumping on the iPhone.

In regards to ngmoco's recent push to "freemium" games, Smith said, "We wouldn't have done this if we didn't think there wasn't more growth and more possibilities to reach more people in the free to play model." He cites people (now teenagers) who have grown up playing high quality free flash games as well as the massive successes seen in Asian markets as proof that the free to play model works.

Ian seems open to all forms of free to play games currently, including a one-time purchase to unlock all the features and functionality of a game-- Something often requested by forum members regarding ngmoco's TouchPets and Eliminate. Freeverse has no intention of "nickel and diming" gamers, and plans on just being smart about how these things are implemented.

While he was reluctant to comment on future game development, when asked if they were still going to provide substantial gameplay experiences for gamers to enjoy instead of Farmville-like games, Smith simply responded "Yes" and mentioned a "substantial game" being discussed behind the scenes.

Freeverse admits they have much to learn about the free to play world, but with the combined expertise of ngmoco, they hope to release compelling games that can be played at no cost to the player, while providing optional in-game purchases for players who spend hours a day playing. They're hoping this will result in games that see the same exponential growth that the iPhone in general has enjoyed, instead of the current linear growth patterns Freeverse sees now.

Prior to this recent acquisition by ngmoco, Freeverse has never had investors and has been profitable on their own for the last 15 years. According to Smith, the main motivation for agreeing to the purchase was to "swing for the fences" and feels we're at a major moment in time, an inflection point, where we're going to see an explosion of mobile gaming.

"At the end of the day, we are just trying to sell our games in a way that lets us grow and continue making more games," Smith explained.

We recommend listening to the entire interview yourself, which is included here.

Podcast music provided by Overclocked Remix.

Interview Audio: Subscribe in iTunes or Direct Download (M4A, 12.9MB)

  • MisterDrgn

    I'm sorry, but do we really need four posts on this topic? The amount of attention ngmoco gets on this site is astounding...

    • sk8erdude50

      i agree, we all get it: ngmoco bought freeverse, and now we will have more freemium games. *sigh*

      • Dee

        not to mention a post on eliminate every time a little change or update happens.

    • Adams Immersive

      People get emotional about it—so it’s news, I guess!

      I have to take a moment to mention Freeverse’s Hordes of Orcs (Mac/PC), which is the game that got me to try tower defense when I had previously taken no interest. Great game. (I’d hoped it would come to iPhone.)

      • http://www.mayblogmaynot.blogspot.com Maniacfive

        I picked up Hordes of Orcs free from Mac Heist, good game! (even if it did rip off the warcraft III art style.) Would've liked to see that on iPhone.

        Course if we see it now it'll be free, but if you want to build more than 2 defenders you gotta pay. Shame.

    • araczynski

      THIRDED!!

      i own one game between the two companies, not seeing the 'earth shattering news' here...

  • MisterDrgn

    I'm sorry, but do we really need four posts on this topic? The amount of attention ngmoco gets on this site is astounding...

    • sk8erdude50

      i agree, we all get it: ngmoco bought freeverse, and now we will have more freemium games. *sigh*

      • Dee

        not to mention a post on eliminate every time a little change or update happens.

    • Adams Immersive

      People get emotional about it—so it’s news, I guess!

      I have to take a moment to mention Freeverse’s Hordes of Orcs (Mac/PC), which is the game that got me to try tower defense when I had previously taken no interest. Great game. (I’d hoped it would come to iPhone.)

      • http://www.mayblogmaynot.blogspot.com Maniacfive

        I picked up Hordes of Orcs free from Mac Heist, good game! (even if it did rip off the warcraft III art style.) Would've liked to see that on iPhone.

        Course if we see it now it'll be free, but if you want to build more than 2 defenders you gotta pay. Shame.

    • araczynski

      THIRDED!!

      i own one game between the two companies, not seeing the 'earth shattering news' here...

  • Ben

    Cool office!

  • Ben

    Cool office!

  • Symbolist

    I am fed up with the topic.

  • John

    It's freeverse's time to share the cake. But what gives when ngmoco's easy cash gets burnt up? Freeverse will then be "free" again? It is no secret that ngmoco had been bleeding red profusely since day-one and judging from they past year's abysmal commercial performance, its just a matter of time before the dough runs out.

    • filthy

      @John

      Please stop making shit up, please provide me with any valid piece of evidence that what you are saying is true.

      • John

        Wow, did you have your head in your arse the whole time? Ngmoco can't possibly be profitable at all for the past year. Ask anyone if they are profitable. They had 15 million down the hole and now 25 more to dig a deeper one. I'm just glad the Freeverse got in on that cake before it runs out. More power to them!

  • Symbolist

    I am fed up with the topic.

  • John

    It's freeverse's time to share the cake. But what gives when ngmoco's easy cash gets burnt up? Freeverse will then be "free" again? It is no secret that ngmoco had been bleeding red profusely since day-one and judging from they past year's abysmal commercial performance, its just a matter of time before the dough runs out.

    • filthy

      @John

      Please stop making shit up, please provide me with any valid piece of evidence that what you are saying is true.

      • John

        Wow, did you have your head in your arse the whole time? Ngmoco can't possibly be profitable at all for the past year. Ask anyone if they are profitable. They had 15 million down the hole and now 25 more to dig a deeper one. I'm just glad the Freeverse got in on that cake before it runs out. More power to them!

  • filthy

    You f*cking idiots realize this is a pretty monumental event right?

    • MisterDrgn

      You know, instead of insulting people you could have taken that space to actually back up your claim.

      It's not an issue of whether or not it matters. It's an issue of whether or not we need four posts on the topic.

      • filthy

        Why does it even matter that there are 4 posts about it? How does that affect you in anyway?

      • joe

        ya, just don't read it. I found it very interesting to hear their mindset.

      • Symbolist

        Maybe his world is very very small - and all this meant a revolution to him. Everything is upside down now and he is searching for explanation or a reason to all. Those articles maybe his only guidance through this night of greed and crippled games.

      • Eli Hodapp

        For what it's worth, the original TechCrunch story was retweeted nearly 500 times. We also have had almost 150 comments across the various stories we've posted, and just as many posts on the thread in our forum. We've been linked on Daring Fireball, and cited as the source by several other blogs reporting on this event.

        Something to consider is that TouchArcade has a fairly broad audience, and to a lot of people, this is major news. Judging by the traffic these various interviews are generating, you guys are very wrong that no one cares about this.

    • Symbolist

      Yes. It will change the way the world functions. You are a very young person, I guess.

      • Greg

        "Change the way the world functions"? I hope you're sarcastic.

    • John

      The only thing i realized is that your world is pretty monumentally retarded.

  • filthy

    You f*cking idiots realize this is a pretty monumental event right?

    • MisterDrgn

      You know, instead of insulting people you could have taken that space to actually back up your claim.

      It's not an issue of whether or not it matters. It's an issue of whether or not we need four posts on the topic.

      • filthy

        Why does it even matter that there are 4 posts about it? How does that affect you in anyway?

      • joe

        ya, just don't read it. I found it very interesting to hear their mindset.

      • Symbolist

        Maybe his world is very very small - and all this meant a revolution to him. Everything is upside down now and he is searching for explanation or a reason to all. Those articles maybe his only guidance through this night of greed and crippled games.

      • Eli Hodapp

        For what it's worth, the original TechCrunch story was retweeted nearly 500 times. We also have had almost 150 comments across the various stories we've posted, and just as many posts on the thread in our forum. We've been linked on Daring Fireball, and cited as the source by several other blogs reporting on this event.

        Something to consider is that TouchArcade has a fairly broad audience, and to a lot of people, this is major news. Judging by the traffic these various interviews are generating, you guys are very wrong that no one cares about this.

    • Symbolist

      Yes. It will change the way the world functions. You are a very young person, I guess.

      • Greg

        "Change the way the world functions"? I hope you're sarcastic.

    • John

      The only thing i realized is that your world is pretty monumentally retarded.

  • Someone

    only if you make it out to be,
    it has no effect on my day
    i don't download freemium games

    and i hope that the Freeverse games that i had paid for, and enjoyed, do not turn free and locked under Plus+
    cause i have an ipod touch, and will soon have a wifi only ipad..I am not always connected to the internet..and I don't care to join Plus+

    I wonder what Freeverse's sales are looking like now, if you know they are just going to be free in a month, why would anyone buy them?

    Was a fan of Freeverse's work, but not so much of NgMoco's, i kinda regret paying for Dr. Awesome, Rolando, and a few others, only to watch them drop to free within a week or so..and be crippled by Plus+ because i could not play them unless i had an internet connection to log into plus before the app would even start

    whatever..i don't even know why i am wasting my time writing this cause in the long term, no one, and even i don't care...

    • Someone

      i meant, about my comment

  • Someone

    only if you make it out to be,
    it has no effect on my day
    i don't download freemium games

    and i hope that the Freeverse games that i had paid for, and enjoyed, do not turn free and locked under Plus+
    cause i have an ipod touch, and will soon have a wifi only ipad..I am not always connected to the internet..and I don't care to join Plus+

    I wonder what Freeverse's sales are looking like now, if you know they are just going to be free in a month, why would anyone buy them?

    Was a fan of Freeverse's work, but not so much of NgMoco's, i kinda regret paying for Dr. Awesome, Rolando, and a few others, only to watch them drop to free within a week or so..and be crippled by Plus+ because i could not play them unless i had an internet connection to log into plus before the app would even start

    whatever..i don't even know why i am wasting my time writing this cause in the long term, no one, and even i don't care...

    • Someone

      i meant, about my comment

  • http://www.jindofox.com Jindo Fox

    Another TA post, another parade of complainers.
    ----
    @MisterDrgn It's a big deal to see one of the major studios get bought by a new upstart company with a new business model. It's interesting to get the perspective from both companies. There are 4 stories because there are 4 significant things going on here:

    1. ngmoco acquiring Freeverse and announcing its plans to go free-to-play
    2. Freeverse's plans to release hotly anticipated Warp Gate game with the traditional pay-once model
    3. ngmoco' influx of venture capital, which is a big deal, showing that the app store is big business, not just kid stuff
    4. Freeverse's take on the acquisition. Clearly their leadership thinks this is a good idea.
    ----
    @Ben (not a whiner) Very cool office. Glad they get to keep it!
    ----
    @John do you have inside information about ngmoco's financial state? It takes money to build up a business from nothing. Their accomplishments are impressive IMHO.
    ----
    @Someone Nobody cares if you "don't download freemium games." The ngmoco games you paid to play are still available on iTunes for a dollar each and don't require plus+ to play. Freeverse has not announced plans to convert any of its back catalog, and if you had bothered to read the news, you would know this already.
    ----
    The comments section on this site is a never-ending torrent of whining. You'd think that most people would consider it GOOD news to see dozens of well-designed, fun games reaching the broadest possible audience.

    • Robert

      Logical

  • http://www.jindofox.com Jindo Fox

    Another TA post, another parade of complainers.
    ----
    @MisterDrgn It's a big deal to see one of the major studios get bought by a new upstart company with a new business model. It's interesting to get the perspective from both companies. There are 4 stories because there are 4 significant things going on here:

    1. ngmoco acquiring Freeverse and announcing its plans to go free-to-play
    2. Freeverse's plans to release hotly anticipated Warp Gate game with the traditional pay-once model
    3. ngmoco' influx of venture capital, which is a big deal, showing that the app store is big business, not just kid stuff
    4. Freeverse's take on the acquisition. Clearly their leadership thinks this is a good idea.
    ----
    @Ben (not a whiner) Very cool office. Glad they get to keep it!
    ----
    @John do you have inside information about ngmoco's financial state? It takes money to build up a business from nothing. Their accomplishments are impressive IMHO.
    ----
    @Someone Nobody cares if you "don't download freemium games." The ngmoco games you paid to play are still available on iTunes for a dollar each and don't require plus+ to play. Freeverse has not announced plans to convert any of its back catalog, and if you had bothered to read the news, you would know this already.
    ----
    The comments section on this site is a never-ending torrent of whining. You'd think that most people would consider it GOOD news to see dozens of well-designed, fun games reaching the broadest possible audience.

    • Robert

      Logical

  • dumas1000

    Ngmoco probably wasn't turning a substanial profit with the AppStore's race-to-the-bottom model. Join the club. Most Devs are turning much of a profit, if turning any profit at all. Ngmoco responded by created their own model. Honestly, it's hard to argue with them. It's ridiculous that Gameloft games sell so cheap. Most smaller devs will go into the red if they produce games the caliber of Gameloft, only to sell them that cheaply.

  • dumas1000

    Ngmoco probably wasn't turning a substanial profit with the AppStore's race-to-the-bottom model. Join the club. Most Devs are turning much of a profit, if turning any profit at all. Ngmoco responded by created their own model. Honestly, it's hard to argue with them. It's ridiculous that Gameloft games sell so cheap. Most smaller devs will go into the red if they produce games the caliber of Gameloft, only to sell them that cheaply.

  • Frogtorch

    My sources tell me that 30 million of the price tag was for Jared alone.

  • Frogtorch

    My sources tell me that 30 million of the price tag was for Jared alone.

  • Cilo

    When he's answering the question on why would Freeverse want to be bought out if they've survived this long, he doesn't sound too confident. Of course we are only in on a very small small fragment of this move.

    This is a business, first and foremost - and believe it or not a few people crying on toucharcade.com threads, " Freemium?!?! Hmmph, Im never downloading anything from Ngmoco again!" only account for 2-5% of app store downloads. The other 95-98% is straight revenue from people who basically scroll the free app list and download on a whim.

    His ending comments sound like he's on the verge of tears, like he's thinking, "Umm it was fun doing things out of passion, now it's time to get dat money!"

  • Cilo

    When he's answering the question on why would Freeverse want to be bought out if they've survived this long, he doesn't sound too confident. Of course we are only in on a very small small fragment of this move.

    This is a business, first and foremost - and believe it or not a few people crying on toucharcade.com threads, " Freemium?!?! Hmmph, Im never downloading anything from Ngmoco again!" only account for 2-5% of app store downloads. The other 95-98% is straight revenue from people who basically scroll the free app list and download on a whim.

    His ending comments sound like he's on the verge of tears, like he's thinking, "Umm it was fun doing things out of passion, now it's time to get dat money!"

  • http://www.elliotlevin.com Elliot

    Wait, how do I get a copy of wingnuts on my ipod like the guy in black has? I love that game!

    • Cilo

      Photoshop

    • Chad

      Was waiting for someone to see and post on that. Wingnuts is a great little game for sure and I hope to see it in the App Store soon!

  • http://www.elliotlevin.com Elliot

    Wait, how do I get a copy of wingnuts on my ipod like the guy in black has? I love that game!

    • Cilo

      Photoshop

    • Chad

      Was waiting for someone to see and post on that. Wingnuts is a great little game for sure and I hope to see it in the App Store soon!

  • http://nodpad.com/ MidianGTX

    People growing up playing free flash games proves freemium works? No it doesn't, it proves these people don't want to pay any money AT ALL.

  • http://nodpad.com/ MidianGTX

    People growing up playing free flash games proves freemium works? No it doesn't, it proves these people don't want to pay any money AT ALL.

  • Yuggle

    Call me a cynic but all this feel good nonsense floating around in the article is just a simple cover up.

    The boos saw a chance to grab more money and that is what happened.

    • Symbolist

      Same for the newspeople.

  • http://micro Yuggle

    Call me a cynic but all this feel good nonsense floating around in the article is just a simple cover up.

    The boos saw a chance to grab more money and that is what happened.

    • Symbolist

      Same for the newspeople.

  • Frentic

    I'm not so much annoyed by the posts on this topic as I am suspicious. When a purportedly neutral game review and news website, that prominently features advertising from a company, posts multiple long fawning entries about the company... it calls the site's objectivity into question.

    That's not to say toucharcade is in the pocket of _anyone_. But like judicial independence, even the appearance of impropriety should be discouraged.

  • Frentic

    I'm not so much annoyed by the posts on this topic as I am suspicious. When a purportedly neutral game review and news website, that prominently features advertising from a company, posts multiple long fawning entries about the company... it calls the site's objectivity into question.

    That's not to say toucharcade is in the pocket of _anyone_. But like judicial independence, even the appearance of impropriety should be discouraged.