Hamburg-based developer Fishlabs has been on the forefront of the mobile scene since the company was founded nearly 10 years ago. We were unbelievably stoked back in 2009 when news that Galaxy on Fire [Free] was coming to the App Store. I've always been a huge fan of massive PC space games like Freelancer, so having a similar experience on my iPhone was almost too good to be true. When Galaxy on Fire was released, Fishlabs was providing a real, super-in depth gameplay experience that was essentially unrivaled at the time. It looks super dated now, but the trailer for the original Galaxy on Fire is at least worth skipping through just so you can appreciate how much better the sequel is-

Around a year and a half later and Galaxy on Fire 2 [Free] was released. We loved it in our review as it took everything we liked about the first game, but made it better with an amount of content included that bordered on unbelievable. As iOS devices got more powerful, Fishlabs was among the first kids on the block to blast out a full-on HD re-release of their game, elevating Galaxy on Fire 2 HD [Free] to the same level of similar graphical benchmark series like Infinity Blade. Check out the leap in difference between the above trailer and the sequel-

Unfortunately, the way the App Store has been trending towards free to play has not been kind to traditional non-free to play game studios like Fishlabs. They've tried to shift gears to compete in this brave new world of giving everything away for free by shifting their pay models around, but there's only so much you can do to a game that was designed from the start to be a buy once play forever sort of thing. They're free to download now, with IAP unlocks for expansions packs and IAP currency packs to tweak out your ship... But the games never seemed to be rebalanced to ever even vaguely require currency purchases, and the initial amount of content you get for free is so massive that it seems like only the most dedicated Galaxy on Fire players would ever hit the "Alright, now buy the expansion!" roadblock.

As a result, Fishlabs has needed to undergo some restructuring to keep the lights on, which sadly includes laying off 25 of their employees. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), they just kicked off a sale that cuts the price of all of their IAP, with the two expansion bundle getting slashed from $9.99 to $4.99, with other IAP seeing similar discounts. Additionally, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD was recently updated to take advantage of the increased GPU horsepower of the iPhone 5s. Like many 5s updates, it all comes down to better lighting effects. Lasers have a bit more glow to them and planets have better lighting along with other visual tweaks. Take a look:

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD - iPhone 5

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Galaxy on Fire 2 HD - iPhone 5s

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Anyway, whenever we post about free to play games they inevitably come with a comment thread filled with people talking about how they hate free to play and how much they wish we had more "real" games on the App Store. Well, now is a great time to put your money where your mouth is and throw some support behind this developer and their incredible lineup of games. Check out Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, if you dig it, grab an expansion pack, and let's keep our fingers crossed that this restructuring is just a minor road bump in the great game filled history of Fishlabs.

  • Aaron Marroquin

    Man, I was sure hoping for a part 3. Hopefully they still do it. Sorry guys :( getting laid off sucks! But getting laid off in Germany ain't all that bad!

    • JJE McManus

      Personally I'd rather there were not a part3.
      The GOF series are the best space games on iOS bar none. Unfortunately repeated playing only highlights the sameness of the overall experience. Work the markets and fight the same space battle over and over. The AI is terribly predictable. I only wish they took their GOF successes and did something else; even if that something else was just experience the GOF universe in a different way.
      I do hope they can weather this patch. I sincerely hope that someday we'll see another quality product from fishlabs.

  • Rip73

    Off to buy some iap.
    Do need to see some more top quality stuff from these guys.

  • darkcrayon

    Good luck Fishlabs, and please make your next GoF game have a cockpit view :)

    • Phoen1x1

      Exactly, a cockpit view is what I wanted to really give me that freelancer/wing commander type of feel. An outside view just makes the game feel, I dunno..too arcade-ish to me. Still a great series of games.

  • Kotovsky

    Hope they will handle this matter and along the GOFA we will see GOF3.

  • Arch Deluxe

    I tried part 2, and I really wanted to like it, but I deleted it after I realized you spend 90% of the time traveling from one galaxy to another. I think the bigger problem than the payment model is that these games are not as fun as we want them to be.

    • subshell001

      you get a jump drive pretty quickly. you have to build it, if i remember correctly.

    • ElkhoundsRock

      you get a jump drive after you complete the last mission. (The last mission is getting the parts for the jump drive)

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    Aww man, I hope they make it. I've re-bought this game on every platform because I want more excellent space games like this. I would be happy to pay for more story chaptersf they make them.

    • Mauiwoweee

      Dont say that! You definitely dont want to buy a chapter when they are selling their games for free. You want them all to be free! :

      • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

        No, I don't. They deserve to be paid for their work. Working for free is also called "slavery."

        Did you read the article? They're very generous with free content as it is, which is part of the problem.

      • Unfrozen

        I totally agree Wizard. I bought all GoF I & II (and the HD version) on iOS and GoF a full HD on Mac. I got the expansions on iOS (rebought the first expansion I had already bought in the SD version in HD) but I love their work have no issue paying for it all.

        I might get the expansions on Mac after hearing this. I beta tested their Alliances game and while it's far better than other Free to Play Empire builders, I am not sure if I'll keep with it. It could change further by time release hits. It actually shows really cool battle scenes for the battles instead of a list of ships destroyed.

        We're her to support you Fishlabs, you guys make awesome games.

  • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

    Sorry to hear that Fishlabs is having problems. Hopefully it's only temporary.

    • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

      Hadn't realized they where based in Hamburg, that's just up the road from me. (If only the iOS app let you edit your comments)

  • Auxilare

    Make a gof3, and im ready to Shell out a premium price. Dont make gof3 f2p..

    • LCRyan

      I think the point being that the AppStore doesn't work so well for premium titles. While I loathe F2P gouging, the average consume seems to dig it.

      • hourglass

        Please, tell me more about how Deus Ex, Ravensword, XCOM, NOVA, and Modern Combat aren't doing well.

        All premium games.

      • Jake7905

        Unfortunately when you take a look at the top grossing games, freemium games seem to do the best. I honestly just wished the App Store could successfully cater to both the freemium and premium markets. Again, unfortunately, it seems freemium is the best option for mobile game developers. If they want to survive, that is.

      • Saucepolicy

        Ok, I will. Look at the Top Grossing Chart in the AppStore, not Top Paid. First premium app on the list is Minecraft at #45. There's an exponential drop-off in revenue after #10 so tell me again how those apps you mentioned are "doing well" comparatively. Get your head out of the sand.

  • ElkhoundsRock

    oh no. Fish labs is a great game developer and I was hoping for GoF 3 but it seems that it won't be happening. :( well I guess ima head off to buy the 2 next episodes in GoF 2 cuz it was getting boring after I completed the game. But I really hope fishlabs doesn't go bankrupt.

  • FIFTHSUN2012

    Already have their games, now to buy some IAP.

  • Michael Groll

    Recently Fishlabs got a lot of flak for their IAP prices. You could buy yourself enough currency to buy a new ship right away, but that might set you back 30-50 USD. They said that this was neccessary because of how bad the game sold on Android, but it looked a bit greedy from a player's point of view.
    Their other IAP's are perfectly fine and I did gladly buy all their expansion packs, paying close to 20 USD for the complete game (and it is well worth it).
    Maybe they overextended themselves with offering the game on so many platforms, who knows.
    But I hope they can stay afloat and will bring us GOF3 (I do not care for the RTS spinoff though) maybe as a free game with unlockable expansions (IMO the best form of IAP) or as a premium game with a proper price tag (unlikely as it may be).
    Good luck, fishlabs.

  • anabolicMike

    Yeah that's crappy eh? Everyone always bitches about free2play but it seems that's the only way devs can survive. Most ppl don't like paying the big sum upfront and that's not right at all. This game is awesome, if it was a console game it's be 59.99. I would pay 20 for this right off the hop. The problem is all those whiners and socialites think that's way to expensive and don't realize that when they buy fake fish food a hundred times for a dollar they are spending more. Oh this is 99 cents it's so much cheaper!!! Sad sad sad. And I'm slowly pushing myself into a mobile developer and to be honest. My apps is gonna be f2p. Screw you guys! I headed for the masses!

  • The Gamer Dude

    I just can believe the GOF 2 is free and I'm so sad that the free to play model has ruined things for premium games :( I got way, way more than my monies worth buying GOF 2 and the add on packs for full price. I understand the general public loves these timer based F2P games and IPA loaded runners, but what about us old school guys? And new school guys that don't mind paying for an awesome complete experience.

    With that said, do yourself a favor and pick these gems up. I bet most of you will become addicted and buy the add one packs. Of course I'm probably preaching to the choir here ;)

    • Maniacfive

      It's a shame the two can't co-exist. Better I bought GoF, spent hours on it. Bought GoF2, spent hours on it. Bough GoF2 HD restarted. Spent hours on it. Bought all the expansions... You get the picture.

      At the same time, when I'm sat on the loo I'm enjoying Marvel Puzzle Quest and I've thrown them a few quid for coins or whatever.

      Both are bringing me pleasure despite the different monetisation. It's pity that some folks just won't pay what ultimately is a very small price but are happy to get hooked on donuts/CSR fuel and recruit coins

  • hatoyo

    I bought all the expansions, including VIP club months ago. I LOVED this game.

    I'd love if there was a GoF 3, especially if it included both 3rd person adventure/shooter on foot as well as in ship.

    Honestly I'm sad that they're wasting their time making a strategy game, there's already WAY too many clash of clans type games

    • Maniacfive

      I'm actually looking forward to the strategy game. My thinking is that if anybody could do a freemium game with meat it would be FishLabs.

  • anabolicMike

    I know it doesn't count as much but I downloaded the game for my 5s. Bought all addons and 10mil credits. I know it's not much in the scheme of things but the game is awesome. I was playing it in android for a bit. It's better on this phone though for down reason. So crisp. Android was jittery. This bettar. I spent 40 bucks cause TA asked me too strange eh?

  • MrAsherkEsq

    Well I really hope that TA and all those freeloading parasites jumping on Free alerts on here are happy now. I've repeatedly called on TA to stop publishing discounts and free alerts for precisely this reason. Devs need to earn money to feed their respective families too, and you DO NOT support them by leaching off their hard work for free. Now there are 25 families down a wage earner just as we approach the festive season. Congratulations TA et al. Ho ho ho indeed.

    • nonstickron

      The whole point of a sale is to drive up units sold. Why do you think stores advertise sales?

      • MrAsherkEsq

        As you well know I am talking in particular about free alerts. Selling something for free is not a 'sale' as the dev gets precisely $0.00 from each transaction. It's a sign of desperation from the dev and certainly doesn't warrant TA advertising and issuing 'free alerts' to all and sundry. How many times have we seen the whooping of delight from parasitic freeloaders on hearing of a free alert, or how many times read some vile character post 'Sweet I'll pick it up when it goes free'. It's sickening.

      • nonstickron

        If they didn't want people to get it for free, they wouldn't change the price to that. It drives their game up in the charts, it moves units of their game, which increases IAP sales, it creates word of mouth advertising, gets their games seen being played, and it gets their game reviewed...which is more important than people realize but few people bother to do even with games they love.

    • Wedge598

      While I share your sentiments about the layoff I'm not sure your blame is in the right place. The games are reduced to free precisely to drum up interest and get it some recognition. TA is doing the right thing to promote these price drops as that is what the developer wants. Sadly it comes from a desperate attempt to bring in a few more dollars buy getting those that bought the game for free to spend some money on expansions and IAP. It's definite a last ditch effort for a company that is hurting that is the sad part.

  • one.sixty.four

    Way, galaxy on fire 2 is FTP? Sad.

    • one.sixty.four

      Double post, sorry.

  • one.sixty.four

    Wait, galaxy in fire 2 is FTP? Sad.

    • MrAsherkEsq

      Indeed, and just how hypocritical are TA with their crocodile tears. I warned you all that this was the industry that you were creating and promoting. It's sickening and my heart goes out to those losing their jobs at this time of year. God forbid a TA employee who happily promotes free alerts loses their job. Sickening.

  • The kernel

    A great dev who produces a quality set of games is in trouble. This is very saddening. I have all the GoF titles, have bought the expansions, and played the games extensively. Its very sad to see this. I suppose Ill go use my daughters account to buy the titles, and IAP it out, as a show of faith.

  • DemoEvolved

    This is a classic case of a game that is too big, too awesome for the platform. On steam this would do gangbusters. Same on xbla or psn. Just it's too much for mobile

    If you like real gamer games definitely check this out.

    • lavenders2

      GoF2 was released on steam some time ago. It did badly. I dont even know if it made the top sellers list, and if it did it wasnt very long. Basically the game hit PC with no warning or build up, and then it got lost in a sea of advertised games. I dont know how good the PC port was though cause I never bought it.

      But see what I mean? You didnt even know it was on Steam (at least that's what your post tells me) and TA people are the few people who have actually heard of this game, so how good the PC version do well?

      • Michael Groll

        I do not know how well the game did on steam and have not played it on a PC or Mac, but I always felt that GOF is a bit too light for the computer game market. The story is not too involved and the economy is not awfully sofisticated. On steam you are competing against games like the X series (I'm still waiting for a port of X-BtF or X-Tension for iOS) which are much deeper. That said I think that GOF is perfect on a mobile platform as you can easily play it ten minutes at a time.

      • Shava Nerad

        The steam PC version was US$20, with no dlc ever to be available apparently, so no it didn't do so hot. Also, I have to say even as a grrl gamer in her 50s, a software engineer who grew up on EE"Doc" Smith and all? The storyline is cringeworthy if you are female.

        Still, I repurchased it on my Android with the DLC -- only to find my tablet hates the joystick, regardless of sensitivity (it's old and sluggy and so am I -- maybe I need a pad, I was an ace on the PC… ). Sigh.

        But I hope it feeds the Fish. ;)

      • Andros

        Pfft, the storyline is cringeworthy if you're a male as well. There's all this exciting stuff happening in the GoF universe, and the main character's main goal is to bang some scientist girl. Seriously, I need a *Roll Eyes* smiley to show my disgust.

  • ImJPaul

    Fishlabs? Noooo.

  • Ph0lly

    One less mediocre mobile developer won't matter. One good game doesn't make a quality developer.

    • The Gamer Dude

      Dude GOF and GOF 2 are excellent games and that makes Fish Labs a top tier developer. Next time make sure your brain is engaged before putting your mouth in gear.

      • Ph0lly

        They may be excellent in your opinion but my opinion is different, I obviously have higher standards than you. Maybe if you only compare them to mobile games then they might be good but comparing them to other games in the genre, they are definitely not great.

      • Unfrozen

        I have been a space sim player for about 15 years and GoF II is excellent. And when we are on an iOS gaming site, we ARE comparing their quality as Devs to the platform that they develop for.

        Would you call into a local news show discussing one of the better players for a local sports team potentially leaving and state, who cares because while he may be one of the best on that team in a national league he wouldn't be special?

  • NateJC

    GOF2 is probably my all time fav iOS game. There were times it felt a little grindy. But overall, I haven't found anything that has compared!

  • Taclys

    I'd support them, except I've literally bought everything they are offering (except credits IAP). Absolutely phenomenal game.

    • VirtualBoyFreak

      One thing I don't like is that I bought the game and the expansions (both normal and HD) when they were first available, only to find that now my paid products have pop-up ads. At least they could've removed ads from people who bought the expansions...

  • http://ambiently.wordpress.com/ Leon Chia

    Just bought the Supernova add-on to support. I'd been putting it off because my worsening eyesight (old age!) made playing this - my favourite space trader sim - difficult. But I've refused to delete it! Gonna get the new ipad mini soon and planned to resume. Sorry to hear the bad news! Hang in there, FishLabs! Will definitely buy your next GOF game!

  • Linmia

    Fishlabs was already undergoing restructuring plans with its 'Gläubigerverhandlungen' etc. (what can be roughly compared as US Chapter 11) since June or so. Things seemed to get worse now, as german media reports lay off of nearly all employees !?!
    I do hope they can raise some money / find an investing company that will backup and maybe even boost them regarding (already crafted) future development plans ...

  • Unfrozen

    And I would kill for MFi controller support for GoF II. I'd probably play the whole game and expansions over again.

  • Gurney Halleck

    I just dropped in and bought the last two add-ons I didn't have :) I really do hope Fishlabs makes the recovery!

    Also, I wish they would get rid of the pop up ads for their other games whenever I go into a hanger store ... Really breaks the immersion :-/ especially if I accidentally hit it and get taken out of game entirely. I believe these turn more people off than they actually generate in revenue as neither myself, nor anyone I know will buy something when prompted in this way. And it was for a "free" game even... Ugh

  • john360

    Funish the game+expansion paid full price on the expansion too. Hoping fishlab to make more great games

  • Derek Stack

    How about an IAP that turns ads off, eh? That'd be worth a few bucks!