Halfbrick Studios is synonymous with mobile gaming, with Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride being prime examples of the fast-paced, touch-controlled games that have made mobile gaming the fastest growing entertainment industry in the world. Just under ten years after the release of Jetpack Joyride, word has it that a sequel is on the way, with Jetpack Joyride 2 releasing in Soft Launch on Android and iOS early last year.
However, those soft launch instances are now gone and the long-awaited sequel is now launching on Apple Arcade later this month. It’s an interesting twist, not least because Apple Arcade was seen by some as an effort to salvage the concept of premium mobile gaming as the market continued to dive further into ad- or microtransaction-based monetization.
We spoke with Francisco ‘Paco’ Gonzalez, Product Manager and Lead Game Designer of Jetpack Joyride 2, about the move from Halfbrick Studios to Apple Arcade.
PocketGamer.biz: Jetpack Joyride has a long history as a live product and standalone game – even having a presence in arcades alongside Halfbrick’s other IP Hero: Fruit Ninja. What factors indicated it was time for a sequel?
Francisco Gonzalez: It’s been over 10 years since the first Jetpack Joyride game was released. Since then, we always have the same questions from players: “And a sequel? When will the sequel be released? For us, it was important to make sure that the sequel could offer something new, something different from the first game. And we didn’t want to rush until we found something that added value to experience. We think this new installment not only improves in terms of content and graphics, but also adds a new dimension to gameplay. The shooting mechanic adds a new layer to the gameplay where Barry takes an active role in the ongoing action. And that’s a big change!
Jetpack Joyride 2 was initially soft-launched in some regions early last year. What were your lessons from the soft launch period?
The soft launch period was a great opportunity to learn from players. It’s always great to put the game in the hands of players and see their reaction. The soft launch period helped the team validate some assumptions. It also allowed us to know which things were the most exciting for players and which were less interesting. Thanks to their feedback, the difficulty and progression of the game have been completely revamped in the Apple Arcade version.
It allowed us to put aside the complex F2P business model and focus on creating a really fun game!
What factors led to the decision to move from a multi-format game to release within Apple’s Apple Arcade ecosystem?
When we started conversations with Apple, we quickly realized that this platform was a great opportunity to develop the game we wanted. It allowed us to put aside the complex F2P business model and focus on creating a really fun game! Players will have a neater and more complete Jetpack Joyride experience thanks to this.
How did you find working with Apple on the production of Jetpack Joyride 2?
We are very satisfied with the experience. Communication was fluid and Apple made every effort to support the development of the game on its platform. The game will be available not only for iPhone and iPad, but also for Apple TV and macOS.
Have there been any unexpected requirements or benefits of the partnership so far?
All requirements were clear from the start. Like I said, communication was smooth throughout the process. And as far as benefits go, yes, one of the big things we’re getting from this partnership is big marketing support from Apple Arcade. Jetpack Joyride 2 is one of Apple Arcade’s big bets and we’re really happy with their involvement in promoting the game.
Can you tell me about a basic gameplay change between the first title and its sequel and what prompted this change?
One of the biggest changes, besides of course the shooting mechanics, is that the game is no longer an endless runner! This means that you can now reach the end of the level! The reason behind this is that in this game we wanted to expand the Jetpack Joyride universe. Barry will soon discover that there are labs other than legitimate research to browse! And with it, the player will discover new enemies, new dangers and new bosses as he progresses and completes the different levels!
Haven’t tried Apple Arcade yet? Here is a list of all the games included in the subscription service and many reasons why you should consider trying it out.