Vampire Survivors not only became one of the most popular games on Steam in 2022, it was also released for Xbox and mobile formats before the end of the year. Something striking is that the mobile version is really free. No, not free-to-play, but free through and through. The end.
Or yes, maybe a little comma is in order. Namely, there are advertisements for purchases in the game (but "no pop-ups"), which you can ignore and avoid interacting with. The reason is that the developer wants to make money somehow "but in the way that least affected the players" (via Mobilegamer).
However, the road there turned out to be more complicated than developer Luca Galante, Poncle, could have imagined.
It appears in a New Year summary on Steam. The plan wasn't to develop the mobile version on our own but after spending months without finding a team that wanted to make the game without greedy monetization in the back of their minds, they felt compelled to take development into their own hands.
"Unfortunately, nobody I spoke with was on board with the monetization I had in mind for the platform: non-predatory.
Another reason for developing the mobile version ourselves was the fact that similar games started to line up, where some were pure "copies with stolen code, data and stolen assets". However, it is acknowledged that the version has some unpolished elements, and as there is a lack of manpower, this may take longer.
However, there was never any talk of not making Vampire Survivors "free-for-real".
"If you're like me, then if you wanted Vampire Survivors on mobile you'd have been happy to just pay a couple of bucks for it and call it a day. But the mobile market doesn't work like that and by making Vampire Survivors a paid app I'd have cut out completely a lot of new players from even trying the game.
This is why we ended up with a free-for-real approach, where monetization is minimal and is designed to never interrupt your game, always be optional and in your control through a couple of 'watch ads' buttons, and doesn't have any of that real money sinks that mobile cashgrabs are usually designed around. It's just the full game, playable offline, in landscape or portrait, with touch controls or with a gamepad.