Backflip Studios' Julian Farrior was here in attendance at GDC 2011 this week. His company has been doing quite well lately, and he tells me that they've recently hit 85 million downloads across all of their free apps, with over 23 million monthly active users. In plain terms, that means that tons of people have downloaded Backflip's apps (like Paper Toss, Ragdoll Blaster and the popular NinJump), and they're playing them often as well.
As I heard at last year's conference, Farrior is all about experimentation, using paid downloads, freemium apps and a large, well-organized network of in-app advertising to drive traffic around and monetize his company's users.
He has a relatively large slate of games due out in 2011, including four social games that we'll be hearing about later in the year, and a few games using various models that I got to see in action. Boss Battles was the first -- it was still in an early stage of development, but the idea is that Farrior wants to try to marry a scrolling arcade shooter (like Gradius) with the freemium business model.
The game will be a free download, and it will allow you to configure your ship and guns however you please in a series of the game's namesake boss battles, earning up XP and gems as you play. In-app purchases will offer ship customization and XP boosts, so you can pay nothing and grind your way up, or if you want to progress faster, you can put a few bucks in and go that way. Farrior is surprisingly candid about the game's prospects "I want to see if this is interesting," he says. "I don't know if it is." It seems like a good idea, though players will have to decide if the game or the extras are worth their attention or money.