If you’ve popped open the iOS App Store lately, you’ve probably spotted the works of Lilith Games somewhere on the front page. Both AFK Arena and Rise of Kingdoms have risen toward the top of the App Store charts, giving the company solid footing in both the mobile strategy and RPG genres.
With that kind of success it’s notable that the Shanghai-based studio’s next game, Farlight 84, marks both a business and genre shift for the company. It’s a third-person PvP shooter with a new riff on the battle royale format, and it’s a cross-platform releasing on iOS, Android and PC, with an open beta planned for June.
After the huge success of Genshin Impact last year it’s not surprising to see more mobile companies interested in releasing games that can compete on both the PC and mobile marketplaces.
Senior technical game designer Jijuan “Jeremy” Liu explained to Gamasutra that Lilith Games decided to take aim at the battle royale genre despite its saturation by major triple-A companies by basing the game around a new format: “HUNT Mode.”
In HUNT Mode, Farlight 84 players are dropped into a traditional battle royale arena but with new objectives. Instead of vying for last team standing, players kill other teams to score enough points to trigger the evacuation site.
And there’s a neat, bounty hunting-flavored twist: each team is given another team as a target. That team is worth more points than the other teams in the map, but with asymmetrical target assignments, players on the hunt might find themselves being hunted by another squad at the drop of a hat.
Liu (a recent addition to Lilith Games, having joined the company after a stint at Rockstar San Diego), said that developers at the company have been toying with these mechanics for years, but were able to whip up a fully functional prototype in a matter of months despite the company’s lack of experience in the shooting space.
“This is the first [development] team that introduced the idea of technical design into the company,” he explained. “In terms of how we develop things, that enables us to come up with new gameplay a lot quicker, or as quick as what console developers do in the United States,” Liu said.
On the publishing side, Liu said that expanding into the PC space has begun to shift how the mobile-focused Lilith Games connects with players. “I do get the feeling that the publishing team is making a lot of new approaches…focusing more on creative things, and branding. They’re listening to the community’s feedback more,” he explained.
“Previously, the team has been focusing on advertising and user acquisition, and now I’m seeing a lot more creative things they’re doing," he said. "That definitely helps a lot.”
Despite battle royale’s absolute market saturation on mobile and PC, Liu seems bullish on HUNT Mode being a strong attractor for players. “This is why we want to have a brand-new mode to put out with the game, because that’s the new feeling we wanted to bring to a PC audience,” he said.
Lilith’s play into the battle royale space might be a signal of a shifting wind for large mobile game developers--though Genshin Impact was the one to come out strong with a major cross-platform release, the company’s willingness to take on Epic Games, Activision, and Krafton (just to name a few) may be an indicator that more companies will soon follow.