Next10: Fishlabs to move into mobile MMOGs, Series B round planned

During the next10 conference in Berlin, TechCrunch Europe had a chance to sit down with Michael Schade, CEO of mobile game developer Fishlabs. The company builds games for iPhone and iPad in the “high quality and premium segment”. He talked about Fishlabs’ latest release and its future plans, including a new funding round.

At the conference today, Fishlabs announced a brand new iPhone ad game for Volkswagen’s Touareg, their 4th game for VW. The app allows the user to experience the car, book a test drive, and more.

Fishlabs is also behind the most successful ad game called Waterslide Extreme, created for the UK’s Barclaycard, which has registered 13 million downloads. The game is still in the App Store charts and books a solid 50k downloads daily since its launch 12 months ago. During our conversation Schade hinted that there might be a sequel very soon. Since the launch of Waterslide Extreme the company has received lots of requests of which 30-40% represent ad games.

At the moment Fishlabs uses a pay per download revenue model but will also soon start offering virtual goods as it moves more towards MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). To finance this expansion, Schade suggested that Fishlabs is preparing for a Series B round in the coming months.

Schade indicated that since their positioning is in the premium segment, the development of a single game often costs in the 7 digits range. Sometimes an app is created in direct collaboration with the client, other times the briefing is done through an agency. In any case the added value for brands is to take advantage of Apple’s high quality graphics/image, which can reflect on them well.

Schade says that mobile gaming on the iPhone is a “battle for real estate”, since the maximum number of apps on Apple’s device is 148. Consumers will have to decide between apps at some point in time. Schade calls every app download a “declaration of love for a brand”. When using an app the customer is kept in the loop while a brand is engaging them in an active dialogue. In Schade’s view the “smartphone revolution was just an enabler for businesses” like his. New technologies are also what keeps Fishlabs running as the iPad creates new opportunities. The Nokia N8 is also a new milestone for the company as their game Galaxy On Fire will be preinstalled.

As for the trend towards location-based services, Schade is skeptical: “Traditional location based features will not be a trend”, he says. Games take place in virtual worlds and gamers want to be “away from reality”.