Vampire Survivors launched on Android and iOS last month, but Poncle developer Luca Galante had intended to bring the breakthrough hit to mobile platforms considerably earlier.
In an update to the game's Steam store page, Galante discussed the process of bringing it to mobile, saying, "Soon after the initial success of VS, I started to look for a business partner to work on a mobile version of the game. Unfortunately, nobody I spoke with was on board with the monetization I had in mind for the platform: non-predatory."
Poncle spent months unsuccessfully looking for a partner, but eventually opted to handle the mobile port in-house when "a large number of actual clones - not 'games like Vampire Survivors,' but actual 1:1 copies with stolen code, assets, data, progression - started to appear everywhere.
"This forced our hand to release the mobile game ASAP, and put a lot of stress on the dev team that wasn't even supposed to worry about mobile in the first place."
The mobile version of Vampire Survivors reflects the monetization model Galante had in mind. It's free-to-play, and players have the option of watching an ad at the end of their run to revive their character once and partially refill their health. They can also watch an ad after their run for extra gold that can then be used to unlock or upgrade characters.
"If you're like me, then if you wanted VS on mobile you'd have beeen 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 VS a paid app I'd have cut out completely a lot of new players from even trying the game," Galante said.
"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."
Galante added that Poncle is working on cloud saves and save transfers for the mobile version. It is also looking to bring the Legacy of the Moonspell DLC to mobile, but hasn't decided on how to release or monetize it yet.