Red 5 Studios CEO Mark Kern took to the Firefall forums early Thursday morning to deliver the sad news that they were temporarily cutting out the PvP aspects of the game so the company could “completely rethink our PvP and re-implement it to the highest standards “

While clearly disappointing to fans of Firefall’s PvP, this approach makes good sense from a development perspective. Firefall is an ambitious project, and Red 5 may have felt overwhelmed at having to develop both an innovative and enjoyable PvE game and a skill-based, competitive PvP experience.

Though both use the same engine and basic rules, they’re essentially two different games, requiring their own tweaks and balances and offering their own development challenges. Skills that are fine in PvE are often overpowered/underpowered in PvP, or vice versa, leading to complaints, skill splits, or nerfs/boosts, which lead to more complaints from the side that liked the power as it was.

It’s also worth noting that, while it seems somewhat odd, especially for a shooter, there’s no requirement that every MMO game must have PvP. Several MMOs have gotten by with minimal to no PvP, and several games that do have PvP content tend to have it dwarfed by the huge amount of and frequent updates to PvE content. Sometimes, I wonder if companies just toss in PvP – usually in staid, tried-and-true modes like deathmatch, capture the flag, control points, etc. – “because it’s supposed to be there.”

Going out of your way to attract e-sports players, as Kern stated Red 5 is trying to do, is also fraught with peril, and even if Red 5 spends another year making their PvP “just right,” the chances of it emerging as a force in the e-sports industry is slim.

Which brings up a point – should they even bother? Should the company devote that year to honing its competitive PvP or just spend its time and resources perfecting its PvE experience? If that 3% number Kern quotes is accurate, then it seems that many Firefall players don’t care about e-sports, and possibly PvP in general.

The argument could be made that so few people care about it because it’s subpar, and that more development work would improve it, but it could also be the case that people really enjoy the rather unique PvE action of Firefall so much. If you’ve got a good thing going with those parts of the game, why not polish those and make them the best they can be? Then, if those are successful, look into expanding the game. Trying to do everything at once, especially with your first product, is rarely the best approach. Just ask 38 Studios.

Red 5 is a small-ish, indie studio that probably can’t afford to stretch itself too thin, and its focus is already in question. Firefall’s beta has been strung along indefinitely, the skill system has been revamped multiple times, and the company gets low marks from employee-review site Glassdoor.com.

Only 33% of employees and former employees approve of Kern, with comments about senior management ranging from “Find a vision for your company and stick with it” to “Massive feature creep and no cohesive vision have led to a project the feels all-over-the-place” to “Start saving up what money you can so you can pay severance to all employees that will inevitably be laid off when the game cannot deliver.” Ouch.

Trying to build a PvE game, a PvP game, and an e-sport might be too much for one small company to handle. Thinking smaller and narrowing Firefall’s focus might be the key to keeping it alive. If PvP is on the back burner, maybe it should stay there for a long while.

By Jason Winter

17 Readers Commented

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  1. cacalips on September 15, 2013

    It is temp shut down. No big issue especially since they shut this game down often for repairs. Any one following the community feedback would understamd they hated current pvp (mass p2w due to frame fatigue and mass gring to lose all or pay to win). They do not like current harvesting or small content. Needs a mass overhaul with no p2w.

  2. RyuKaiser on September 14, 2013

    They just wanna shove more people towards grinding their brains out for loot, then having that loot permabreak so they can do it all over again. PvP was the only way to escape this cycle. I thought it was fun, kind of reminded me of Global Agenda before it went to complete crap. Now all we have is a barren wasteland where no one plays. Even during the big release/preview for the new frame, it was barely populated at all. Maybe if things didn’t permabreak, I’d come back… but until then? Nope.

  3. aggga on September 14, 2013

    pvp with arena style is so boring and lame…… open pvp is only solution if u want save your game……, but im asking myself, does developers playing their games and cant see obvius things on general chat? all what they are waiting are statistical data from marketing agency??? kill yourself for not knowing yor own product and their customers… thats all

  4. idont care on September 14, 2013

    fire fall failed , so shut down

    • FireFall-Succeeded-Then-Failed! on September 20, 2013

      At the beginning of the games creation, everything was good but when they started updating it, they failed with the graphics.

  5. driden on September 14, 2013

    Game was fun in the early days with the old battleframes, tried it last month and thought it sucked.

  6. asdasd on September 14, 2013

    i’ts right, first of all they took ALOT to pass from developing then relase and anyone lost all the interest towards it…

  7. Anon on September 14, 2013

    Firefall was DoA anyway. Barely anyone plays and its been like that since it went public even. Most people got into closed beta, hyped to hell, and fell flat on their faces.

    Firefall is now a barren wasteland. Even monsters got bored and left. When beta was going, the entire world was alive. You couldn’t go 10ft without running into something. Now you’re lucky if you see more than 1 person every 15 minutes, and a monster about the same. Good luck doing any special events that normally require 10 people, by yourself.

    Anyway, PvP should’ve been the focus to begin with. The game had minimal content and it was entirely driven towards PvP, yet the pvp was garbage.

    Thus, we got GhostFall.

    It was worth a shot, fun concept. Poor implementation.

    • Reavermyst on September 14, 2013

      O.o Someone doesn’t play during peak hours….

      • Anon on September 15, 2013

        Neither does anyone else apparently, lol.

        • salem on September 15, 2013

          apparently you dont play at all!
          or u just logged in a few times only, the game is full of people man!

          • Ryan on September 30, 2013

            Anon hit the nail on the head. Can’t expect to implement another run of the mill MMO. They needed two sides on their enormous map battling for resources and city takeovers. Played for a week and realized it’s just boring thumping. I don’t see how PVE would be at the forefront of this game when it’s clearly not working. The people want PVP not grinding.

    • Technoman on September 15, 2013

      Yeah pretty much what happened with me this game was so hyped up it really isn’t worth all the hype…..

  8. John on September 13, 2013

    aww how sad now the wannabe tough guys will have nothing to do

    • vercingetorix on September 13, 2013

      ^ Typical wannabe tough guys

    • lazy on September 14, 2013

      i think they should leave the pvp in there and make more awesome maps and stuff and just hire more people to tweak the abilities.. and that they should bring ti into the pve experience… and just make the map bigger so that people would be a bit more spread out but also compete for resources and watch they’re backs when thumping and stuff… would be a more dynamic and hard game… cause now .. pve is kinda boring if you don’t really feel you’re risking losing your thumper when mining for more rareer resources..

      • Bob on September 15, 2013

        You make it sound so easy… I wish it was as easy as “hiring more people”. If that was the case, then they wouldn’t have to cancel PvP. You need to understand this game has always had PvE at the forefront. They knew that an MMO cant be an MMO without PvP…BUT…as stated in this article, balancing can be a real issue. Especially if there is no traditional leveling system (like 1-80).

        Just like any other buisness, they have a budget to follow. If they are nearing their limits then they have to make cuts to certain parts of the game. I am glad they are focusing on PvE. When you think about it..whats the number 1 thing people bitch about when they reach higher levels? Not enough content for end game players. Hardcore players tend to burn through story quests in a week or two (sometimes less).Red 5 should be focusing all their time and effort on the meat of the game (PvE). Im sure they are nearing their deadline too so that may be a factor. But if there is enough content to keep players busy until they re-release PvP in a patch, then this a good thing…trust me.

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