In a market flooded with fantasy-themed MMORPGs, Hi-Rez Studios tried to play the originality card with Global Agenda, a sci-fi third person shooter that just turned free-to-play. MMOBomb.com spoke with COO Todd Harris to know more about the move from pay-to-play to free-to-play, and how things are looking for the future of MMO games.
MMOBomb.com: Can you start by describing Global Agenda and its strong points?
Global Agenda is a shooter MMO with jetpacks! The game is set on planet Earth in the year 2155. The combat feels like a third-person class based shooter but you gain levels and gear and have vendors and a shared social space like an MMO. You can level up by playing either PvE or PvP as you choose but it is definitely a skill-based MMO where aim is more important than dice rolls. Global Agenda is a AAA free-to-play game.
MMOBomb.com: The game was critically well received. How did it perform in terms of sales and subscriptions?
As a buy to play game Global Agenda did very well – in fact we were still one of the top selling MMOs on Steam when we decided to switch. Global Agenda launched as pay-to-play but now features a free-to-play model. What led you to this decision, and is it the only viable option nowadays for MMO games? We decided that free-to-play would be the best way to further grow the Global Agenda population. We have some people who enjoy Global Agenda non-stop and others who play it more casually. With the current model both of these play-styles are supported and we are also able to keep the gameplay very balanced.
Most definitely. We have seen a huge increase in new accounts created as well as the number of active players each day. The number of people deciding to purchase items has also increased.
MMOBomb.com: What kind of items can be purchased, and how will they affect gameplay?
Today the main purchasable items affect your character’s progression in the game. So if you want to earn XP faster, earn in-game credits and tokens faster, and earn loot faster we have items that support that. The Elite Agent package is a great deal because it is a one-time purchase that permanently increases all those things and also unlocks some premium features like Auction House and Mail. Then we sell timed Boosters for those who want to further accelerate progression and loot. In a future update we will add many other items for purchase but we are being very careful to maintain the game’s balance and avoid a pay-to-win situation.
MMOBomb.com: Finally, how do you see the future for MMO games? Is there still space for subscription-based MMOs or is World of Warcraft leaving no room for competition?
There is still space for subscription based MMOs but hybrid models and free-to-play will only grow in popularity. There are many great gaming options out there but few people in a position to afford multiple subscription; or sometimes even a single subscription. In the case of Global Agenda, more players can now experience the game and decide for themselves if there are game-related services or items they wish to pay for.