Digital Extremes VP: Publishers "Told Us The Game [Warframe] Would Fail"

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor January 18, 2017
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Warframe Prime Vault

When you get right down to it, Warframe is a pretty unusual title. While there are plenty of free-to-play MMOs with a PvE bent, few are as focused as Warframe. While other elements have been added over the years, its focus on PvE "dungeon grinding" have made it a favorite for gamers interested in a certain kind of experience.

But its unique nature made it hard for Digital Extremes to attract attention from publishers during the game's development. That's the crux of a recent interview with Digital Extreme's Vice President of Publishing Meredith Braun over on VentureBeat. While DE conceived of Warframe 10 years ago -- and even produced a similar game, Dark Sector, for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 -- it couldn't find anyone willing to take a chance on what seemed like an impossible vision.

"They told us the game would fail because it was PVE [player-vs.-environment] and it was too sci-fi. No one was going to get it. To survive in free-to-play land, they claimed, you needed to be first and foremost a [competitive] PVP game, and you needed to have some sort of relatable premise, which wasn’t science fiction. At that point, we decided, well, we’re going to do this on our own. No one’s going to talk us out of this again."

And "do it on our own" they did, though there were some rough points along the way. I haven't followed Warframe from day one, so I was surprised to learn that, at first, it had a payment model similar to many PvE titles: progress for free up to a point, and then pay to continue. As Braun put it, the community "brought out the pitchforks" and DE removed that limitation.

Of course, when you remove the paywall, nobody pays for anything and the game fails. That's why so many F2P games, especially PvE ones, do it. It's the only way they can pay the bills.

"We tracked what happened, and — lo and behold — it made almost no difference in how they were paying. In fact, the less aggressive reach for money turned out to be the best way to go."

Oh. It's almost as if people really don't like pay walls. Who could have predicted that? In truth, DE's approach sounds a lot like what competitive PvP games do, but with a PvE focus. It's similar to something I suggested could work, and Warframe seems to be proof that that's the case.

The publishing industry as a whole resists that notion, as it did DE's attempt to produce a F2P, non-PvP game in the first place. And a game like Warframe is a far cry from a full-featured MMORPG, but maybe Warframe's success will give an enterprising developer the inspiration needed to usher in a new, more enlightened, age of free-to-play gaming.

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In this article: Warframe, Digital Extremes.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (20)

kekman 4 years ago
Oh Warframe...why did you have to put shitty children piloting the warframes story?


i would still be playing if it wast for that shitty storyline...at least its good to know they are having sucess

Blue 4 years ago
Everyone doudts everything in all industries.. just do your creative dreams even if people say it will fail.

View 1 reply
Maaslander 4 years ago
first few hours i played wf i thought damn noob game, then some players told me how the game works, every thing i own ingame i did myself by grinding, why should i spend real money if i can make the currency ingame quiet easly, i case your wondering i got 90% of the game items. warframe unlocked a pro-trader in me hehe.

never been such a fan of fps (normaly i suck at that), but the hack and slash aspect of the game is just awesome. Who needs a gun and bullets if you got stealth and a shiny blade;)

trionisshit 4 years ago
Innovative game i love it, i love it because pve, i not play pvp its suck(should be removed with archwing missions and raids, almost no one play that, devs only wasting time improving and fixing these super boring game modes), game lack of new content all the time, half year you can play something else till new content comes, then after month of enjoying new content you can quit for half year again and repeat, thats for endgamers, anyway most of players right now endgamers, leveling is so fast then it was at the beginning.Make game harder and leveling 10x slower then most of people will have game to play with existing content.

View 1 reply
LAMBDA471 4 years ago
I played Warframe for 7-8 hours non-stop then I was so bored out of my head I uninstalled it and never looked back. It's just the same old same old.

View 1 reply
lamak251 4 years ago
I am a full PVE gamer and i play Warframe and...i dont like it. Not my stuff+cash shop is "good" money grabber.

View 1 reply
SwagCrab 4 years ago
One of the best Free-to-Play game if not the best,its fun you can get all the weapons all the warframes just playing the game.It is very grind based but i always loved that.If you want to be a space ninja with heavy weapon,lasers,guns,snipers,swords small or big a command an arsenal of warframe and combat pets join your fellow tenno. This game is not for every one it will take time to learn the ropes but you will get there in time and the community and lutes will help.Join Us Tenno

Anonymously 4 years ago
I really dislike all the cash shops and micro transactions. Maybe if the MMOs would lighten up on that I might give the MMO genre another chance but for now I'm staying away from the MMO genre.

View 4 replies

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