GamesIndustry.biz has an interview up today with the co-founders of Piranha Games, makers of MechWarrior Online. The company started 18 years ago when Russ Bullock and Bryan Ekman made an unauthorized Die Hard mod in the Half-Life engine. The inevitable cease and desist order arrived shortly thereafter, but the pair wound up negotiating with Fox Interactive to make an officially licensed version of the mod, titled Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, in 2002.
That led to 11 years of working on various projects for different companies, including finishing work on the ultimate “development hell” game, Duke Nukem Forever, in 2011. Then the company set its sights on the MechWarrior license, negotiated with rightsholder and original BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman, and released MechWarrior Online into the burgeoning free-to-play market.
Interestingly, the interview details Bullock’s and Ekman’s then-odd decision to have a “free to play” game that you could buy into with early access. Back then, that was deemed strange or scammy — just look at some of the comments on our article from 2012 — but it’s par for the course these days. Piranha’s working on a single-player MechWarrior game, and have yet to decide what kind of business model it will use. As Ekman puts it,
“We just look at what the right way is to get the project financed and supported through its lifetime. That might include an initial purchase price, post-launch expansions, it might include microstransactions. To categorize games is no longer necessary the way the industry is. Most games use one or more models to support themselves. That’s the big shift of the last few years. You’re loosely lumping into one greater category, but for the most part, many releases are using multiple sources of revenue.”
That’s a solid strategy, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gaming. Each game has its own requirements and should have a business model to match.