Smite proving more successful than Tribes: Ascend, says Hi-Rez CEO
A few months ago, Hi-Rez's Todd Harris announced that development on Tribes: Ascend was suspended, with the studio focusing its efforts their third-person DoTA-like Smite. With fans of that game growing concerned that its own continued development would eventually be in danger, the studio's CEO Erez Goren has posted a candid address to the Smite Reddit page, addressing Tribes' development, its financial troubles, and Smite's success in comparison. His comments also call into question their initial plan to release map-making tools for Tribes: Ascend.
As part of the post, Goren delves back into the history of Hi-Rez releases. "Global Agenda was our first game and it lost a lot of money," he writes. He goes on to explain how that loss was mitigated by the fact that its technology would support future games. "We continued to fund Global Agenda for more than a year after it was released and losing money, we continued to create content and new features but no matter how much work we did the user base kept declining."
That leads to Tribes: Ascend. "We created Tribes Ascend since we love Tribes," Goren writes, "we made it F2P so everyone can have easy access to it. We didn’t think Tribes Ascend would be a financial windfall but it was worth a risk to try." Unfortunately, the game was ultimately "break-even at best". "Tribes received exceptional reviews, we kept adding new features and content, but just like Global Agenda the user base kept declining no matter what we did." Goren's perspective is that "most games fail", with him comparing Tribes: Ascend's fate with "99% of the games".
In regards to the planned map-making and mod tools for the jet-powered FPS, they're looking unlikely. "Some people have asked for us to provide more tools for community content creation, but our infrastructure and development platform does not support that ability well and the cost and time to develop those features is extremely high. Contrary to the belief that we were ‘milking’ tribes to support the development of Smite, if we didn’t develop another game that could support the studios the company and the Tribe servers would have closed down."
And Smite? According to Goren, it's proving the exception. "Smite is one of those rare games that’s actually growing every month, and is also profitable. This is allowing us to grow the Smite team and deliver weekly updates and content (from 15 people initially to about 80 people now). In addition, many outside publishers were interested in Smite and we are fortunate enough to have made a deal with Tencent who is the most prestigious partner we can have for our type of game.
"Given everything we know Smite should have a long and successful future which is why we are very excited as a company and continue to work our butts off to make Smite the best Moba game in the world."
To read the full statement, including why Tribes: Ascend was apparently a bad fit for traditional publishers, head over to Goren's Reddit post.