Recently, Hi-Rez Co-founder and COO Todd Harris announced that Tribes: Ascend—one of our favorite shooters—will not receive major updates for at least six months, with development almost entirely shifting to in-beta MOBA Smite. Harris later added the news that Hi-Rez is looking into releasing map-making tools for the community, a long-requested feature.
Last week, Hi-Rez's Todd Harris made a statement to the Tribes: Ascend community, informing them that the free-to-play FPS would not receive any major updates for at least sixth months. That, in addition to an already long period since the last major content drop, seemed to imply that the team were planning on eventually abandoning the game. Apparently that's not quite the case, as Harris has now revealed his desire to plant their development flag in the well-defended base of the game's community.
The next major Tribes: Ascend patch, the Accelerate Update, is coming later this month. It's named for a big change to Tribes' player progression system: weapon and gear upgrades will no longer cost XP. Instead, you'll earn upgrades over time by using your equipment, and only have to spend XP on them if you want a shortcut to mastery. The change will "dramatically speed up" weapon upgrading, says Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris.
How things change. A few years ago the words "free to play" used to strike fear in my naive mind. I'd think of exploits, affluent winners and infinite credit card debt. No more. Now I associate free to play with a game I can play... for free. It's a payment model that Hi Rez studios controversially adopted for Tribes: Ascend, the competitive team-based shooter that's just gone into open beta.
Executive Producer Todd Harris has the payment model to thank for the boost in the player base of their previous MMO-shooter, Global Agenda: "Just before going free-to-play, we had a very generous free trial, but by changing it from a free trial to free-to-play, we increased the number of people who download and play dramatically. That was a good learning for us... we thought we did an effective job making the game free-to-play, but not pay-to-win and the community tended to agree with us."
"People have maybe forgotten about the adrenaline rush of the old school shooters like Quake, Unreal Tournament and, of course, Tribes." Executive producer on upcoming free to play shooter Tribes: Ascend, Todd Harris, misses the twitch shooters of old.
We asked him why he thought they were less popular these days. "I think a lot of it is the multi-platform consideration," he said. "Games have this huge marketing spend so many of these shooters look to go multi-platform, meaning not just the PC but at least two consoles as well."
Todd says controllers don't offer the same freedom of movement as a mouse and keyboard, making it harder for devs to put an emphasis on raw dexterity: "The control scheme on the consoles does limit somewhat the speed and the twitch in which a game can operate – I mean your turn distance is only so far."
As reported on Eurogamer, a Tribes Ascend closed beta is due to kick off on November 4. You can sign up for the beta on the official Tribes Ascend site.
The info came from Cyberlink's interview with COO at Hi-Rez Studios, Todd Harris.
There are three ways to get in the beta. Apply on the website and wait for a code, keep an eye on the Hi-Rez Facebook and twitter pages or pre-order. That'll give you access to the VIP Starter Kit, which includes beta access, a 33% cost saving, and some bonus VIP features. We'll update as soon as you're able to lay down the cash.
Todd highlights that the VIP Starter Kit won't be a "buy one get everything pack" but "a way to get VIP status in the game which will put you in a more elite set of queues." Players will also get a bunch of in-game gold and some form of booster. "It gives you a pretty compelling starter experience," he says.
For more, read our Tribes: Ascend preview. Will you be pre-ordering?
Global Agenda has experimented with a number of different business models since it was released. It started as a typical retail game, then offered an unlimited trial period, and just recently it went completely free to play. We recently spoke with Hi-Res Studio COO Todd Harris about the move to the new pricing model. He told us that Global Agenda is enjoying five times the number of players since the shift to free to play, and revenues "are higher than they ever have been before."