Hi-Rez CEO: $30 Million Lost on Tribes: Ascend, Global Agenda

When we spoke with Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris in July, the plan was to stop development on Tribes: Ascend and hand it off to its small but active and vocal community via some form of mod tools and/or a map editor. In that same interview, Harris said that Hi-Rez was moving on because Tribes was profitable, but not a “growth vehicle.” Strange then that Hi-Rez CEO Erez Goren now says Tribes, along with Global Agenda and the infrastructure created for both games, led to a whopping $30 million loss at Hi-Rez, and mod tools for the skiing, jet-packing shooter now appear very much in doubt.

Last night, Goren created a post on the Smite (Hi-Rez’s third-person MOBA) Reddit forum entitled, “What will Hi-Rez do with Smite?” As if to assure Smite’s growing fan base it will not suffer the same fate as Global Agenda and Tribes, Goren goes into detail about the costs and challenges Hi-Rez faced in creating and running both games:

“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…”

“…I personally funded all the game development with over $30 million of funding (losses) and generated about $10 million in revenue (split fairly evenly between GA and Tribes) so overall we spent about $40 million running the company vs $10 million in revenue. Yes, my wife thinks I’m crazy, but what does she know about playing and making video games :)

As for mod tools for Tribes, here’s what Harris told me in July: “It is a pretty big deal. It will take us some time to iron out the details. We’re looking to give users more flexibility rather than less. We’re just in the scoping process now. I don’t have any other specifics I can give other than the intent we’re going to support it.”

And here’s what Goren said in his Reddit post last night: “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.”

To be fair, Goren never comes out and specifically states mod tools will not be created for Tribes: Ascend. Harris also left himself some wiggle room in July, saying that Hi-Rez has the “intent” to support modding but no concrete plans. When you consider Tribes has already taken so much out of Goren’s wallet, however,  it now sounds like mod tools aren’t even a possibility.

UPDATE: Harris and Goren were not available for comment, but a Hi-Rez spokesperson did respond to an email stating, “Erez’s post does not say that tools are no longer happening. He simply emphasizes that it is a big effort.”

We’ll keep you posted.


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