“Not Possible to Buy Success” says End of Nations Executive Producer (INTERVIEW)
As a fan of strategy games, I’ve spent a lot of time watching End of Nations. It was recently announced that Petroglyph’s new real-time strategy title would use a free-to-play model with microtransactions. As soon as we heard that, we decided to have a little chat with the folks at Petroglyph to find out just how their free-to-play decision came about.
Luckily, we were able to sit down and talk with David Luehmann, Executive Producer of End of Nations and VP 3rd Party Development. Here’s what he had to say.
GameFront: The big news on the End of Nations front right now is the announcement that the game will be free-to-play. Can you elaborate on the specific model you’ll be using? Will you have a microtransaction store, and if so, what sort of items will players be able to buy?
David Luehmann: End of Nations will be available as a free to play title with an optional subscription plan and microtansactions. Free players get access to the entire game. The in-game store will offer a wide selection of items, including customization and convenience items. We will not be selling pay-to-win items that give one player a significant gameplay advantage over another. Most items in the store will be purchasable with either End of Nations Wealth (currency earned in-game by playing) or with Trion Credits (purchased currency).
GF: Free-to-play models are becoming increasingly popular throughout the industry. What factors led you to decide that this model was right for End of Nations? Were there any free-to-play games that influenced you in that decision?
DL: For a premium strategy game like End of Nations, we really want to bring as many players as possible into its massive-scale strategic warfare. And as we looked at the enormous battles and huge persistent world, we realized that the success of End of Nations would be driven by having thousands of players from around the globe battling daily in the world’s biggest strategy game. Essentially our goal is to minimize the barrier to entry and maximize the fun!
GF: Many free-to-play games offer players the option of purchasing a monthly subscription and receiving all the new content that’s added. Is this something you’ll be doing with End of Nations? For players who don’t subscribe, how will they be limited? Will there be level caps or something similar?
DL: The optional subscription we are offering with End of Nations is just a way to offer the best value to our most committed players. End of Nations can be enjoyed entirely without the subscription, but subscribers will get significant value and convenience extras for their monthly fee. The optional subscription is all about value, but not about gameplay advantage. Players will not be level-capped or restricted while advancing and improving their units and armies.
GF: The biggest criticism many gamers have of free-to-play models is that some seem to become ‘pay-to-win’ models. How will you work to prevent that?
DL: Core to the design of any successful strategy game is that all players are on a level playing field. It will not be possible for players to buy their way to success, where the player with the most money will win. End of Nations favors strategy and skill. This fairness is the social contract we engage in with our players.
GF: Moving away from the free-to-play stuff for a bit, let’s talk about the game. As an MMORTS title, End of Nations is jumping into a market that hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as the MMORPG one. Is there any sort of crossover in End of Nations between the two genres?
DL: The big pieces of the genre crossover is the concept of persistence, larger scale battles, massive environments, and player progression where you level up and unlock capabilities over time. We are focused on making a core RTS with constructs from the MMO world that enhance the experience.