The online game Heroes & Generals is one of the most ambitious Danish games ever to be developed – and it all started with a bald assassin.
Way back in the nineties, Danish game developer Reto-Moto was part of the foundation that IO Interactive sprung from leveraging the company to international success and fame. A few years ago, a group of game developers decided to reform Reto-Moto and embark on the very ambitious WW2 online shooter/strategy game Heroes & Generals.
We met up with Level Designer and cofounder Peter Fleckenstein to get the inside story on what is happening at Copenhagen based Reto-Moto.
MCV: What were the reasons for reforming Reto-Moto as a game developer?
PF: After some successful years at IO Interactive we felt like getting back to basics. IO was a wonderful place to work – but the dream of creating a new, small studio with focus on online gaming was strong, and we started with 12 guys – former founders of IO and some core employees.
MCV: Who are these 12 guys and how is the ownership of Reto-Moto set up?
PF: The partner group consisted of five former founders of IO Interactive, six key employees and our former executive producer from Eidos. Now four years later, we are still nine partners working full time at Reto-Moto. The partners own approximately half of the shares in the company, and the rest of the shares are owned by private investors.
MCV: What are you capable of doing at Reto-Moto that you could not do at IO Interactive?
PF: The main difference is the way we distribute the game. IO was a classic boxed-game developer, and in that model we did not have any contact with the ones playing the game at all. We wanted to create a company and a game where the community would play a significant part in the development. We listen to them, discuss with them – and we try to involve them as much as possible in the development process.
MCV: How is Reto-Moto financed?
PF: Reto-Moto is financed by both the partners and some strong, private investors. We actually had an almost signed deal with some international investors – but the deal just went down the drain, and we were self-financed for over a year. The interest from investors was good, but the game business is indeed high-risk investment, and the global fiscal crisis decreased the willingness to do high-risk investments for many investors. We were finally approached by some private Danish investors who knew about the company, and they are still on board.
MCV: What would an elevator pitch on Heroes & Generals sound like?
PF: Heroes & Generals is a Free2Play Massive Online FPS with a Strategic Multiplayer Campaign taking place in the European theatre of war during WWII. Players can play both as ‘Heroes’ in the FPS action game or manage battlefield assets, army units and reinforcements as ‘Generals’.The game is fought out continuously across Windows, iOS and Android devices, and the result of every battle alters the scope of the ongoing war campaign and affects the final outcome.
MCV: The game seems very ambitious and something that could easily in up in an eternal beta test?
PF: In my mind the game is always under development – but not just in Beta. When we remove the Beta tag, the mechanics work, the game is balanced, the monetization makes sense etc. But we will continuously deliver both smaller feature packs and larger expansion packs. Second World War was also fought in the Pacific, in the African desert, in Russia, in the North Sea, in Norway etc. and also consisted of several more factions, like the British, Russian, Italian and even partisans and resistance movements. So as you might imagine it is not ideas that we are in lack of.
MCV: What is the business model of Heroes & Generals put together?
PF: Heroes & Generals is, as mentioned, Free2Play so everybody can sign up and just start to play the game without paying a single dime. That would be as a standard Infantry Soldier, and while playing you will earn ‘Credits’. These can be spent on purchasing and upgrading weapons, buying new soldier types or strategic Assault Teams. You can also accelerate the earnings by using real money to buy Gold Coins which can be exchanged to Credits.
Our F2P model has two dimensions, the usual ‘Personal F2P’ where coins are spent on your own character – but in our case we are adding something we call ‘Social F2P’. Players can choose to upgrade their Assault Teams with e.g. thicker armour, more powerful mounted MG’s, better food, etc. so other FPS players benefits from this if they join a battle with an upgraded Assault Team. Stats and Rewards as a ‘General’ will get better according to how you manage your Assault Team and how they are doing in the action game. It is like buying new training suits and boots for your local football team – you get credits in the local community and pats on the shoulder.
MCV: A F2P model like that might take a bit of time to pay off. What are Reto-Moto’s financial horizons?
PF: Right now, we are in Closed Beta, and we are working intensively on our monetization model and assets. Of course, it will take some time, and of course it is still not profitable. But players are actually already using their credit cards and PayPal accounts for purchasing Gold Coins. Every day, our user base grows, and money earned are used for continuous development. We are never going to stop developing content for this game!