Warframe developer feels it’s riskier for a mid-size firm to go mobile than free-to-play

Saturday, 22 June 2013 21:36 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Digital Extremes creative director Steve Sinclair has said that while most mod-sized studios would rather play the safe card by developing a mobile title, to them, it’s just as risky as going free-to-play – like with Warframe.

Speaking with GI International, Sinclair said even members of the team have asked why it isn’t developing something for phone or tablets.

“I suppose internally over the last few years we’ve had a lot of the team ask why we aren’t making a tablet game, or why aren’t we making phone games,” he said. “It seems like it’s feast or famine there, and the team sizes are much smaller than ours. And we wanted to keep the people we had.

“If you want to get two or three guys and take a shot at mobile, it’s probably awesome for you. But for a mid-size developer like us, it’s even riskier than going free-to-play.

“Internally, the studio was sharply divided on what we were doing, because we had worked and tried to do frankly high budget looking stuff for way less money. You get a call from an executive saying he just saw that Halo trailer and why don’t we have X,Y, and Z? And they don’t take kindly to, ‘Well, we’re talking about budgets with extra zeroes to them.’

“Most [mid-sized develeopers] are dead and gone, and the quadrupling down on a few franchises means that a mid-size developer like us that can’t throw 500 people on a single project don’t have any work.”

And the risk has paid off: Warframe will be a launch title for PS4, and it the team has the popularity of the PC version’s beta to thank for it.

“They approached us, and they’ve been really, really good to us, helping us get more dev kits than they wanted to give us,” said Sinclair. “They definitely squeezed themselves for us and the fact they put us up [in their E3 booths] three months after they sent us dev kits has been awesome for us.

“And it’s given us a chance to expose the game to people that maybe weren’t as interested in it when it was just PC free-to-play, because there’s that certain stigma surrounding that.”