Paeroka’s Ponderings: Splitting your game in two

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnA few weeks ago, Daybreak Games announced H1Z1 being split into two games, H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Hill. Is splitting your games in two about to become a trend now?

The first time I read it recently was with The Repopulation and Fragmented. But those two games are not the first that get this “treatment”. Landmark was originally just supposed to be a sandbox with tools for the community to create buildings and other things which could be transferred over to the MMORPG Everquest Next if they were done well enough. Over time, Landmark got more and more features that made it less of a “tool” and more of a game, like combat. H1Z1 and Landmark/Everquest belong to the same game company, Daybreak Games, so maybe that is where the H1Z1 developers got the idea from in the first place.

And then there is Godus and Godus Wars with Peter Molyneux saying that he had envisioned it to be two games from the beginning on.

Landmark Alpha in March 2014

Now they all mention more or less different reasons for doing those splits: Some say it was always imagined to be two different games, others say that one game will help with the development of the other game.

What I’m wondering is: Is it really a good idea to do it like that?

Unless they get more developers, development has to be split between those two games resulting in each game getting less attention per se. I get it for The Repopulation, because here Fragmented is supposed to be the basis for The Repopulation with the new engine (probably a bit like Landmark is to Everquest Next). And since they more or less did not have a choice than to move to a different engine, they need to find something which could give them some extra income in the meantime while also giving us, the backers, something to do as long as we are waiting for the new version to come out. With Godus and H1Z1, I’m not so sure. Is it really necessary to split? Are the playerbases – well, the H1z1 one, at least, so diverse and different in tastes that you need to make such a split? So, on the other hand, if that is the case, then it could also be a good idea to split your game, as that allows the developers to cater more to a specific kind of playerbase and they can focus more on specific features relevant to each game instead of trying to squash it all into one game and make it work.

The Repopulation
Near Freedomtown. The city you ended up in after the first tutorial zone.

If I’m being negative here, I would say they all just want to grab as much money as possible. However, this does not make sense for The Repopulation and Godus. In the case of The Repopulation, it seems to be more their way of trying to earn money while working on porting their MMO to the other engine. So yes, it is about making money, but not about making more money. That reason does not apply to Godus either, because if you buy Godus Wars, you do get Godus as well for free. In this case, I would go with them probably trying to get away from the vastly negative reviews that Godus had gotten and sort of “hiding” behind Godus Wars now, a new game which just happens to give you Godus as well. I haven’t given Godus Wars a good try yet – only logged in for a few minutes – so I will refrain from saying anything, bad or good, about the game, but the current state of the reviews does not look positive either. Everquest Next still seems to be so far away, that I would say Landmark is like Fragmented. Not a way to make more money, but a way to make any kind of money while development is ongoing.

This leaves H1Z1… The Massively post quotes them saying it was something the community had wanted them to do. However, both games are “buy to play”, so there is more money, as you would have to buy both if you want to play both. I hope that it was not done just to get more money for those two games, but also because they want to give the playerbases games tailored to their needs.

At the end of it all, the big question is probably: Is it for the best each of these games? And can the developers adequately support both game modes to please the community? If that is the case, then it is a smart choice to split your game in two.

I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place.

2 thoughts on “Paeroka’s Ponderings: Splitting your game in two

  1. Hm. I didn’t notice it being a trend until you pointed out. I also don’t know if I really like the idea either not only because of the points you made but because I think it might end being more expensive for the consumer too if they want to experience everything.

    Anyway, at least in the case of 3 of these games I think they came to this approach independently of each other. Landmark went that route because they realized that people were doing a lot of non-fantasy stuff that was pretty good. Which isn’t really surprising to anyone who ever played a creative game but I guess it was for them since they decided it would be better to make its own game so they could showcase and encourage non-fantasy types of work. :p

    In the case of Fragmented, I have a guildie who is working in Repopulation. According to her work on it started on November of last year with the intention of being a project to keep the team together and to make some revenue while they waited for the Hero Engine problems to be resolved.

    Godus Wars… I think it is pretty much what you said. Which to me feels very shady to say the least.

    Just H1Z1 might be following the others because they thought it might be a good idea. Like the Godus games I haven’t been following this one so I can’t really say.

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    1. Yeah, as I said for Fragmented: It’s to get *some* money while they switch to another engine (which was a possibility, but not a certainty back in November due to their issues).

      No worries about Godus Wars, though, as I saw that the reviews are just as bad as the original ones were. Maybe slightly higher (but they did add content, we should give them that!).

      Out of the 4 games, I absolutely understand – and support – it for Fragmented/The Repopulation and I think it was a smart thing to do with Landmark, because it does give the Landmark players more freedom. At the same time, it gives those players something to do, keeps them occupied and entertained while waiting for Everquest Next. I would guess that they really want those super creative players to stick around until EQ Next comes out, as they are the ones building stuff. :p

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