Next For Company Of Heroes: New Setting, Maybe F2P

By Nathan Grayson on December 12th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Company of Heroes 2 is coming along marvelously, but let’s be honest here: it’s not exactly the departure one might expect from the company of game developers that made the brilliantly daring leap from Dawn of War 1 to Dawn of War 2. Instead, we’re getting more of what we loved, but with small tweaks, a heaping mountain of snow, and the sobering realization that it’s apparently not a good idea to joyride multi-ton tanks across nearly opaque films of ice. During an interview with RPS, however, game director Quinn Duffy said that Company of Heroes definitely isn’t stuck in a tiny, World-War-II-shaped box. In the future, he excitedly explained, the series could potentially go “anywhere.”

“We could look at setting this game anywhere,” Duffy replied when asked what lies beyond the Eastern Front. “We know what we want to deliver in a Company of Heroes game. We know what we want it to feel like. So the setting becomes another piece of military history to tell – or another set of stories. But the game should feel like a Company of Heroes product.”

So then, with all that possibility on the horizon, why even return to a tried-and-tired setting like World War II in the first place? Well, according to Duffy, the Eastern Front is actually anything but.

“Company of Heroes doesn’t mean World War II,” he said. “But the Eastern Front’s the biggest part of the biggest conflict in history, so we couldn’t leave World War II without telling that piece of that story.”

Long gone, however, are the days when a new setting was all developers had to worry about while churning out a sequel. Especially on PC, “where” very nearly takes a back seat to “how” and “for how much”? Microtransactions, macrotransactions, mechrotransactions. Granted, Company of Heroes has already gone free-to-play once, and that didn’t go so well. But times have changed, and Relic’s absolutely ready to give it another shot.

“For sure,” Duffy replied when asked if Relic’s sizing up F2P again. “It’s an interesting new market and there’s a lot of potential for strategy-type games in that market. Absolutely, it’s definitely part of THQ’s vision going forward and ours in the studio as well. You know, making sure we’ve got good coverage going into these new models.”

Obviously, though, Relic can’t simply rehash Company of Heroes Online. Fortunately, Duffy thinks the series’ initial bellyflop in those uncharted waters gave Relic better perspective in the long run.

“To a degree, it was timing,” he said of COHO’s failure. “There’s a real challenge in building a studio to create games for that infrastructure. We had a small team working on it, but a lot of live support. There was new content on an almost monthly basis. That’s hard on a team. That’s like having a constant milestone process. But in doing that, we got some great insights into the markets and how different they are. China vs Korea vs North America – radically different. And one game probably can’t service them all.”

“In a market like China, you see a lot more games that do charge for power and accessibility. The psychology they apply to their game development is years ahead of where I think we are. So I think it goes back to that: you really want to tailor a model to suit the market you’re delivering for.”

What, though, does that mean for prospective players like you and me? For Duffy, that’s the tricky part, and – at the moment – Relic’s still trying to figure it out.

“[Western markets] are a bit different,” he explained. “I’m really not sure what players are completely comfortable with – from a personal basis. That’s really part of the development and growth we would do [before taking CoH F2P again]. Because you can’t just do customization and skins and things. It needs to be more meaningful than that. At the same time, though, I don’t think there’s a willingness to pay-to-win. Or people say they don’t like it, but some would take advantage of it anyway.”

Let me buy thicker ice, Relic. Let me make Meticulously Accurate World War II Tanks On Ice. It’s the only way.

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53 Comments »

  1. WoundedBum says:

    I’d definitely be interested in seeing other time periods. They should totally mix Homeworld and Company of Heroes so you can have space battles and then go to ground with CoH style gameplay.

    • Wololo says:

      That would be ace.

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        FhnuZoag says:

        Battlefleet Gothic, then when you win the space battle, you get to land and play Dawn of War?

        • EPICTHEFAIL says:

          Yes, please! Although, you can basically do the same thing by modding Sins of a Solar Empire and tabbing over to DoW2 when invading someone.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Like Star Was: Empire at War, but y’know, good?

    • int says:

      Just give me my goddamn Great War game, someone. There is what, 3 or 4 games set in WW1 if you don’t count dogfight games?

      Last Express and WW1 source are the only ones I can think of now.

    • Isometric says:

      Company of Heroes: Imperial Guard. Massive battles, thousands of soldiers. Make it happen relic.

  2. Real Horrorshow says:

    Call CoH3 Homeworld 3 and set it in outer space. That’s the next logical step for the franchise.

  3. Mctittles says:

    The problem I have with “pay to win” is it can either make the game boring, the purchases pointless, or it makes you as a player feel guilty.
    If you have as much money as you want to easily spend on the game, then you can buy everything right away and where is the fun in that?
    On the flipside if you have to save money to purchase things in the game, then you might just feel like you wasted money on nothing, and where is the fun in that?

    Speaking of fun, that might be a good place to start when making a game.

    • bonjovi says:

      agreed, but that’s where the “art” is nowadays. If done right it’s a amazing experience for players and amazing moneymaking machine.

    • plugmonkey says:

      It all rather depends on how you structure it, and the gameplay surrounding it.

      “Pay2Win” is really no more or less fun than the traditional “Grind2Win”. I’ve never really understood why people think it is.

      If your game is only ‘fun’ after someone invests a colossal amount of either time or money, it sounds like a pretty crappy game.

      • Saiko Kila says:

        With grind to win, you make your money elsewhere, and spend it elsewhere. That’s the grinding process in-game which is supposed to give you fun time.

        With play to win, you make your money elsewhere, and spend it in the game (usually again, after already paying for basic content). Instead of fun-time with in-game grinding, you do your job (lets say, grind meat at the butcher’s). Now, when is it supposed to give you your fun? The short moment when you are actually spending your money in-game?

        The two grinding processes are meant for something different. One is for making money, the other is for making fun. Sure, there are people who love making money as a pastime. But most of them consider it rather a necessity (i.e. no fun). And there are people who love to spend money, though I suspect them to be a minority.

        Also, apparently you’re the one who doesn’t find fun in grinding. I mean in-game.

  4. Prime says:

    it’s not exactly the departure one might expect from the company of game developers that made the brilliantly daring leap from Dawn of War 1 to Dawn of War 2

    “Brilliantly daring” is one way of looking at it.

    In other news, hearing this man speak so much corporate-ese made my ears bleed. I loved when he said:

    Or people say they don’t like it, but some would take advantage of it anyway

    like we’re just moaners and whingers who can’t resist his shiny monetised baubles despite themselves. Oh and that part about China being years ahead of us – I take that to mean because they don’t whinge when asked to buy stuff in a game?

    I feel so complimented.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      Is he wrong, though?

      • Prime says:

        About which bit particularly?

        • jalf says:

          The bit you quoted.

          Is it wrong to say that people say they don’t like pay-to-win? Is it wrong to say that some would take advantage of it anyway?

          Seems pretty obviously true to me.

          • Prime says:

            No, he’s not wrong…I guess it’s just the general attitude of his that annoys me. I don’t like reductionism, particularly when applied to humans. He’s looking for ways to sell the idea that monetisation is a good thing – “Hey, the Chinese accept it” – but pointing towards hypocrites to do it, singling out the presumably small percentage of people that possess that particular weakness. It’s almost as if he’s looking for some lever to pull, something to exploit, that will get him where he wants his company to be rather than focusing on creating something that has readily-apparent value to a consumer. I appreciate that trickery like this works (on the weak-minded) but I don’t have to like it.

          • KaMy says:

            Some people clearly would. But is it worth alienating the crowd that doesn’t like pay to win over those who do ? Here’s the real challenge for them. Is the money of a few people willing to spend a lot more lucrative than a lot of people just bying skins / slots / whatever.

            And comparing the Asian market to the Western one is kinda dumb it as been proven countless times that the people do not play the same way. The simple fact that in Asia you have as much F2P MMOs that coexist and thrive while around here you have WOW and GW2 then TSW and some F2P fighting to exists is quite telling.

    • Rhodri2311 says:

      I think you read it wrong – he was commenting about games developers understanding of games psychology being years ahead, not the players themselves.

      • Prime says:

        Ah, ok. Fair point. But that makes it worse, surely: that the psychology of in-game player manipulation is something Relic should be pursuing. Fair enough if it’s to make me cry and otherwise emote, to enhance my experience of playing the game, but in the context of the article I really don’t think that’s what Duffy is finding attractive about it; he’s thinking monetisation.

        Being manipulated into purchases through psychological trickery is exactly why I don’t play Facebook games any more, and why most of the Internet hates Zynga.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          I find it similar to arcade machines – those days peple paid microtransactions to play one stage or to just continue. That was a pay2suffer model and there were many happily doing so. That model is dead now.

          Free2play is inevitable (those who don’t do it get much smaller slice of audience) and I think that it’s a good direction. Just like Demo and Full, only seamless. Good deals will prevail and money grabbing schemes will die out after the audience learns to recognize which is which.

          • mouton says:

            It could work, but in F2P the “Full” price is usually hundreds of dollars.

    • CPLDANABD says:

      I thought you were meant to be an Optimust?

  5. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    The Arab-Israeli conflicts from 1948 to 2012. This is clearly a good idea.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Like Generals Zero Hour … I love that game. Dozers…

      Enter the Israeli Panzer Dozer !

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Nerf ‘rock throwing youth’ please.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      that comment is treding on thin ice

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        Gap Gen says:

        It’s interesting that some conflicts are considered tasteful for games to be made about, and some not. Granted, ongoing conflicts are perhaps a little tasteless. Then again, the Eastern Front featured widespread genocide and was fought between two totalitarian dictatorships, so yeah, not exactly the cleanest fight.

        • EPICTHEFAIL says:

          It`s mostly how relevant it is. Mentioning 9/11 in a videogame instantly pisses off the soccer moms, but no-one bats an eyelash at Dwarf Fortress players discussing ways of exterminating everything that gets within 10 miles in exceptionally cruel ways. Likewise for Civ, Spore, and every God game ever.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            What about the Korean War? WWII is still within living memory, and so is Vietnam. Technically speaking, the Korean War is still ongoing, although events in the ’50s could probably be covered without angering too many people.

            I guess one problem with the Arab-Israeli conflict is how emotive the issue is. Europeans tend to be quite angry at Israeli security measures, and TV shows like The Promise are highly critical of the actions of the Jewish settlers in Palestine (perhaps not entirely fairly, it should be said, given how it glosses over the actions of the British and French in the Middle East), while people in the US tend to be highly pro-Israel, with memories of the Holocaust hanging over it all. While the Korean War created a humanitarian crisis, it perhaps wouldn’t be as tasteless to cover it compared to, say, various recent conflicts in Africa or the Middle East.

            Or perhaps all videogames of real conflict, or perhaps real conflict in living memory, are tasteless. Perhaps all videogame violence is tasteless. It’s a matter of degrees, I imagine.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            Actually, just noticed the guy was quoted as saying “China vs Korea vs North America”. So there we go. Korean War.

        • CPLDANABD says:

          WOOOOOSH

  6. f_zul says:

    I’d be happy if they just move on with a strong simulation line. They have made hiding in cover or in buildings the crucial feature in DoW2. Now they go with environmental consequences such as winter cold and ice cracking. Perhaps this time managing a heavy vehicles will really resemble the management of severe clumsy engines, which need constant support and maintenance? I mean it wouldn’t be just another unit at your disposal, but a whole complex of things to operate with.

    • Parge says:

      Yes, or perhaps we could take it even further and we could actually make the engine parts using an in game lathe??

      Obviously some of the smaller parts would be made on a production line, so we could have an hour long mini game for that, before getting into the above, or the actual game.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        Might I suggest a hilariously pointless Frogger clone?

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        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        So, The Settlers + Company of Heroes.

        It might just work.

  7. Slinkyboy says:

    I’ll pay full price over F2P anyday. I hate the idea of having to spend at least 100 just to get the game going at normal speed.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Again, that’s applying an arbitrary and fictitious condition.

      I’d rather pay £30 up front than £100 paying as I go.

      But then, I don’t mind so much playing the first 40 hours for free, and then paying £5 per month after that if (and only if) I decide to stick with it.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    I was never properly enjoying CoH or the expansion I bought. I’m not really sure why, but it just didn’t click for me. And now I can’t help think that I just want this new one to be a more polished Men of War. God damn, how I adore that game.

  9. Brother PaciFist says:

    Please Relic combine Homeworld with the license of Warhammer40k, Warhamme40k Epic and Battlefleet Gothic. And for the shooter fans make the single imperial guardsmen playable in grand scale hotseat persisting multiplayer campaigns. It can’ be too hard to see the possibilities of your franchise.

    Have a nice day

  10. zontax says:

    Company Of Heroes: The Great War.
    Make it happen.

  11. Universal Quitter says:

    So am I the only one on Earth that LIKED the base-building nature of Dawn of War, and was pissed as fuck when the new one came out? I tried it. It’s dumb, and anyone who likes it is dumb. Well, not really, but I still was irritated that they broke something that was already fun, and everyone clapped like seals.

    They had games like Dawn of War II, already. It wasn’t groundbreaking, it was just a shift in genre, probably to make money, since online gaming was the “social media” of that day.

    • EvilLaufter says:

      I wouldn’t use the terms you did, but I also really loved Dawn of War 1 and felt let down by 2. Wasn’t a fan of the smaller scale. Plus I’d say what made Dawn of War outstanding in my eyes was the amazing things the mod community put out. I was incredibly discouraged when Relic said they wouldn’t support modding in DoW2 :(

      • Elethio says:

        ^ totally agree DoW1 was brilliant, I don’t know why DoW2 was supposed to be a better game for multiplayer,
        I had so much more fun playing DoW1 multiplayer instead. I wasn’t happy either with their lack of help for modders, and the final nail in the coffin for me, was all the mini DLC’s.
        It was by far the worst development so far for modern gaming in my opinion.
        If theres a game I love, that I feel I must have all the DLC’s available for it, releasing a new one every week will only P**S me off, even more so if those same mini DLC’s then have to be reduced in price every 3 months and put in a bargain package, so as a valued customer I am constantly being exploited for additions that add little or nothing to the game-play as a whole.
        On the other hand if I can’t be bothered with these mini DLC’s then in a game that is focused primarily on multiplayer I’m quickly going to feel dis-enchanted with the game when I am constantly go up against better equipped players.
        Lastly, I don’t mind having DLC’s for games on principle, but theres a world off difference between the 3 massive amazing DLC’s added to DoW1 and the million mini crappy ones added to DoW2.
        I really hope some game execs read this and take it in.

  12. DonJefe says:

    Oh no, I smell a “Company of Heroes: Modern Warfare” coming up.

    • CPLDANABD says:

      There’s already a mod for that, it’s quite fun actually.

  13. sabasNL says:

    I think other logical Company of Heroes settings would be the Great War, the Cold War (Korea, Afghanistan, or a plausible scenario like Germany) or the remaining WWII campaigns (Far East and North Africa). I just hope they will remain a bit original.
    The plans they have in DLC better be fair and non-essential, otherwise CoH2 will flop just like CoHO

  14. Shralla says:

    Original science fiction universe please!

  15. catherinecatherine says:

    like Edna replied I’m dazzled that someone able to get paid $5103 in a few weeks on the internet. did you read this webpage http://www.ASK22.com

  16. innociv says:

    “Can’t just have customization and skins” meanwhile, Dota2 is printing all the money.

  17. Elethio says:

    “SOB” reads entire comments section in hope only to find no-one else mentioned COHO :-(

    I love RTS’s and whilst I thought COH was a great RTS, the multiplayer side did nothing for me, so eventually I moved on, fortunately I became aware of COHO just as it started, frankly I was a little dumbfounded in their non existent marketing,and it took me a long time to get the game running because I kept getting re-directed to the korean server?! but then that was who it was aimed at…why?

    Why would you market a WWII game at Koreans, Europeans and Americans are surely more obsessed with WWII than anyone else?

    But the point is COHO is the best game Ive ever played. the BEST
    OMG IT IS THE BEST GAME EVER, it feels so good to say that!

    I’m sure that everyone reading this already has some idea that Company of heroes is a good game, many sites rate it the best RTS of all time, but COHO is TEN TIMES better, because it got multiplayer right.

    The matching system in COHO was good despite having only a tiny pool of players to choose from.
    You could customize your army beforehand to focus on particular tactics
    You got XP for each match to upgrade and unlock special abilities, and these where all imaginative and fun.
    1v1, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 games were all easy to set up, hardly any waiting. (especially compared to the waits you get in COH)
    Tons of items dropped in-game that afterwards you could use to upgrade units in one way or another, and yet they where not OP.
    Some players did complain about items being OP, but the devs said “they are well balanced when they feel normal to the user but OP to the opponent” SPOT ON! and every side had something in this category.
    You could buy these upgrades if you didn’t want to “grind” a few games, and it never felt like “grinding” anyway.
    Best of all the shear genius of COH game-play was multiplied by having constant multiplayer battles, so many ingenious tactics and counter-tactics appeared so quickly, and team play was always strong, you didn’t have to talk to your team mates to get help but a quick flare and say “ill hold here” ment you worked together really well.
    Its been nearly 2 years, but it still hurts to think about COHO, it was that good.
    I probably won’t get COH II, but if they do decide to return to the COHO formula, even if its not ftp, seriously, get it.