The developers behind Paladins, Smite, Realm Royale, and Tribes: Ascend today announced they’re formally splitting into distinct new studios to handle their big games (no, not including Tribes) under an overarching publisher. At the very least, this should assuage some fears about Hi-Rez’s track record of ditching older games when their limited teams shifted over to newer games. For now, it seems their three core games are secure. Hi-Rez are also opening two new arms, one company focused on running esports events and the other making art assets. To speak in business terms, all of Hi-Rez’s limbs are possessed by alien parasites and wrenching out their sockets to skitter off on lives of their own.
First, the new studios. Titan Forge Games are taking mythological MOBA Smite to make and operate. Evil Mojo Games get the class-based shooter Paladins. And Heroic Leap Games are taking Realm Royale, the new battle royale spin-off from Paladins.
“By structuring ourselves in this manner, we allow the organisation to scale to multiple games more easily, while ensuring our existing game communities receive a better, more focused service than ever before,” said Stew Chisam, Hi-Rez Studios president and Hi-Rez Publishing head, in today’s announcement.
Hi-Rez are also opening Skillshot Media, a digital sports production company doing everything from running tournaments to community management. Alacrity Arthouse will handle art production, from making 3D models for games to doing cinematics. And Hi-Rez Publishing will join the dots, publishing all the games and keeping things running.
Hi-Rez are hazy but I wouldn’t be surprised if they start publishing games made by third-party studios too. They do seem to have finally gotten the knack of running successful free-to-play games.
On one hand, compartmentalising can make it easier for teams and studios to focus on doing their particular task well. On the other, turning a team into a studio can lock them into working on particular things in particular ways, reducing flexibility and creativity. And in theory this might make individual teams and games easier to dispose of or sell. But hey, Hi-Rez say they’re just doing this to make everything run better.