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Free-to-play pioneer K2 Network merges with Reloaded Games (exclusive interview)

Reloaded Games, an online games company which develops and powers leading free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) titles, today announced it has completed a round of financing and is finalizing a full merger with pioneering MMO publisher K2 Network.

Reloaded’s MMO titles, including APB Reloaded, reach an audience of 30 million gamers across 160 countries. The merger with K2, one of the first successful free-to-play publishers to operate in North America, has wide-reaching implications for the future direction of the company, which will now be known simply as Reloaded Games.

“This merger represents the beginning of a new era for the company, as we evolve our two core businesses,” said Reloaded Games chief executive officer Bjorn Book-Larsson. Linking with independent developers will be a key area going forward, Book-Larsson told GamesBeat: “We have already signed contracts with independent developers to use our platform and portal for their free2play game distribution. We will announce those agreements in the next couple of weeks.”

Taikodom space stationLooking to the future, Book-Larsson said, “our new focus is on games that are cross-platform capable.” Taikodom, a sci-fi MMO, and Hailan Rising, a fantasy MMO with an emphasis on player-vs-player battles, are both due for release later this year, and will come out as PC and Mac games first, with Android, iPad and Wii versions following in 2013. Book-Larsson said, “we are actually looking at Wii U as well. Given the 2013 release, if Wii U appears to have traction, we are likely to produce a version for that as well.”

Cross-platform gameplay may well be possible on these upcoming titles. “Based on the outcome of the gameplay tests, we will determine if the different devices will be permitted to share one universe. For Hailan Rising it’s likely the gameplay experience will be sufficiently similar that we can open up the connection between PC/Mac and Tablet versions,” said Book-Larsson.

As for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 support, he is unsure. “Microsoft and Sony continue appearing to have religious issues with free2play and a penchant for forcing everyone into a locked sandbox, though we presume that might change given the market direction, and maybe it will open up the ability to connect across sand-box lines. From a purely technical side there is no technical issue in porting the game.”

The merger was facilitated and funded by Arkenstone Investment LLC, a private specialty game investment vehicle managed by Cascade Finance Partners LLC. Cascade recently acquired the entertainment and gaming venues GameWorks and Jillians, and Book-Larsson explained how these could be used to support online gaming: “GameWorks has physical locations in places like Universal Studios in Hollywood, where they have a APB Reloaded Enforcergame-centric café/restaurant business. We are exploring the possibility of having physical in-person tournament finals for our online player-vs-player MMOs held at various GameWorks locations, as well as a deeper integration between the online and offline gaming experiences.”

Howard Brand, Managing Partner of Cascade Finance, said: “We think we have found one of the most driven, experienced and passionate management teams in the online game space and we look forward to further innovations from a team that has proven amazingly resilient through the enormous changes rocking the game industry today.”


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