Triple-A gamemakers are seeking their fortunes on mobile, which has become the world’s biggest game market, with $30 billion in estimated 2015 revenue. The latest example is Respawn Entertainment, which has partnered with Asian free-to-play game publisher Nexon to take the critically acclaimed Titanfall sci-fi universe to mobile.
Tokyo-based Nexon and Respawn are making strategic investments in a new studio, mobile-game developer Particle City, to create games based on Titanfall, said Owen Mahoney, the chief executive of Nexon, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The companies aren’t describing the first title just yet, but Vince Zampella, the chief executive of Respawn, told GamesBeat that he expects it to be published on iOS and Android in 2016. On top of that, Nexon is also making a PC-based online free-to-play game in the Titanfall series, and that could also potentially hit the market in 2016. That title is being made in conjunction with Respawn and Electronic Arts.
“This comes at the heels of a relationship that we formed with Respawn and Electronic Arts to bring Titanfall console to Asia,” Mahoney said. “We are expanding that and extending the approach with it to mobile.”
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The first game is not a first-person shooter title, and it will take the gameplay in a new direction, Zampella said.
“I don’t know if this is the way of the future, as it is obviously here now,” he said. “Mobile devices are connected and accessible. That’s the big thing, the accessibility. I have been looking at it for a while, and I want to make the right move with the right partners.”
Particle City was previously known as Nuclear Division, which was started by Zampella and Larry Pacey. They then restructured and morphed Nuclear Division into Particle City. Jesse Stern, the writer for Titanfall and a veteran of the Modern Warfare video game series, will also write the story for the mobile titles. Pacey will run Particle City, with Zampella serving as creative advisor.
“We continue to focus on Titanfall. Next year is going to be a very big year for Titanfall,” Zampella said. “For us, it is exciting to take this universe we created that is so extensible. In my head, there are so many things we can do with it. To be able to partner with Nexon and take this game to a whole new audience is really exciting.”
“Respawn and Particle City view games the same way we do, and they take the art of game making very seriously,” Mahoney said. “They see the opportunity to take one of our favorite games of all time and bring it to a new platform. Sadly, the view that games are an art form is pretty unique in the industry. Other game companies think short-term in a business first way. We like to start with the game. That starts with Vince. We have learned how to do online, mobile, and Asian games over the decades.”
The deal with Respawn is part of Nexon’s strategy to expand to the West. In April 2015, Nexon published the hit mobile-strategy game DomiNations, which was developed by Big Huge Games, an independent studio co-founded by PC game industry veterans Brian Reynolds and Tim Train, famous for online strategy games Civilization II and Rise of Nations. Nexon also recently announced the details of LawBreakers, the first game from designer Cliff Bleszinski and Arjan Brussee’s Boss Key Productions.
Titanfall is a promising property as it earned more than 100 nominations and 60 awards back in 2013, when it was first rolled out at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The game was the third-highest-rated Xbox One game released in 2014, according to review score aggregator Metacritic. Zampella started Van Nuys, California-based Respawn in 2010 with cofounder Jason West. Both of them were pioneers of the Call of Duty series of first-person shooter games.
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