Nexon and Big Huge Games have announced that DomiNations, the empire-building game now hitting its fourth anniversary, has been downloaded more than 50 million times. On top of that, the developer is releasing a major content expansion for DomiNations, Space Age, on Tuesday, March 19 on mobile devices.
DomiNations is a good example of a game that seems to live forever, and it is the reason that Nexon acquired Big Huge Games three years ago. I interviewed Tim Train, cofounder of Big Huge Games, about the latest update and details on a civilization game that took the genre that started on the PC and brought it to iOS and Android.
In this game, players build a civilization, taking it on a historic journey through the ages of humanity, striving to raise their budding nations up from the huts and spear-wielding warriors in the Stone Age to the advanced cities and devastating weapons of the Cold War era.
“Things are going great overall,” said Train, in our interview. “We’ve had five age updates so far, with dozens of updates on varying degrees of features over time. We know there are hundreds of millions of people out there who love world history, and they can’t get enough content.”
Now they can turn their eyes to the heavens and advance to the Space Age, where they can research new technologies, construct powerful new buildings and troops, and take on greater challenges in events that recognize great moments in world history.
In honor of the historical Space Age, the update adds new leader Sally Ride, NASA astronaut and first American woman to go into space, as well as Space Shuttle and SETI Wonders to bolster players’ technology and civilizations.
Additionally, events surrounding the Space Age launch celebrate pioneers like Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel to space, as well as events and milestones of humanity’s exciting leap into space such as Sputnik, the Moon Landing, and Apollo 13. The events will offer players unique rewards as they prepare to propel their nations towards the stars.
Big Huge Games and Nexon will be offering a first look at all of the new content, features, and upgrades available in the new age via live stream on Twitch and Facebook today with the recording posted on the DomiNations YouTube channel the following day.
DomiNations’ Four Year Anniversary event kicks off in mid-April and will last for two celebratory weeks of giveaways, rewards, and sales along with the healthy dose of active fun they have come to expect from the long running live service.
Big Huge Games has scheduled surprise activities and events to challenge players to evolve their strategies and encourage the community, who have now spent over 6,000 cumulative years (longer than all of recorded human history) attacking their enemies in player-versus-player (PvP) battles.
In DomiNations, players choose between one of eight nations to lead as they research technologies, gather resources and build hundreds of unique structures, weapons and technologies, all while defending themselves from other players and attacking those that get in their way. Alliances can be forged and multiplayer conquests can be as massive as World War conflicts, where 50 vs. 50 players battle for control of the world.
Train and longtime collaborator Brian Reynolds started Big Huge Games near Baltimore in 2013. Reynolds left the company, but Train said he still sees him regularly for board game nights. And Train said that he likes working with Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney (one of our speakers at GamesBeat Summit 2019 in Los Angeles on April 23-24).
“Owen aligns with my 30 years of best practices on how to make great games,” Train said. “You trust in creative leads. Prototype to find the fun. Don’t commit resources until you do, and then go make it. I can’t imagine a better working relationship.”
Big Huge Games has been doing updates every two or three months. As to why it has lasted so long, Train said, “We made a fun game that we delighted in playing. That was one of Sid Meier’s rules: make games you want to play. And people love playing as a king or queen or general. There’s a lot of passion among players for human history.”
As for designing a new game, Train said, “When we are excited about a prototype idea, we put a team on it. We keep it small, give a lot of power to creative leads, and also try not to get too emotionally attached to a prototype.” Train said one team is finding success and he will talk about it in the future.
He said that the studio and the Nexon ownership has given the company the freedom to “not put out pretty good games.” He added, “Putting out pretty good games makes you a pretty good studio. Pretty good studios just get clobbered in this market. You have to put out great games.”