During the PlayStation Experience event this past weekend, Tripwire Interactive announced that its co-op shooter Killing Floor 2 would be making its way to consoles on PS4. While expanding to multiple platforms is great thing for everyone involved, it still didn’t prevent a murmur of concern in the existing community.
Tripwire Interactive has been making games exclusively for PC for its entire existence, being a proud developer of games like Red Orchestra back in 2006 when things looked rather bleak for PC gaming. Considering the cult-hit status and loyal community that Killing Floor has built on PC over the years, there was questions of how the addition of developing the game for a console as well and if it dramatically alter the games hardcore PC shooter experience.
Luckily, Tripwire Interactive President John Gibson has been listening closely and decided to address the announcement in a post on the official Killing Floor forums today.
With the news of the Sony Playstation 4 hitting this weekend, and the subsequent wave of expected feedback ranging from “yeah KF2 on PS4” to “oh no TWI are going to ruin the PC version” I thought it would be a good time for me to weigh in with some thoughts and information. I would like to apologize in advance for the long post, but I have a lot to cover.
First off let me talk about the “why,” as in why we’re bringing a game to consoles now. Alan Wilson touched on this in his blog here http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/…time-is-right/ but I’ll give a bit more detail. As you all probably know, Tripwire Interactive are hardcore PC gamers and developers. We love the PC as a platform and have been championing it for years, even in the dark days of 2005 when all the press could talk about was how the “PC was dead.” We’ve been very successful on PC selling million of games, and we’ve no intention of leaving the PC or relegating the PC to a “second class citizen”.
A few things have changed in the gaming landscape recently though that got our attention. First off, game consoles have greatly increased in power for the new generation and their architecture is much better. When we looked at bringing games to the previous generation of consoles, they had far too low performance and not enough ram for us to provide the type of experience that we wanted to make. This means that we could now create an experience on the console without having to compromise the experience. Additionally, the previous generations of consoles were very different than a PC’s architecture, meaning that it look a lot more effort to make a game run well on both platforms. This is no longer the case, as current gen consoles have an architecture much more similar to a PC.
Secondly, as you all probably know Tripwire Interactive is a fiercely independent company. We fund our own games, we publish our own games, and we succeed or fail based on our own decisions. No one tells us what game to make, when to release it, or what the content of the game should be. Our only limit is our time, resources, and talent. In the past when we looked into getting a game on consoles, we were told by the console manufacturers that we would HAVE to go through a big publisher if we wanted to get our games on their console. They wouldn’t deal directly with an independent company. Now however, that has changed, and Sony has opened up the PS4 for independent developers like Tripwire.
Another consideration for us is the business side. This is something fans generally don’t get to see, but games have gotten a LOT more expensive to make in the past few years. With the complexity of modern games and game engines, on top of the art requirements for modern games the cost of making games from the early 2000s to now has exploded. Red Orchestra and Killing Floor were both developed on just a few hundred thousand dollars as they were developed on older game engines. Red Orchestra 2 cost millions of dollars to make, and Killing Floor 2 will likely cost much more to make by the time we are done. When we made RO1 we had 4 employees, KF1 we had 11 employees, RO2 started with 7 employees and got up to 25 by the time it shipped. KF2 is being developed by 50 people. With game development costs rising it is very important as a business to make your games available in as many places as possible, to as many potential customers as possible.
When done right however, this is a good thing for fans. Let me explain how. Right now, shipping a game on a console adds about 10% additional work (very rough estimate) but opens your fanbase up to tens of millions of additional gamers. So if we as a studio can do 10% more work but gain 25%, 50%, even 100% more customers that’s a great thing and here is why. Lets say we could afford to spend $2,000,000 making a game for the PC only, but we could afford to spend $4,000,000 if we released it on PC and console. In the end PC gamers get almost double the features and content as the developer could have afforded to make if they released the game on a single platform alone. Over the past few years you’ve been benefiting from this but never knew it. Great multi-platform games like Farcry 3, Dishonored, etc all wouldn’t have been possible at the scope that they were released at if they were only on a single platform.
Finally, and likely the most important reason for it as that we just think it will be fun. Sure, we’re hardcore PC guys, but a lot of us also grew up playing console games on the Atari, NES, Playstation, etc. We think it will be fun to bring a game to the living room, and to expose a new crowd of gamers to Tripwire’s style of games and doing business (i.e. different types of games and lots of free updates, post release support etc). In other words, Tripwire is not being “consolized”, rather we plan on “Tripwirizing” console gamers. The time has come when we can put games on the consoles on our terms, without compromise, and we’re excited for this new frontier and the experiences we’ll be able to provide gamers.
Gibson went on to detail in a separate Q&A post on the forums several questions about the new game and having a console version developed alongside with the PC. The post confirms that PC is still the lead development platform and that the added development will not change the experience outside of some UI differences between the two platforms for their respective audience. You can rest safely knowing that all the core features you’ve come to expect for years like dedicated servers and high-end graphical features to push your gaming rig will be available to you when it releases.
Killing Floor 2 will launch on PS4 and PC at a yet to be determined date in 2015.