Path of Exile Interview with Grinding Gear Games CEO Chris Wilson

Ironborn (self found) has become a buzzword in ARPG circles and there’s been a call for it in POE. Have you any current thoughts on how this could be achieved in POE?

We feel that a really important part of playing an online ARPG is the ability to be able to trade the items that you find. The reason why they feel so amazing to loot and collect is because they have value to other players. Having a league where everything is soulbound is of no interest to us. We welcome players to play self-found if they’d like to (and are trying to make sure its balance is fair where we can – several of the changes in release address item acquisition and solo vs party balance), but it’s important that players can trade their items if they so choose. Some players have asked for a “Self-found mode with trading allowed”, but we have no idea what that means!

CTF is a very cool addition for PvP players. Are you looking at other PvP gameplay modes such as capture and hold or other types of PvP. If so when would they likely be added?

Yes, we have a lot of other PvP modes in mind. If they’re large and are finished around the time that we’re releasing a four-monthly free expansion, we’ll probably bundle them in. It’s entirely possible that they could be slipped into our biweekly content patches if they happen to be ready at an appropriate time though. Keeping PvP exciting with new modes is very important to us.

Path of Exile shop

This is where the magic happens to keep the content flowing

Microtransactions have been running for a while now and you’ve released quite a few cosmetic changing items. How hard is it for you guys to come up with new effects continuously to keep players supporting the game through the shop?

Our microtransaction team has a lot of good ideas for future cosmetic items. They’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of the types of cosmetic effects that are possible. An example is that we haven’t yet released any cosmetic body armour effects. I’m really looking forward to releasing a wider variety of effects in the future.

In the future are you looking at other ways players can support the game other than through the shop. It’s not cheap running a development studio after all.

Other than microtransaction sales, our company had had a lot of success selling supporter packs that include physical merchandise and perks such as placing the contributor’s name in the credits and/or working with them to design a Unique item that gets added to the game. This has been really successful, so we’re keeping an eye out for other options that allow fans to support Path of Exile. There has been discussion of paid league creation which will hopefully pan out to provide a place where players can create their own races and leagues to play in with their friends.

Once the game has launched what’s on the priority list for the team? Issues like desync have been lurking for a while so is the focus on more polish and tackling technical/server issues?

Our first priority will be dealing with any immediate post-launch problems that need solving. While most of the team works on ongoing content for our two-week patches and four-month expansions, our core developers will continue to improve client performance, server stability, combat synchronisation and other ongoing areas that we’re iteratively improving over time. They benefit from lots of testing, experimentation and experience, so we’re expecting they’ll feel better and better as development continues.

Path of Exile


Do you think GGG has helped put New Zealand on the map when it comes to game development? How are you perceived by your peers over there?

I’d love to think it has helped raise awareness of our games industry, but we have already had some really strong titles come out of New Zealand in the past. Typically, most NZ game development companies are working on Flash or Mobile games (where we have more developers per capita than the UK, US or Australia). Our company is atypical, working on PC games. I’m not really sure how our peers perceive us, but hopefully it’s with the same respect we have for them.

POE has been constantly evolving, the speed that you guys make changes and add new content has been impressive. How are you stopping yourselves from burning out?

We try to encourage our staff to work smart rather than work for long hours. If that creates the feeling of masses of new content, then our job was successful! While our founders inevitably focus on Path of Exile for most waking hours (and could certainly do with a vacation after release), I am pretty sure the rest of our development staff aren’t burning out. It’s important to keep the team happy and healthy so that they can maintain the game on an ongoing basis.

Self publishing is the trend these days but was there any point you wished you had a publisher’s backing and the funds that come with it. Were you tempted or approached at any point?

We haven’t yet wished we had a publisher’s backing. We’re trying to self-publish in every country that we can. It helps us keep in touch with our community and to work without an external party affecting Path of Exile.

Right now the focus is firmly on POE, and it sounds like it will be for a while. Is there a temptation to start a new project with a second team?

That’d be awesome in the long term if we had the financial stability to do it. Right now we’re focusing on making sure Path of Exile has a long lifetime and a lot of ongoing updates. If we’re able to work on a second project at the same time, that’ll be great for the company, but I’ll probably keep myself focused on the Path of Exile franchise.

ARPG fans have had plenty of time to get playing in the open beta but it may have passed some gamers by. What would you say to them to encourage them to start playing? What makes POE stand out from the crowd in your opinion?

If you enjoy character customisation and deep item systems then Path of Exile is for you. It’s really rewarding to experiment with character builds and try to find the perfect combination of active and passive skills. Players find some really awesome combinations that surprise us on a weekly basis.

Path of Exile is free, so there’s no cost to trying it out. The release is a great time to start playing because we have opened up two new four-month leagues that let you experience a fresh start.

Watch out for more Path of Exile coverage this week with more features and even supporter pack giveaways. Also drop into the IncGamers POE forums and say hello.

Update: Enter our Supporter Pack Giveaway


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Related to this article


  • Furude

    Give us free goodies ;D

    • Rushster

      Be patient young warrior! Be patient!

  • Lastdrone

    Great interview!

  • inusaa

    Thanks a lot for this complete interview, we can see your passion =)

  • DumbAsYou

    pretty nice interview

  • papas88063

    Good read. GGG always gives out good info to its followers.

  • MisterEktos

    Really good interview.
    I have to apologize Paul, some time back I doubted your information about the Class, Steam and the Release date. It may not have looked like the most legit Article back then, but it wasn’t nice to say that you are making things up.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Rushster

      Thanks MisterEktos, appreciated. One thing we never do on IncGamers is make things up. I have been playing and following POE for many years now so I have as oft spot for the game and the GGG chaps a re great bunch of guys 🙂

  • BisnessPirate

    Nice interview, wish it had more new info tough 🙁

  • Fernando

    Nothing new, but then again ive been folowing tones of poes interviews about release.

    Incgamers questions are focused on GGG as a company, rather shallow about the game itself. Anyways, good read. 🙂

    • Rushster

      That was the intention really. We have heard so much n the past couple of weeks regarding new features and game mechanics I wanted some more GGG focused questions. More to come.

  • Asteria

    Great interview. Very interesting to hear how they are going to approach content after the launch.

  • BigMactheknife

    The most highly addictive game I’ve ever played!

  • Guttux

    Great interview! Keep up the good work!

  • obz

    Nice Interview. I hope they stay independent. Do any IncGamers staff plan to stream gaming POE on Twitch.tv?

  • geradon

    well selected questions. was an interesting read.

  • HardCandy

    amazing work GGG, 28hours still left till release 😀
    can’t wait, see you there :p

  • boeck

    the best game ever made! 🙂

  • notenoughtime

    this game is way better then D3 🙂

  • Merveil Hater

    I have to apologize if i say sth offense but all i gonna say here is completely true.
    This game was completely ruined by BOT. It’s very popular and easy 2 find especially in POExplorer. Most of these sellers never left IGN just pm in forum or had IGN but whisper never pm back = BOT 90%. I saw many guys do bot in Merciless Merveil come b Lion 2 sell item and keep running to find path to Merveil Lair. I saw 1 botter lively when i just traded with him 10 min ago but he 4got out party and i followed him then i realized he was botting.

  • illusion

    As someone played PoE for many months, I can tell that everything in PoE is (just like end game boss Dominus says) is an illusion exile.

    First of all monsters are very bland and boring. Monsters that rush at you with no utility but dealing damage, well thats ok early game. But the problem is the ONLY utility mob in game is necromancer that raises undead. How creative..

    So if monsters dont get better how do they scale difficulty late game? Well quite simple: instead of dealing 1k damage now they deal 5k. Amazing right?

    Massive customization with 1350 passives? It is total gimmick. I said monster difficulty is based on damage scaling. And spike damage reaches ridiculous numbers. So better get armored right? Well armor has a very ingenious formula: it works miracles against very small damage attacks (which are the ones that does not matter anyway), and it is totally ineffective against heavy hits (which are the ones really matter).

    So you ask how the f*ck do you survive?.
    Simple: increase your life which can be done by passives that increase it with %, and gear mods that give flat number. But they had this amazing idea of passives effecting flat bonus from items. As a result you are a glass cannon, unless get all life passives available and have life mod on all gears.

    I can see you are saying come on it cant be that bad, I can always navigate smartly to avoid hits. Well I have a surprise for you, game desynchs like hell, ESPECIALLY when you try to navigate to avoid hits, or use mobility skills!

    If you dont know what desynch is; well think that you are playing mario and there is a rock rolling towards you. It will reach you in 5 seconds and then you will need to jump to avoid it. But after 1 second passes, your screen refreshes and it says GAME OVER because neither the rock, nor your mario were not actually at the place shown in your screen. Their screen position was not in SYNCH with their real position in game. That is desynch, and PoE suffers HEAVILY from desynch because they insist on keeping features that cause massive desynch and have no intention of removing these features or fixing desynch.

    Best part is the community, you will be welcomed by a mess of jerks in forums laughing at you, telling you L2P nub and build your char around desynch. So how do you build around desynch?
    Quite simple: make a char that can be controlled by a blind kid. And I am very serious. You need to make a character that does not rely on the feedback on screen to play. You wont navigate to avoid hits, you wont click on singled out enemies. You will only use shift-click with AoE attacks in the general direction you hope the enemy is.

    But that’s as bad as it gets right? Well game has another small flaw: it does not respond to commands given while spamming attack. I know you are saying OH COME ON!! Joking right?
    They have many excuses and reasons why it does not happen and why it cant be fixed. But dont worry devs came up with a solution: autocast-skills! you just link your spells to Cast when damage taken support gems so they cast everytime you take some damage. Like I said, make a build that can be used by a blind kid.

    But at least there is great number of skills to use, right? Well.. PoE is a single skill focus type game. Auxiliary skills dont really exist, and nothing pays as well as overfocusing on a single skill.

    Summary: To succees you make a build with tons of life, with autocast support skills, and a single AoE attack you will spam in general direction. That pretty much summarizes all the gameplay. Oh wait sorry sorry.. you can use totem that will autocast the skill instead, you know as an alternative to spamming the skill yourself!

    Customization? Just an illusion exile..