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    Turtle Rock, developers of Evolve, have struck a deal with Perfect World Entertainment to bring out a new, free-to-play, co-op shooter. It’s as yet unnamed, and word of its creation comes from this GamesIndustry interview.

    The title will not be “a ‘zombie game’ or anything post-apocalyptic,” but Turtle Rock’s Steve Goldstein does mention a “strong dark fantasy element”. A collection of terms like online, co-op, and FPS probably call to mind Left 4 Dead, the studio’s 2008 game. However, Goldstein doesn’t want to draw too many comparisons of that nature: “We think that kind of [spiritual successor] label has big expectations tied to it, also – it sets an expectation that we’re making something sequel-like that does not deviate too far from the original formula.”

    As well as revealing the development of this new game, the interview discusses the prohibitive and restrictive business model that has now formed around so-called ‘AAA’ games. Turtle Rock, of course, didn’t appear to have the greatest time working with 2K on Evolve (originally a THQ title before their bankruptcy). Evolve Stage 2, a free-to-play effort to salvage that release, initially received promising player numbers but shut down in October.

    Even if you’re able to get a ‘AAA’ publishing deal for your new idea, says Goldstein, “it won’t be at a budget which is nearly enough to compete head-to-head against the latest franchise release [but] it will be high enough that it will make it almost impossible to receive any royalties.”

    He also talks about the inflexibility of that method of publishing, and how difficult it can be to change course and react to problems or feedback from (for example) beta sessions. Post-launch is the only window open to developers, and at that point “you’re probably knee-deep in DLC, because that’s what a boxed product needs to make a profit these days, given the insanely escalating costs of development, marketing and publishing those products.”

    They’re hoping that going for a free-to-play model from the start, with Perfect World, will aid how they can support their new project. “With Perfect World, we have a publisher that’s all about the service and consistently and frequently expanding the scope of its games over several years,” Goldstein says.

    Peter Parrish

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