The story of Splitgate – an arena shooter that combines the best parts of Halo and Portal – was interesting. After spending two years in Early Access with sometimes less than 1,000 concurrent players, the game has exploded on Steam’s Top Free To Play games list in recent weeks and now averages tens of thousands of players with some 10 million downloads in July alone.
These numbers are a huge achievement for developer 1047 Games’ 1047 Games team, but according to the team’s co-founder and CEO Ian Proulx, it’s only just getting started.
Earlier this week in a series of interviews with TechCrunch and GamesBeat, Proulx talked about where the game is headed, how far it has come and what the company will do with the $100 million it just got from investors.
You can look forward to this.
Splitgate is actually Halo and Portal… and Rocket League
While Splitgate borrows the seasonality of games like Apex Legends and Fortnite, it plays like a combination of Portal and Halo. You’ll find nearly exact replicas of the weapons from Bungie’s famous first-person shooter scattered around the map (yes, there’s both a battle rifle and an extremely powerful pistol), but to traverse the map you’ll use portals and a rocket pack-powered dual jump.
At first glance and in practice, the results are quite spectacular.
However, according to Proulx, those games were not the only sources of inspiration for Splitgate. In the interview, Proulx describes using the free-to-play model of games like Rocket League and wrapping it around Splitgate. Instead of offering better weapons and gear like Call of Duty, the only perks are cosmetic skins that don’t affect gameplay. It’s fair from day one – and it stays that way for the rest of the game.
Free-to-play players can still earn the cosmetic gear by completing daily missions and rank higher in casual matches. You may not get that golden armor on day one, but the fact that it can be earned with enough matches is tempting enough to keep players coming back.
Season Zero Is Just the Beginning (Obviously)
Currently, the game is in season zero. Some gamers have been playing since Early Access and have a bit of an edge, but the crowds of people who come in now all start around the same time with the same amount of experience.
The game has more than a dozen cards with sterilized arena spaces used only for competitive matches, although you’ll probably play the same five or six of the most popular cards in casual play, where anyone can vote for which card gets picked.
That’s all pretty impressive considering Splitgate only has about 10 full-time developers on it. That’s all going to change once that $100 million is invested.
“The scope of what we can do is now going through the roof,” Proulx said in the interview. “There’s so much we couldn’t think about because we were a small team with a small budget, but now everything is on the table. We’re focusing on the long term – I consider the game 25% done. We don’t have to be Fortnite tomorrow, but now it’s really about building the next Riot Games, the next big games business.”
According to Proulx’s interview with GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi, some of that funding will be used to hire artists to produce skins, characters and maps, as well as more game designers to create new game modes.
But can it go toe-to-toe with Halo Infinite and Call of Duty Vanguard?
One of the most telling points from Proulx’s interview was when he elaborated on why Splitgate is succeeding in a crowded market: “No one has moved the needle because there hasn’t been a lot of innovation, and there hasn’t been anything accessible to the mass. Quake Arena is great, but it is extremely difficult. No 12-year-old Fortnite kid will play it. We really fill this void.”
That’s an interesting insight – and explains how Proulx sees Splitgate fitting with the current crop of first-person shooters – but this holiday season alone, we’ll be seeing a ton of games either in or next to the arena shooting space that Splitgate occupies.
One of the biggest of those games, Call of Duty: Vanguard, a WWII shooter, comes out in early November and comes with updates to its free-to-play counterpart Warzone, which will soon be followed by Halo Infinite coming out in early December. Both games offer a similar frenetic pace and high skill ceiling that fans largely love at Splitgate, but in a more familiar package.
Further on the horizon is Overwatch 2 – a hero shooter with incredible hype behind it – Rainbow Six Extraction and Destiny 2’s next expansion, all of which just add to the deep pool of shooters available.
How Splitgate grows and evolves to counter these games and make a name for themselves will be interesting to watch, but with its newly earned financial backing, we hope it will find a way to thrive among the battle-hardened staples of the game. genre.