Independent developer Ironclad Games is based in Burnaby, British Columbia, but it's already considering taking its upcoming strategy game Sins of a Dark Age
to audiences on the other side of the world, in Asian territories.
It's just more evidence that game companies both big and small (Ironclad's dev team is just 12 people) are looking for ways to tap into China's massive yet challenging online games market.
"We were actually approached by a number of Chinese companies looking for the next RTS. This was way back. But that very much influenced the design and business model of this game," said Ironclad co-founder Blair Fraser, when asked about the possibility of bringing Sins of a Dark Age
to Asian territories.
Ironclad's first game was Sins of a Solar Empire
, a well-received hybrid of RTS games like StarCraft
and turn-based "4X" games such as Civilization
. That game was released at physical retail, and as a full digital download.
Sins of a Dark Age
is also a hybrid game, combining RTS gameplay with that of "action RTS" games such as League of Legends
, resulting in a game that is wholly unique. Its business model also is similar to Riot's League of Legends
-- free-to-play, with revenues coming from virtual item buys.
Fraser had previously told Gamasutra
that Sins of a Dark Age
would not have a "pay to win" scheme, meaning that players would not be able to simply buy the most powerful virtual items and have an advantage over non-paying players. "Strategy games should be your skill, your brain, your tactical and strategic thought against someone else's, or against the enemy AI's strategies," he said at the time.
Sins of a Dark Age
's virtual items will be cosmetic (not merely palette swaps, notes Fraser) for its Western release. But that's not necessarily the angle to take in Asian markets, where paying to win is more acceptable, and often expected.
"They want to be able to shame you!" laughed Fraser. "...There's a culture-ization process that's part of the publishing plan. We don't know the exact details of how [Sins of a Dark Age
publisher Infinite Games] wants to do that, but we've left it open. The engine and the way we add the content makes it easy to make those kinds of choices, because we've known from the get-go that [bringing the game to Asia] is a possibility."
Further exhibiting Ironclad's intention of bringing the game to Asia, Fraser said the studio has also been "looking at ... what kind of minimum specs we needed to have for their machines. A lot of Asia is still running on [Windows] XP. Not Windows Vista, not Windows 7, not the upcoming Windows 8 -- XP. This may not sound good to a lot of our hardcore fans, but this is still a DirectX 9 game, specifically because the rest of the world is not running what we're running [in the West]."