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Heatwave Interactive Snags  Gods and Heroes  Rights, PlayGrid Engine Licenses

Heatwave Interactive Snags Gods and Heroes Rights, PlayGrid Engine Licenses

February 22, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

February 22, 2010 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC

PC MMO Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising has been rescued by developer Heatwave Interactive, which has acquired the game as well as multiple licenses for its engine technology. Now, development is back underway.

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising has been on indefinite hold since the closure of its original developer, Perpetual Entertainment.

But thanks to this new acquisition, Heatwave now has all of the assets and information pertaining to Gods and Heroes, including source code, as well as server logs and contact info for the 100,000 beta testers who participated in the game's 2007 closed beta.

"I knew of the game, I knew the company, I knew the people, and when I heard about the legal process of the company shutting down and the assets had been cleared and they were available, I took a look," Heatwave CEO Anthony Castoro tells Gamasutra.

Castoro says that the company has plans to resume development of the game, and is not planning to release it until it's ready. "It needs more love and it's been a little time, so we want to make sure it's more modern," he says. "We're going to spend the next couple months deciding what to keep, what to improve, what to change, and we're going to be asking the players to give us their thoughts on that."

"We'll put it right into production, get it back into beta testing," continues Castoro. "We're not just going ot pick it up and make sure it runs and turn it on."

More Than An MMO

In fact, though he wasn't willing to commit to an exact description of the business model and delivery method for the game, it seems unlikely that the game will implement a box and subscription model -- which was the intent of the game's original publisher, Sony Online Entertainment.

"We haven't finalized any plans," says Castoro, who also recognizes that "you can't just take a subscription game and make it a microtransaction game successfully."

Calling a download release a "reasonable assumption," Castoro says that the company is "going to take a look at what it takes to make things like that happen. But I think looking at the market a year from now, we have to make sure that it makes sense."

He adds: "We're not going to try to go up against WoW and put it in a box and charge $15 [a month] for it. We're going to take our time and look at the market and see how the game is perceived."

Pressed for a potential release date, Castoro says the company is looking at a window of about a year to 18 months. The timing of the release isn't just tied into bringing the game up to current standards, or building audience interest. Castoro says Gods and Heroes is also a piece of the company's transmedia strategy.

"Everything that we do is really geared toward involving other forms of media and telling good stories," he explains. "We thought that Gods and Heroes really fit the bill."

To that end, Castoro confirms that the company has plans for "other products related to Gods and Heroes. We're not just doing the MMO. We bought the IP and we're going to build that into something huge." The announced release timing reflects this intention.

Acquisition Of PlayGrid Platform

Heatwave has also obtained a source code license for the PlayGrid Platform, the engine technology underpinning Gods and Heroes -- which it plans to utilize for its other upcoming online title, Platinum Life, and for as-yet unannounced projects.

Platinum Life is an online RPG based around the music industry. It'll be developed into a social networking game -- a fate also in store for Gods and Heroes. "We're not a social networking company, but it makes sense to do social network games, when they're RPG and multiplayer," says Castoro.

When it comes to Heatwave's business, in fact, Castoro sees it as transformative for the industry -- evolving from the current model into a Hollywood system of developing IPs fully before launching into production. Heatwave intends to bring this model to games, as well as other media.

"We're a group of experienced video game developers, and we've also brought in experienced people from media. We believe that video games can be the source of very successful cross-media IP, and in order to do that you need to take time, and care, and do it right," says Castoro.

"We set up the company to executive-produce, and develop good concepts for video games," he says. "The game industry is pretty young, and there are a lot of very talented hobbyists."

Though Castoro has focused on hiring developers who know their stuff, he's also reached outside of the game industry -- though he says that he "only brought in people who already had affinity for the games business."

When it comes to the music deals for Platinum Life, says Castoro, dealing with the record companies was made possible thanks to this policy: "We have people who speak their language and we took the time to teach them our language."

In a statement, Chris McKibbin, co-founder of PlayGrid, and former president of Perpetual Entertainment said, "We at PlayGrid are thrilled to see Rome rise again with the Heatwave team. Gods and Heroes was designed for both core and casual MMO players alike and Heatwave is one of the few studios with the talent and experience to fulfill this vision while delivering a final version that will fit with what today's gamers are looking for. We are also thrilled that Heatwave has chosen to license the PlayGrid Platform to solve their game operating needs."

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