Grey Box wants to explode Weta-conceptualized RTS IP beyond games

Grey Box wants to expand their intellectual property of real-time strategy PC game Grey Goo into other genres and beyond games altogether, the publisher's Matt Ballesteros told Polygon.

"You know it is funny in a way it is like holding a divining rod," Ballesteros said when asked how the fledging publisher is progressing. "We're finding our way as we go, in a sense. We've got some plans for expansion. We obviously started off with Grey Goo and we went out shopped for the right partner. We were already friends with Weta, so we called them up and said 'Hey, we are working on this new IP and we love if you would start creating environments' Which of course just perpetuated creativity.'

"I think there is an enormous potential for the halo effect of that IP, hopefully beyond games. But right now our focus is on games." he added "Yeah, I think that it has the potential to expand beyond that. We are looking around at trying to decide what it is that we want to do next."

While Weta Workshop, the design studio behind District 9, Lord of the Rings and Avatar, spearheaded Grey Goo's conceptualisation, Petroglyph Games, the team formed by former Westwood Studios employees, handled the game's development.

The RTS' story features Grey Goo, a hypothetical world ending situation where out-of-control self-replicating nanorobots consume all matter on Earth to create more of themselves. The self aware nanotechnology is one of three factions in the game along with humans and The Beta, a dying alien race.

Set 5,000 years in the future, where the space-faring human race explored the galaxy and then re-established their presence on Earth. Several generations later, The Beta, a dying alien race discovers and colonizes a planet called Ecosystem Nine. A signal is somehow set off on the planet which attracts the humans and grey goo, initiating a three-way war.

"There was an enormous amount of energy put into the ideology of the story arc," Ballesteros said. "We took the time to build the garden and manicure it. The game is a game, you know, the core focus is mechanics and is it fun, right? But if they want to dig it is there. There are many layers to this onion."

Ballesteros explains that as a fledgling publisher, it had the opportunity to review other publishers that it looked up to or "were feeling bad for."  The company and it game-enthused board researched the state of the market before deciding which direction to take, identifying market trends for product vacuums.

"They were looking at things and saying ‘Look at what is wrong here. Let's not build console games. There was a hole right here lets fill it.' And quite frankly that's the driving factor." Ballesteros said. "We wanted to build a PC only RTS with this game and we literally got laughed out of several meetings. It was all about consoles and we looked at each other and we said ‘Ah man, and there's an audience and we need to feed it.'"

"And we looked at that rather than jumping into whatever everyone else was jumping into. In those cases it is a very finite group of players, we understand, and we have a very loyal community behind the IP that we will help perpetuate it."

Since publicly coming onto the scene 90 days ago, Ballesteros explains how the company has been approached fairly aggressively by smaller developers and even publishers. Currently, Grey Box are looking at smaller independent projects that may need funding and expects to unveil new stuff over the next few years.

Other projects on the horizon for the publisher include Valve's SteamOS and Steam Machines, which may be right up Grey Box's alley as both Grey Goo and Dreadnought are PC-only. Ballesteros' opinion of Valve's new venture is largely positive.

"We are in the middle of some nice negotiations with them," he said. "It's all fun and I would like to say that it is all fine and dandy with them. I would like to spend a little more time with it to get my own personal opinion but I think they are headed in the right direction."

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