Company of Heroes 2 developer Relic Entertainment had to persevere through many ups and downs over the past few years, as parent company THQ slowly trended downward and eventually declared bankruptcy at the end of 2012. The studio kept going by keeping its head down on the game, and now that it's under new management at Sega, morale is "through the roof," said Company of Heroes 2 producer Greg Wilson to Polygon at E3 last week.
According to Wilson, Relic maintained focus on building a great game because that was the only thing it could control — and because that's "all that matters at the end of the day."
Wilson said Relic is proud that its employees did their best to contribute to Company of Heroes 2, even in the face of an uncertain future and how that could have affected them personally. "In the back of their minds they have families, they have kids, they have mortgages; ultimately, they want to make sure that they're secure in what they do," he pointed out. Once Relic began showing off Company of Heroes 2, the response reinvigorated the studio by reminding the team of its ultimate goal.
"Big companies [are] coming in and we're demoing it, and [we're seeing] the executives' faces or the developers' faces, and they're getting excited about our game," said Wilson. "And we're like, 'Oh yeah, we are making an awesome game. This is going to be great. Fans are going to love this.' And so it actually really sort of recharged us."
Relic was purchased for $26.6 million in THQ's first bankruptcy auction this past January by Sega. The publisher already owned U.K.-based The Creative Assembly, another developer of real-time strategy games with its Total War series. According to Wilson, Sega's relationship with The Creative Assembly was important in reassuring Relic, because it showed the studio that as a publisher, "they get RTS" and "they absolutely get PC [development]."
In addition, Relic views The Creative Assembly as "sort of like a father figure," said Wilson.
"They're where we want to be. They have a great presence with Total War; they're really servicing that community well; they're building that franchise out. And we're looking at Company of Heroes as having the same potential of reaching that many players in the future," he explained. "So post-acquisition [morale] is, like, through the roof. People are super-excited."
Wilson told Polygon that members of the Relic team have already visited The Creative Assembly. And while Wilson hasn't yet had the chance to get over there himself, he's been told that the vibe at the two studios is "incredibly similar," not least because of both companies' focus on historical authenticity.
"We have a lot of senior staff that have been doing this for a lot of years and really have developed a craft expertise, and we respect [The Creative Assembly] to the moon," said Wilson.
"So we absolutely plan to be working closely with them," he continued. "I'm not sure if we'll be working on the same game together — we both have our spaces, and we both have our visions for our franchises — but absolutely, sharing learnings and figuring out how we can both learn and grow from each other is definitely in the plans."
Company of Heroes 2 will be available June 25 on Windows PC.