Smite is the third game from Alpharetta, Ga.-based Hi-Rez Studios, and it's the first one that seems on track to be successful, said CEO Erez Goren in a candid post on Reddit.
After noting that "most games fail, some games break even and a tiny number of games are very successful," Goren went on to discuss the history of Hi-Rez, which he co-founded in 2005.
The sci-fi spy shooter MMO Global Agenda, the studio's first game, was released in February 2010 and "lost a lot of money," said Goren. "We continued to fund Global Agenda for more than a year after it was released and losing money, we continued to create content and new features, but no matter how much work we did the user base kept declining."
Goren pointed out that the technology Hi-Rez developed for Global Agenda proved useful in its next two games, Tribes: Ascend and Smite. However, Tribes: Ascend "ended up being break-even at best," said Goren of the free-to-play game, which launched in April 2012.
"We didn't think Tribes: Ascend would be a financial windfall but it was worth a risk to try," he continued. "It's very possible we made some mistakes in how we [monetized] it, but our priority was to get as many people to play as possible (without losing too much money in the process). Tribes received exceptional reviews, we kept adding new features and content, but just like Global Agenda the user base kept declining no matter what we did."
At that point, said Goren, he and Hi-Rez had spent about $40 million for revenues of $10 million.
Smite, which is currently in closed beta, is "very unusual," said Goren — it's helping turn Hi-Rez around. "Smite is one of those rare games that's actually growing every month, and is also profitable," he explained, adding that the revenue has allowed the studio to hire more developers and that publishers have been interested in the game. Last month, Hi-Rez announced a deal with Tencent to bring Smite into China.
"Given everything we know, Smite should have a long and successful future, which is why we are very excited as a company and continue to work our butts off to make Smite the best MOBA game in the world."