Respawn Entertainment is teaming up with free-to-play online game maker Nexon to bring the Titanfall franchise to mobile devices in 2016. The companies announced a "multi-game, multi-year" partnership today that will bring "several new and original" Titanfall games to Android and iOS platforms in the coming years.
Collaborating with Respawn and Nexon on Titanfall mobile games is Particle City, a Los Angeles-based studio co-founded by Respawn's Vince Zampella and industry veteran Larry Pacey.
Particle City is the new name of a studio announced last year that was previously called Nuclear Division. Respawn owns "a big chunk" of Particle City, Zampella said, with Nexon also jointly invested in the studios in connection with the partnership.
Zampella, who's serving as a creative advisor at Particle City, likened the new developer to a "sister studio" to Respawn.
In an interview with Zampella and Nexon president and CEO Owen Mahoney, the two told Polygon that they don't plan to simply put Titanfall, the first-person shooter, on a tablet, but develop "a whole new type of [Titanfall] game."
"It's about being able to extend our universe into an area that we at Respawn aren't expert in," Zampella said. "When we built this universe, we realized how extensible it was ... and we want to get it out in front of as many people as possible."
"We're not of the view that you take a first-person shooter that's great on a console and PC and just put it on mobile," Mahoney said. "You have to work with what the platform can do."
Thanks to the increases in GPU power on mobile devices and robust networking technology, however, "We can deliver a deep rich mobile experience," Mahoney said.
Zampella and Mahoney wouldn't say what types of Titanfall games would hit mobile devices, other than to downplay the possibility of a Titanfall FPS.
"I think we have some interesting ideas, but I don't know that we can talk about any of them yet," Zampella said. "It's another piece of the universe, a peek behind the curtain that is hinted at or assumed in the universe that you might take for granted, things that wouldn't necessarily be revealed in the main game."
Nexon plans to invest in its Titanfall mobile games over the course of years, Mahoney said, indicating that they have long-term plans to help grow the franchise.
"When they started talking about where they could take the Titanfall universe, it was very exciting"
"From the Nexon side, in our experience a great game that is an online game on any platform, can last years," Mahoney said. "So let's keep investing in it over time. What we find is that much of the industry, the people that we talk to, they don't think of it that way ... [they're more interested in] cashing out and moving on to the next one. But based off of our experience, [Respawn] take a very different view than most of us in the industry. When they started talking about where they could take the Titanfall universe, it was very exciting for us.
"We think our ideas now are the start of something that's going to be really cool for the Titanfall franchise overall."
When I asked Zampella what kinds of mobile games he plays and what he thinks might complement Titfanfall's console and PC versions, he said he wants to play a "shorter term gaming experience, something that adds value to the main game — games where I want to check in multiple times a day, not the same experience ported over."
Nexon and Respawn are also working together on another Titanfall project along with publisher Electronic Arts. Earlier this year, Nexon announced it was bringing an online PC version of Titanfall to Asian markets.
Respawn is also hard at work on a multiplatform sequel to 2014's Titanfall, which was exclusive to Xbox platforms and PC. While we don't expect the sequel to hit anytime soon, I asked Zampella if he could give us an update on Titanfall 2.
"I can't say just yet," Zampella said. "I promise that it will be worth the wait."