Veterans of both Blizzard and Sony Online Entertainment have formed their own studio with millions in backing from NCsoft.
The San Diego-based Molten Games spoke with GamesIndustry International today, revealing its plans to develop an online triple-A free-to-play PC title.
"Triple-A to us is really an identifier for quality," said COO Della Bitta, formerly Blizzard’s senior director of global community development and eSports.
"With the advent of mobile and social games, some gamers are starting to associate free-to-play with games that don’t have the depth or overall quality level that was expected of a PC or console title of the past.”
Bitta says Molten is out to change that assumption by providing a free-to-play product in line with the quality expected of a retail game.
“This is a game that you would have happily paid $60 for at retail,” he said.
“We’re just trying to take advantage of the free-to-play model, but we want people to have the same expectation of quality they would if they went and bought a $60 console game at the store."
This level of quality requires an experienced team and since formation earlier in the year the studio has picked up about thirty staff.
Molten is targeting talent that has worked on titles from concept to shipment and expects to have a team of 60 by the end of 2014, and over 100 at game launch.
"There have been a lot of startups around mobile and social, but a lot of people around the industry, especially people who’d been working on more core games, were looking for an opportunity to join a startup and be part of a small team," said Bitta.
"Especially with the structure that we have, where we own 100 percent of our IP. We’re not dependent on a publisher to fund a particular project, so we have a real sense of ownership. But we’re still working on core games, so we found the talent was very receptive."
While most of team remains anonymous, Bitta is joined by Blaine Smith – formerly lead designer for SOE’s Pox Nora and Relic’s Company of Heroes Online – who now serves as Molten’s VP of creative design.
The talent and time required for a game of this scale doesn’t come cheap, but Bitta claims Moulton had no trouble attracting investment.
“It wasn’t as difficult as what you hear about as far as the mobile space goes," he explained.
"Honestly, the PC online space is huge, much bigger even than mobile. We were trying to talk to people who really understood the space and had a similar strategic vision as to where the industry was going. So we were much more selective in the fundraising process."
Molten owes much of its success to its strong team and project, which Bitta claims immediately impressed NCsoft CEO Taek Jin Kim.
"The challenge is execution," concluded Bitta.
"But we feel like we built the right team to where we can execute on product."