Last week the devs at Icarus Studios dropped the first hints of their collaboration with noted free-to-play developer GamersFirst. Despite a lot of speculation and anticipation (fueled in part by the fact that the Fallen Earth website went offline for a few hours for updates), no free-to-play announcement was forthcoming.

Yesterday at the annual E3 convention in Los Angeles, our own Rubi Bayer managed to corner GamersFirst's Darek Connole to ask him what the heck is going on in terms of wasteland business models and future development considerations.

Is Fallen Earth's cash shop expanding? Is the game going free-to-play? GamersFirst remains coy on both subjects, but you can check out the full interview after the cut for more details.

Massively: So you're working with Fallen Earth -- what can you tell us about that?

Darek Connole: We're helping them by offloading some of the block-and-tackle, day-to-day operations so that their creative team can focus on getting things like Alpha County done.

We see the game and we see so much potential. It's such an awesome game, but there's just a niche that's playing it, so we're offering them cost-savings in their backend. We're also looking at putting a marketing machine behind it. They do great PR, but their marketing side is a little weak, and we're looking to bolster their advertising and get their name out there.

What we're getting out of that right now is we're looking at the way their microtransactions work, we're looking at the way their subscription model works, and we're looking at how we can get our take of that. Now, the relationship is still forming, so I would say for you and for your audience, keep your eyes peeled to see where it goes!

I have to ask about the business model. Is it going to go free-to-play?

Free-to-play is on the table. It's not something I can confirm; it's not something that I can deny. But we're talking about all kinds of options.

It's a consideration.

It's a huge consideration because the game does already lend itself. It has an in-game store, and it already has a subscription model that has more of a premium model than a typical subscription base, so it is something we're looking at. However, we also have to balance the current game and the current game systems.

The Fallen Earth fans are awesome. They're amazing. And they're technical people, even moreso than the All Points Bulletin fans. We did a screencast and 30 to 40 percent of the questions were about server sharding, lag time, where are they located, are we going to be making any changes to the packet software (because they didn't want to see drops in ping or anything like that). Hugely smart, hugely technically savvy -- that's a gamer who will be there, one who deserves to be taken care of.

The game deserves to be taken care of. It's a brilliant concept, the crafting system, kind of like APB's character creation system; it's fantastic. It takes some of the BS out of other crafting systems (like stopping everything you're doing to do it); they allow you to set stuff up and go. It's great. We want to be a part of that, and how that is going to go is still being determined.

As for other business models, we're looking at tiered sub models. We're looking at a lot of different things because the last thing we want to do is do something that doesn't fit the game. We care about our players. Our players and our player communities are the most important thing to us. Without them we have nothing since we don't have a box sale on that side.

And the team at Fallen Earth an amazing mentality. Marie Croall is amazing and passionate. When we first started to go down this road, there were certain things that she said were absolutely not going to happen, so we've come up with a company line on things like leased weapons and pay-to-win and things like that:

Frak that.

And you can quote me. We are not doing that. We're going to keep the game true to the game and to the people who like it. We're not there to impose our will on it; we're there to help because we see opportunity.

It's a brilliant game, and it's very deep, but nobody's playing it. And hopefully we can help that.

And it sounds like you're on board with keeping the current staff over there.

Well, we don't have any control over that. We're giving suggestions on things, but we don't have any direct control over development; it's all Marie and her team. She definitely tells us if we make a suggestion she doesn't like -- she's very vocal about it.

So I would say: Follow us, follow Icarus, and watch in the next couple of weeks. We are narrowing down plans, and we're hoping to have an idea of what's best for everybody in another week or two.

Awesome, thanks very much!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 6-9, bringing you all the best news from E3 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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