Gods and Heroes discusses price reduction, exclusive minion and new classes

Heatwave Interactive, makers of the new indie MMO Gods and Heroes, has been refreshingly upfront about their business lately. Recently, they talked about the need for even more players, despite having one of the top selling games on Steam for a while. It should be a sign of how payment models or pricing can seemingly make or break a game, especially at launch. Within even just a few years, the mainstream audience has gone from hating on free-to-play, treating it as though it was some sort of oddball political party, to snickering whenever a game actually asks for money upfront.

Will Heatwave's game pay the price for not releasing for free immediately? Well, that is yet to be seen. In a recent interview with Anthony Castoro, Executive Producer and CEO, he was very open and honest about all of these perceived issues, and seemed ready to continue using such open language with his audience.

Click past the cut and let's talk about the upcoming new price, a new class, and a little surprise for all of the players who paid for the game upfront.

While it might be easy to set Gods and Heroes in the same group of other pay-to-play MMOs, it is a bit different. Not only is Heatwave Interactive smaller, but the game is not built within a classical fantasy universe (it should be noted that many of our fantasy staples come from the mythology that Gods and Heroes employs.) The goal, according to the team, is to get the game in good shape and to grow it slowly and properly. If you have followed Darkfall's creator Aventurine, you might see similarities between the two developers. Both seem OK with having a smaller audience, if that's what it takes to have a quality game.

So far, and despite the honesty about the need for more players, the game seems to be doing pretty well. It was top game on Steam, and only now is being beaten by games that are on sale. The game also boasts well over a 50 percent conversion rate -- meaning that players who bought it are subscribing beyond the free period -- and this is with an opt-out feature that allows players to avoid putting a credit card in when starting the 30-day free period.

The question is, then, why be so honest about needing more players when the current population is busily logging in and playing the game? Why even talk about the numbers?

"Gamers aren't stupid, and I think that one of the things we have that is valuable to us is our reputation and our interaction with the players." Castoro says. "It would be easy to log in, count the number of players on the server and realize that there was an issue with population. If you have half a brain and are playing our game, you might be concerned about population. I'd rather deal with the repercussions of having some transparency and honesty than just sort of ignore the players. You always get the best results by dealing with the issues directly."

What about free-to-play? After all, this is an age in which players have more choices -- more free choices -- than ever before. Well, it is coming, but not right away.

"Free-to-play is one way that you will be able to play this game in the future. To me, free-to-play is a trial with no time limit, and ultimately you're trying to get people to convert to paying. But the game was not built to do free-to-play from a game design perspective. So rather than re-do the entire game to be sort of item driven, and to have a store and all of the things that you need to do free-to-play well, we decided to focus on what was already there as much as possible and start with a small community. Again, obviously we want as many players playing the game as possible but, from our perspective, we need to get the game where it needs to be and have the right sized audience to go with that."

In an attempt to lure even more players into the world of minotaurs and magic, there will be a price reduction, down to $29.99 in both digital and brick-and-mortar stores. (Yes, that means boxes -- remember those?) It was refreshing to hear talk of physical copies, complete with box art and other goodies -- something you just don't hear as much about in this digital download age. The game is now featured in chains like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, as well as in popular online stores like Amazon.

Along with the price reduction will be a new class: the Scout. Essentially it will give players a new ranged class that isn't based in magic. Instead, the new class will use a sling or bow. While the class should have been released at launch, the developers felt it wasn't ready and promised to have it done soon after launch. Well, it's four weeks after launch, and here it is! Also, loyal players who buy the box before July 31st, 2011, will receive an exclusive undead archer minion named Batillus!

We'd like to thank Anthony for taking the time to sit down with us, and for his continued openness with the community. We imagine that it has not gone unnoticed.
This article was originally published on Massively.