The team at San Mateo-based startup Super Evil Megacorp
are betting there's a market for free-to-play MOBA games on tablets, one they hope to corner with the upcoming launch of their debut title Vainglory
"We're convinced that in the next 6-18 months, somebody is going to launch the seminal game on these platforms that will finally get core gamers to pay attention," newly-hired Super Evil Megacorp COO Kristian Segerstrale told Gamasutra. "We're working to create the best home for core gaming talent to go out and explore that."
You may remember Segerstrale as the Playfish co-founder who went on to serve as Electronic Arts' vice president of digital content after the company acquired Playfish
in 2009. He parted ways with EA
in 2013 and began investing in startup companies, among them Supercell (Clash of Clans
) and Super Evil Megacorp.
Super Evil most recently raised $11.6 million in investment funding from General Catalyst and Raine Ventures in advance of the launch of Vainglory
for iOS, which is being tested in select Southeast Asian mobile markets and will be rolled out to more territories "when it's awesome," according to Segerstrale.
The company has been developing the free-to-play mobile game for roughly two years using its own proprietary engine technology and an estimated $3.4 million in financial backing. Daly says Super Evil shied away from using off-the-shelf engines like Unity or Unreal because building its own tech stack allowed it to "remove latency from the equation as much as possible" and optimize the engine for the company's specific needs.
"If you look out across the console space, all the really truly great, successful companies own their own tech," said Super Evil CEO Bo Daly. "To recruit talent out of the highest-end console space, you've got to convince them that their work is going to look so good on that iPad that it's worth it for them to make the jump."
The company bills itself as a bastion of mobile-curious AAA talent and counts a number of former Riot, Rockstar and Blizzard employees among its ranks, though it's careful not to advertise as a competitor to those studios.
"I don't think we compete with League
) or Dota
; those games are in a class of their own," said Segerstrale. "Vainglory is a game for tablets...you play it on your sofa, with your friends."
Yet Super Evil is clearly trying to duplicate the lasting appeal of those games; both Segerstrale and Daly say they'd like to see players stick with Vainglory
for years, hoping that what they perceive to be 'core' game enthusiasts -- people who schedule their lives around the games they play -- will pick the game up (it's free, after all) and never put it down.
To that end, Super Evil is very careful to advertise that Vainglory
will not include what Daly refers to as "slash and burn" monetization systems: performance-enhancing items, arbitrary time limits and energy systems.
"It's not pay-to-win," said Segerstrale. "No timers, no energy mechanics. We promise."