Looking for a new game to play next weekend? Heroes of Newerth developer S2 Games announced today that it will hold a free trial weekend beginning February 28 and running through March 2 for its upcoming free-to-play "next generation" MOBA Strife.
You can sign up for the free weekend through Strife's website, though you won't be able to get started playing until next Friday. Sign-ups close on February 24.
Speaking with GameSpot, S2 Games monetization director Pu Liu said the principal purpose of the Strife trial weekend is to examine player behavior and gameplay trends on a wider level than what the company is experiencing from its ongoing closed beta--which is smaller.
Of the "host of variables" S2 Games will be looking at during the trial, Lu said the developer is very much interested in discovering trends about where Strife is most popular worldwide.
"One thing in particular that we're focusing on is getting strong regional data to better understand Strife's appeal to and penetration into different areas of the world," Liu said. "We want to make sure that Strife appeals uniquely to each region and is able to foster strong communities no matter what people's geographical location or culture may be."
Strife is, of course, entering the MOBA scene dominated by heavyweights like League of Legends and DOTA 2. Strife will separate itself from those games, Liu says, by being easier for newcomers to pick up and through its attempts to minimize player "toxicity."
"Strife offers next generation thought process and design," Liu said. "We analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of many titles in the MOBA genre, including our own Heroes of Newerth. From this analysis, we were able to construct a MOBA from the ground up that we think the world both wants and is ready for. Strife offers a focus on the player experience, attempts to minimize toxicity, and increases the intuition in a genre ridden by burden of knowledge and high barriers."
The Strife trial will be offered on PC, Mac, and Linux and everything featured in the closed beta will be available during the trial. For more on Strife and the upcoming trial weekend, check out highlights from our conversation with Liu below.
GameSpot: I've read before that you're tackling toxic behavior in some unique ways for Strife. Can you explain what these are and why they are needed?
Pu Liu: MOBAs are notoriously toxic; the competition for resources between teammates and enemies alike really creates a tense atmosphere. If a teammate does something you don't expect, you tend to react very negatively. Most genre stakeholders acknowledge the toxicity issue, and are trying to address it retroactively - by punishing bad behavior. With Strife, we're uniquely positioned to both address toxic behavior retroactively with our Karma system, and more importantly facilitate positive team behavior with the game design itself. From the ground up, Strife is designed to be less toxic by creating less competition between teammates. For instance, since intra-team conflict is usually the most common and worst offender that contributes to toxicity in MOBAs, we proactively addressed this in Strife with our gold sharing mechanic for brawler kills.
GS: The term free-to-play is not always perceived in the best light; what steps are you taking to ensure that Strife is fair and balanced?
PL: Free-to-play systems are sometimes negatively associated with pay-to-win. In Strife, while we want to reward our players for their activity with external progression systems, we will base our monetization systems primarily off of cosmetics - dyes and gear sets - while also offering shortcuts to things that players could otherwise earn for free. We believe that the key to having a healthy free-to-play game is to have an amazing experience for the free-to-play player. That in turn creates higher organic growth, meaning you have more chances to get players who will spend money on the game, supporting the game for the entire community.
GS: The free-to-play space is exploding in popularity but it still kind of feels like the Wild West; there is no proven formula for success. Can you explain your philosophy when it comes to microtransactions?
PL: Free-to-play is definitely exploding in popularity, and vastly varying implementations exist. Beyond making sure that our monetization systems are not pay-to-win, we're aiming for an elegant and clean system that makes it very clear to the player what their potential purchase decisions are without shoving it in their faces. Strife does not have a dedicated "store." Microtransactions are seamlessly integrated into the free player's core flow. If someone wants to spend, fantastic. If not, we're not cattle-herding them into a premium store under one guise or another. When someone does spend, it will be within the exact context that they are spending on - there's nothing hidden, there's no entrapment agenda.
We also feel that the best implementations of Free-to-play models prioritize the free experience while offering luxury goods that create a high spend ceiling. Some people love spending lots of money to customize their experience. What's important is that people who spend a little and people who don’t spend anything feel that the system is made for them as well.
GS: The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are more PC-like than any consoles before them; have you considered releasing Strife for consoles?
PL: We currently have no plans to release Strife for any console platforms.