Smite PAX Aus Interview: The Fastest Growing New MOBA

Smite PAX Aus Interview: The Fastest Growing New MOBA

Smite screen

Smite developer Hi-Rez studios has some big plans for the game's eSports scene.

When people mention MOBAs, the first two names that come to mind are DotA 2 and League of Legends. However, there is a third MOBA, Smite, that has quietly been growing at an astonishing pace, and may be on its way to joining the two kings at the top. At PAX Australia this year, I had the chance to chat with Hi-Rez Studios Chief Operating Officer, Todd Harris, who talked to me a bit about the game's future, both in terms of the actual development of the title, and how its eSports scene will grow.

Smite's World Championship prize pool recently hit a whopping $1 million, which, while paling in comparison to DotA 2's $10 million+, is a very impressive figure for a game that's only six months old. In fact, Harris told me that Smite has been the fastest new franchise to hit the $1 million prize pool mark in the history of eSports.

What you may not know is that, just like DotA 2's Compendium, Smite's World Championship prize pool has also been partially crowdfunded. At the time of the interview, Hi-Rez had put up around $600,000, while crowdfunding had made up the remaining $400,000, although Harris expects that the crowdfunding figure will also hit $600,000 soon enough. I asked Harris if he was worried about next year - if the game fails to hit the same figure, people will accuse it of dying. "We are sure that we will be able to raise $1.2 million, or more, for next year's championship," he replied, confidently dispelling any concerns.

Despite this considerable prize-pool, Harris explained that Hi-Rez actually offered quite little support to professional Smite players. Professionals are not paid a salary, and instead rely on these winnings, as well as sponsorship deals, to survive. Some of the biggest names in eSports, including Cloud 9, Team Solo Mid, and Dignitas, are bringing teams to the game, so players will have to lean on the support of these organizations for Smite.

We also briefly talked about the concept of all, or partial, women teams, something that I touched on with Riot Games concerning League of Legends earlier in the year. Harris had pretty much the same answer, explaining that the audience of MOBA games is still overwhelmingly male, and while there are no restrictions on female players in the competitive scene, the reality is that there just aren't enough women playing the game.

To remedy this, Harris said that Hi-Rez has taken, and is continuing to take, steps to make the game more accessible to new players. He talked about the game's arena mode, how it eschews the traditional "push minions down a lane"-style of play and just allows players to get in there and battle it out with their champions. He talked about several features in the game that make it more newbie-friendly, such as a system that auto-buys items, and auto-levels skills. Lastly, he talked about how the game is coming to consoles - the first serious MOBA to do so.

"Because of the third person viewpoint, it really lends itself much more to consoles than the other popular MOBAS," Harris explained. Indeed, Smite does feel almost more like an action RPG than a MOBA at times - particularly in the aforementioned arena mode.

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Lastly, we spoke of Smite's incredibly consumer friendly Ultimate God Pack - which unlocks all current and future Gods in the game, for a single, flat fee of $30. It's unusual to have such a generous offer for a free-to-play title, especially when the competition seems happy to gouge us blind. Harris said it made a lot of sense when the game's alpha launched with just 9 heroes, but now that they are at 59 heroes, it's getting a bit out of hand in terms of its value. He stated that while there are currently no immediate plans to discontinue the Ultimate God Pack, he was unwilling to confirm it would always be available. "Never say never!"

Smite is shaping up to become a force to be reckoned with in the MOBA world, and to help celebrate its rising popularity, we've got a six of the PAX Aus exclusive Sydney Shredder He Bo skins to give away. To enter, simply send me a PM with the subject "PAX Aus Smite Skin Giveaway".

The first six people to send me a message will receive a code!

That's all folks! All six codes have been given away.

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I would like to play Smite, but I have a toaster so it doesn't really work too well.

This article really comes across as advertising. I've seen angry joe do some smite games on twitch, it looks fun

Had fun with it for a few games but unfortunately it's just not as fun or deep as DOTA so i uninstalled it. Not having all gods unlocked put the final nail in the coffin for me, but good luck even though i doubt it will even come close to the success of LOL and DOTA but hopefully it becomes big and we got more ARTS games flying around. And let's not even talk about that shitfest that is heroes of the storm.

When I played it I had a blast, albeit with 350 ping. I was about to make a sarcastic comment about SMITE being and PAX Australia, but then I googled it and they've just recently put some in. Time to re-download, and hopefully with that skin. Good to see they didn't cancel the god pack as well. The only thing that stopped me from buying that was the lack of Aussie servers.

I'm quite happy they recently did some servers for Aus, it was quite difficult to land auto-attacks at higher pings with the way the attacks are implemented.

First WoW, now Smite...for oceanic players october 2014 shall be a month to be remembered. Aus/NZ players rejoice!

I'm just fucking ecstatic about the Oceanic playerbase finally getting some love (and respect) :D

Reinstalling Smite now.

I like the idea of Smite, a third person MOBA is something I wanted for ages, but the artstyle just doesn't appeal to me. It's aesthetic just drove me away.

On the topic of Heroes of the Storm, it is a good game. Rough but it's still in alpha. Those store prices though, absolutely ridiculous. I'm trying to play HoTS as much as I can without paying a cent to see how viable it is.

Dendio:
This article really comes across as advertising. I've seen angry joe do some smite games on twitch, it looks fun

Hey Dendio. Can you please elaborate on what parts of the article you found questionable? I'm always looking to improve on my writing, and removing as much bias as possible is obviously a big part of that. I want to present information to you guys in a manner that's as objective as possible, and if this feels like advertising then i've failed.

For the record, I'm personally not that big of a Smite fan, much preferring League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm.

Thanks,

-Steven

Schmeiser:
Not having all gods unlocked put the final nail in the coffin for me

I fail to understand why is that a problem? Especially in smite.
-You get 5 Predetermined Free gods
-You get 5 Free rotated gods that is changed every major patch
-Every God is purchasable via in game currency (Favors) aside the real money currency (Gems)
-Every god is rentable with Favors
-The most expensive gods are new gods, which is 11.000 favors, and drops immediately to 5500, which is the standard price for every god. (There are even cheaper gods)

I've been playing Free for more than 4 Months now and I already own half the total from just Favors.

HA! No.
Fastest growing prize pool for professional players is a weird way to define fastest growing MOBA. You'd think that would be judged by fastest growing player base and that's just not going to happen with Smite due to the lack of depth.
From my experience the majority of MOBA players are not casual players who play to have fun, they're hardcore players who play to win.
And I'm guessing from the marketing blitz that Smite has been on lately, that they're just realising that fact.

Kaimax:

Schmeiser:
Not having all gods unlocked put the final nail in the coffin for me

I fail to understand why is that a problem? Especially in smite.
-You get 5 Predetermined Free gods
-You get 5 Free rotated gods that is changed every major patch
-Every God is purchasable via in game currency (Favors) aside the real money currency (Gems)
-Every god is rentable with Favors
-The most expensive gods are new gods, which is 11.000 favors, and drops immediately to 5500, which is the standard price for every god. (There are even cheaper gods)

I've been playing Free for more than 4 Months now and I already own half the total from just Favors.

It might not be to the majority of players i guess, but being 10 years with a game that gave you all heroes for free might've spoiled me. Would you rather have all gods unlocked from the start so you can play whatever you want and find your favourites immediately or grind IP or whatever it is called so you can buy some and risk not liking them (happened a lot in LOL) or grind enough IP so you can buy new ones as soon as they are released since new releases are pretty much always a bit OP and much more fun to play than the current ones

Schmeiser:
It might not be to the majority of players i guess, but being 10 years with a game that gave you all heroes for free might've spoiled me. Would you rather have all gods unlocked from the start so you can play whatever you want and find your favourites immediately or grind IP or whatever it is called so you can buy some and risk not liking them (happened a lot in LOL) or grind enough IP so you can buy new ones as soon as they are released since new releases are pretty much always a bit OP and much more fun to play than the current ones

-The in game currency for Smite is Favors
I honestly enjoyed my time more with the Free Gods and the Free Rotation gods, and you have ample time of around 2 weeks before the rotations is changed. It sure made me learn the Gods much faster as I only have 10 to worry about and 5 that changes every major patch.
Also the argument of "finding your favorite" in smite is negated by the fact you can try all the Gods for Free in Jungle Practice (and also the feature to rent it for 1 battle), so the common thing to do in Smite if you're a Free Players is check out the God in that mode, before deciding to purchase it.
and just adding in, Buying "New Release Gods" in Smite is a rip-off for Free Players as it costs way more than the Skins that you can buy with favors. You're better off spending $30 to get the Ultimate God pack, and get new and upcoming gods for free forever. $30 was the Price when it was in Alpha and there were only 9 Gods at that time.

 

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