MMORPG.com: Congratulations on ten years of Xfire! The site and tool have been synonymous with MMOs for the last decade. What is the secret to its longevity, in your eyes?
Paul Kim: Xfire was one of the first companies to focus on building a product and site for the hardcore gamer. It supplied something incredibly new and technologically advanced: A way for you to see what games your friends were playing and to join them easily. Then Xfire added an in-game overlay that allowed you to chat and VOIP while in-game and across different games. The idea that one gamer playing WoW could chat with his/her friend who was playing Call of Duty and could invite them with a single click was pretty cutting-edge at the time. Further, we supplied this to gamers as a free service and product. Adoption came quickly as Xfire continued to add features and support for the avid gamer.
MMORPG.com: With the ten year anniversary, what changes are coming to the site with version 2.0?
Paul Kim: The new website is completely redesigned with a new look, new colors, new UI and new features. We’ve added a “News” section to the website, which puts our own spin on relevant articles from multiple publications applicable to our user base. Our “Games” section also has been fully revamped with updated information and content, along with a “download now” or “buy now” button for users that wish to try out a new game.
MMORPG.com: Xfire has always been a hub for players to check stats and compare notes. What are some of the features that some people may not know about?
Paul Kim: The whole point of the re-design of the client is to make features easier to discover, and I believe we have achieved that. However, one feature people may not know about is that the 2.0 client now displays the user’s Game Library – a list of games they have on their gaming system. It was one of the highest-demanded features requested by our users. The 2.0 client also integrates with our Battleground platform and displays all of the Battleground servers available to the user, with a one-click join feature to go straight into competition. Additionally, website visitors can head to the Games page at any time to see the “Xfire Top Ten,” a list of games being played the most by Xfire users.
MMORPG.com: Battleground is a huge initiative. Tell us what it took to build the competitive part of Xfire?
Paul Kim: It took time, really. Time to understand the competitive landscape, learn what other companies were doing for online competitive play, discover the problems and holes they were facing running tournaments with users from all over the country – or all over the world, for that matter – and address them with Xfire’s in-game technology and competitive gaming platform. Our technology allows us to solve major problems other companies have come up against, such as self-reported and real-time scoring, cheating, and rankings. Further, most companies are only providing tournaments which take longer to curate, are harder to prize and more expensive to enter.
We have put together three forms of competition: Instant Action (free-for-all death match competition), Challenges (direct PVP or Clan vs. Clan), as well as Tournaments. Our release of these formats is very specific – starting with Instant Action, to provide gamers a taste of competition without having to be a clan member or experienced tourney player; to Challenges, which provides a “slice” of the tournament experience; to full-fledged tournaments with compelling prizes.
MMORPG.com: How can players interact with the new Battleground system? What will they be able to learn?
Paul Kim: Battleground is very easy to use and pretty self-explanatory. You can enter Instant Action servers from either the website or the Xfire 2.0 client. All live servers are displayed with the number of users currently on them. Single click and join – that’s it and you are in. Hopefully, Xfire users and gamers in general will learn the thrill of competition and keep coming back for more. Instant Action is a great way to get into competitive gaming; it requires no entry fee, no clan membership, no teams, no setup or waiting process – simply one’s ability to evade, point and shoot. Once users get used to that aspect of competition, they will move on to direct challenges and eventually tournament play.
MMORPG.com: How do you see Battleground helping players who are new to competitive gaming? Are there aspects of the tool that you find the most useful?
Paul Kim: We built Battleground with the express purpose of making it the gateway for those new to competitive gaming, and the fact that we have a large community of gamers already on Xfire should help us establish it as such. Our friendship creation, user-generated content tools (screenshot capture, video record and live broadcast) and communication tools (chat and voice) offer the perfect springboard for gamers looking to start their competitive careers.
MMORPG.com: You already support a lot of games. What are some of the game we can expect to see on Battleground in the near future?
Paul Kim: Xfire’s desktop and in-game client works across more than 3,000 titles; however, Battleground is a separate product which requires game-by-game integration.
We launched Battleground with two titles (Call of Duty 4 and Counter-Strike: Source), but will be adding more titles quickly as we evolve the system. Titles next up on our list include Planetside 2, Team Fortress 2, World of Tanks, and District 187 (from the creators of Sudden Attack). From there, we hope to get major publisher-integrated titles such as Battlefield 3, League of Legends, Starcraft 2 and others.
MMORPG.com: Can you tell us a little about X-Coins and how they work?
Paul Kim: Battleground operates on two forms of currency: Battle Tokens, which are essentially “reward currency” and can be earned from a multitude of actions on Xfire (take a screenshot and post, “like” us on Facebook, bring a friend, etc.). X-Coin are purchased currency or “cash based currency” and have a value of $0.10 per coin.
Tokens can be used to play Instant Action, Challenges or Tournaments, and then can be redeemed through entries into monthly prize sweepstakes; however, the main use is to be able to practice all forms of competition and gain credibility.
X-Coin is used in all three forms of competition as well, but the stakes are higher. X-Coin won and lost in Instant Action and Challenges have real monetary value. Tournaments with quality prizing require X-Coin to be used as entry fees.
Imagine going to a video arcade. You put cash in the token machine, get your tokens, play your games, win your tickets and redeem the tickets for prizes. This is essentially what we are doing with Battleground: You get tokens to practice and coins when prizes are at stake.
MMORPG.com: You mention bringing competitive PC gaming to a new level. What are your plans for the future to help drive this competition forward?
Paul Kim: We want to be the industry standard “bridge” between the avid gamer and the pro gamer. There are so many talented players out there today who have no idea how to become a pro gamer. Our plan is to bridge that gap and be a regular conduit for avid gamers to become recognized on our platform and enter the professional arena. In sum, we will continue to make every effort to create relationships with pro teams, major publishers and sponsors to drive the ongoing growth of competitive gaming.