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Hi-Rez Studios | Official Site
MMOFPS | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 02/01/10)  | Pub:Hi-Rez Studios
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Interviews: Free Agent Q&A

By William Murphy on April 08, 2011

Free Agent Q&A

Recently, Hi-Rez Studios announced that their flagship title Global Agenda would be converting to a completely free-to-play revenue model. We caught up with Todd Harris to chat about this decision, what it means for the game, and where the future lies for Global Agenda.

Global Agenda was already sporting a pretty substantial free trial mode, what caused you guys to make the extra leap into a fully F2P model?

Todd Harris:

Going fully Free to Play is very much building on the success we've seen from the free trial of Global Agenda. Our free trial program has been very well received. Even on a slow day we'll bring in well over 500 new accounts thanks to Free Trial. But there are plenty of gamers out there hesitant to download and even try any game that has a required price tag. Do we try to convince those gamers with a huge marketing spend or do we make the entire game free and let users experience it for themselves? Thanks to other titles, there is less stigma these days that free to play means low quality. Certainly there are some games that do it poorly in terms of quality or how they implement the cash shop, but some do it well. And we think what we offer will be refreshing in terms of the Global Agenda class-based shooter gameplay, AAA production values, and the way we implement F2P purchases as optional and balanced.


There’s obviously going to be some talk about how this might be “testing” the waters for future Hi-Rez titles. But I’m more curious as to what it means for future content in GA. Will you be looking at DLC styled updates from here on out? Basically, how does the team see the game drawing enough funding to keep pushing content out at a regular basis?

Todd Harris:

I suspect some will fear that going Free To Play signals the end of updates to Global Agenda when nothing could be farther from the truth. We have a dedicated Global Agenda team currently working on new content. In general we believe this move to F2P will allow us to deliver content and updates more frequently, not less.

Fair enough. So let’s talk a bit about the new content that launches with Free Agent. There’s a new Capture-the-Flag styled PvP map right? As we understand it, there are some special features to this mode. Care to go into a little detail for our readers?

Todd Harris:

Within Mercenary PvP we offer multiple game-modes and our least popular mode was called Demolition. It played kind of like Bombing Run and driving the robot was fun but he felt a little wimpy. In this upcoming version we changed that game-mode from Demolition to Acquisition and it plays more like traditional Capture the Flag so you now run the Robot back to your own base rather than into the enemy base. The robot itself was beefed up with powerful heat ray weaponry as well as a short sprint burst. It was a fairly significant change but the game-type is now a lot more fun. All our other game-modes remain the same but we did modify map layouts across many existing PvP and PvE instances where exploits existed or we could improve gameplay around objective spaces .

There’s also a new Dome Defense raid, but how is it different from what’s already in-game?

Todd Harris:

This new Dome Defense Raid is definitely our most challenging, intense, and immersive mission to date and reserved for characters level 40 and up. Recursive Colony robots including two new huge bosses are now raiding an instance of Dome City itself. The vendors are boarded up and the enemies are busting thru the walls. In previous Defense Raids players have been protecting an objective that is static or moving along a defined Payload track. In this Raid you are protecting and fighting alongside the AI-controlled hero NPC Dalton Bancroft who is moving through the large Dome City area trying to secure it against attack, calling in air-strikes, and even delivering the occasional buff if you time it correctly. Winning requires very tight coordination across your entire 10-man team but also drops epic loot.

Can you tell us about the decision to switch up the skill trees for each class? What kinds of changes have been made, and will players be getting a free re-spec for their characters?

Todd Harris:

We reviewed and revisted every class in order to support more sub-class specialization and gameplay diversity. On Medic for example, players had gravitated over time toward allocating most of their skill-points within the Balanced tree regardless of whether they were healers or damage-dealing poison medics. These new trees do a better job supporting dedicated healers or combat medics or hybrid builds with more specialization within each tree and harder trade-off decisions in certain areas. Across each class we have worked to support similar more specialized trees. At the same time a lot of the fun within Global Agenda comes from experimenting to find your ideal builds and so we continue to support free-respecs .

You’re opening up almost everything in the game for free players now… with the exception of a few things like mail, auctions, and so forth. You’re team is calling this “Elite Agent” status. What other sorts of perks will Elite Agents be getting? Nothing that will give them too much of an upper hand in combat I hope.

Todd Harris:

Our philosophy with free to play is to offer players a choice between spending time or money. We've seen that this works well with our current optional Boosters. Boosters do not give an upper hand in combat but they do allow me to earn levels and items faster. Similarly as an Elite Agent I'll earn levels more quickly and earn in-game currency and loot more quickly, but I will not have a gun the Free Agent can't earn thru gameplay. And, as a shooter, ultimately my success in the game has a lot to do with my player skill in actually aiming that gun.

Obviously, it’s great to see that Hi-Rez is still invested in their first-born. Can we get some hints about what else is on the docket for the future of Global Agenda?

Todd Harris:

The Global Agenda dev team is working on a bunch of new content themed around the Recursive Colony faction that is now becoming aware of the human threat and attacking Dome City. We are excited about delivering another open zone with a quest-line and repeatable quests, new devices, new PvE Special Ops content and new PvP content.

Thanks a lot for taking some time to chat with us Todd. We’re all looking forward to the launch of Free Agent.

Todd Harris:

Thanks. We are putting the latest cut of Free Agent on the Public Test Servers this weekend and the dev team is working hard to take it live and make it freely available by mid April!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.