Three years after its initial release date, Splitgate is finally releasing its 1.0 build on September 15. Though in a surprising turn, the launch will mark the end of the game’s consistent support cycle as 1047 Games moves on to its next project.
Splitgate launched in 2019 to a tepid reaction before successfully relaunching in 2021. The game was originally supposed to get its 1.0 release last summer, but 1047 Games delayed the launch. Since then, the developer has consistently added new modes to the game as well as updated its art style from the inside out, one map at a time.
With how committed 1047 seemed to supporting the shooter, today’s news might come as a shock to fans. Splitgate will introduce a free “infinite” battle pass that goes live alongside the 1.0 launch, which will feature 100 new cosmetic items and then pay out random item drops after that. Weekly featured playlists will continue and 1047 Games also plans to do standard bug fixing on the game, but that’ll be the bulk of the work done on Splitgate after 1.0 goes live.
The developer says that it’s handling Spligate’s 1.0 launch this way to allow the team to move on to its next project, which will be a game set in the same universe that’s being built in Unreal Engine 5. In an exclusive interview with Digital Trends discussing the move, 1047 Games founder Ian Proulx notes that the project will still be a shooter with portals, but he emphasizes that it won’t be “Halo meets Portal” — a common moniker fans applied to Splitgate that the developer is hoping to move away from.
“Specifically, we are trying not to be ‘Halo meets Portal,’” Proulx tells Digital Trends “That’s another reason we want to move away from this. We want to come up with a new art style. You’ve seen a little bit with Abyss and Forgone, but we felt like we had to play it safe because it had to fit within the game. So now we want to go make our own thing. Give us a blank slate and let me show you what we can do.”
For fans wondering why the decision was made and what the developer’s next game will be, Proulx shed some light on everything happening with Splitgate
So why are you making this move with Splitgate?
This is something that’s been on my mind ever since the fundraising. We’ve got all of this money and talent and brand recognition. Does it make sense to keep iterating on the existing things when there are so many things we can do bigger and better with more polish? There are things we want to redo because we’ve learned a lot. There are things we want to change because we think we can do better.
With every single beta season we’ve launched, we’ve learned more. I think we’re now at the point where we feel like there are enough things we want to do differently that it’s time to pivot and work on the next game. It is a game in the Splitgate universe and it is a shooting game with portals. We’re not going to make the next Candy Land.
What this really allows us to do is take our time, keep doing what we do well, but really focus on building something that is special. Not just something that’s a really successful indie game, but is a massive AAA game with the budget, with the team.
What are some of the things you wanted to redo?
When I look at Splitgate, it is undoubtedly a very fun game. The reviews reflect that; the hype that we had when we first launched the beta reflects that. I genuinely love the game. But I think that when you look at Splitgate, it’s not a game that’s set up for success long term.
There are little things like, hey, we can do better art, we can do better graphics. Everything about it we can do on a better scale. But the formula of it is not necessarily set up for live-service, long-term success. I don’t think there’s anything I’m ready to share about what the next game does differently, but that’s a big focus of ours. We’ve done market research, we’ve done surveys, we’ve looked at the data, we’ve talked to our community. There are a lot of things we want to change to make sure we have a game that stays relevant long-term
We want to get to a state where we can do three-month seasons, meaningful big updates, constantly keeping things fresh. That’s partially changing the formula a little bit while doing what we do well. But it’s partially just taking time to build the team out the right way.
Did the game’s player count factor into the decision?
It definitely was. We’ve always felt like we’re not overly concerned about player count because we definitely feel like we have the budget where, once we go big, we’ll get the eyeballs back. We just need to make sure that once we get it back, we’re in a position where to sustain.
Having a fun game is not enough.
We have a small player count now — it’s still a large player count, but it’s small enough that slow and steady growth isn’t going to get us to where we want to be. I think the next game, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll be significantly bigger than Splitgate. We know that when we get back there again — and we want to make sure that when we do — we have a product that can sustain a player base and grow from it. And we want to give ourselves every chance at that homerun.
Was there pressure from investors to create something new?
Not at all! The investors have been really supportive. This is actually something I brought up to some of them in December. I think the consensus with all of us was, hey, we want to keep doing this because there’s more to learn.
If we had made this decision six months ago, we would have been much more blind and ended up with a worse next product than what I think we will end up with.
Are you worried about how the game’s community is going to react to the news?
Everyone we’ve talked to so far has been really supportive and understanding. It’s definitely a concern. We don’t take this decision lightly. There are going to be some people who are not happy about this. But I think this will be better for the community and the company in the long run. Our community wants more players and the best game possible, so for us to deliver that, this is what we’ve got to do.
Splitgate started as a student project and was then launched and relaunched. What are some lessons you’ve learned from the unusual history of this game’s life?
The first few lessons I learned were that having a fun game is not enough. You have to have a fun game, but there’s a lot more that goes into a successful free-to-play business than just “oh this is a really fun game.”
The first thing we learned is how important onboarding is. We have really good onboarding now. Our short-term retention is world-class. I think what we’ve also learned though is — and this is the reason why we’re moving on — is that you need to have meaningful content regularly. You’ve got Fortnite doing their Dragon Ball Z event right now, which is awesome. There’s constantly new stuff with these games and it’s different every time you play. I think with Splitgate right now … it’s really fun and people love it, but after a month or so, they’ve experienced everything there is to experience and they’ve probably left their positive reviews. But they’ve also probably run out of things to do and it’s gotten stale for them.
We’re fighting an uphill battle right now partly because of a lack of resources and partly because of the formula that we’ve got. It does need some level of change.
This is not just the same thing with better graphics; this is a new game.
What would you have done differently if you had launched Splitgate today?
If we had launched Splitgate as the exact same game, with the exact same timing as we did, but the difference was we already had $100 million and we already had a back-end with servers that could handle scale and we already had a team of 150 people (that’s the goal of what we want to get to) — if we had all of those things in place, I think we could have maintained what we have.
The view here is A) let’s make sure that when we do launch, let’s have all these pieces lined up, and B) while we’re at it, we’ve learned a ton over the last five years! All the things we wanted to better? Let’s do the things better! Let’s keep doing the things we do well really well, and improve of course, but let’s get all these pieces in place. Let’s go have a massive launch with our new product, but let’s go make a new product. This is not just the same thing with better graphics; this is a new game.
It’s in the Splitgate universe. It’s got guns. But it is different. It is going to be a different experience, and I think it’s going to be a much better experience and one that can maintain and grow. We’re shooting for the moon here, truly. We’ve got very, very high ambitions.
Do you have a timeline in mind for when you’re looking to launch the next game?
I have an internal timeline. I can tell you it’s not going to be in 2023!
Interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
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