Here at XBE, we’ve begun a series of developer spotlights. Our first highlighted the Xbox One launch of the Indie title Quest of Dungeons and its creator David Amador. Now we look to a very different type of developer and game.
Warframe arrived to Xbox One in September 2014. In celebration of the game’s one year anniversary on Xbox One, we thought it prudent to reach out to Digital Extremes and discuss what it’s been like to launch and support Warframe on the Xbox One, particularly in the wake of Warframe’s time spent on PC and PS4. For the uninitiated, Warframe is a third person action shooter in which players combine elements of shooting and the skills and talents of a ninja…in space. We recently listed it among the best free to play games available on Xbox One.
To shed light on a number of topics related to the game’s launch and success, we spoke with Lesley Milner, the Xbox Producer for Warframe. Lesley took time out of her schedule to talk about the growing community of Warframe players on Xbox One, how to keep things fresh with DLC, and creating content for a Free to Play game while maintaining the core experience. She even highlights one player who has put in over 6,000 hours into playing Warframe! Take a look.
Luke Lohr: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Warframe just past it’s one-year anniversary on Xbox One. How was the first year working with the system?
Lesley Milner: “We’re so happy that you reached out to us! Celebrating Warframe’s one-year anniversary on Xbox One was a huge deal for us, and bringing many more years of fun is something we are very much looking forward to.”
“We hope Warframe Xbox One players enjoyed the past year as much as we did. Every month was met with excitement with releases of content to the community that included such things as 10+ major content updates, 4 Prime Access packs, a bunch of Challenges, 3 Prestige Packs that brought exclusive skins and content to Warframe Xbox One players, and so much more!”
LL: Warframe is one of the most successful free-to-play games on consoles, arriving first on Playstation 4 in 2013 and then the Xbox One in 2014. How did the launch of the game on PS4 inform development of the game onto Xbox One?
Milner: “Launching on PS4 definitely gave us some insight on how the Cert process works compared to how we update Warframe on PC. We were able to plan future updates respectively in order to get the content out as quickly and efficiently as possible! Our console teams work very closely to ensure the builds are as polished as possible before submitting to Cert.”
“Expanding our Tenno family to PS4 was a big step for Warframe; we definitely shifted gears to welcome yet another huge community when we launched on Xbox One!”
LL: How does working on the Xbox One compare to working on PC or Playstation 4? Are they more alike than different or do the each simply come with their own pros and cons?
Milner: “Working on Xbox One compared to the other platforms is more alike than different. The pros however, are definitely being able to participate in Microsoft events like X15 and directly working with other developers and players. Being able to reach, play, and have fun with a community that is so tight-knit such as Xbox players is perfect and exactly what we value here at Digital Extremes.”
LL: What was it that brought you to Xbox One in the first place?
Milner: “Digital Extremes has a great history working with Microsoft, so bringing Warframe to Xbox One was really a no-brainer. And with such a strong fan base, we were beyond thrilled to give players yet another platform to play the game.”
LL: How is development of a free-to-play game like Warframe different from that of a more traditional one off title? Does the free-to-play pay structure make things more difficult or less so in pleasing your audience?
Milner: “Development of both a free-to-play game and a traditional one-off title are both rewarding, but there’s something special about creating a game and being able to act on community feedback and reactions. When you develop a one-off title it’s really difficult to create that rapport with the community. There’s such a strong player-developer connection with free-to-play, and that connection is something we aim to strengthen with each Warframe update we release.”
LL: It has to be difficult developing for a game like Warframe. On the one hand you’ve got to keep your existing player base happy with new content and on the other you have to be careful not to overwhelm new players. How does Digital Extremes maintain this balance?
Milner: “Sure, it’s a balancing act but that’s what makes development so much fun! It’s great to see so many people enjoying the game – some new; some dedicated players who have been around since the early PC days who migrated over to Xbox One. It’s amazing to have such a strong community and to get their feedback so we can make as many improvements to the game as we can. The balance comes with a huge thanks to our community that continues to keep us in line with ideas, concerns, and everything under the sun!”
LL: Speaking of that player base, what sort of reactions have you seen from the Xbox community in Warframe’s first year on the system? Any fun analytics that you guys hang your hats on?
Milner: “The Xbox One Warframe community has grown immensely over the year, and we’re always excited to meet some of our most dedicated players! Most recently we got to meet some of our fans at X15 in Toronto. It’s an awesome experience being able to catch up with our fans, who are always so gracious to meet us. They really are the most inspiring part of what we do.”
“When in-person meet and greets aren’t possible, we have a fantastic following for our livestreams – including Xbox One @ 1, our exclusive livestream for Warframe on Xbox One.”
“While we’re talking about our awesome community, we have to give a huge shout-out to our #1 player, DarkHart1, who has over 6960 hours of play time under his Syandana!”
LL: [WHOA] Third person, space ninjas with guns fighting to save the galaxy…The Tenno are certainly a busy bunch. Looking forward into year two on Xbox One, what’s down the road for Warframe?
Milner: “Our mandate with Warframe has been to continuously offer new content to the community as often as possible. We’ll continue to add new content, including such things as new Warframes, Weapons, Enemies, Missions, etc. We’re also constantly looking to update existing systems and aesthetics. Most recently, you may have had a chance to play with Parkour 2.0, which is a completely redesigned movement system. There are other reworks scheduled for the near future, including revamped Warframes (Saryn is up next), and the highly anticipated Solar Map 2.0! And, we’ll continue to offer our Xbox One Warframe community exciting new exclusive content through new Prestige Packs.”
LL: Is something like Warframe 2 a possibility or does it make sense to consistently build on top of what’s already there?
Milner: “Warframe is an evolving game – and it’s still in Beta. The idea of a Warframe 2 isn’t something we’d work toward, but the exiting of Beta is definitely something on our minds down the road. For now we have a strong team dedicated to making Warframe the best it can possibly be across all platforms, and continuing to release awesome new content to our players as often as possible!”
LL: We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer a few questions. Our last one question for you is more of an inside peek to the studio. Are there any fun office traditions, foods of choice, or inside jokes that have refused to die down in the first year on Xbox One?
Milner: “DE provides such an awesome work environment! While we all work very hard, we also play hard. Karaoke, theme days (cape day, Disney day), Halloween costume contests, golf tournaments, hockey leagues… the list goes on and on!”
“Our inside jokes have brought out some interesting community adaptations (like the infamous pink shorts). But, we’re always happy to share our love for what we do with our Tenno family! Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us about Warframe and Digital Extremes!”
If it’s not clear, the folks over at Digital Extremes are working hard to bring Xbox One gamers an incredible game. From Warframe’s initial PC launch back in early 2013 to the more intense Solar Map 2.0, the challenges of keeping Warframe players happy and excited seems to be well met by the group at Digital Extremes. The steady stream of content along with the current “approachability” of the title make Warframe worth checking out whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a bit more casual with your interests. You can download Warframe from the Xbox One store now. There are hours upon hours of free content where you can hack, slash, and shoot your way to a good time.