Funcom announced the establishment of a new subsidiary, SweetRobot, who will be publishing Funcom's ventures into the social and casual MMO-gaming markets. The first project to be made available through SweetRobot is the upcoming MMO-game `Pets vs. Monsters' which will go into public beta testing later this month. The game is a massively multiplayer online game aimed at a younger demographic, specifically children aged eight to twelve.
"SweetRobot will be focusing on publishing games outside the traditional high-end MMO-segment which Funcom has been focusing on the last years," says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. "This will allow us to explore new market opportunities that differ from what we have been doing before while still retaining Funcom's familiar profile. This definitely marks a new and exciting direction for us."
A team of fifteen people have been working on `Pets vs. Monsters' for almost two years, during which time the team has also focused on developing a highly flexible game engine that can easily be customized to work with multiple concepts. `Pets vs. Monsters' is the company's first venture into the more casual, social gaming segment, and SweetRobot will use this as an opportunity to experiment with different concepts, gameplay mechanisms and business models. No release date has been set for `Pets vs. Monsters', and the upcoming public beta is intended to help the developers gather early, but valuable feedback from the target audience that will prove important to the game's direction and development.
"Our passion and dedication for high-end online games remains the same, and `Age of Conan' and `The Secret World' are still our primary focus", says Aas. "But we are also eager to explore new opportunities within the industry, and it felt natural for us to step into the social gaming segment especially considering our outstanding experience with making online worlds and communities. `Pets vs. Monsters' is very much an exciting project for us, our first attempt at creating an online game for a younger target audience with gameplay mechanics and production values that differ from what we have done before. The fact that these productions require significantly lower budgets and smaller teams to develop is very attractive to us, as it allows us to try out several concepts instead of placing all our resources into one single bet."
`Pets vs. Monsters' is a massively multiplayer online game intended for children between eight and twelve years of age. The user is treated to a quick download and will be logged in and playing in no time due to the game's streaming technology. Players will adventure through numerous different `worlds' – from deserts to jungles – accompanied by their trusted pet which they ride into exciting battles. It is also possible to chat and play with other players from all over the world, and the game employs typical role-playing mechanics such as statistics, equipment and loot to incentivize progress.
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