While attending GDC 2023 we got a chance to speak with Kabam Vice President Tyler black and Head of Publishing at Kabam Los Angeles Nick Anderson about their newly announced game: King Arthur: Legends Rise.
Tyler Black spend eight years working at Kixeye, working his way up from Product Manager to CCO before taking on the responsibility of Kabam’s Vice President in 2022. Nick Anderson started as a QA Tester at Vivendi and EA and has since risen to Head of Publishing within Kabam in 2019. During their tenures in the company, Kabam has released a number of their most profitable titles including Marvel’s Contest of Champions, Disney Mirrorverse, and Shop Titans.
In this interview, they spoke more about King Arthur: Legends Rise and the direction that Kabam will take with their future titles.
Since Kabam has studios all over the world, could you tell us more about which teams worked on King Arthur Legends Rise?
Tyler Black: So the Kabam studio is in Korea, but it’s been a collaboration between our Korean studio, our Vancouver studio, and our LA studio primarily. But yeah, it’s a global market game.
This is your first game made with the Unreal 5 Engine so how did that affect the development of the game?
Tyler Black: In general, it made it faster and cheaper. That was the main thing, so we were able to go way faster to hit the high-quality bar that we were aiming for. That was the main benefit of going with Unreal.
Nick Anderson: Yeah, and we get iteration speed, but also we get access to a lot of advanced like graphical fidelity techniques that are a little a lot cheaper on the hardware itself.
Tyler Black: And then there’s kind of two aspects, if you watch the State of Unreal talk that we gave, we spoke a little bit about how we put specific aspects of the technology to use. I think we highlight some animation tools in there, as well as some features like dynamic weather that we were able to do really quickly. Lumen is also a massive part of lighting and adding flexibility to how the environment feels for us. So I can get into some specifics of the technologies if you’d like. Just in general, because it’s a cross-platform game, both mobile and PC, we were able to have that flexibility to hit a mobile quality bar and a PC quality bar that might be different as far as graphic fidelity that people expect on a PC. We just kind of get that working with Unreal.
We also noticed the game has cross-progression as well. Can you tell us a bit about how multiple multiplayer elements the game would have?
Nick Anderson: Effectively given the core of the game in terms of exploration or sort of combat and it being turned-based, there are no advantages really given to any specific platform. It’s not a ping speed-based game, you’re not looking at actions per second.
Going off the last question will we see more crossplay features in Kabam’s games going forward?
Tyler Black: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t want to talk too much about our future slate but being cross-platform is definitely the new era that Kabam is moving into. We have a great history of building great mobile games, and Shop Titans is a cross-platform game already. It’s on Steam and on the epic game store as well as on mobile. King Arthur: Legends Rise is the first title that we’re going to launch cross-platform, but not the last.
Games based on pre-existing IPs often have mixed receptions, so is there anything in particular that you want to accomplish with your licensed titles?
Tyler Black: Yeah, this is like an original story that we’re creating. This is part of our product strategy for Kabam is to try to balance that licensed IP strength that we have with some of our own original storytelling. We don’t want to abandon building licensed games, if there’s a really good license out there that fits the really good game we want to make. But we want to try to start telling some of our own stories as well. We also have Shop Titans, which is an original game that Kabam has created. But we’re definitely known for Contest of Champions and Disney Metaverse more recently.
There have been so many titles based on Arthurian myths over the years. So what are you hoping to do with your interpretation of King Arthur?
Nick Anderson: Since there have been many stories around King Arthur, we’ve tried to bring all of those things together for a unique retelling, a little bit darker and a little bit deeper.
Tyler Black: We’re mixing in a bit of high fantasy into ours as well. Because we want to explore elements of magic and have that kind of ability to bring in some different enemies, some bigger monsters, and some bigger mythical creatures into the game as well. So we’re mixing in some of that high fantasy to get a more original take on the legend, but we think it’s an evergreen story that people can relate to globally. It’s just kind of a good Canvas to tell an original story on the go.
Since our website is actually from Southeast Asia, do you have any titles that do well in the region?
Tyler Black: Disney Mirrorverse actually is a really big hit. In Japan in particular, and in a few other regions around there, it does well in Korea, as well as Malaysia, and Singapore. We’ve seen a really good pickup to that brand, globally, but there are little pockets that it’s really hot as well. Specifically in Southeast Asia, I think there’s a good Disney affinity in a lot of countries there. But overall the game is universally loved.
Do you guys plan to do any alpha or beta testing?
Tyler Black: Yeah, we have actually done some rounds of testing already, and we’re just about to open up another round of testing very soon here. And we’re continuing to refine the game as we go. It’ll be in the US as one of the regions that will be doing that open beta test.
Finally, is there anything you want to share that you think the audience should know?
Nick Anderson: I hope that the audience will be excited to play King Arthur: Legend Rise rises itself. I think it represents one of the strongest turn-based RPGs, we are not the menu game, we’re not just sitting in PvP all the time type of game, we have a story to tell. I think that’s a unique and special component of this game.
Tyler Black: I think that’s what makes King Arthur legends rise special in the Kabam product portfolio. Is it so story driven? Compared to some of our other games? Yes, it’s a hero collector, it’s got that progression to it, but the story is really strong and there’s been a lot of craft put into it. The other thing that’s important, especially this week is this is the first game that we’ve built in Unreal, this is our first real cooperation with Epic, and it’s been a really strong partnership as well. And they’ve kind of enabled us to launch on all of these platforms, right out of the gate with really high quality.
Kabam seems to be advancing forward with greater emphasis on graphics and art through Unreal Engine 5 and crossplay to bring players together.
We’re very thankful to Tyler and Nick for speaking to us and wish them the best of luck in recreating King Arthur so he can rise again.
King Arthur Legends Rise will launch for mobile devices and PC via Steam in the near future.
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