"It's a new attempt to make a hardcore game": Yiming Sun of MoreFun discusses Arena Breakout, whether it's pay-to-win, and more
Over this past week, I spent some time in Los Angeles, speaking to producer Yiming Sun and Zach Gilson, his translator and Regional Publishing Manager for MoreFun Studios, about Arena Breakout. It’s a hardcore PvP shooter that brings a lot of things to the mobile gaming scene that fans will be excited about. It feels similar to other hardcore shooters like Escape from Tarkov, but stands very much on its own.
I spoke to Yiming Sun and Zach Gilson about what makes Arena Breakout special, what inspired the game, and much more. Sun seems incredibly excited to make something that’s targeted at a specific audience, instead of just making a game that everyone can enjoy.
While anyone can play Arena Breakout, it’s quite clear that they have a specific, devoted audience that the title is being developed for.
Yiming Sun discusses Arena Breakout and what makes it so unique
Q. First, thanks for giving us this preview session of Arena Breakout! What has the fan response been to this mobile shooter so far?
Yiming Sun: Okay. I think we’ve received good feedback. Yeah, people really like it. They just support us a lot. And also they take my ideas and the many things they think need to be improved. But yeah, that's cool, that will help us to make it better. But generally, it's just all good. Yeah, maybe better than I thought.
Zach Gilson: I want to add to that because MoreFun hasn’t done a global game before, right?
Yiming Sun: Yeah, this is the first time.
Zach Gilson: So it’s very exciting for us to do this, to have the amount of success we’ve had so far. It’s not perfect, but there is room for improvement. It’s very promising for us.
Q. What was the inspiration behind Arena Breakout? For gameplay and design, were there other games/films that inspired it? Or perhaps did you see a gap in the mobile gaming world that could be filled up by this game?
Yiming Sun: Maybe we can show you because it's clear that we borrowed from some games. Tarkov, yeah, we did a lot, because it’s really fantastic what they made. But for us, clearly, it’s a good example, but it’s not the final answer. Also, we don’t want to make just a simple copy, that’s of no use to us. I want to make some cool stuff, some better stuff, based on the ideas. That’s what we’ve done.
Zach Gilson: Just building on what he said, learning from Tarkov was very useful because they did a lot of good things. And then we saw gaps, and areas of improvement, and areas to explore. Especially in regard to maps, it’s a new place for us to see what we can do.
And the baseline that Tarkov adds for extraction shooters is a really strong foundation, and we can build on that. That’s what we’re really excited to show off for this genre.
Jason: Also, you guys already answered this in the presentation, but I was going to ask about the intense graphics for the game. But you answered that with the lighter version, so more people can play Arena Breakout.
Zach Gilson: He wanted to add about Tarkov, that when you look at extraction shooters, Tarkov is one, right? We’re looking at that similarly, one genre, one game, and we can combine that with other elements. Kind of like how DOTA, or how like League of Legends did that with DOTA, right? And developed the genre.
So that’s where our producer, Yiming, is looking at what can we take from other genres and add to this extraction shooter, to make something better.
Q. I also have to ask a very important question - Monetization in Arena Breakout - What are the plans to monetize the game? Many people fear mobile games are becoming pay-to-win, so our readers will surely be curious about these plans.
Yiming Sun: Yes, for sure. We are not paid-to-win, but some can. You can create something to save time, you know, because in the game you can buy the money, but the money doesn't make you strong or powerful.
Yes, you can have better gear than other people, but it's not a key factor. It's just one factor, the key part is your skills. It's your might to win the battle. And also this kind of gameplay we learned from Tarkov because in the battle you can take gear.
Also, maybe you lose it. It’s a risk, and how to balance that risk is very, very fun. It’s a key point. And you can’t just pay to win. But hey, maybe let yourself feel better, what you call it, self-respect. You can pay for the service to save time.
Otherwise, all the stuff you can have, you loot from the game. So you don't need to pay. If you have time, if you are a good player, if you have skill, you can have everything. You can win easily!
Zach Gilson: I can add a little bit to that. We have tiers, so you can't just go in the best gear and fight people with bad gear. We have tiers, the value of your gear. And that's how we arm our players. So like you're not, you're not going to go in and kill someone with $20,000 or 20,000 coin worth of gear when you have 150,000. It's extremely unfair. So we have matchmaking to balance that.
Yiming Sun: In Arena Breakout, a bullet is a bullet. It can kill all the people with the great gear, the pro gear, and even the naked ones. But if you are good enough, if you are lucky, money is not the problem. The gear is not a key factor.
Zach Gilson: Because we do follow that realism, that a headshot, even with the pistol, if it hits you here, you’re gonna die. You’re out of the game. So we’ve already found that out, because we’re already launched in China, that players really like that gamble that you can take on the gear.
Because if you see someone with really good gear, and you think, "Should I take the shot? Should I engage with them?" Players really like that feeling. They really like that sense of risk. That’s part of what goes into this. Your value and your gear value, and monetization aspects of that, are how we balance it.
Q. Also, I really like the audio tracking on the screen in Arena Breakout. It helps me, as someone who is hard of hearing a great deal. But can players also hear other team’s comms (proximity chat)?
Zach Gilson: So, technically, we’re still working on that, still researching that. We can already tell that we can implement this, that it’s possible. But what we’re most concerned about is because it’s a mobile game, we’re concerned about interrupting players’ experience. Information overload, that’s what we’re focused on.
Is that the right decision to make? And I mean, we’ve all played these games, like Tarkov, Call of Duty: Warzone, it’s a really cool feature. We like it, but we need to know that it’s the right feature to add.
Q. I also saw that you’re going to have controller support in Arena Breakout - thank God, because I can’t play these games worth anything on mobile controls. Is there an ETA for controller support?
Zach Gilson: The support for it right now is not as good as it needs to be. It’s still in progress. We’ve been focused on touch-screen controls because that’s what the majority will use.
Jason: Well, the touchscreen controls feel good! I’m just bad at them. [Laughs] I know where my limits are. If I had my PS5 controller, things might be a little different.
Q. Did you design Arena Breakout with esports/PvP in mind? Are you hoping to see competitive play at esports/gaming events in the future?
Zach Gilson: So, we’ve already got an esports scene brewing in China, and we’ve found that our core players really like it. It provides an even more hardcore experience. And for global, we’re definitely going to develop it as well.
But we’re really focused on the launch for now. We want to make sure that it is done, and it’s done right. That’ll be a future goal, maybe a phase 2 or next step kind of thing.
Q. One last question. There are a lot of mobile shooters out there right now. Not all of them have the same level of quality, though. What do you think makes Arena Breakout, well, break out from the rest of the pack?
Zach Gilson: So, the main thing is that we are more serious. We have this serious, realistic military tone and that’s what we want to stick with that. That’s kind of what we see as being our bread and butter, is that we are going to be a more realistic approach to a shooter. You don’t really see that in mobile right now, or at least, the vast majority of them.
The second thing that makes us unique, is, as far as being a Tencent product, it’s kind of an experiment. It’s kind of a new attempt at making a more hardcore game, which you don’t see done as well. Usually, we’re kind of focused on mass appeal, mainstream, but with Arena Breakout, we know who our audience is, and we know how to develop for them. So that’s our focus here, that’s what makes us unique.
Arena Breakout is a hardcore PvP shooter that is on its way to mobile devices in the west. The Closed Beta is currently running as well, with several content creators taking part.