Welcome to M.E.W.T.: the Most Epic Warframe Topic.
Warframe is a game developed by Digital Extremes. Their name might not be immediately familiar to you, but when you start reading the list of games the studio made or was involved in, they are instantly recognisable.
Warframe’s history is rooted in nail-biting times for Digital Extremes. In 2012, the company completed at least two rounds of significant lay-offs as it started running out of money. It desperately tried to get publishers to buy Warframe, but no-one would buy into the idea of a regularly updated, online multiplayer co-op third-person action game.
Stated differently: not that long ago, publishers weren’t interested in “live service” games unless they were MMORPGs. Nowadays it’s all they want to make.
Even free-to-play publishers apparently said the game looked too good to succeed (they didn’t believe Digital Extremes could update it frequently enough to be a bit free-to-play game).
Ultimately, Digital Extremes decided to self-publish the game, and after years of growth and building momentum, it is the juggernaut it is today (it camps in the top 10 most-played games on Steam).
NoClip’s documentary on Warframe has the founder and staff tell the story of how the game came to be:
Digital Extremes is based in Canada, and used to be entirely independent until 2014, when it sold 61% of the company for $73 million to a Chinese holding company called Leyou (it was called Multi Dynamic at the time).
The sale clearly hasn’t impacted development of Warframe, and Digital Extremes has even dabbled in co-developing and publishing other games since then. However, these projects have mostly been cancelled (The Amazing Eternals, and Human Head’s Survived By) or not well received critically (Sword Coast Legends).
Here’s a snapshot of the games Digital Extremes made before it ultimately launched Warframe as a last-ditch effort to save the studio. See if you spot a trend :
- Solar Winds (1993, publisher: Epic MegaGames)
- Epic Pinball (1993, publisher: Epic MegaGames)
- Unreal (1998, co-developed with Epic MegaGames and Legend Entertainment)
- Unreal Tournament (1999, co-developed with Epic Games)
- Unreal Championship (2002, co-developed with Epic Games)
- Unreal Tournament 2002 (co-developed with Epic Games)
- Unreal Tournament 2004 (co-developed with Epic Games)
Other games Digital Extremes worked on include the PS3 port of BioShock, multiplayer for BioShock 2, multiplayer for Homefront, and The Darkness II.
It also worked on a game called Dark Sector, which is talked about as the game that was going to be Warframe until publishers asked Digital Extremes to make significant changes to ts vision.