19 Jun 2012

Auckland firm to launch its first online game

7:17 am on 19 June 2012

An Auckland firm which is still a few months away from launching its first online game has already made hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sales.

Grinding Gear Games was started by Auckland University graduate Jonathan Rogers and two of his friends, Chris Wilson and Erik Olofsson.

The passionate gamers have spent five and a half years developing their first online game Path of Exile which Mr Rogers describes as a fantasy, action game.

Grinding Gear Games has spent $2 million so far on development, which has been funded by the founders and through private investors from the US.

The three company founders initially worked on the game, and after seveal months they started hiring staff. Mr Rogers says it was difficult to find people to hire because New Zealand does not have a large gaming industry.

Path of Exile is now in the final stages of testing and when launched in August it will be free to users to play, but they can choose to pay for extras like pets or characters.

Ten weeks ago, the company started allowing fans to pay to take part in their testing programme.

Mr Rogers admits the approach is slightly unusual for a Western gaming company, but so far it has earned $US700,000 from its 385,000 user accounts.

He says that level of interest bodes well for when the game is launched.

Mr Rogers says the company is breaking even on staff costs and hopes to recoup the rest of the development costs soon after launching.

And once Path of Exile has gone live, the focus will be on developing the game further, rather than starting new games.

Mr Rogers says the company now has 18 staff and plans to hire another five people in the next year.