NCsoft has made a "multi-million dollar" investment in Molten Games, a new San Diego-based developer and publisher. The team at Molten is comprised of experienced developers from other major studios, including Sony Online Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Former Blizzard managing director of the Korea Jungwon Hahn is the studio's CEO, former Blizzard senior director of global community developer Paul Della Bitta is the chief product officer, and Sony Online Entertainment lead designer Blaine Smith is the vice president of creative development.
"We created Molten Games in order to truly have control over our game development and IP, and we're going to create something epic," said Hahn. "Our team understands not only the creation of online games, but the ongoing management of them, better than anyone else in the industry. As we continue to build our team and work on our initial product, gameplay and player experience is going to come first with every decision."
Molten is aiming to make a big-budget AAA online game, meaning we probably won't see their work until many years from now.
"AAA to us is really an identifier for quality," Della Bitta told GamesIndustry International. "With the advent of mobile and social games, some gamers are starting to associate free-to-play with games that don't have the depth or overall quality level that was expected of a PC or console title of the past. This is a game that you would have happily paid $60 for at retail. We're just trying to take advantage of the free-to-play model, but we want people to have the same expectation of quality they would if they went and bought a $60 console game at the store."
The team at Molten currently numbers 30 employees, but Della Bitta expects to double that by the end of 2014. The studio is currently looking for a Technical Director, Senior Unreal Engineer, VFX Artist, and UI Artist to round out the current team. Molten has found that it's not hard to find new talent.
"There have been a lot of startups around mobile and social, but a lot of people around the industry, especially people who'd been working on more core games, were looking for an opportunity to join a startup and be part of a small team," Della Bitta said. "Especially with the structure that we have, where we own 100 percent of our IP. We're not dependent on a publisher to fund a particular project, so we have a real sense of ownership. But we're still working on core games, so we found the talent was very receptive."