To Our Fans,
With 2019 now in full swing, I thought now was a good time to give you an update on Hi-Rez Studios. 2018 was by far the best yet for Hi-Rez. Looking ahead to 2019, we are more excited than ever before about the future. I wanted to share some of that excitement with you.
SMITE had its strongest year to date in 2018, with major updates to both the Conquest and Arena maps, three new Pantheons, a constant stream of new events and Adventures, and our most balanced and exciting esports season in years. In 2019, SMITE comes to the Nintendo Switch! Closed Beta begins later this month, with an Open Beta coming soon thereafter. SMITE Season 6, which starts in February, brings cross-platform play and progression to the Battleground. Season 6 also promises new pantheons, new maps and new ways to play on the horizon, as well as some of the most requested new gods of all time.
Paladins firmly found its feet in 2018. Now with 40 champions, continuous major updates and availability on all major console platforms, including Nintendo Switch, the game has steadily improved over the 3 years since we first brought it to Early Access. I now feel completely unabashed and proud to call it the world’s best hero shooter. For the year ahead, Paladins has its most aggressive content schedule ever lined up, with 50% more major patches this year than in 2018, and some of our most vibrant heroes and thrilling modes seen yet.
We were thrilled to bring Realm Royale to early access in 2018, after spinning it off from our previous “Paladins Battlegrounds” project earlier in the year. Throughout the year, Realm had some amazing highs —and a few disappointing lows —but the team made some amazing strides with the game, especially in the last few months of the year. The game ended 2018 in great shape, riding on a very successful start to our Xbox One and PS4 Closed Betas. The team has a fantastic schedule of new content laid out for the year, which will continue to innovate the battle royale genre and bring fresh experiences to our players (I can’t wait to announce some of it!).
In other news, Skillshot, our newly established esports subsidiary, opened a new esports broadcast studio in 2018, while running two separate Hi-Rez Expo (HRX) fan conventions, at which we were thrilled to see so many of you. Skillshot also began running and broadcasting its first ever esports events for non-Hi-Rez games, an important step in its evolution as an industry-leading esports and live media production company.
For Esports in 2019, all SMITE Pro League and Paladins Premier League matches will be on LAN, broadcast from Skillshot’s studio in Atlanta! This takes our esports to a brand new level and should provide our most amazing competitive play yet.
Last, but not least, we always have new games up our sleeves at Hi-Rez, and our teams made some amazing progress last year on some unannounced projects that we can’t wait to show you soon.
Organizationally, the company evolved a ton in 2018— with the biggest change being our split into multiple wholly owned development studios, including Titan Forge Games (SMITE), Evil Mojo (Paladins), Heroic Leap (Realm Royale), and Alacrity Arthouse (various art services). This change has been critical to giving our development teams the structure, resources and feeling of personal ownership they need to best support their players and games into the future.
Heading into 2019, we have a couple other organizational shifts coming. Erez Goren, who has been our CEO since the company was founded in 2005, is stepping aside from that role, while I will take the title of CEO. Erez will remain the Chairman of the Board and majority owner, and will continue to have input on the company strategy and the fantastic gaming experiences and communities we create. But this change gives him more time to pursue his other interests (which include multiple startup companies outside of the gaming industry).
Additionally, Chris Larson, has taken responsibility for running all of our game studios and driving forward our various creative development teams. This is a natural transition for Chris, who ran SMITE for many years and most recently navigated the Paladins team through a crucial point in its lifecycle in 2018. In this expanded role, Chris will ensure that each game studio is taking advantage of best practices learned elsewhere in the company, and that they have the necessary resources needed for success(with a primary focus on growing vibrant and healthy gaming communities).
Finally, I wanted to thank you for your continued support in all that we do, for making our communities some of the most engaged and vibrant in the industry and for sharing your passion and care with others through your charitable endeavours and helping us raise another $480,000 for good causes in 2018.
I think you’ll agree there’s a lot to be excited about over the next twelve months and beyond. We’re thrilled you’ll be joining us for what’s set to be an incredible ride.
Thank you, as always,