Menu PocketGamer.biz
Search
Home   >   News

Trevor Williams of RallyHere: "We want to ensure that we can democratise live ops games for any size studio."

The chief revenue officer for the live service platform spoke to us about humble beginnings at Hi-Rez and plans for the future
Trevor Williams of RallyHere:
Stay Informed
Get Industry News In Your Inbox…
Sign Up Today

If there's any aspect of game development that's unquestionably challenging, it's live-ops. Managing a living, breathing gaming experience including not only servers but stores, challenges, achievements and more can be a monolithic task.

But, that's where companies like RallyHere, Hi-Rez's venture to create a wholly owned subsidiary - and potentially a soon-to-be wholly independent entity - that leverages the studio's experience and tech to provide the services for developers and publishers.

We got the chance to visit the Hi-Rez offices in Brighton while we were in the city for Develop: Brighton, 2023, and to sit down with Trevor Williams, chief revenue officer for RallyHere, and speak to him about the focus of the platform - and how this expertise can even be applied to mobile titles.

After having a quick look at some of the decorations on the wall which celebrated Hi-Rez's already extensive back-catalogue, we sat down with Williams and went through some of the key advantages and benefits that he believes RallyHere offers.

A rallying cry

Williams first gave us a brief rundown of the history of RallyHere. The entity was spawned from Hi-Rez's existing in-house expertise on running live service games, as the studio is well-known for its titles such as Smite (in which one of the character's - Bellona - abilities lent RallyHere its name), Rogue Company and their latest title, Divine Knockout. With their tools and expertise they developed a strong back-end infrastructure that didn't rely on a particular engine, something vital for developers, and a potentially huge market to exploit for other game makers who wanted to integrate the kind of crossplay and cross-progression the studio had mastered.

In terms of the particular advantages RallyHere offers, he notes the 15+ years of experience gained from work on Hi-Rez's catalogue, the various tools for updating vital mechanics such as battle passes and season passes, and the functionality framework for vital post-launch support.

Of course, this all wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for their "engine agnostic" approach that allows them to offer the platform to developers utilising nearly any engine. 2018 was "When we took our architecture that was monolithic and transitioned it to web-based API, that was where engine agnostic began," Williams noted. By 2022 the backend had decoupled entirely from UE, and as you may remember earlier in 2023, RallyHere announced one of its first partnerships with Prophecy Games. At the moment it's very much heads-down at RallyHere, although Williams does offer a brief idea of what's coming soon.

“Right now we’re focusing on our partners, our goal in 2023 is to onboard our first partners that are external to Hi-Rez studios. And we will be looking towards white papers, technical documentation and case studies as we head into the GDC timeframe in 2024," he said.

Given the crucial nature of KPIs and concern around performance in this categories by developers we asked Williams to identify a few of the key metrics he believed were crucial for live-ops, "There are three major pillars of metrics in the live-ops world: retention, engagement and monetisation. Retention is how many times your player comes back on another, we think of things like D1 retention and how many people come back tomorrow, we also think of day 7, day 14 and day 30."

There are three major pillars of metrics in the live-ops world: retention, engagement and monetisation.
Trevor Williams

“Engagement is how long the play session is, so if it takes 20 minutes to play a game you would ideally want your player to play maybe two to three rounds a day, so your engagement would be anywhere from forty-five to ninety minutes – that’s PC to console. Then when you think about mobile you’re thinking about shorter play sessions, you’re thinking about players having higher-engagement, having them come back multiple times within a single day, and coming back with higher-retention day after day – that’s why you have stuff like log-in rewards."

“RallyHere’s goal is not to tell you how to make games or monetise your players. RallyHere’s goal is to give you all the tools you need to monetise your players. If you want to build a battle pass, we have a tool that allows you to build battle passes, if you want to build limited time events we have a tool that helps you to build limited time events, if you would like to bundle items in your marketplace and digitally merchandise them we have the tools to do that too.”

For Williams, monetisation is something that is supported by, not independent of, the other two pillars he identifies. "We always think about monetisation as a function of engagement retention, it’s tertiary to the first two pillars. We believe that if we can increase your retention, increase the number of times you log-in, increase the length of time you play in a session, we know that will turn into monetisation."

We always think about monetisation as a function of engagement retention.
Trevor Williams

Another key advantage, when we put the question of mobile to him, was that RallyHere's platform allows developers to easily port the existing version of their game onto phones for testing purposes. This can allow game makers to briefly judge whether their game is suitable for mobile or crossplay, and Hi-Rez themselves did the same when they were in the concept stage of creating Rogue Company: Elite. "Both iOS and Android are platforms we support fully and end-to-end. So we’re just giving the optionality to the developer to increase the number of platforms they can publish on," Williams added.

And what about mobile specifically, and what cross-play and live-ops represent for the platform? Well, Williams took a more platform-agnostic view of the future of games. “I think as we continue to move through the ecosystem and mobile devices continue to become a massive platform and opportunity, the lines will start to blur between a game being a ‘PC or console game’ or a game being a ‘mobile game’ and it will just become ‘a game’ and an experience. And we want to ensure that developers can just build the game so that the player can play with their friends wherever they are regardless of hardware.”

“RallyHere gives you options and tools to do what you want as a developer, if you want to focus on mobile that’s fantastic if you want to focus on all platforms that’s fantastic we’re here to support all developers to get their games into the hands of players," he concluded.