Splitgate: Where it came from and where it’s going

After a recent burst in users, Splitgate is growing rapidly.
Image via 1047 Games

Halo and Portal are two franchises that many gamers will say defined their childhoods. But for Ian Proulx, those games now define his career.

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Proulx was just a teenager when he conceptualized the idea of putting the two franchises together. Years later, fans around the globe have been enjoying his brainchild since its beta re-released just a few months ago.

Splitgate has been out for over two years now, but many didn’t know of its existence until recently. The game was announced at E3 2021 for PlayStation and Xbox and would launch an open beta a month later, after two rounds of successful closed tests.

Co-Founders Proulx and Nicolas Bagamian were stunned the game got so much attention after it hit an unexpected two million downloads in the first week alone. It even reached one of the highest numbers of concurrent players on Steam soon after its release, beating out well-established titles such as Garry’s Mod and Valheim that weekend.

Now that Splitgate has seen so much success and the team has secured a $100-million investment, the company has focused on what it can add to make the game better and more fun.

The future of Splitgate Esports

Esports has been on the minds of many Splitgate fans interested in seeing top-tier players display their skill in tournaments larger than the ones that have taken place so far. With the new investment, Proulx and crew are looking to create a successful esports venture alongside the game.

“I think we want to do probably a league format,” Proulx told Dot Esports. “I think it’s also especially as a new game, it’s important to have something for kind of a road to pro. So I think for us, like we definitely want to have a format, and again, we’re still finalizing exactly what the format’s going to look like. But in my mind, it’s important to have something where the existing pros who have been playing this game for two and a half years … but also keeping in mind that like, there’s a lot of players who are getting very good very quickly.”

Proulx emphasized wanting an opportunity for newer players who might still be improving at the game to compete on the highest level, similar to the VALORANT Champions Tour format, where any team can sign up.

When will Splitgate come out of beta?

The 1047 Games team has no release date in mind for now, and there is no saying whether the game’s release will align with a new season.

Most fans are aware that the game is very polished. It has a few bugs, as many new games do, but Proulx isn’t thinking about the game’s polish or the number of bugs in terms of release.

What he is concerned about is keeping up with the content schedule that will come with the release of a game and having the staff to implement those changes.

“It’s not just about getting the product ready, it’s really about getting the team ready,” Proulx said. “There are other features that we have in mind for just, our vision of what Splitgate 1.0 looks like. That is very different than what it looked like two months ago. But it’s also important that we have all of the pieces, and we’ve got the team built out.”

1047 Games advertises it is “aggressively hiring.” Proulx said the company has had a significant uptick in applicants since the investment announcement, and it should help speed up the process of releasing the game.

Splitgate plans to introduce new content at a rapid pace

The reason Proulx wants a team in place is to release content such as limited-time events and seasonal challenges. The numerous Rumble and Casual modes will likely see changes at some point and turn into limited-time events.

“A lot of those modes aren’t necessarily things that you want to play every day,” he said. “I think there’s 10 rumble modes now, but we could make hundreds of modes out with modifiers. … So for us, it’s like, okay, let’s take the best from Casual, let’s take the best from Rumble. The ones that I want to play every day, like Gun Game, that’s something that is always fun. Let’s put our best foot forward into one consolidated playlist.”

In addition to rotating modes, the team is already brainstorming what a holiday event might look like. There have been Halloween-themed skins in the past, and the developers said they’d like to have those kinds of features available in-game to earn. This will likely take the form of a seasonal challenge that allows players to complete objectives in a specified time frame to earn new rewards.

A constant stream of content does not mean big changes just for the sake of change

One factor the Splitgate developers do not want is changes that undermine the integrity of the game. This goes for both the professional esports scene and the casual player. What they would like to see are changes that have meaning to them.

“Where we can take a map and we can say, ‘okay, people don’t like this, how can we make it better?’ And how can we tell a story? Like Pantheon, for example, maybe the rock wall comes crumbling down. And now a certain section of the map is blocked off. These are all ideas at this point. Like, it’s not stuff that we’ve actually began work on. But that’s kind of the mindset here is like, let’s maintain the competitive integrity, but keep it fresh by changing the map,” Proulx said.

Image via 1047 Games

Developers just introduced a new map with season 0, but they removed it from the rotation due to performance issues on console. Karman Station should return to the map rotation on Monday.

Cross-progression is coming, but not anytime soon

Cross-progression is still a long way away, according to Proulx. Because the scale of players has increased, so has the task of adding cross-progression into the game. Linking accounts to get Twitch drops is something the team wanted to get out earlier, but the task was tabled when the game became popular and developers needed to shift their attention to server maintenance.

Being able to change their in-game name is something players have been asking for, but for now, players are stuck with whatever name they chose for their platform. In the future, Proulx said he doesn’t see any reason why developers wouldn’t allow players to change their names after the implementation of cross-progression.

Matchmaking and bots in Splitgate

Matchmaking is something players have been asking about often, since every game has a different experience based on who they were placed with and what server they connected to.

In Splitgate, players are put into games mostly based on how long they have been waiting, but matchmaking also takes other factors into account.

In ranked, they look at a player’s Elo, ping, how long that player has waited, and various other elements. The longer a player has been waiting, the more the game tries to pull people into a lobby based on those variables.

Casual has a much simpler way of pulling people into matches, is based less on those other factors and more on how long a player has been waiting and what modes are selected. But the game does take everything into consideration when a player begins to search for a Casual mode.

For those who enjoy the Casual game modes, bots being brought into the game when someone leaves has been a complaint among many players. Proulx said they are probably going to bring back adding real players to casual matches in the first couple minutes of the match.

“We used to allow you to join a game and progress in the first two minutes,” Proulx said. “And then we got rid of that because it was just like an extra step. We’ll almost certainly add that back where you can join in progress in the first minute or two.”

Splitgate is free to play and available on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Development for the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 is ongoing.

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Jessica Scharnagle
Jessica has been an esports and gaming journalist for just over five years. She also teaches esports journalism at Rowan University. Follow her for all things gaming, @JessScharnagle on Twitter.