Company History (1985 - 2008)
Part 3 - Developing BigWorld Technology & Chartering a New Path for Micro Forté Studios
After the development of Enemy Infestation, Steve and Simon were given the role of designing and developing the BigWorld Technology. The initial versions of the technology took over three years of development and some AUD$8m in funding from Allen and Buckeridge, a leading Australian IT VC firm, as well as a AUD$1.8M grant from the Australian Government through its Ausindustry R&D Grant program and a subsequent AUD$4.6M Start Grant follow-through for the development of BigWorld 2.0, which is scheduled to be released in late 2008.
Micro Forté would have never have achieved all the things it has achieved without that R&D Grant fund from the Australian Government and it will be ever grateful for the trust that was placed by the Government in the vision that John held and that Steve and Simon made their own and brought to life.
During early 2001 Micro Forté also welcomed the addition of Stephen Harris as Financial Controller. He later joined the executive team as CFO, helping the company put in place numerous financial controls so as to enable orderly future growth. Stephen assisted John with managing the financial aspects of all his ventures, and has now established an Accounts group that is able to continue this work and to allow him to focus all his efforts on the rapidly growing BigWorld company.
Employing graduates from the newly created AIE helped John, Steve and Simon focus on the final touches that would complete the BigWorld Technology. Late in 2001 during the final stages of the development of the technology, the company received a buyout offer by one of the world’s leading multinational interactive entertainment companies. They offered a major IP fantasy MMOG property for the company to develop as part of the deal. The deal was not consummated as the offer was considered by the Board to be too low.
The BigWorld Technology was finally shown with little fanfare at the 2002 GDC trade show and it was an instant success. Many publishers courted the company and offers were in consideration. In November 2002 Microsoft announced a first-party relationship with Micro Forté to develop a massively multiplayer title exclusively for Xbox, thereby entrenching the BigWorld Technology as arguably the world’s leading massively multiplayer online technology for PC and consoles.
The company began work and almost completed its “Citizen Zero” MMO title for the Xbox, but unfortunately Microsoft decided to cancel this and all of the other MMO titles under development for its own strategic reasons. This was a major blow to the company and staff.
In parallel to the cancellation, the BigWorld Technology was starting to attract even more attention and Micro Forté realized the importance of extending the technology. The Micro Forté development team focused on core technology development, as they were the true technology innovators and understood best what developers desired from the technology, while a new BigWorld team began to focus on the marketing of the technology and seeking licensing partners. Eventually all of development, sales and marketing were consolidated into the BigWorld company, leaving Micro Forté to begin chartering a new direction.
After the global success of the BigWorld Technology, Micro Forté Studios are now focussing on their next chapter - making some very compelling titles with the cool tech they have spent years perfecting! Micro Forté Studios is now a unique development team that is in the fortunate position of being able to focus on game development titles in the rapidly growing frontier of the MMO and virtual world space. Because of their unique history, Micro Forté Studios is now working with select publishing partners and innovators in this space.
Micro Forté Studios are a loyal group of individuals who choose to work together because they share a similar vision and their commitment to each other and their goals have enabled them to reach a relative unique position. Micro Forté Studios employ some of the best talent Australia has to offer, and they provide a fantastic game development culture with a strong working environment. Their values, contribution to the wider industry, and strategic planning have allowed them to remain as a development company for over 23 years, something that very few game studios can boast about.