Gearing up for the release of AO Tennis 2, developer Big Ant invited Stevivor back to its Melbourne-based office to try things out. Over the course of our preview session, conversation inevitably turned to the original AO Tennis and its multitude of patches.
While one can view AO Tennis‘ numerous patches as evidence Big Ant continually supported its first-ever tennis game, others saw the situation as an indication of the game’s quality at launch and beyond.
“The game that was available in November [2017, ahead of the game’s January 2018 release] was received really well by everyone that played it,” Big Ant’s Ross Symons told Stevivor.
Symon’s correct about that — our December 2017 preview is a testament to that.
“It was received well by focus groups and people seemed to love it,” Symons continued. “So we decided that, given that people love it, that we should make it better. So we actually worked through Christmas to make the game better and we destroyed it. We actually killed it. And it was really embarrassing.”
“We released a product [in January 2018] that we thought people would like. Quite rightly, they didn’t. Regardless of what we planned for the game, we decided that we were going to get it to the point that we had it in November and then add more.”
Symons acknowledges both points of view about the original’s multiple patches, admitting to me that he was “on the fence” about which side he agreed with. Nevertheless, he asserted that letting down fans at launch was the reason Big Ant continued to patch AO Tennis into its AO International Tennis worldwide release and beyond.
“We didn’t make good [at launch],” he continued. “People had bought this game and we’ve got enough pride that we didn’t want to be seen to be ripping people off or anything like that; it wasn’t the quality we want it to be. So we thought we need to bring it back to a point, but then to repay people for their faith in us, we then took it way past where we would have ever taken the game.”
Symons condluded by saying the studio was far more confident with the upcoming AO Tennis 2 after lessons learned from the initial development experience.
“There’s a lot of stuff that rolls from one to the other,” he said, not only referring to AO Tennis and AO Tennis 2, but other Big Ant releases between them. “So the stuff that we put into cricket has rolled into AO 2.”
AO Tennis 2 heads to Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch on 9 January.