Will Quick Hit Score Big? Behind the Scenes with Foxborough’s Newest Team

5/29/09Follow @wroush

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the relatively primitive graphics and the swords-and-sorcery-style point system, MMORPG players turn up their noses at a game about conventional sports, and fantasy-league fans may miss the connection to real teams and players.

But Bob (who’s editing this piece) points out that Quick Hit might be perfect for the many fantasy players who like the idea of console sports games but can’t or don’t want to put in the time to master the controls. They’ve already mastered the “brain” part of football video games, just not the physical part—and now they won’t have to. And Samantha Smith, Quick Hit’s director of communications, says the company has done its homework, and is confident that it’s targeting a big audience. In a company-sponsored survey of 1,000 football fans and gamers last summer—all male, and all between the ages of 14 and 40—85 percent said they would “definitely” or “most likely” want to play Quick Hit, Smith says. And the RPG elements that Quick Hit is incorporating, says Anderson, “are the same ones that have proven to be widely successful after a decade of use in the industry…Advancement, skills, leveling are things that have been tried and truly tested.”

With a $13 million venture pot provided by Menlo Park, CA-based New Enterprise Associates and Vienna, VA-based Valhalla Partners, the company should have the resources it needs to adjust the game in response to user feedback come this September. While its quarters in Foxborough are spacious—and even show a touch of dot-com-era architectural enthusiasm, such as the giant gridiron on the wall of the entrance lobby—the startup has a lean team, with only 25 employees, and isn’t spending anything close to the $20 million to $100 million that can go into a developing a typical MMORPG or console game these days.

Quick Hit Team Preview Screenshot“There is a blockbuster-film approach to building these titles, but the downside risk is that you play a Madden NFL once or twice and you’re done,” says Anderson. “On the other end of the spectrum you can do an iPhone or Nintendo DS game for $250,000, but those games have no real replayability or depth. In our product, we’re building in these elements of advancement to keep people playing.” And having constructed a game engine that can handle a sport as complex as football, Anderson says, Quick Hit is in good position to apply its approach to other sports like soccer, baseball, or basketball.

You may be wondering whether Quick Hit’s decision to locate in Foxborough really has anything to do with the Patriots. As it happens, the team’s former practice field is visible out the window at Quick Hit. But the startup’s location actually has more to do with mental hospitals than with football. Its offices are part of the old Foxborough State Hospital, which, as Anderson explained to me, opened in 1889 as the nation’s first facility for the treatment of alcoholics (then called “dipsomaniacs”) and later became a treatment center for patients with psychiatric disorders.

The facility closed in 1976 and was abandoned for many years, except for the occasional Halloween haunted house fundraiser—doubly fitting, given the nearby cemeteries, which are the final resting ground for 1,100 anonymous former patients. The former hospital campus is now being redeveloped by Boston-based Vinco Properties under the appropriately anodyne name Chestnut Green; Quick Hit chose the location because Anderson lives in Foxborough.

And that, gentle readers, is my first and probably last column about football. You can sign up to be a Quick Hit beta tester at www.quickhit.com; if you try it, I’d love to hear back about whether you think the formula works.

For a full list of my columns, check out the World Wide Wade Archive. You can also subscribe to the column via RSS or e-mail.

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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