Hi-Rez Studios and Level Up! Games have ended their partnership. While it may not have been something of which European and North American SMITE players were keenly aware, Level Up! was the company responsible for managing the distribution of the game and the esports side of SMITE in Latin America.
The parnership began almost three years ago when SMITE was still in its infancy. Hi-Rez enlisted the help of Level Up! — possibly because Level Up! is owned by Tencent, who was already handling SMITE’s distribution in Asia –to help get SMITE off the ground in the budding region of Latin America. According to the announcement post (although it is a translation), Hi-Rez is now “finally prepared to handle the communities themselves of Latin America and Brazil.”
Response to the news has been bittersweet. Hi-Rez’s decision to partner with Level Up! was received with skepticism by Latin American SMITE players who were familiar with the company from their management of other games. After the deal went live, Level Up! was criticized by the SMITE community in the affected regions for server lag, poor or nonexistent customer service, and mishandling of the professional scene, including not paying players.
However, the news of Level Up!’s exit from SMITE has left uncertainty for players in the affected areas.
Reddit user saefi described community concerns in a March 1 post:
Back in season 2, Hi-Rez created Brazilian and Latin American servers for Smite, managed by LevelUp in both regions. This provided latin american players new dubbings in their home language, local servers with very low ping and special events, sales and content for our community.
Since the unification of all servers into the global server, LevelUp is taking care of eSports and social media for Smite and Paladins. We no longer have new dubbings (since patch 3.13) or any kind of special attention to our community.
With this contract ending, I think Hi-Rez should give us some official answers about the future of the Latin American community for Smite, and how it’s gonna be managed from now on. It seems like we’re kind of abandoned, and the ending of the partnership with LevelUp has created lots of doubts about the future.
It is confirmed in Level Up!’s farewell post that Hi-Rez will be expanding their partnership with ESL to SMITE esports in LATAM to replace Level Up!, but ESL is an esports company and presumably does not handle game distribution, community management, promotion or dubbing SMITE into different languages, which are the concerns that saefi and other players have brought up.
While Level Up!’s official leave may have some SMITE players breathing a sigh of relief, others seem to find LevelUp!’s presence better than nothing at all. Hopefully Hi-Rez has a plan for the affected regions going forward so LATAM players can continue to enjoy SMITE to the fullest extent.Follow @SMITEScrub