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Gdc 2008 | PencilGym.com

Posts Tagged “gdc 2008”

The most famous MMO around now is none other (i unwillingly admit) is World of Warcraft(WoW). No, i dont play it, never did. Blizzard (the producers of this monumental title) earned a Industry Record of $1billion+ USD in 2007 alone, just from this single game. Do you have to play WoW to be part of the development team? No. Do the developers of WoW ‘waste their lives in that game’ (aka “no-life Gamers”)? No. Developing a videogame and playing a videogame is two complete different worlds. You don’t have to love World of Warcraft to get a job in that studio, although having a passion for the game will be a plus, and you’ll enjoy your job and going to work everyday, instead of dreading it.
I don’t play WoW, never will, tried it for less than an hour literally, to get a feel for the game, but not my thing. But would I ever want to work for Blizzard to develop future installments of WoW? Heck yes!

What self-respecting virtual worlds blogger could pass up the opportunity to attend an all-star GDC panel on “The Future of MMOs”? Not me, certainly. So at noon on Thursday I found myself in the first row of a crowded room, listening to John Wood (managing editor of MMORPG.com) pose a series of interesting questions to:

* Jack Emmert (Cryptic)
* Matt Miller (NCSOFT)
* Ray Muzyka (BioWare)
* Min Kim (Nexon America)
* Rob Pardo (Blizzard)

What follows are my notes on the session; in many cases the responses are not verbatim, but instead are condensed versions of the key points. I was very impressed with how articulate and thoughtful these questions and answers were; it was an hour well-spent.

First Question: There has been a trend towards outside IP-based games. Can an MMO be successful today without an outside content IP?

Jack: Investors/publishers love outside IP because of the guaranteed fan base. Developers/designers, on the other hand, prefer the creative flexibility of original content. Because the cost of MMOs has exploded, the pressure for outside IP will increase.

Matt: Yes, of course, there will be a trend towards outside IP because people want to play what they know. But smaller publishers will be able to take advantage of the flexibility of original creation.

Ray: All IP is original to begin with, no? The tradeoff between outside IP and original is the licensing vs original cost. To take advantage of licensed content properly you need to really understand the fan base and their needs, so you’re simply trading one set of work for another.

Min Kim: We don’t typically go towards outside IP, because it’s too much of a headache to comply with the various restrictions. Depending on the genre, you may or may not need the name recognition of an outside IP.

Rob: WoW had the advantage of existing IP that the company owned (Warcraft world). It would have taken years longer to make if they’d started from ground zero on content/concept.

Second Question: Are MMOs headed towards consoles? Will companies in the future have to develop for cross-platform?

Jack: Yes.


Yes, of course. Champions Online (Cryptic’s just-announced MMORPG) will be developed for consoles as well as PCs, and MMOs will almost definitely migrate. (But, he says pointedly, Blizzard shouldn’t bother, it’s much too hard, not worth it, etc. More laughter.)

Matt: The console base is larger than the PC base, it only makes sense to target it. [ed. Huh? That doesn't seem right...]

Ray: Not necessarily. There’s a huge market on PCs, it’s possible to be successful without targeting consoles. There are economic benefits to PCs because it’s the largest “open market.” Play patterns are different in the two contexts. It’s a challenge that can be overcome, but you need to pick and choose your battles.

Min: I agree completely with Ray. Nexon is experimenting a bit with consoles. But for mass market, PC is still the way to go. It’s our core market. For example, will consoles allow you to distribute the game for free? If not, the consoles won’t work for our business model.

Rob: Of course there are going to be MMOs on consoles. We approach it as “what game do we want to make” and then “where should we put it”? RTS games don’t do well on consoles due to user interface constraints. But web-based MMOs have demonstrated they can be huge as well. You just have to pick the system on which your game will be most fun.

Third Question: Will microtransactions be the future of MMO business?

Jack: It’s ridiculous to think this is “the” future. Many people like paying one fee and not worrying about details. “Free to pay; buy the items” is fine for some contexts, but it’s not the future. This is a ‘buzz term’ and I hate it. Monthly subscriptions are a much better business model (and even better when people forget about their monthly subscription…bonus free money, he says!) Depending on microtransactions is likely to be about as successful as spamming a million people with “send me a dollar” emails.

Matt: Bizdev folks want subscription income, it’s much more..

To continue reading the full article, visit http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2008/02/gdc-2008-the-fu.html. :)

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