Earlier this week, Brian Sinclair over at GameSpot.com posted an article about Brian Farrell’s comments at a presentation at the Lazard Capital Markets Investors Breakfast.
Farrell, the CEO of THQ, was asked why none of the major publishers have done much in the MMORPG market. Instead of saying something along the lines of “well none of the big publishers really have a clue, and if they did get into the MMORPG market, they would screw it up more than it already is” he actually said the following:
“I think what you will not see THQ do is come out with another fantasy-type game. The other thing we’re thinking is these things tend to have a window. Right now that product is World of Warcraft, so the idea would be to time something for when that product is going to be on its downward slope. To come out with something competitive now I think would be misguided for anyone, including THQ.”
Wow. Thank’s a lot Mr. Farrell. I feel like you just PK’d a lot of venture capital interest in new mmorpg projects. I also think you dodged the question. Ok, maybe you did answer the question and your answer hasn’t been quoted anywhere online yet, but for the sake of my post here, I will assume that your quote is your answer (ok, non-answer).
The question was about why the major publishers aren’t doing much in the MMORPG sector (obviously, since Blizzard has been so phenomenally successful with World of Warcraft). Instead of answering with some points about why you think that the major publishers aren’t doing much (if anything) you pretty much take a shot across the bow of every mmorpg publisher and developer on the market and call them misguided to even think of trying to be competitive with Blizzard.
Holy cow. Them’s a fightin’ words!
Your point of view here is what is misguided, and I think it is pretty clear that you (and THQ) do not understand the MMORPG market at all. Simply because World of Warcraft (“WoW”) is successful does not mean that there is only room in the industry for one MMORPG. You might as well have said that since Electronic Arts is so successful as a publisher, that anyone else publishing games is wasting their time and are misguided to be competitive. Should there only be one bank? One airline? One fast food chain? Competition is necessary and important to our market, and just because one company is doing rather well with one product, does not mean that there is no room for competitors.
World of Warcraft is NOT too strong to take on. Have you bothered to see what people think about the game? Is anyone complaining about it? Does it meet the need and interest of all gamers? Is it not possible to have any commercial success with a competitive MMORPG because Blizzard seems to have the bulk of the market share?
I submit to you that World of Warcraft is so popular because there isn’t anything better to play. If someone were to put out a new MMORPG that was different, better, more interesting, more innovative, or whatever, it has a good chance of being successful. And, whether or not people will admit it, there is a possibility that some new game coming out can surpass WoW. Of course, I should say that I have made my opinion on most of the new mmorpg titles out there (including the ones in development)…I think there are very few titles even worth looking at. But my point remains…WoW is not the greatest thing since sliced cheese and it is not the ultimate MMORPG.
If anything, WoW has shown that the potential MMORPG market is much larger than all of the experts and analysts thought (personally, I think it is MUCH larger, but there is so much generic crap on the market that they just dont appeal to as many gamers and non-gamers as they could).
World of Warcraft is a blessing to the MMORPG market, but there is plenty of room out there for competitors.
The misguided ones are the ones that say MMORPGs are too expensive to develop, they aren’t worth the risk, only a good hollywood license can make a successful MMORPG, and that the market is saturated leaving no room for new entries.
MMORPGs fail because they aren’t designed well, they aren’t balanced well, the story is weak, the content is repetitive, the gameplay is mediocre, there is too much “level & loot” and “hack & slash”, role-players are generally NOT the target market, and none of the MMORPGs out there really leverage the social aspects and community elements of the internet, and they aren’t supported well. The market is saturated with bad MMORPGs, but it isn’t saturated with good MMORPGs.
We NEED more funding, more new blood, more original content, and more innovation.
But I digress…back to my rant. You also said “The other thing we’re thinking is these things tend to have a window. Right now that product is World of Warcraft, so the idea would be to time something for when that product is going to be on its downward slope.”
Crikey. Yes, MMORPGs have a life cycle, but good ones can last for YEARS. They also take years to develop. So, my question is, when do you think is a good time to start making one? Should the industry wait until World of Warcraft is in decline and losing players left and right? Hell no. If there isn’t any competition and WoW is losing players, who is going to want to fund a new venture? The “experts” will claim that MMORPGs have run their course and people don’t want them anymore, and then they will point to all of the current failures and half baked games on the market as supporting evidence.
NOW is the time to start new projects, and to compete tooth and nail with Blizzard. They have caused a ripple in the pond, and the smart money will begin funding new projects to ride the wave, and be there to start stealing market share from WoW as soon as possible. Waiting for their decline is foolishness.
My last comment is that I am glad THQ is not entering the MMORPG marketspace. I don’t think the company has the talent to design something that will be successful in this market (mmorpg). You can’t take a team that has been successful making generic mass market games, or console titles, or whatever and just tell them to make an MMORPG. They will fail miserably.
MMORPGs require a certain mix of talents and skillsets to do right…the early stage design is the most critical part. Finding people to MAKE a MMORPG is one thing…finding the right people to DESIGN one is entirely different. THQ might have the best engineers, artists, and staff on the planet for MAKING a game, but I sincerely doubt the company has the right people to DESIGN one.
So, for now, please stay out of the MMORPG market. You clearly don’t have a clue, and you are still operating under the old traditional assumptions and mindsets.
One last word…if you were an investor at the Lazard Capital Markets Investors Breakfast, please do your homework on the industry and talk to other leaders and innovators about MMORPGs. I have a lot of respect for Brian Farrell (my comments here notwithstanding), but THQ is one of the last companies to talk to about the MMORPG industry.
Find brilliant designers, and hook them up with savvy businessmen, brilliant engineers, and talented artists. Fund them. Give them guidance. Make a WoW killer.
But first, find a brilliant designer. I’m willing to bet he is in a garage somewhere right now ranting about how backwards the MMORPG industry is and that no one “gets it”. He is probably designing a MMORPG right now.
If you think I am wrong or “misguided” please leave a comment here. I am interested in what people think. You can also feel free to email me here at Killtenrats. Please leave a comment if you agree too hehe.
(PS, I’ve noticed some people posting about World of Warcraft and other games using the nicknames “Nicodemus” and “The Nicodemus”. Neither of them are me.)