I am not sure what I think about this. 38 Studios has a dream team of creative minds. R. A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane alone could create an Arcadia beyond most mere mortal’s dreams. Add in all their concept artists, game designers, and even coders (they have imaginations too!), and of course a great world is going to be created.
That being said, I feel like a bipolarized consumer of intellectual property (“IP”) when it comes to MMOs and offspring media.
On one hand, I want to know, explore, and love all of it. I have spent countless hours in lore sub-forums for Guild Wars and Warhammer Online. I love arguing and speculating on the smallest tidbit of information trying to derive the whole world in my head. I usually buy collector’s editions for the additional art books and lorebooks. The in-game bonuses are just cherries on top.
On the other hand, a lot of the IP byproducts do not come close to the quality of the primary product. I look at Borders where I find shelves of paperback fiction based on the IP of Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, World of Warcraft, etc., etc., etc.,, and as much as I love those worlds, I shy away from them. I have never seen book reviewers rave about these books. And honestly, their very presence gives off smells of writers trying to “make it.” I rarely want to gamble money on some author’s trial run using another’s IP; I’d rather go for their magnum opus. Time is money, friend.
So, it always scares me a little when a company without any product proclaims that their IP will be released across a swath of mediums because it always feels like focus on their flagship product is lost while a subpar off-product is the tradeoff. Even small companies with products can dilute their creative juices to the point where the primary product dies off. Mage Knight and Magi Nation spring to mind as two examples. It’s a little scarier when the MMO company is pushing the “secondary” products as being part of the core consumer experience rather than a mere supplemental.
Now, readers know I am a Guild Wars fanatic, but I think (rationally?) that the forthcoming Guild Wars books do not scare me as much. They serve a purpose. They are not just part of a campaign to use the IP to its utmost economical limits. They provide a point of view that the MMO just cannot reasonably provide AND there is a reason, other than cash-money, for doing so. The Guild Wars books will convey the happenings across two and a half centuries leading up to Guild Wars 2. Bioware is also using other mediums with purpose for their upcoming MMO as well.
It’s a slight difference, and maybe one that is only rationalized in my head. But for now, I will likely continue walking past the aisles of paperback IP offspring all the more quickly.
because it’s wreckable, all right?