Scott Hartsman, former Executive Producer at Trion Worlds, expounded today in a Forbes article on where he believes the MMO industry is going. Yeah, it’s another one of those interview — you know, the kind where someone who should know what he or she is talking about, but instead appears to be appealing to some ulterior motive. I’m going to break down what Scott says in the interview, and tell you why I believe he’s twisting reality in favor of what is likely his future in some F2P endeavor.
“There are huge cost barriers that go into making a MMORPG and the market is crowded”
He’s right, the market is crowded with plenty of games made by developers operating under the impression that it takes 100+ million to make a good game.
“Can companies keep up with the expectations and each generation of MMOs costing more and more? It’s an arms race that no one can win, it’s not sustainable in its current direction.”
These expectations do not come from the players. I don’t believe there’s ANY proof out there that says players are demanding these games to cost more and more. Why would there be? Every huge budget McMMO releases and each one is one big disappointment after the other. If there’s an arms race then it’s a race to the bottom.
“The subscription model was a great way to keep everything paid when MMOs were a lifestyle choice, a hobby. MMORPGS had more in common then with a game like golf.[...] “Now players simply aren’t willing to commit to the subscription model as large audiences. Subscription models aren’t going away, but the fact is we’ve hit the cap on players looking to embrace the subscription model and free-to-play models have really opened up doors to a new audience. Users don’t stay as long as they used to.”
The 10,000,000 people subscribing to World of WarCraft every month disagree. Add in the number of people paying subscriptions in freemium games + the random games that require subs, and that number is easily 11M or more. Then add in people like me who currently aren’t subscribed to any MMO at all but would happily subscribe to a game worth our money, and you suddenly have a number I can’t even begin to estimate, but I know it’s a substantial number. And let’s not forget that a game doesn’t need a million subscribers to be a success.
The only cap we’ve hit are the number of people who want to play WoW, and the number of people willing to pay for the current offerings. If you keep making more of the same, then sure we’ve reached the cap of people willing to pay for this service.
“Think about how easy it is to create a League of Legends account. Look how friction-free that is. Look at these different factors coming together and it’s not difficult to see where the industry is going and how things are changing.”
LoL is not a MMO. Different industry, Scott. Mobas are inherently more shallow than a MMO, less costly, and attract a very different audience for very different reasons. I have a feeling about what kinds of games Scott will be involved with next.
Scott also blames cell phone bills and the economy. Bunch of nonsense. Fact: MMOs cost $15 a month 10 years ago. Fact: MMOs still cost the same. Fact: $15 today is cheaper than it was 10 years ago, not more expensive. Buying power on that $15 has gone down.
Yet another developer who tunnel visions on price. Throughout this entire interview I saw nothing about design, nothing about targeting the right players, nothing about introducing new players to the industry by creating something new or innovative. All I see from Scott is price, price price. No wonder the market is crowded with a bunch of developers locked in an arms race that no one can win.