Richard Garriott is often treated like a fly who won’t stop buzzing around your ear. The MMO community as a whole can’t stand the guy because he, much like Richard Bartle (maybe it’s the name Richard?), seemingly can’t refrain from making comments that cause people to cringe and then verbally retaliate. Well, he’s buzzing again.
Garriott’s most recent comment deals with the casual, social and free to play sects of gaming. Garriott said the only reason he left EA was because EA didn’t want to make MMOs. Perhaps in his world SWTOR and WAR are not considered MMOs. He also said he left NCSoft because they decided not to pursue the casual route since they were making too much money off of MMOs and didn’t really “believe in this casual stuff.”
I could just stop there and my point would be proven, but let’s go on.
I completely understand paradigm shifts, but I also understand people who are obsessed with them. Richard Garriott is one of those people who try to create shifts and becomes agitated when others do not follow suit. The following quote shows precisely what I’m talking about.
“The only reason Zynga exists is because people like EA, people like Blizzard, failed to step in.”
First, EA has put a lot of money into the casual market. I do not follow it as closely as others, but I remember the acquisition of Playfish as well as a recent shareholders meeting saying something about focusing on that area. Once again, Garriott is just miffed at people because they’re not shifting on his paradigm.
Blizzard, however, I know a lot more about.
To say that Blizzard has failed to move forward with the concept of casual gaming is truly ignorant. Blizzard has done more for the casual movement than any other company with any sort of interest vested in MMOs. Blizzard managed to take what was originally, for years, a “hardcore” genre of complex mechanics and reduce it to the least common denominator. World of Warcraft is the definition of accessibility and as close to a casual friendly experience as it gets. With one game, Blizzard changed every game released since.
As time goes on, Blizzard continues to increase accessibility by altering content design. They’ve added microtransactions, debatably added freemium concepts, and have shown absolutely zero reservation about changing lore or anything that stands in their way. That doesn’t sound like a company resisting the move to casual.
Given the obvious, Garriott’s problem then can only be with the fact that Blizzard manages to charge a subscription fee and maintain so many subscribers while still being the kings of casual MMOs. That’s the beauty of the WoW model, and the reason why Garriott is only making himself appear like a has-been. Blizzard has not ‘failed to step in’ — they’ve chosen not to because they have an alternative that works.
I may not like what WoW has become (preference) or how it has changed the world’s entire understanding of what it means to be a MMORPG, but I praise Blizzard for how they maintain the subscription model, true quality in their work, and manage to stand in stark contrast to people like Garriott who believe that Farmville is our future. To say that Blizzard should feel threatened by those types of games must only make sense in a world where Garriott is still Lord British and, well, relevant.
Shoo, Fly, you can’t bother me.