The Company, The People Or The IP?
With all of the new MMORPGs on the horizon I’ve been pondering what it is about some of the games that attracts me to them and not to others. Is it the company behind the game that makes me excited or the reputation of the individual people or just the fact that it’s based on a particular intellectual property? Also seeing as it’s been a while since I last published a poll (it was decided by the slim majority that I will indeed sacrifice my dominance of all MMO worlds for the sake of begetting children, as my wife was pleased to discover), I figured I’d make this into a fun little group activity whilst I was at it.
A few years ago I would’ve readily answered that it was the IP, and probably only the IP, that attracted me to a new MMO. I was so desperate to play Star Wars Galaxies for instance, not because it was a SOE game or designed by Raph Koster but simply because it centered around the largest, most singular focused obsession of my young adolescence. I knew everything about Star Wars, played all of the video games, card games, roleplaying games and even sat up at night reading the encyclopedia (oh how I was so popular with the ladies). SWG was the pinnacle of a 21 year old wet dream and I was foaming at the mouth for it. Unfortunately, just like most wet dreams, it failed to meet my expectations and my excitement was over quicker than I could say “pass the towel” please. I learned a value lesson from that experience: IPs don’t make or break a game.
Companies also come in all shapes and sizes with a multitude of reputations causing some people to totally adore them or utterly despise them. Blizzard, SOE, Funcom, Mythic, all veterans of the MMO industry backed by armies of loyal supporters or opposed by fervent dissenters. Again, I used to hold certain companies in high esteem and got excited for their products simply because it was they who made them… and I still do. I’m rather hyped up about the forthcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic mainly because I’ve loved almost all of BioWare’s previous games and thus give them a certain amount of latitude and benefit of the doubt. Of course, companies aren’t always right and we’ve even see giants such as Mythic take a nose dive even when their armed with powerful IPs and huge budgets. It goes to show that our trust in companies doesn’t always pay off.
Which brings me onto the people themselves, the guys behind the companies, and the often unsung and unknown heroes moulding the IPs into playable experiences. As I’m starting to learn more about the MMO industry and becoming more familiar with the individuals behind the games through news sites, blogs and forums, I’m starting to lean more and lean towards putting my faith in the guys and girls themselves rather than faceless corporations or glitzy IPs. You only need to look at a company like 38 Studios which has great designers like Steve Danuser and Ryan Shwayder and visionaries like Curt Schilling to become inspired by the fact that they simply want to great the games that we’ll love and they’ll be proud off. However, as we saw with Raph Koster and Metaplace, sometimes even the greatest talents don’t yield success.
It’s a tricky one to say the least but, I guess at the end of the day, it’s probably a combination of everything that attracts me to a MMO although right now I suppose I’m leaning more towards the people than any of the other factors. What about you?