Brevik: "MMOs are in a rut"

The Old Republic will be the last subs MMO, free-to-play transition fraught with problems

Gazillion Entertainment's president and COO David Brevik believes that MMOs are stuck "in a rut".

In an interview with at Unite 11, Brevik, who also co-founded Blizzard North, explained that the genre has become more risk averse since the launch of World of Warcraft.

"I think MMOs in general are in a rut. It's still mainly WoW clones," he said. "A lot of people have done these games, but it's been that same kind of gameplay, and that doesn't mean that's what it has to be."

"Look at Ultima Online: it's an MMO, but the experience of Ultima Online was very different from World of Warcraft, yet everybody's gone in that one direction."

Brevik sees the MMO as "a platform" for bringing players together, and therefore not beholden to any one genre, style or game-type. He is currently leading the development of Marvel Universe Online, which, like so many contemporary MMOs, will adopt a freemium business model.

Brevik believes that free-to-play is an obvious step for the genre, and agrees with Sony Online Entertainment's John Smedley that Bioware's forthcoming The Old Republic will be the last subscription-based MMO.

"I have a lot of friends in the industry and... I mean, the budget for The Old Republic is outrageous, but it's the last, large scale subscription game I can think of," he said.

However, if the game fails to gather enough subscriptions to justify its budget, Brevik isn't convinced that it could effectively transition to free-to-play.

"Part of the problem with it is that you aren't going to get the results. This is kind of going back to my talk: if your gameplay is integrated with the very concepts that you're trying and integrated with the platform you're going to get a better experience."

"Converting something to free-to-play works to some degree, but to have the most success you have to have that as an integral part of the game itself."

Brevik is currently in the process of developing a free-to-play experience, and he claims that small differences in what is free and what costs money can have a significant impact on revenue.

"And not only that, but what do you do with your existing subscribers: How do they view this? How do you treat them? 'I've already spent X amount of money on this game. What do I get out of this?' There are some tough problems to deal with if you don't make a free-to-play game right off the bat."

Marvel Universe Online is expected to launch in 2012.

For the full interview with Brevik, click here.

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Latest comments (2)

Pier Castonguay Programmer 10 years ago
This guy resume what I always said. UO was amazing, EVE too, WoW also, but everything else MMO became associated with WoW-like gameplay. Please developers, explore new gameplay mechanisms for new MMO games, stop copying this genre that I personally despise.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
WoW hit at the start of the broadband revolution in Europe. That game is what you can do with broadband mechanically speaking. You can change the flavor but not the pace.

Nowadays, technological improvements of Internet connections happen in the latency category. An off the rack Internet connection is just that much more responsive than it was six years ago. This higher market penetration of low-ping connections will eventually enable MMOs to move towards the action genre and its reaction based gameplay. Just as broadband flatrates were the big enabler for MMORPGs with Gigabyte sized patches and endless hours of fun without paying your ISP on a per-minute basis.

The only problem being that there need to be objectives a lot of people can actually coordinate. Gameplay which lends itself to being massively multiplayer. In an MMORPG, 100 people in the same wood still play mostly next to each other. They do not coordinate to solve the same gameplay goal as a bunch of Battlefield gamers would expect. MMOs also still rely too heavily on prolonging things unnecessarily. An action MMO cannot allow to have 100 levels. Kratos still needs to be Kratos the first minute you pick up the controller. No admiring the blurry floor texture while smacking 10 roaches as your first lvl1 task.
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