The success of Blizzard's massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft has been a hugely positive factor for top MMOG operator NCSoft, according to the firm's North American CEO Robert Garriott.
"World of Warcraft has been very good for my business," Garriott told the ELSPA International Games Summit in London this morning. "It's brought in a whole new segment of people who played Blizzard games, but never played an MMOG before."
Korean-based NCSoft is the world's largest operator of massively multiplayer games, with offices in both North America and the UK and a wide range of products including the most popular MMOG in the market, Lineage, which has 3.5 million subscribers in Korea alone.
Garriott said that "good competition" from games like World of Warcraft, which has attracted over two million players worldwide since it launched late last year and recently expanded into the Chinese market, was one of the three major driving factors for NCSoft's growth.
He speculated that the "churn" of players out of existing products could mean that for World of Warcraft, assuming a 10 month churn period, 200,000 new players are being released into the MMOG market each month.
"The goal is to get people churning out of our competitors products to move over to NCSoft's products," he explained, "and ultimately to have NCSoft customers churn into other NCSoft products."
"Churn is a good thing if it is managed properly," he continued. "Companies that successfully build portfolios and keep people in it will be the successful ones in the long term."
The other two growth factors Garriott mentioned were the increasing availability of high speed internet connections, and the arrival of the next-generation consoles - which, he said, will be much more suited to massively multiplayer style games than the current generation systems are.
"The last generation never really had the connectivity you need for these types of games," he commented. "We view ourselves as platform agnostic - we don't care who wins. We will be where our customers are."
Garriott also emphasised the importance of moving away from the traditional genres and perception of massively multiplayer games.
"Historically, the only successful MMOG products have been medieval fantasy," he said. "The only way we're going to grow to the size where a company like NCSoft can achieve the growth it needs is to get away from that small genre, medieval fantasy role-playing... Our goal at NCSoft is to change what people perceive as online games."