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Red 5 Studios CEO: I think WoW killed a genre

Mark Kern says MMOs have become too easy in the hunt for casual gamers

The CEO and CCO of Red 5 Studios and a former team lead at Blizzard warned that attempts to attract more casual players to MMO games with easier game play have damaged the genre.

"Players came in droves, millions of them," wrote Mark Kern in a blog post for MMORPG

"But at what cost? Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done?' I think I know. I think we killed a genre."

"Every MMO that follows the WoW formula is a trivial exercise"

He explains how during his time working on World Of Warcraft tweaks to accommodate new players became quests that babied the audience and sped up their progress through the game, removing any real sense of achievement. In turn, developers knew quests would be completed quickly, so didn't spend any time working on making them richer experiences.

"Every MMO that follows the WoW formula is a trivial exercise, dominated by rote and convention, trading off the joy of the journey for a series of meaningless tasks. And when we race to the end, we expect some kind of miracle end-game that will keep us playing. It never does."

Kern worked at Blizzard between October 1997 and April 2005, and contributed to World of Warcraft as team lead and the Diablo and Starcraft franchises as a producer. In 2008 he took his current roles at Red 5 Studios, which is currently working on shooter MMO Firefall.

"Firefall is not a trivialized distillation of an MMO. We found that adding a little difficultly and depth has actually made the game more fun, not less. Maybe, just maybe, as an industry we've made things too easy, and its time to get back to games being challenging as well as fun."

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.