Tabula Rasa interview

Could the success of World of Warcraft, in your opinion, be detrimental to the MMORPG genre, in that publishers/developers might look at what it's achieved and just attempt to produce clones to try and get a slice of the revenue pie?

Starr Long: All the data shows that our market is constantly expanding, every new successful game that comes to the market just adds new people, it doesn't hurt other games as long as they are good. For example Ultima Online came out over 10 years ago and it still has over 100,000 subscribers.

So, are people going to make clones? I would argue that every now and then there will be a truly original game in any given platform, but those are few and far between. Most games are evolutions of games that are already there. I don't think clones are necessarily a bad thing as long as they are adding a compelling new evolutionary element that someone hasn't been able to do before.

Is it bad that there's going to be more medieval fantasy MMOs? No. WoW is doing really well. Guild Wars is doing really well. Lineage I and II are doing incredibly well as millions and millions of people in Asia are still playing these games. All the data shows there's room for these games and you can argue that all of these games are medieval fantasy MMOs, but each of these games has something unique to offer.

Do you think MMORPGs can be, or are, actually detrimental to the videogames market overall? There's an argument, for example, that loads of people playing World of Warcraft are playing only that and ignoring every other game that comes out...

Starr Long: I don't believe that is the case. If you look at the market data, it shows that our audience plays a lot of games. Maybe they only play one or two MMOs, but they are playing games on other platforms at the same time. MMOs are just another platform, there's PC single-player, there's PC multiplayer, there's all the gaming consoles, and we're not really competing against the other platforms for mindshare or revenue.

There's no data that conclusively shows that people are only playing one game. It's all anecdotal when you hear folks say that all they play is WoW. The numbers don't really support those statements, so I'm not worried about it.