MMORPG Exec Scott Hartsman Compares MMO Development to an “Arms Race”
Chat about the development of popular MMORPGs Rift and Everquest and you’re likely to at least mention the name Scott Hartsman. He’s been around the proverbial MMO “block” and has a few thoughts on where the MMO market as a whole may be heading. Hartsman shared those thoughts in a recent article for Forbes. While many of Hartsman’s points are certainly things involved MMO players are already familiar with discussing, I personally think there were a few viewpoints that weren’t even touched on.
Scott Hartsman took a broad look at the MMO game space and decided a few things. Rather than list the whole article here, let me bullet some of the points Hartsman made for you:
- MMO development is an “arms race that no one can win, it’s not sustainable in its current direction.” Hartsman feels that no one wins in an environment where costs rise just as fast as gamer expectations.
- “Subscription models aren’t going away, but the fact is we’ve hit the cap on players looking to embrace the subscription model and free-to-play models have really opened up doors to a new audience.”
- While multiple pricing models may engage various audiences, it challenges companies into “finding business models that serve larger numbers in a fair way.”
While the article certainly didn’t blow the doors off of the future of MMORPGs or anything, I think Scott Hartsman did sum up some points nicely, even if those comments have already been discussed before (even on this very site) by many writers and even viewer comments.
There is one thing I think should have been mentioned though and Scott Hartsman didn’t even bring it up. While all of his comments focused on the gamers and the way they play and pay, very little was mentioned about the companies that make the MMORPGs we play (besides a brief nod to League of Legends and how easy creating an account there can be). I think an important part of this equation is the fact that most (certainly not ALL) MMOs released into the market now tend to try to “take” players from other games through an integration of popular features from previous games. Having the focus on the taking of players, rather than the creation of their own fan base, continues the circle Scott Hartsman mentions where groups of friends jump from game to game. I would have liked to see some more comments based on the developer’s side out of an executive who knows that side of the business in and out.
What do you think though? Is Scott Hartsman dead on? Do companies share in the promotion of “game hopping”? What is the future pricing model that will ensure stability? It certainly is an interesting discussion, so let’s get it started below!