Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Interview with Richard Garriott: The Three Grand
Eras of Gaming—cont'd
It was a complicated game to install, a complicated game to play, and
the kicker was that before you could play for even one minute, you had
to agree with a credit card to subscribe for $10 or $15 a month. The bar-
rier to entry was dramatically higher than for even solo player games. It
also required an Internet connection, and this was still the early days of
the Internet. The deck in many ways was stacked against the success of
Ultima Online according to the analysis of the sales department. It clearly
demonstrated that the ability to play with other real people through the
Internet and the human motivation to connect to other people were so
strong that they radically outweighed those additional barriers.
The market increased from a million units being a great success into
the tens of millions. Between 2000 and 2010, Ultima Online sold to single-
digit millions of people. If you look at the biggest U.S. success, World of
Warcraft , it has sold to probably close to 100 million players in its his-
tory. It has easily sold in the high tens of millions. That is a lot of people
who were not solo player gamers who have become gamers during the
massively multiplayer era. It is important to realize that a lot of these
gamers did not have previous experience with games. They did not call
themselves gamers and probably really were not gamers until the massive
multiplayer era. They came in during a fairly complex period. Computers
by this time were a little bit cheaper compared to your base income. The
market for MMOs is still about 80 to 90 percent male. MMOs did attract
some females but not a large percentage. A gamer was no longer required
to be a wealthy hardcore nerd, but it was still a mostly male, fairly broad
age group, with a few females. Even though the economics of the deal
obviously got much bigger during the MMO era, the computer game
industry exceeded not only movies at the box office and home DVDs and
television but also topics and all other creative media combined. This was
when video games took the absolute clear lead over all other mediums
economically. Compare how many people have seen a TV show or know
the name of a movie star to how many know the name of a game. Games
are still selling to a dramatically smaller percentage of humanity for no
other reason than we left out all the women on Earth—and a good chunk
of men. They were not into games, even though everyone goes to movies
periodically and most everyone watches television periodically.
This is what is exciting about the third and final grand era that we
are in now. In my mind, the key attribute of this new era is that instead
of going to the retail store and paying $50, you find games through the
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