Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Interview with Richard Garriott: The Three Grand
Eras of Gaming—cont'd
go build this online social company, their response was, “You've got to be
kidding.” I would ask them if they were interested in this space, and the
press people and developers all answered, “No.”
“Maybe I've tried one but I thought the game stunk.” Or, “Why would
I want to go make games in a field where there is not one game I would
be interested in?” Or, “I wouldn't want to create any on that limited plat-
form.” Or, “I don't like the games that are there.”
That was my attitude at first. Even if some of them had begun to sell
somewhat well, I would have not been convinced. As soon as one is sell-
ing ten times better than any game that has ever existed, you are an idiot
if you do not pay some attention. This was the time for me when I was
thinking, “Better pay attention.”
Upon closer examination, you have to look at it the same way we
do with Ultima Online . There really is nothing fundamentally limited
about the platform. A new player prefers to have nice graphics and
nice sound. Everyone would prefer an elegant user interface. Everyone
would prefer a deeper Lord of the Rings -style ultimate experience, but
they're not willing to tolerate going to the store to pay $50, a complex
install, complex instructions, subscribe before they learn if it's any fun,
then spend five hours creating their character and getting the first quest
cycle loop before they know if this game is interesting. I do not think the
things that were bad about MMOs and solo player games are something
that we should worry about having gotten rid of. Those are good things
to get rid of, so ultimately I believe we will be able to make games that
are just as high-quality in this new era as we did in any other era.
Q: When Ultima Online was released, how controversial was the monthly
fee? Did you know from day one that you would have to charge a
subscription fee?
A: It was clear we were going to have to find a way to make money on
the backside. What was not clear is that before Ultima Online , there were
not too many examples of subscriptions. There were examples of pay-by-
the-hour on AOL, but that was dying off as the Internet was coming up.
Pay-by-the-hour was dying and there really were not any subscription ser-
vices. Plenty of retail games, but there was not a good model. It was very
clear we could not have supported it just on the retail sale. We made the
decision to go subscription, which we thought was fair for compensating
ourselves for the service we provided.
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