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EA: Running MMOs Since Back In The Day When They Didn't Want To Run Any MMOs

Gamespot interviews EA’s Frank Gibeau on those newfangled MMO thingies.

We already have two operating MMOs. We launched a game called Ultima Online in 1997, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and that’s still in business. It’s still got hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Then there’s Dark Age of Camelot, which we picked up when we bought Mythic; we also have a situation where we have well over 100,000 subscribers.

Well, those are orders of magnitude greater than the numbers rumored for both of those titles. SirBruce, the NOTED INDUSTRY ANALYST, speculates that UO’s subs are 75,000 at while DAOC’s may be as low as 45,000. My gut feeling is that both of those numbers are low, but not *that* low. But hey, he’s in EA management and I just work on those wacky web games.

Also, he thinks that competing with WoW on their own terms is eminently doable:

 

There’s always that ultimate killer app that comes out and creates a mass-market opportunity, and WOW is that for the MMO category. And what they’ve done is create millions and millions of players who are now comfortable with the way MMOs play, they’re comfortable with the models, and they’re looking for more.

Our job is to go after that new market and really grow a business. If it’s a situation where you’re directly competing with WOW, so be it. The key is to make sure that your product is different from theirs and bring something fresh to the equation. Something that fans will find exciting, and we think we have that in Warhammer. It’s also important for us to come out with new concepts and different IPs.

Note: insert some snark about how wildly different the Warcraft and Warhammer IPs are here -> <-.

GS: An IP based on a popular science-fiction franchise, perhaps?

FG: No comment [laughs]. So, we look at the models in Asia, where there are bigger games than WOW. Now, no MMO is bigger than WOW globally, but the market is growing here in North America. And it’s not just with high-end MMOs. You’ve got a lot of lighter titles like Runescape and, hell, even Club Penguin is a bit of an MMO.

So I see it as much more diverse market than simply, “I must beat WOW.” I thank WOW for a great few hundred hours of gameplay as well as making a market. But we’re gonna compete there and we’re going to succeed there in a lot of different ways by coming at it from a lot of different angles. I see it as a very lucrative, long-term part of our business.

Sure seems to be a lot of smack talk lately coming from the EA monolith.