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Garriott: Publishers ignore casual space at their peril

Tuesday, 1st November 2011 22:40 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Richard “Lord British” Garriott has warned that success can blind games companies to the shifting of paradigms.

Speaking to IndustryGamers, Garriott said he left EA to make MMOs with NCSoft, and left NCSoft to make social games, because the teams he left behind weren’t interested in new trends.

“The people who are at the big companies of a previous era very commonly miss these shifts,” he said.

“The only reason NCSoft exists is because the big solo player gaming companies failed to fill the gap once MMOs were discovered. None of them had the faith enough to continue it and allow new players to step in. The only reason Zynga exists is because people like EA, people like Blizzard, failed to step in.

“And so each of these major upheavals allows new, major corporations to come in and fill that space, which I think is to the great detriment, and then leaves the big companies of the previous iteration actually trying to catch up.”

Garriott suggested Blizzard, as the heavyweight of the MMO space, should keep a wary eye on the casual scene.

“I think that the challenge for Blizzard, when you are that good, when you’re making that much money, when you’re that much on top of your game, in the current era, it’s actually fairly difficult to spend money towards things that seem to not be as profitable, that people don’t understand as well and that you don’t imagine could possibly beat how well you’re doing at the top of your game in the current era.

“And so that I think is a risk for anyone, including Blizzard, that they will elect not to tackle that one, because they don’t see that it’s important and relevant.”

Garriott was behind the Ultima series of tradiaitonal RPGs and, tellingly, Ultima Online, considered one of the first true MMORPGs. He is the founder of Portalarium, a social media games developer, which has busied itself with small projects while working on an unannounced title described as “something that hasn’t existed within the sweet spot of activities that people have already clearly found attractive within social media play cycles and level of complexity”.

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