Funcom: “It’s hard to imagine a company being able to compete with WoW any time soon”

By Patrick Garratt, Tuesday, 11 March 2008 15:30 GMT

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Speaking to videogaming247, Age of Conan – Hyborian Adventures product manager Erling Ellingsen has admitted that Activision boss Bobby Kotick’s assertion that it would need $1 billion to successfully compete with World of Warcraft may not be far from the truth.

“It’s hard to imagine a company being able to compete with World of Warcraft any time soon, and yes, it will definitely take a lot of resources to make that happen,” he said when asked if he though Kotick was on the money.

Ellingsen added that he didn’t see Funcom’s upcoming MMO as a WoW competitor and that is was seeking a different audience.

“We have always been very up front about the fact that we are not trying to compete with World of Warcraft, a game that really is a social phenomenon along the lines of Facebook and MySpace,” he said. “We are deliberately trying to do something different. Yes, you will find many similarities as they are both massive online games, but the two games are so fundamentally different that I think they will live very well side by side.”

Age of Conan’s releasing worldwide on May 20. You can find all of Erling’s answers to our questions after the link.

Videogaming247: The game’s looking fantastic, but we seem to have seen an awful lot in the past few months. Are there still plenty of surprises left for new players?

Erling Ellingsen: Definitely! We are very conscious about making sure we always have lots of stuff up our sleeves, and we do not want to spoil everything during the marketing process. This game is absolutely huge, and I can assure you that we have only been skimming the surface so far.

What do you make of Bobby Kotick’s remarks that it’d need a billion dollar investment to compete with World of Warcraft? Do you even see Age of Conan in the same place as WoW or are you after a different market?

We have always been very up front about the fact that we are not trying to compete with World of Warcraft, a game that really is a social phenomenon along the lines of Facebook and MySpace. We are deliberately trying to do something different. Yes, you will find many similarities as they are both massive online games, but the two games are so fundamentally different that I think they will live very well side by side. It’s hard to imagine a company being able to compete with World of Warcraft any time soon, and yes, it will definitely take a lot of resources to make that happen.

We assume you’re planning to add regular content to the game. Firstly, when do you envisage adding the first major update, and how regularly will you be making them?

We can not commit to any specific dates at this point, but we look forward to pushing out new content, fixes and changes after launch. It’s really one of the more enjoyable aspects of creating a game such as this. You get to constantly polish your game, making it bigger and better! We have a ton of ideas, and we can’t wait to put them into the game after it has launched!

Is there an Age of Conan “end-game”, as such, and what’s the level cap? Is the game instance- and raid-based, like WoW?

There is definitely an end-game in Age of Conan, but how you choose to spend that part of the game is largely up to you. You have many different choices, from going into more traditional raids to taking part in guild politics and ultimately massive siege battles between guilds. Age of Conan is quite refreshing in that way – you are not locked into one play style when you reach level 80, which by the way is the current level cap in the game.

Finally, what do you think is the defining feature of AoC as a game? Why is this an MMO that will stand the test of time?

Combat is one of the features that really stand out. It’s reactive, it’s dynamic, it’s fast paced and most importantly it’s a lot of fun. It’s a totally new take on MMO combat! But I also think that the setting itself, this mature fantasy environment, will attract a lot of people. Add gigantic PvP siege battles, and you have a game that will hopefully secure a spot in gaming history.

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