David Perry, previously of Matrix-developer Shiny and now of the reborn Acclaim, has told videogaming247 that he believes the MMO space is led by an "extremely nerdy" game in World of Warcraft and that an attitude shift is needed for the genre to break out into the mainstream proper.
"I believe there's a 70 million player MMO idea and no one's done it yet because we haven't got anyone that's thinking down the Will Wright path," he said. "There's people that get close. There's people that do Club Penguin, or Maple Story, games that are more simple to play, and people like Disney buy them for $500-$600 million and no one bats an eyelid and everyone goes off and makes another Bioshock.
"I know this year at GDC there's going to be a lot of discussion on this stuff, and I'm expecting that by GDC next year there are going to be a lot more people thinking that way. We need to grow our market."
"It's extremely nerdy, World of Warcraft," he said. "You have to be really into fantasy. I'm great friends with the creative director of the game and they've done a great job. They're making more money than you can imagine. It's silly at this point.
"They've grown the understanding of how MMO games work, and the whole idea of levelling up is a concept that's definitely out there. There are 9 million people who are paying to go and do it, and I'm sure there are another 9 million that aren't willing to pay but would love to do it. If you were to release World of Warcraft free-to-play it would not be 9 million people playing. It would be more like 25 million people playing.
"So going free-to-play would be a way to get their market bigger, but they're always going to saturate based on how many 'fantasy people' there are in the world."
Perry added that 2Moons, a free-to-play MMO using the Asian model of micro-payments for items as its main revenue stream, is working well for the new Acclaim and that cash gathered from the project and Acclaim's other games will now be pushed back into unique development.
"Absolutely," he said, when asked if 2Moons was making money. "Absolutely. No problem whatsoever. We didn't do a single bit of marketing... and we had 150,000 people sign up to help test it. And now we're at 5 million, so we now have 5 million signed up people at Acclaim. Probably more than now, actually. So, do people want free-to-play? Ask the 5 million that have already signed up."
He added: "We're making a whole slew of new games. Acclaim is basically going to be a full publisher as you know it, making and licensing games. And it's from the ashes, too, because remember the old Acclaim is dead and gone. This is Acclaim 2.0."