Here’s a hypothetical for you:
You’re an investor with US$100m burning a hole in your pocket. You absolutely have to invest that money in an MMO. (Why? That’s up to you – all your investor friends are doing it, you’re under an ancient gypsy curse, you have brain damage, whatever.) If things go wrong, you’ll lose all your money, but if you pick the right one you could possibly earn up to 10x what you have put in.
A range of different MMO studios have come to you and pitched their next project to you. All have pitched at about the same level of performance, so that isn’t going to sway your opinion. You can only pick one studio to invest in.
Do you go with:
- A team formed of developers that have broken away from one of the most successful gaming studios in history, who worked on one of the most successful action-RPG games in history and who are pitching an innovative blend of FPS, RPG and MMO-style gameplay? A lot of people are very excited about this project – the buzz is very good.
- A team of MMO veterans working on their second MMO that’s based on a well-established dark fantasy IP and has a big publisher behind them? They’ve already got an existing fan base, the IP is getting a lot of attention and excitement is being generated about the ability of this MMO to surpass their previous one in scope.
A studio founded by one of the main minds behind the most successful video game series ever that aims to take the best of that series and turn it into a MMO? The studio has already proven itself with a very successful console game and plans to take the best of the single player experience and turn it massively multiplayer.
- A game developed by the godfathers of Western MMO gaming that is offering a unique mix of RPG and third-person shooter in a sci-fi setting? Although it has already been in development for quite a while, it’s got a big MMO publisher backing it and the promise is that all that time spent in gestation has let only the best ideas filter into the final product.
- A game studio / self-funded publisher that is developing a third-person shooter MMO based on a popular sci-fi franchise, plus has a number of other MMOs waiting in the wings? This group has managed to attract some recognised industry talent, a lot of other people have invested in this title and the existing fan base of the IP seems very excited about the game.
- A studio founded by arguably the most successful MMO developer of the previous generation who has a lot of plans to improve the genre he helped kick start? The MMO has a huge vision behind it and plans to eclipse previous successes through offering a range of innovations and through making everything bigger and better while still keeping true to the core aspects that made the first game popular.
- A company being bankrolled by a charismatic sports star who has also enlisted the help of other successful name talent towards making the MMO that outdoes existing market offerings? Through offering good pay and incentives this studio has managed to pull together some top-tier MMO talent, it has launched a reasonably successful single player title and also has benefited from a government-backed loan worth tens of millions.
Who would you pick as the best bet for your US$100m investment?