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End Game: Inside the Destruction of Curt Schilling's 38 Studios

Stashed in: Microsoft, Gamification!, games, Minecraft, Kinect, Interesting...

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So true:

"Successful MMOs are incredibly lucrative, but they’re also the hardest type of game to build. You’re programming not just a game, explains Dan Scherlis, the first CEO of Turbine, a maker of MMOs, but a complex social system for thousands, if not millions, of users. A normal video game might require a couple of years to develop, but an MMO takes at least twice as long"

And MMO's trend toward monopoly. You want to be the king? You have to kill the king.

I think of Minecraft, Xbox Live, Onlive, and Steam as MMO's.

Is that a fair characterization?

XBL, Steam and Onlive are platforms where you can play standard games against friends across a network.

MMO's are games set in persistent worlds, going 24/7, like WORLD OF WARCRAFT. Basically, they're the closest thing to the Matrix. :) Everyone is inhabiting the same (very large) space and even if you go to sleep, the world keeps on going. You keep striving to level up but unlike traditional games, they do not really ever "end."

With no end and leveling up being the most important thing, and leveling up largely being predicated on time spent playing, they trend toward monopoly. You don't "finish" and splitting your time across different ones slows your ability to level up. Also, you have more conventional social network effects in play as well: if all your friends are in WOW you'll want to be there. And since WOW is extremely social, being where your friends are is key, it's not like playing single player Mario. So it makes sense to play the dominant game and to be good, it benefits you to go all in. And it never ends. Hence, near-monopoly. (And hence much talk of addiction.)

More here:

Will people ever get tired of WOW?

And is Minecraft a variation on the MMO theme?

What shoud the management team have done differently?

The article specifically says:

Schilling says his management team suffered from “significant dysfunction” and that his video-game developers worked too slowly. Those problems, he allows, are his fault.

So, the management team should have:

1. Fired the people creating the dysfunction.

2. Fired the game developers who were working too slowly, and bring in faster iterators.

If they had done those two things, they could have focused on holding Rhode Island to its commitments.

But the main problems were inside the company, not outside.

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