DICE: Garriott’s Speak About MMO Future

In their DICE Summit presentation today, brothers Robert and Richard Garriott have outlined their vision of the MMO market for the next 3-5 years. Drawing on 25 years of experience in role-playing games, the founders of Origin and current U.S. heads of NCsoft talked about a major shake-up in the MMOG market.

Richard Garriott, father of the Ultima series said, “After a period of growth, opportunities are closing, budgets are increasing to tens of millions of dollars, and companies need global infrastructure in order to publish. My guess is that over the next 3-5 years, only five companies will operate in this business, and unfortunately, many of the startups will be gone.” Showing a demo of Auto Assault, Richard said, “It’s amazing how much graphics, sound and gameplay have changed in the last 25 years of role-playing games. In the past, it was okay to be fractionally behind other genres in terms of pace of play or graphics. Now, we need to be as good as a first person shooter, but we obviously have many more problems to resolve.

He also acknowledged that as the market expands into the mainstream, consumers will be less forgiving about “technical problems, poor interfaces and sub-standard graphics” than MMO gamers of the past. The two brothers presented a warm, nostalgic overview of their years working together, from pen-and-pencil game development in the 1970s through the unstable but fast growing 1980s into the online era. Richard Garriott talked about the development of Ultima Online after EA bought Origin in the early 1990s. They predicted to sell 15,000 copies.

We didnt know what to expect. We put up a website advertising for play testers who would pay five-dollars each, and without any other marketing, we attracted 50,000 consumers straight away.” He continued, “This bastard stepchild became the most important thing in EA’s world, and is still selling today. It outsold all previous Ultima games combined.

Source Next-Gen