"Icelandic Model" is ideal for small MMO start-ups, says Alexander Gianturco

When Iceland isn't belching volcanic ash that brings sky travel to its knees, it's kicking butt in the MMO world. EVE Online is widely seen as one of the greatest MMO success stories -- a small yet incredibly complex title from a small-fry studio (CCP) that's seen steady growth over the years instead of the typical rise, crest and fall of most other titles.

In a recent chat with Gamasutra, Alexander "The Mittani" Gianturco followed up his talk at GDC 2010 by outlining just why CCP's business model may be the Rosetta Stone for future games to follow. According to Gianturco, the crash-and-burn of many MMOs is due to the insistence that their games stick to the "Big Content" model (à la World of Warcraft), which requires a huge amount of resources and time before launch. He says that this is "near suicidal" for most studios to pursue.
In contrast, CCP's "Icelandic Model" starts with almost nothing -- a bare-bones sandbox title -- that appeals to a very specific niche, and grows by reinvesting profits. Gianturco identifies four key principles of this model: sandbox-based endgame, unique and engaging environment, reinvestment and organic growth, and features over linear content. By doing this, titles like EVE Online and A Tale in the Desert have managed to create successful, profitable, long-running games in an industry that is well-known for quick deaths.

Head over to Gamasutra for the full article!

This article was originally published on Massively.