That's why innovative films (for example) only get teensy-weensy budgets. People with briefcases full of investment money are frankly rather risk-averse. That's part of the trick to generating briefcases full of investment money in the first place, oddly enough.
Through the 1990s the lesson was clear in the game industry: Avoid innovation -- it's expensive and risky. Besides, games are sold with features that are in juxtaposition to those of existing games. The really innovative games you played were the ones that hardly any investor or publisher would back, but the derivative crap you can find on the shelf at any store; there are people lining up to fund those. Katamari Damacy's development budget was reportedly six quarters, two metal washers and a piece of string (hyperbole alert!).
Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick only one
As budgets get bigger, the problem becomes exacerbated. If you think an investor is timid about one million dollars - what about five million, or fifty million? 'There is little room for creativity and advancing the state of the art in any of those scenarios,' says Jennings, 'either you are working too fast, have too little budget for your scope, or you don't have the flexibility because you are responsible for a blockbuster-sized budget.'
Subscription-based games feed on the MMOG faithful, Jennings observes. It's hard to get someone to pull out that credit card and start tapping in the details the first time. The incentive has got to be there, and for a first-timer, they don't really have much idea about what they're getting into.
An additional valuable lesson from Jennings that we shall try to hold close to our hearts here at the vast and plush Massively offices: Never Ever Even Imply You Will Take World of Warcraft Away From People.
Richard Bartle adds, Never Suggest that Some New MMO which Shares WoW's Gameplay Does, in Fact, Share WoW's Gameplay.
Actually, you know what? It might be good advice, but we'll pass on it. Our clotting factors are good, and we've got this great health plan. We'll tell it like it is. It's not like we need all our limbs to bring you the news, right?
In any case, it's a darn good and thought-provoking read. Pop past Broken Toys and check out the nuts and bolts of Jennings' case, and see what you think.