Jeremy Gaffney knows MMOs, having spent a great portion of his life working at Turbine and NCsoft, so when he speaks about building successful games, he's not just spitballing -- he's got experience in his back pocket and forward-thinking in the palm of his hand. Speaking with Develop, Gaffney gave clear, practical advice about how MMO studios can pull ahead and succeed in this cutthroat market.
Like many gamers, Gaffney is concerned with the growing aversion to risk-taking that studios exhibit as MMO gaming's gone more mainstream. "I worry, for example, that mass market equals mass budget equals risk aversion equals conservative design. The great thing about the early MMOs – games like Asheron's Call, Ultima Online, EverQuest and Lineage – was the fact they experimented; they weren't afraid to take different directions," he says.
Even so, Gaffney is excited for the possibilities in the industry, simply because there are so many of them. Whether studios choose to develop for the mainstream or niche, console or mobile markets, using free-to-play or subscription business models, he sees avenues for success in all of them: "The common denominator will always be the gamer. And with gamers comes diversity, especially now."
Gaffney's Carbine Studios is hard at work on an as-of-yet unnamed MMO which will be revealed at Gamescom later this month.