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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

IMHO:Bill Roper sets the bar for MMO's?

Posted by Inktomi Friday May 15 2009 at 1:42PM
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Bill Roper

Image courtesy Cryptic Studios

I really coulnd't pass up writing about Bill Roper and the challenge will be to keep to my word and stay completely ambigous or in short term un-opinionated.

Bill Roper is  Executive Producer at Cryptic Studios who are soon to be releasing the new Super-Hero MMORPG Champions Online. In his latest interview with Gamasutra he states the having an MMO try to hit the 11 million mark is way out of realistic conception. Mr. Roper says the 300,000 subs is a more realistic goal when creating an MMO, "I don't think any game at Blizzard, we never sat around and said, 'Oh, we're going to sell six million copies of the game.'"

"No, that's one," he says. "That's one game that's done that. No one else in the West has been even close. And I think it's challenging from the standpoint that gets looked at as an expectation or a goal to hit. It's a totally ridiculous goal to try to be hitting -- 'Oh, we're gonna go build an MMO that's going to compete with that.'." - Gamasutra

Gamasutra also has a five page article about Champions Online and a take on the game market from Bill's perspective. 

Now I dug through some old links I've got stored in my bookmarks folder and pulled this one from, where he explains in depth his side of the story about the Hellgate:London/Mythos debacle. I think all of know Bill Roper from his Diablo claim to fame and Hellgate.

I am very not the Roper Fanboy President or Club Member.

He gets honest about the hybrid model mistake: We knew before we launched. There was enough feedback from people where we realized, yeah, we probably made a mistake. But at that point...the train had left the station. We didn't have enough initial content in there to [switch directions]. We might have been able to back off and go to a free-to-play-only model, but we didn't have anything in place to roll right into doing an expansion. Everything from the development side to the business side was set to this model that we'd put together. We hoped that it was going to actually work, and we told ourselves that maybe it'll work better than we think it's going to work, right? But there was just a lot of confusion. -

IMHO: Take from this what you will, I am so not the Roper fanboy but it seems that he is setting the bar for himself and his game very low. Why not shoot for the moon here? If every game company goes into with the attitude of "oh we can't do that" then what are their chances of real success? If the best is too far ahead of you and clearly 11 million is a dominance, then who is setting your goals? Who does Cryptic set their goals by?

What do you think and how did I do on staying neutral?

Jpizzle writes:

I think internally, you can set goals to be number one. Publically, you’re feeding the lynch mob to ever make statements about lofty goals. Ala Mark Jacobs. His countless ramblings and expectations of how well WAR was going to do have now bit him in the proverbial ass.

It’s no different then sports stars that come out, mouths blazing, trash talking about how they are the greatest, yet fail to produce or lead their team to greatness.

I think that pretty much every developer that has come out w/ their own version of insinuating they’ll be the “WoW killer” has swiftly learned that it’s a mistake. Instead, I think Roper is learning from that. Publically, stating that “300 K is solid” is an attainable goal, and anything over that “exceeds our expectations”. Publically.

Fri May 15 2009 4:51PM Report
Nevulus writes:

Great write-up and research.

In my opinion, it is easy to hype yourself into thinking your MMO will be the next best thing since the invention of slice bread, but when you hype up your staff, your fanbase, and the media into thinking your going to hit the multi-million magic number, then you begin to tread very dangerous ground because the bottom line is that MMORPGs are just another another slice of the gaming industry keylime pie.

So when you come to the realization that this truely is an industry, then your hype has not only touched the crowds previously mentioned in the above paragraph, but the investors as well, regardless if your company is private or public.

Now that the rowdy hype has set the eyeballs of investors into "$" signs, you are on a one way ticket ride into doomsday. Investors are fickle and suffer from the short attention span of a 6 year old sucking on a worn away lollipop. They only see "WoW" as a business model, considering it is the only MMO to gracefully adorn the pages of the Wall Street Journal during their "alone" time in the bathrooms of whatever edifice they roam around during their day jobs. So they instantly set the bar so high only the Almighty God himself can see, and then comes the plague of all MMO launches worldwide; the early buggy release due to pressure from the same investors who took the developer's high bar and hiked it up a few million notches.

Oh have the mighty have fallen.


Fri May 15 2009 8:18PM Report
Chieftan writes:

I think any MMO that can get the basics of quality game design right will be able to compete with WoW. 

Instead what happens is developers start off with overly ambitious gameplay concepts, wind up scaling back and then don't have enough time and money to make the core game fundamentally sound before launch.

People are ready for a new MMO but they will not accept a downgrade from WoW.  If Bill Roper wants to release a generic MMO instead of a competitive MMO... that's our loss.

Fri May 15 2009 9:24PM Report
Wolfdor writes:

After hearing the many horror stories from the many disgrunteld beta testers, I'm actually thinking Mr. Roper -IS- shooting for the moon with his 300k subs.  Ouch.

Sat May 16 2009 3:10AM Report
Shreddi writes:

very well said up there Nevulus,  My question is.  Is WOW really that great?  I did play it a long time ago.  Should I pick it back up or is it still like all the others.  Im looking forward to champions since I just started playing coh/v again and realize how far ahead of their time they really were and still are I find the servers very populated regarless of the little population dots,  the market is so active you watch it change while your buying/selling.  coh/v is one mmo that truly differs in content, gameplay, options than the others I have played.  Played just about every one out there except ff and darkfall and a few others.  There are so many now.   Anyway,  Champions will not be for everyone thats for sure.  For some reason people are stuck on swords, bows and arrows and staffs as weapons of choice.  Give me a rocket launcher and a kalashnikov anyday.

Sat May 16 2009 5:12AM Report
Sirmaki writes:

I think that shooting for the moon and being realistic are too different things. Sure they think Champs will be a huge hit, and they hope to break 500K subs I'm sure. Nobody thought WoW would be as big as it is (and it isn't as big as people say, the 11M number includes pay by the session accounts as well).

If you start thinking you will have 11 million paying customers you might start planning with that money. And if you spend your money before the chickens hatch if you will......


Sat May 16 2009 7:45AM Report
DevilXaphan writes:

While i think he has produced some excellent games in the Diablo and StarCraft series, his foray in to MMo's has yet to be solidified. So saying he's going to set the bar for MMO's is not there. Other producers have more experience and have set the bar on MMO's more than he has.

Sat May 16 2009 6:40PM Report
Saerain writes:

I'm personally not interested in Champions as I'm not a superhero fan, but I hope they do hit it big; if only because I'd like to see Roper gather Brevik and the Schaefers, buy back the Diablo IP, and nurse it back to creepy greatness.

Sat May 16 2009 9:25PM Report
BarCrow writes:

There is such thing as the lust for results affecting reality..imo. Most things are done in baby steps.  If you're born with the unflinching belief that you can walk a mile...before you're liable to have your legs go out from under you after a few steps...but if you plan ..a few steps at a time...each small journey is a success. a society and medium that expects perfection more often and immediately...there seems to be no gray areas. People will claim an early release is buggy and unfinished (and likely it is)...but if you wait foe all bugs to be ironed out and everything players desire is will likely release 3 years off schedule and no one will care.

Sun May 17 2009 5:46PM Report
ArcAngel3 writes:

I'm glad to hear that they're pushing back the release.  My introduction to MMOs was with SWG and WoW.  One of those released with polish, and the other was a mess.  I think the quality at release went on to dictate how development played out.   The polished game was able to add content and grow.  The unpolished game went from revamp to revamp, bleeding subs all the way until a main artery was cut in 2005.  Polishing for a successful release is definitely a good call.  If they take the time to get it right at release, it's more likely to pay off in the the long run.

Sun May 17 2009 6:06PM Report writes:
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