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News & Features Discussion  » Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures: Craig Morrison on Quality vs. Profit

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26 posts found

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  1/22/10 3:11:17 PM#1 occasionally asks the same question to a group of developers to see how different philosophies inside the industry really are. This week, our question is: "How do developers balance the company's need to make a profitable product versus their desire to create an interesting and innovative game?" Today, our answer comes from Age of Conan's Craig Morrison.

This week's Developer Question is:

How do developers balance the company's need to make a profitable product versus their desire to create an interesting and innovative game?

That is always a challenge for sure. You have to make an assessment of the risks that are inherent in trying something different against the risks in making something that is too generic. If a team 'dials in' a design as it were you will have a reduced chance of having a break out hit, especially as the market gets more crowded and the end user has more choice. I would guess there are exceptions where being a good 'clone' is the aim of the project, but if you are aiming to attract a genuine audience and make a mark at the top end of the market you must have a clear vision of what you want your game to be.

Read Craig Morrison on Quality vs. Profit.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Novice Member

Joined: 3/03/09
Posts: 112

1/22/10 3:33:00 PM#2
I read this while alt tabbbed from AoC bored to death..........this guy is a load of BS. Sad thing is I just resubbed back to aoc.

Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/05/08
Posts: 1238

Its better to be quiet and perceived as stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

1/22/10 3:37:33 PM#3

To be honest, his grin tells you everything you need to know.

Nature without Technology is little more than animals running about.
Nature without Magic is without wonder or miracle.
Magic without Technology is fantasy.
Magic without Nature is formless and useless.
Technology without Nature is application without understanding.
Technology without Magic is repetitious and uninventive.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/03/09
Posts: 112

1/22/10 4:24:43 PM#4

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/17/09
Posts: 1102

Just because you are unique does not mean you are special

1/22/10 4:43:42 PM#5

Asking a Funcom exec about profit vs quality? Ferengi were available?


Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/27/04
Posts: 1848

"Pablo Picasso said art is a lie that tells the truth."

1/22/10 5:38:22 PM#6
NEGATIVE RESPONSES TO ANYTHING AGE OF CONAN, RAAAAAAAAAH!!! MY POINT HAS BEEN PROVEN AND THE WORLD IS BETTER BECAUSE OF OF MY FINGERS AND KEYBOARD AND BRAIN COMING TOGETHER!!! NERD RAAAAGE!! RAAAAAAAH!!! I look forward to your expansion Mr. Morrison. What I have read of it sounds very nice and I will purchase it and form my own opinion through hours of gameplay enjoyment. Thanks Funcom, for making it and providing it at a very reasonable amount of money.

Novice Member

Joined: 9/03/07
Posts: 150

1/22/10 5:41:34 PM#7
Originally posted by Darth_Osor

Asking a Funcom exec about profit vs quality? Ferengi were available?


I thought the Ferengi work at Cryptic

"I will not play it nor any other MMO until they make it possible to obtain the best gear without forcing people to group up to do so." SwampRob


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/19/08
Posts: 477

1/22/10 5:53:56 PM#8

So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?

Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/08
Posts: 185

1/22/10 8:24:11 PM#9

Craig wasn't the lead for the innitial developement of AoC so the funcom rage isn't really pertinant. Most the the positive trends of the game can be attributed at least partially to his leadership.  He's a smart man and his many such articles show this.   Let's keep the conversation even.  I'm not as of now subbed to AoC but I will buy the expansion.  AoC is going the right direction as far as all points show atm.  Thank you for the interesting article.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/03/08
Posts: 124

1/22/10 11:51:33 PM#10

Thanks for the interview, I enjoyed reading it.  I think game integrity vs. profit is definitely on everyone's minds these days and I hope you can ask the same question to other devs working on other games in the future.

Sadly, these forums are becoming a toxic pit of despair.  I hope that the new forum moderation makes a difference soon.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/14/09
Posts: 570

1/22/10 11:55:01 PM#11
Originally posted by Rawiz

So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?

Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?


hahhaha so true man



Joined: 6/15/08
Posts: 2165

Posts deleted: 12589457

1/23/10 4:54:45 AM#12

While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.

They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.

Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!


Novice Member

Joined: 9/28/08
Posts: 663

1/23/10 5:23:57 AM#13

I dont know how you can put Quality vs. Profit into that header since the question was about making  interesting and innovative game vs Profit.  But to be honest.  Funcom is not the best company to talk about quality in the first place.  But Im not really gonna go into that.

About innovation and intresting tho.  Craig talked about having few focused features that could be diffrent from the norm while still keeping the game in the general mainstream MMO style.  I can very much agree with that.  But considering the past 5 years of MMO gaming - NONE of the new games have been able to focus on the TRUE features that make a highly successfull MMO game.  WAR and AOC have turned into PVP niche game.  LOTRO has its flollowers but Turbine never got to grip with how to make a fast phased combat (partly because of bad animations).  So still the winner - after 5 years and counting - is WOW that manage to create again and again - new intresting features (even tho they take the best bits from others).  And the new random dungeon system will probably make the game even more populare now than ever.

But the sad thing is... There are actually MILLIONS of WOW players looking for a new and updated MMO game.  This has become very obvious with the intrests in new MMO releases. The pre-order programmes of new releases try to exploid this need from ppl to find a new game.  But instead of those new releases to do their bit in actually creating the featuers that those gamers are truely after - the developers go back into the same old featues of OLDER mmo games that never got that much following.

Im going to write a special article on what kind of MMO would fill the void for millions at this point in time.  The key to it all tho - is that  MMO gamers have matured quite abit since early WOW .  They demand quality - and that is something that very few other MMO developers have been able to deliver on - other than BLizzard ofc.

When it comes to Funcom tho - Aiming for a mature group of players should have made it ABSOLUTLY clear that quality control was priority number one.  It was far from that and ofc that leads to total collapse in playerbase. You can have billions of exiting features.  But without real quality control those features turn into a bunch of annoying nightmares for the gamers.



Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/11/09
Posts: 593

1/23/10 11:47:00 AM#14
Originally posted by VoIgore

While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.

They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.

Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!


can't help to point out a number of errors in your text. Initial sale of the AoC box went to Eidos. FunCom only got a fraction of that revenue back into their pocket. I do not belive they made money out of the game being launched less complete than what many people think it should have been. Thus you should rather perhaps speculate in if the launchdate were entirely up to FunCom to decide, or perhaps not a result of Eidos wanting to pump their tanking revenuenumbers.

And when it comes to FunCom talking Quality, I do think there is no better developergroup to do so. This because they have clearly picked up the ball and work their way through most problems of AoC. AoC is now a very good endproduct. It's much harder to fix a thing than just to start over with something new, so kudos to FunCom for choosing the hard but right route. The route every AoC gamer and dissapointed AoC gamer wanted. If FunCom was out for a scam and maximizing profitt, they could have dropped AoC like a stone and just started the next hype. But they have not, they have very dilligently continued to improve AoC and now they have outperformed most other developerhouses, like EA/Mythic on Warhammer, Lotro, etc.. in terms of improving their MMO product (improvement pr time unit that is).

Just for the record. I play AoC now for the first time and have done so some months. I'm level 80, still working with AoCs epic raids. I'm also working with our Guild to build our city (still tonns of work there, goal is to finish our own decorative Symbol when that is added in from testlive)

The Ultimate Breakdown


Novice Member

Joined: 7/26/09
Posts: 266

1/23/10 12:41:37 PM#15
Originally posted by Rawiz

So, rubbish PVE man taking control of a PVP game. Gee, sounds like whole new news, worth an article if you pay enough?

Sup with 10 new AoC topics in 10 days? Let's get paid MMORPG, right?


The game isn't just a PVP game, it's both.

and gee maybe there are more articles because they have an expansion releasing soon? Look at any game that has a major addition coming and this site is full of articles about it. That's kind of what they cover :p

Anyways, nice read, I think it's maybe a little pandering to the troll audience to name the article as 'quality vs profit' when the question was actually about innovative features against more cheaper options, and I have enjoyed reading the answer from both Funcom and Icarus. The two answers are pretty much the same yet the Fallen Earth one is seen as ok, but this one isn't? I play both games, and both are cool, well made MMOs, if FE had the polish and visual quality of AOC it would be an even more awesome game.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/07/07
Posts: 136

What happened to fun and innovative mmo's?

1/23/10 12:42:18 PM#16

This is one of the major problems with MMO's now a days.  I have been playing mmorpg's since muds and started with UO hard core.  What attraticted me to these games?  Innovation...thats is the huge portion that is missing from games today.  If a company could come out with a game that is unique and still have polish I would be all over it.  Darkfall had the right idea but from everything i have heard/seen of the game it just isnt polished enough. 


It is very sad that the video game market has turned into a repeat/rehash of previously released games with graphics that are better.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/14/07
Posts: 562

1/24/10 2:04:40 AM#17
Originally posted by VoIgore

While AoC has made it's progress with CM on board, Funcom may not be in the exact right position to discuss a "quality vs profit" topic with anyone.

They shoveled in the profit of about 800k+ initial sales, while the lack of quality of their product left like below 100k subs at some time.

Also this constant rubbing in of AoC reports, interviews, features every other day is really starting to smell....and you guys know what like!


Man sometimes you people can be so stupid. This is good journalism. A controversial game known exactly for the obvious reasons you just stated gets asked exactly what its developer doesn't want to be asked. Morrison's answer was pretty elusive, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

But no, you guys want everything (including what to think) handed to you in a silver platter. Evolve already.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/03/05
Posts: 177

1/24/10 6:49:23 AM#18

Lore busting Wolf and Tiger mounts?
Which category would they fall into I wonder, quality or profit?

[Disclaimer : I play AoC mainly because I am a fan of RE Howard's Conan stories, and the excellent community that exists on the server Crom]



Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 16506

"what a boring life, HATING everything" -Gorilla Biscuits

1/24/10 1:33:17 PM#19
Originally posted by Deestroy

Anyone worried about quality would not make a wow clone.


Last time I checked AOC was nothing like WOW nor is AO, but okay.

For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me


Novice Member

Joined: 5/23/08
Posts: 259

1/24/10 3:39:14 PM#20
Originally posted by Malickie
Originally posted by Deestroy

Anyone worried about quality would not make a wow clone.


Last time I checked AOC was nothing like WOW nor is AO, but okay.


AoC has a lot more in common with WoW than it does with AO, though. If AoC had the complexity and depth of AO it would probably be a much better game.... but with fewer subscribers. AO was an extremely ambitious, and risky project with a limited budget and must be considered a success overall since it still has a loyal playerbase and makes a small profit almost 9 years after launch. AoC had a huge budget, and they played it safe to hit a much wider audience. Compared to expectations it must be considered a failure, even if it has more players than AO. There are a lot more people and a lot more investors involved in the AoC project so it needs a lot more subscriptions to stay floating than AO did.


Anyway, with its two MMOs, FunCom has tried both approaches. AO leaned more towards innovation (quality) than towards safety (profit). With AoC it was the other way around. They failed to hit a good balance with both. Maybe they'll get it exactly right with The Secret World. :)


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