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EA Mythic Roundtable

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Roundtable Debate: Six writers give their thoughts on EA buying Mythic

Dan Mann, Frank Mignone, Steve Wilson, Cari Davidson, Brian Chapman and Garrett Fuller discuss

Dan Mann: Seems another successful company is being joined with the software juggernaut that is Electronic Arts. Sure the Big Brother of games doesn't have a spotless track record, but since Mark Jacobs is still at the helm instead of taking his suitcase full of cash to Cancun, there is hope that he will steer their future projects towards innovation rather than the rocky shoals of stagnation.

Frank Mignone: EA sucks the life out of most everything, breaking it down into a mindless template of proven game-play and ideas. They are not really a front runner of innovation (though they used to be) and prefer to acquire innovative studios such as Origin systems (which they effectively killed off) and Maxis (which now seems to just pump out endless renditions of the SIMs, mostly with the same, rinse and repeat art). So now they have DAoC, which is a fairly well established PVP-centric MMO and rather innovative in its RvR game-play least ways it was at launch). Bringing a company that does not embrace innovation well together with a MMO that is one of the more innovating games of the genre (RvR PvP) seems like an accident waiting to happen, particularly given EA's MMO record with 'Earth and Beyond'. It will be a miracle if EA can keep them from turning it into an everyone-else MMO, killing its uniqueness and making the games player base venture elsewhere.

Steve Wilson: For the casual player this might be a good thing. EA is a big well known company that while not being innovative in game-play mechanics is certainly consistent in quality that casual players tend to notice, like top notch graphics and slick UIs that are easily portable to console gaming. They will also have much broader experience conducting entry level consumer testing and quality assurance aimed specifically at users that aren't as savvy as the hardcore gamer. They also have a huge advantage in regards to getting the game into the hands of people that have never played an MMO before. The company is enormously visible in retail chains having contracted deals that allow their products guaranteed premium shelf display, something a small company can never achieve. In addition just being branded with the EA logo may encourage some players that otherwise might not to try the game out. Expanding the audience base of MMOs ensure the longevity of the genre and encourages smaller startups to experiment and expand new concepts.

Cari Davidson: It is far too tempting to say that EA's acquisition of Mythic is another blow to an already damaged industry in which all the independent studios are being gobbled up by large corporations. On the surface, this is true, but the benefits that Mythic gains outweigh the emotional desire for an industry of independents. It is important to note that the EA Mythic studio will still retain its development staff and most of its autonomy. The lives and jobs of the people at Mythic will remain mostly the same, they will gain security by being part of a company that is viable and will remain so for years to come, and they can continue to work on the projects with which they are already familiar. So, in addition to having essentially unlimited funds to produce Warhammer Online and continue to work on Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic will have access to far more creative and software development resources - tools and talent that would otherwise have been out of reach of tiny (comparatively) Mythic. At the end of the day, Mythic's games will be more successful, and successful games make developers, players and accountants very happy.

Brian Chapman: While EA has shown its undying greed in the present, we are forgetting the past. EA used to be one of the top developers, and not just in terms of financial success, in actual game development and the production of great titles, even when they strayed away from the sports genre of gaming. Now while most of the time I tend to be quite a pessimist, when it comes to videogames I like to give them all the shadow of a doubt before I go judging, forcing an uncharacteristic sort of optimism into the relationship between me and the game. That said, sprouting forth from this previously mentioned optimism, are some good things that could, and hopefully will come from EA’s buying of Mythic. As any small company you of course have the financial turmoil of not having huge amounts of funds, especially when it comes to an MMORPG which requires a consistent income, rather than just the initial sales like any other game out there that past the shelf is user driven. This complication can really make or break a game, no matter how amazing the game might be. While Mythic experienced moderate success with Dark Age of Camelot, there in no way a financial powerhouse, and was more than likely barely making enough to keep the game up with a marginal profit after some of the current “big name” were released. So clearly any company in Mythic’s state, is going to be enticed by the funding that EA has to offer. With financial backing come other sub-pro’s like facilities and other equipment upgrade which would make for faster development in general. And of course the powerful public-relations tools that EA obviously have to bring to the table. Any game, bad, good, or great, needs advertising; otherwise it’s a pointless endeavor and a waste of money. And we’re all sure of at least one thing, EA won’t put out something that won’t make money, and whatever products they do put out, they do everything in their power to make it a success and make money off of it. This ensures that a title will get the play it deserves, or doesn’t deserve in many cases. After all, what’s a Massive-Multiplayer Online Game, without the Massive portion? If it doesn't have the player base then it won’t be fun and it will just be a hole in the gaming universe. So clearly, the monetary gains for Mythic are more than likely the biggest positive influence that such a deal could have. And from that one gain, comes many small gains, I guess the big questions are: One, will Mythic be able to take advantage of it, and two, will EA let Mythic take advantage of it?

Garrett Fuller: I do believe that this merger will only help Mythic get their games out quicker and stronger. If EA is cool and allows Mythic to do their job then it should be no problem. From what we have read so far it looks like Mythic will stay on its own and have EA as the big brother watching its back. It looks like Warhammer will definitely be a cross console game now. I know “Age of Conan” has said they will be doing the PC and console combination as well. I do think that will be the nature of MMOs to come. No matter the system, people will be playing across the boards. Overall, I think the merger is a good thing. I do think the games will be great and the support the EA will bring can help Mythic in the long run.

Ok folks, you’ve heard what our writers think; now tell us what you think? The forums are open and your voices will be heard!

You can comment on this debate here.