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An Interview with David Solari of Codemasters

Recently,'s Donna Desborough took some time to speak with David Solari, the Vice President of Codematers Online. The two talked about micropayments in-game and the future of Codemasters.

An Interview with David Solari of Codemasters

Can you tell us your name and what you do at Codemasters?

David Solari:

My name is David Solari, and I am the Vice President of Codemasters Online, which basically means I'm in charge.


Micro-payments are becoming more common. What are Codemasters plans for their use?

David Solari:

Well we already have 2 games which support Micro-payments with RF Online and Archlord so we are getting some great experience there.

We are planning other micro-transaction games going forwards as it's exciting and growing business model.

However we are strong believers that certain games work best as subscription games and others as micro-transaction games. We also believe that this can change though a products lifecycle.

A lot of Korean games use pay shops that take advantage of the micro-payment system. Are there plans for Codemasters to begin bringing in the pay shops for games that Codemasters already supports?

David Solari:

As stated above, we already operate micro-transaction games, and we sell credits for these micro-payments though our existing billing system.

We have no plans for Lord of The Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online as they work very well as subscription games. This may change in the distant future but that's a long way from being discussed, let alone decided.

What do you thing of the pay shop model? Do you think that it gives an advantage to the player with more money to spend? Do you think the model could work in the UK and Europe?

David Solari:

I think a micro-transaction model is right if the game design supports it. RF Online and Archlord are free to play and free client, this is also important for a micro-transaction game. It means that players can play it completely for free.

Obviously spending gives certain advantages but a player spending nothing can achieve the same as a spending player; it will just take them longer. In addition, paying players may have short term advantages, however these are generally consumable (disappear on use) which helps keep the games in balance.

I think the model does work in the West; it's certainly working for our games. There are a range of other online games where this model is prevalent, generally on the social networking and teen targeted side.

What prompted the decision to switch your support to internal? Are you going to be doing both customer service and in-game support internally?

David Solari:

We do technical support internally and we do Customer Service and in-game support externally. We recently changed our partner as we needed a larger organization to meet our growing needs.

We have no plans to bring anything else in-house at present, but you never know what the future may hold.

How will the change to internal support affect the players? Will they see any difference in the support they receive? Will the powers of the GMs in-game change from what they are currently with Alchemic Dream?

David Solari:

As above, we are still external for support. There will likely be a few teething problems with the handover but our goals for service provision to the player are the same. Hopefully we will be able to be a little quicker and a little better.

Does Codemasters have any plans to return to actually developing games instead of hosting servers and publishing? Are there any games in the works currently?

David Solari:

Codemasters still makes many games like Colin McRae Dirt and Operation Flashpoint 2 in-house.

With regards to persistent games we are looking at the possibility of doing these in-house but the financial and skill investment is significant.

Codemasters has two of the most sought after fantasy IPs in gaming, D&D and LotR. Are there any special plans in the future for them?

David Solari:

We license these games from Turbine who develop and operate them in the US. They have lots of plans for both titles but it wouldn't be fair of me to reveal them here.

Outside of DDO and LOTRO, what kind of plans do you have for your other games?

David Solari:

We are very interested in titles outside of the fantasy genre. We are looking at number of titles which bring something fresh and different to the persistent space, but are still grand in scope.

We are actively pursuing persistent games which are somewhat more casual in their approach. By this, I mean smaller, but very exciting projects where the game experience is simpler but more intense.

Anything interesting looming in the future of Codemasters you can tell us about?

David Solari:

We hope to release at least one new title, perhaps as many as three this calendar year, so we are all very excited about that.

We are also running our first major community event, Connect 2008, so that will be a major highlight for us.

Finally we are looking forward to another great year where we get to continue top service for our existing customers and introduce our games to lots of new people.