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D. Scott Mattson

By Michael Hampden on May 30, 2006 | Interviews | Comments

D. Scott Mattson

GamerCenterGroup brings experience to MMORPGs

D. Scott Mattson chats with our Michael Hampden

GameCenterGroup offers MMORPG companies experienced customer and consulting services. MMORPGs have become more complex and Mattson - a former director of player relations for Ultima Online and later all of EA before moving to SOE - brings his experience to the table with his new company.

MMORPG.com:For those who may not be familiar with Game Center Group, could you quickly summarize what kind of services you provide?
D. Scott Mattson:

GCG provides companies that are considering an MMO, consulting services specifically related to Customer Support. We also offer a turn key solution to host the entire support side of the house if the client wants to avoid the management headaches of the support organization. Launch readiness on people, process and tools is really where we shine. For existing MMOs we provide an assessment and recommendation on their CS model and provide direct ROI in terms of customer satisfaction.

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MMORPG.com:How did Game Center Group get started?
D. Scott Mattson:

This has been a dream of mine since my early days at EA. I always felt that the market would be there to support this type of business. While I felt the market was there I also had to ensure that my experience level was broad enough and deep enough to attract clients.

MMORPG.com:Can you tell us specifically about your association with Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online and what you did there?
D. Scott Mattson:

Well Mr. Anderson and I go way back to the Origin studio days when he was an Executive Producer on UO2. We have always stayed in touch and when I started GCG he graciously asked me to consult on their launch of DDO. We focused mainly on giving the Executive team there a running assessment of where the support group was for launch readiness. We broke it down to people, process and tools. By providing extremely detailed reports on each of these areas and rating each area, they could see on a week by week basis up until launch, what were high priority items to fix.

MMORPG.com:What makes Game Center Group different from other Consulting services?
D. Scott Mattson:

Experience is the obvious answer here. Personally I have been involved at an Executive level on some pretty significant titles, starting with Ultima Online, and there is not a lot I have not seen. Anyone who has done this for any amount of time will tell you that avoiding mistakes is worth its weight in plat. We are extremely passionate about getting it right. It is extremely challenging to craft service models around these games because there are so many factors that come into play; money, dev time, egos, etc. It truly is an art form.

MMORPG.com:Where do you think the future of Customer service in the MMO industry is headed?
D. Scott Mattson:

Self service is a huge factor in this space and it’s my dream to actually craft a game around the service. Contact sensitive help is also something I have been recommending for years now and has yet to be implemented. The implications for this are massive in terms of reducing service load and costs.

MMORPG.com:What would you say to developers that could be concerned that heavy outsourcing might hurt the overall vision and quality of their project?
D. Scott Mattson:

Outsourcing does have its place in this industry but not without significant challenges. Those challenges manifest themselves in things like culture and language mostly. Logistical problems also arise but usually this can be managed. Having someone who has navigated these problems before can save you headache and money in the long run.

MMORPG.com:What do you find to be the biggest problem that MMO start-up companies commonly run into today?
D. Scott Mattson:

From a CS perspective it’s always bandwidth and money. I am a big proponent of robust tool and tight process control. As launch approaches CS needs usually take a back seat to other things like billing or game systems. The other factor is experience. The fact is that these games have very specific support needs and there are just not a lot of talent out there who get it and who understand the big picture.

MMORPG.com:Do you think American outsourcing companies can compete financially with companies in countries like Canada, or overseas?
D. Scott Mattson:

They can but good old American ingenuity is going to have to step up. For example, we have built an Agent At Home model that is very competitive in terms of per hour rate and the quality issues are almost non-existent. The online gaming CS market is a perfect fit for this model and allows the client to be free of the high overhead associated with maintaining a contact center on their own. This is a huge win because it allows the development houses to focus on what they do best, which is make great games.

MMORPG.com:What would you say are the most important things for having quality Customer Service in an MMO?
D. Scott Mattson:

Tools and logging are extremely critical to the CS model because it affects the bottom line so significantly and it touches your customer base 24x7. By ensuring that the tools are efficient and the work flow is not clunky you make each CS agent more efficient. This is multiplied across your service offering for each contact they have. If the CS agents work flow is done right they can handle more tickets per hour which means your customers are getting the help they need in a timely and efficient manner.

MMORPG.com:In your opinion, what are the most critical things to having a successful MMO launch?
D. Scott Mattson:

Have someone who has been there. Think about NASA preparing for a launch but not having anyone who has filled the O2 tanks on the shuttle before? Even if you have seasoned support staff, if they have never launched an MMO they are going to be using the trial and error method of servicing customers in the live environment. This is not good, they will be 2nd guessing their work and sending all the wrong signals to the base. The support model for MMO’s is highly specialized and is peppered with “gotchas” that can seriously affect your retention rate and ultimately your ability to attract new players.

MMORPG.com:From your unique perspective, what do you think the MMO industry will look like 5 years from now?
D. Scott Mattson:

Obviously World Of Warcraft has had a significant impact, almost overnight, on this industry. It has opened up the eyes of Wall Street and private investors alike; each of which are opening their arms and wallets to start-ups. I think we are on the verge of explosive growth in the MMO space in North America and especially in burgeoning markets like China and even India. For a while we will see many “at bats” in the industry and probably a lot of strike out. Then we will probably see larger companies like EA, Sony, Microsoft, etc. begin to snap up MMO studios and design houses in a consolidation of the industry. I also think that cross platform MMOs are not too far off. In fact, we are working with a group that has an extremely compelling game design that could really change the way these games are played.

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