The Death of Myst Online: An Interview with GameTap

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye and Katie "Khatie" Postma
Answers by Ricardo

Questions by Cody
"Micajah" Bye and Katie "Khatie" Postma
style="font-style: italic;">
Answers by Ricardo
Sanchez, VP of Content and Creative Director for GameTap

The announcement that GameTap was going to discontinue style="font-style: italic;">Myst Online: Uru Live
came as a sad surprise to many gamers, industry press, and
developers. Myst Online
was one of the only "alternative" MMORPGs on the market, and its
removal will leave an indelible empty space in the MMOG market.
However, Myst Online's
discontinuation also raises questions about the future of GameTap in
the MMOG marketplace, and Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Ricardo Sanchez,
Creative Director and VP of Content for GameTap, who answered all of
our questions regarding Myst
and MMOGs.

Ten Ton Hammer: What
repercussions, if any, will this cancellation have on future MMOGs you
release?  Will you be hesitant in the future to pick up this
genre of game? Do you think massively multiplayer games can succeed on

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo Sanchez: No
repercussions at all. We are still very interested in MMOs and would
love to add some to our service. The challenge is finding the right
financial model that works for us, the licensor and our users.

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The loss of Myst
Online is a huge blow to the MMOG marketplace.

Ten Ton Hammer: style="font-style: italic;">Myst Online had
already gone through a few sets of hands before it landed in your lap.
What drew GameTap to the project? What aspects of the game led you to
believe it would succeed?

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo: style="font-style: italic;">Myst is one of
those phenomenal franchises that has a substantial fan base, a great
history and just kind of fit with what GameTap represented, the best of
the old and the new in games. We liked that there was a group of people
just waiting and hoping for the game to be released as Rand had
originally envisioned it as well.

We thought the game would fit in well at GameTap in part because we
have such a wide age range in our userbase. There are a lot of 35+
people who use GameTap, who were fans of the style="font-style: italic;">Myst franchise, as
well as being fans of some of our older content. On the flip side, the
devoted Uru fans were likely to be familiar with some of our brands
like Pac-Man
and we thought the two products would complement each other. Cyan and
Turner have also had a long relationship so there was an already
established level of cooperation and trust there that we could build

Ten Ton Hammer: What are
the successes and disappoints from Myst
that will you learn from and build upon?

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo: On the
success side, I think we launched some really interesting content with style="font-style: italic;">Myst Online. I also
think we found a pretty good formula for delivering MMO content
episodically. One thing we will certainly want to look at if we do
another MMO is a way to meld the community of an MMO with the addictive
quality of television like delivery schedules of content.

On the disappointment side, well, that there weren't as many people
attracted to the game as we'd initially thought. We're very happy with
the content produced by Cyan. We think the product was pretty good. But
either we were the wrong delivery vehicle for it or we didn't hit on
the exact formula for delivering this kind of content.

Ten Ton Hammer: Aside
from any financial difficulties the game may have had, were you fairly
satisfied with how Season One progressed and finished up?

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo: We are.
Cyan did a phenomenal job and we have been really happy with the work
they did.

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According to GameTap,
the "alternative" MMOG can compete in the market if costs are kept in
line with potential audience.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
think "alternative" massively multiplayer games can compete with the
more contemporary style of massive games? What would an alternative
game need to do to actually succeed in this marketplace?

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo: Short
answer, yes. But to succeed the costs have to be in line with the
potential audience. Think TV and movies. People can make really good
independent films and low budget TV shows that are profitable on
smaller audiences because the costs were in line with how many people
might consume it.

We're sort of seeing this now with some of the flash based MMOs that
are cropping up. Hardware and software development costs are lower than
for full 3D games like WoW or Everquest,
and the game experiences are very different, and very interesting.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you'd like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers and the style="font-style: italic;">Myst

style="font-weight: bold;">Ricardo: Well, we'd
really like to thank all the fans of style="font-style: italic;">Myst Online who did
join us for Season One. And we appreciate how understanding so many of
them have been about the closure. We have had a lot of users thank us
for giving them the chance to see what Rand had envisioned for the game
and for taking the chance on a title like this in the first

What are your thoughts on the Myst
Online discontinuation? What sort of repercussion does this have on the
rest of the market? href="">Let
us know on the forums!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Myst Online: URU Live Game Page.

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