The Hollywood Cycle: Comparing the MMO Industry with the Silver Screen

For the past century, the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States have been spawned on the sun-parched hills of Hollywood. Whether you enjoy movies, television, or music, almost...

For the past century, the most popular forms of entertainment in the
United States have been spawned on the sun-parched hills of Hollywood.
Whether you enjoy movies, television, or music, almost everything that
counts as a real life diversion has emerged from that geographic
desert. A hundred years of blood, sweat, and glitter has created an
oligarchy of the mega-rich and the uber-famous.

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Remarkably, the one entertainment medium that hasn’t jumped
under Hollywood’s enormous umbrella (yet!) is the gaming
industry. Film (and even some rock star) adaptations certainly exist,
but the sticky tentacles of the silver screen haven’t
infiltrated the majority of gaming studios. But even without the
influence of Hollywood, an amazing number of similarities exist between
the history of film and the currently unfolding epic drama of massively
multiplayer online gaming.

However, merely pointing out similarities doesn’t really get
us anywhere, nor does it make for a gripping article. Due to its
relative longevity compared to MMO gaming, it’s entirely
possible to make some predictions – based upon the Hollywood
model – of where the MMO industry will head in the next
several years.

To throw even more gasoline onto the fire, I put the histories and
potential predictions in front of five expert panelists – one
from Hollywood and three from the MMO industry – and had them
debate whether any conclusions could be drawn from Tinsel
Town’s history or not. Specifically, you’ll hear
from Jumpgate Evolution’s executive producer Hermann
Peterscheck, EverQuest II’s senior creative director Rich
Waters, and Turbine’s vice president of product development
Craig Alexander for the MMO side of things; and Digital
Domain’s Oscar-winning Steve Preeg will be representing

Their answers may surprise you. Although several of our past premium
articles have held a strong amount of division within them, few
articles have seen such a divergent set of viewpoints as what I found
with these particular panelists. Even the premium members all seemed to
be of different minds, so strap in folks… it’s
going to be a bumpy ride.

When I first set out to write an article comparing Hollywood to the MMO
industry, I knew that there were going to be some obvious similarities
due to the fact that both industries focus on entertainment. But with
only a decade or two to work with, the MMO industry is – in
many ways – much more akin to the early throes of Hollywood
than the enormous conglomeration that it’s become today.
While the larger video game publisher have eagerly gobbled up any small
independent studio that has proven their ability to make money, the
early days of MMOing were full of these small time players that worked
on low budget to produce that games that set the standard for the

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After I presented the question to the panelists, each confirmed this
sentiment to some degree, showing just how universal this idea is to
not only both entertainment industries, but the collective
“diversionary” spectrum.

“When movies first started there were a lot of independent
companies making low budget, short films,” Turbine's Craig
Alexander began. “They ran out of little nickelodeon arcades
and that sort of thing. Over time, they consolidated until there were
only a handful of major players. There were consistently fewer
– and bigger – bets, and that continues

“I think the MMO space is very similar,” he
continued. “There are fewer and fewer titles, and
they’re bigger and bigger bets for the respective publishers
that hope to have these franchises out on the market for continually
growing periods of time. I expect that to continue.”

The conglomeration of the studios is certainly apparent to special
effects master and long-time gamer, Preeg. From his point-of-view,
there’s a lot of correlation between the newly forming mega
game studios and the long running movie publishers with well-known
names…like Disney.

“Ten years ago when you were looking for a game to play, you
would pick up the latest game magazine and see what the reviews were.
It wasn't so much about knowing who the publisher was, it was about the
word of mouth and game reviews and whether or not you liked a
particular style of game,” he explains. Now it almost seems
like the smaller publishers don't have any sort of a chance anymore.
You're pretty much playing "this" Blizzard game until the "next"
Blizzard game comes out.  I have some friends that work at
Blizzard and smaller companies, and every time I talk to someone that
works at one of the smaller companies, their game may be good, but it
just gets overpowered by the bigger publishers. It's like Disney - no
one could release anything done in animation to compete with them - at
least in the beginning.”  

But for movies and games alike, it seems that those early, small
independent studios were the companies that laid the groundwork and
techniques for all the products that came after. It was that
“breakout hit” that drives people – and
money – towards the medium, making it more popular and more
diverse in the process. Yet the core techniques behind the product
often remain the same. NetDevil’s Hermann Peterscheck
explains this concept in detail:

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style="font-style: italic;">In many ways this duplicates the
commercial biography of most entertainment media. When new technology
is first introduced it always leads to some kind of new form of
entertainment. In the beginning the adoption and availability of the
new technology is low, which means the market is small. This means that
you have small independent people kind of banging away and trying to
figure out what can be done. At some point the market size explodes
unpredictably and you get a kind of breakout hit. In MMOs this is
probably Ultima Online in the west (I suppose Lineage in the East). At
that point large commercial entities notice this "new thing" and start
to pour more money into it. They usually end up copying what works and
doing small iterative improvement to increase market share. This then
leads to an increase in production quality, and increase in development
cost and eventually consolidation due to the customer demand leveling

I think MMOs are kind of
between the growth and leveling out phase; though it's impossible to
predict such things. The one thing that is different with games, at
least so far, is that movie companies don't tend to do things like
invent their own cameras and lights for every movie they make. The tech
to make movies is much slower than games - same with music recording,
radio and television. Games are unique in that we make the tools as
well as the product. While there is a strong movement in the industry
to make a kind of "super development tool" no one has been able to do
that, and I'm skeptical that it can be done. As for setting standards,
there are many that seem to be very sticky and those will persist. I
expect as time goes on more will be discovered and still more will be

The standards many of the early MMOs set include sharding, multiple
methods of progression outside of a standard experience point
generation, instancing, user interface layouts, and a focus on
service-based entertainment. For Sony Online Entertainment, many of
today’s current standards were set by their ten-year-old
classic, EverQuest.
SOE’s Senior Creative Director on EQII, Rich Waters, shared
some of his
thoughts on some of the longtime influences seen in MMO gaming.

“MUDs, MOOs and “pen and paper” RPGs set
a lot of standards we still see in MMO gaming today,” he
explained. “From stat-based combat, characters that gain
levels and chase their +5 Helmet of Doom, to the very basic interaction
with the game world that still prevails today.”

“Tools and technologies have advanced tremendously since
MMORPGs hit the scene, but what players can do in today’s
games, and how they do it is still pretty traditional,” he
continued. “There are a ton of innovations in online gaming
as a whole, but MMORPGs as a category are refining the details but
staying bizarrely true to their old-school predecessors.”

Though many examples of rules and gameplay sets were available in older
text-based online games and pen-and-paper products, the earliest crops
of MMOs – Ultima
Online, EverQuest, Jumpgate, Asheron’s Call
, and
others – certainly had to create systems that far surpassed
what was built before them. In many ways, this again was like early
Hollywood, where individuals with intelligence and ambition could
basically “make up the rules” as they went along.

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“You have to keep in mind that when we started you couldn't
do things like, say, look up networking problems on Google,”
Hermann explained in his response. ”There was no Google, and
internet capabilities were not as powerful. Beyond that there was no
such thing as MMOs. Our first games we pitched to publishers were
pitched as multiplayer games. They thought we meant things like style="font-style: italic;">Quake or something
and when we described hundreds or thousands of people in a persistent
world, they didn't really understand what that meant. It wasn't until
UO and EQ hit it big that suddenly there was a term and a business
model and the interest started to grow.”

“We used to have these dinners at GDC (San Jose at the time)
where all the MMO people would go - it was maybe like two or three
dozen people,” he continued. “That's where the
first ideas were kind of kicked around and some of the early groundwork
was laid. A lot of those guys are now institutions in the MMO world so
it was really a kind of crazy path from there to here. Also keep in
mind that this took place over maybe the last 10 or 15 years. Before
that most of us were doing MUDs and MOOs and stuff but once it became
mainstream it grew really quickly.”

Over at SOE, Waters had a similar experience when style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest first
broke onto the scene. “EverQuest
was our first big MMO, and there was a huge amount of learning,
experimentation, and crunch time involved in getting it
right,” he said. “From hardware and tech issues
like scrambling to get enough internet bandwidth to support the
unprecedented demand at launch, to being amazed at the amount of time
and energy players were willing to spend online every day…
there was a lot that came up that no one predicted or planned on, and
we learned a ton those first few years.”
Dating even further back than the original style="font-style: italic;">Jumpgate or style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest, Craig
Alexander actually helped forge the path for those two games with
Sierra’s href="" target="_blank">The
, a game that still runs to this day.

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“It felt very ‘Wild West,’”
Craig stated. “There was a significant amount of unknowns
back then. We had no expectations regarding how long these services
would last. I worked on The
with Sierra, and it’s been running for
twelve or thirteen years now. There’s really no end in sight
for these games, and I look forward to when DDO and LOTRO pass their
own decade marks as well.”

“You really need that sort of longevity mindset going into
it, and back in the day, we had no idea,” he continued.
“We were still using that film and/or packaged good
mentality. You launch it, you have a big marketing event, and then you
have a nice tail at the end of it where you’d get six or
seven months out of the product. We never guessed that we’d
be talking about the lifespan of these products in terms of decades. Be
proud of the design and the artwork that you do, because it will be
there for years!”

But have MMOs really exploded? Throughout its history, Hollywood has
seen several eras of significant growth, during which the industry
would expand either the number of films produced, the theaters in
operation, or the sizes of the audience they captured. In Hollywood,
there were several veritable explosions of movie making, where hundreds
(if not thousands) of films would be spat out for audiences to consume
in mass quantities. Yet I wasn’t sure that sort of event had
occurred in the MMO space, or if it was still coming.

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So I turned to the experts. Unfortunately, their answers really
didn’t lend to a pinpoint conclusion.

“Well, the fact that so many MMOs are being made means that
it's not actually cost prohibitive,” Peterscheck said with a
smile. “I think that we are in the middle of that explosion.
When you look at China and Korea you can see where the full potential
may lie, and WoW certainly shows how large the MMO market can be. That
being said there has been and will continue to be lots of consolidation
and failure. We're not actually that good at making these games yet
because it takes a long time to make them and people burn out and go
away at an alarming rate.”

“If you think that movies take a few months to a year to
shoot, in a 10 year period you can have 10-15 iterations,” he
continued. “If you consider that MMOs take 3-5 years to make
we're really only on the third or maybe fourth generation of MMOs and
the risks are very high now. The other problem is that it is hard to
respond to market changes. If I discover today that players
want  a certain type of game and I start making that, but it's
done 3-5 years from now, the whole market has shifted. We can see this
happening now. There's tons of WoW clones coming out now based on
market demand set by WoW 4 years ago. So the question is, do players
want something else now? If so, what? Do the players themselves even
know? If you asked people in 1976 if they want an epic sci-fi movie I'm
not convinced they would have said yes, and yet....”

Alexander, on the other hand, wasn’t convinced and hedged his
bets, just a little. “It depends on how you define MMOs. If
you mean LOTRO, WoW, or EQ2 type games, than I think the answer is no.
There are huge barriers of entry: cost, technology, design experience,
etc,” he stated. “That said, the persistence and
gameplay aspects that were pioneered in MMOs are appearing in all types
of different games. With that in mind, I think there will be
– and there is – a great deal of proliferation
going on. Are they true MMOs? Again it depends on your definition of an

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“My belief is that, over time, there tends to be a
consolidation. Entertainment experiences are pretty focused, and it
seems like there’s always fewer of them. I don’t
think there will be a ‘nickelodeon’ phase for MMOs,
especially not on the premium MMO side of the fence.”

When I asked Steve Preeg a similar question, one oriented towards small
companies ever being able to have a “smash hit”
despite the flooding of the market with other small titles, his answer
was...hopeful. The Oscar-winning special effects guru has been a
longtime World of Warcraft player, especially when he isn't deep into
movie projects like The
Curious Case of Benjamin Button
and the remake of style="font-style: italic;">Tron. This is
what he had to say:

style="font-style: italic;">I sure hope so. The production
costs of these games have been going up significantly to where they're
starting to approach film budgets. I don't think these smaller
companies can do that. On top of that with the new next-gen consoles
and the advancements in the latest video cards, the amount of
production you have to put in something to make it look good is
absolutely going through the ceiling.   style="font-style: italic;" />

Eventually you're going
to have to make assets and models and everything that are at least
television - if not film - quality. That takes time; you can't make a
character anymore with a fifty polygon head. Unless, of course, you're
playing Grand Theft Auto and all you want to do is beatdown gangsters
and hookers. And even *that* is going to change to some extent, because
as we continue to push our technological limitations, people are going
to want to beat each other up in more realistic ways.
style="font-style: italic;" />

It's going to be really
hard for the smaller game companies to continue to achieve any sort of
competitive edge when the hardware continues to push the envelope. In
Hollywood, there was a long, long stretch of time where there wasn't a
big new studio before Dreamworks finally entered the scene. 

With Hollywood operating a fully-functioning, movie-making machine
throughout the two World Wars, it wasn’t until Asian cinema
blasted onto movie screens in the 1950s that we saw really poignant
non-English cinema. Akira Kurosawa was perhaps the most influential of
these Asian film makers, and his films style="font-style: italic;">Seven Samurai and style="font-style: italic;">The Hidden Fortress
went on to influence a large number of film makers. However, Asian
cinema still hasn’t caught up to Hollywood in terms of
overall, international popularity, and may never surpass the Los
Angeles juggernaut.

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However, the scenario is different when it comes to video games.
Nintendo and Sony – and Sega for many years – have
held a tight-fisted grip on the video game world… but not so
with MMOs. Remarkably, MMO design and development has remained a very
segregated sphere with very little crossover success occurring. Still,
the MMO industry is beginning to feel the influence of our Asian allies
quite significantly, and the buzz around this fall’s upcoming
release of Aion only proves this point.

The question still remains: Will Asian MMOs ever succeed where their
film brethren have failed? I went to our experts to find out. Again,
the answers were mixed and divisive along several lines of thought.
Rather than preface their thoughts in any way, I’ll just give
you the ideas of the men, straight from their mouths.

Rich Waters:

There’s lots
of innovation in Asia, with hundreds of smaller games trying all sorts
of wacky ideas.  Western and Asian players are not tied to the
same type of gaming, features, or even cultural stories much of the
time, so taking the same game to both markets can be tricky. 
We localized EverQuest to Asia, for instance, and found that a lot of
things we took for granted weren’t valued by the Asian player
– extensive character customization, for instance, just
wasn’t a priority for them.  There were enough
differences between Asian and Western games that we ended up opening a
local office in Taiwan, so we could rely on local talent to help us
make games that have a higher appeal in Asia.
style="font-style: italic;" />

Hermann Peterscheck:

Who knows? I mean on
both sides of the pacific you have these giant entities that are
desperate to find success in the opposite market. The giant Chinese and
Korean publishers are just as excited to capture the US and European
market as the US publishers are to capture Asia. With very few
exceptions, they have been unable to do that and there are millions of
dollars and thousands of man hours dedicated to figuring out why that
might be which goes to show you how hard it is to know why.
style="font-style: italic;" />

I think people really
get hung up on things like billing models and cultural specifics. The
one major Asian/US/European success - World of Warcraft - I don't find
particularly culturally sensitive, nor did they massage their billing
model; so it's hard to see those two things. One thing I will say about
WoW is that it is conspicuously culturally neutral. For example, if you
look at their herbalism tree, they made up all new herbs. Herbs are one
area where West and East have very particular expectations and if you
have things like Garlic and Mandrake you could, perhaps, alienate your
Asian audience, whereas no one knows what Peacebloom is. That's all
just guesswork though. The truth is no one knows why WoW was so
successful in all kinds of markets and anyone who does know should just
go ahead and duplicate that success.

Craig Alexander:

First of all, Turbine is
paying a lot of attention to what’s going on in Asia,
especially in terms of business models. The free-to-play model was
pioneered to great success in the Asian marketplace, and some of that
was simply because of necessity over there. For a variety of reasons, retail gaming for the PC never took off, and so necessity turned into a business model implementation that worked.
style="font-style: italic;" />

We’re trying
to match that success over here, and we believe that consumer behavior
is generally the same across the world. I think we’ll be
successful with it.

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As far as content goes,
you’re correct. The Asian films have had a limited amount of
success in North America, and the challenge of bringing Asian content
to North America has been difficult. There are very few examples of
Chinese and Korean games coming successfully to the United States, but
there have been a few. Most of the success in video games obviously has
come from Japan.

I’m not
convinced it won’t happen, but it just hasn’t
happened in a big way yet. There are definitely big segments of the
population that are huge anime fans and that sort of thing.
It’s just when those games go up against entertainment that
is a little more familiar, they tend to choose that over the
international content.

The same problem
definitely occurs in the reverse, and it’s getting tougher
and tougher to get Western content into the Asian markets. The
companies in that area of the world are just getting better and better
at developing the content in their home countries.

Steve Preeg:

That’s a tough
question. I think it’s a little bit easier to transcend that
boundary in games because film has so much more real world culture
behind it. The game is more about the experience of the play versus
cultural information that’s being shown in a movie.
style="font-style: italic;" />

At the same time, a lot
of the foreign games that I have played are just really odd. The Asian
culture is definitely there in some games, and I’m not sure
if the American culture slips into it quite as much. That said, if they
made something and it was marketed well, I certainly think it can
succeed. I mean, I don’t doubt their design or creativity.

In the scheme of Hollywood, the summer blockbuster has become a trend
that won’t go away. Every year, the big studios erupt
thousands of dollars into the marketing stratosphere, hoping that the
audiences will fall out of the starry sky and into theaters to enjoy
their films. These blockbusters continually draw in $100,000,000+ every
year, and sometimes (like in 2008) multiple movies can break this mark
in a single season.

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But MMOs haven’t seen anything like this yet. While we do
have the one major blockbuster that everyone is familiar with (Hello
WoW), there hasn’t been the sort of multi-blockbuster era
that so many gaming companies are looking for.

Looking at movies, I can’t help but ask myself,
“Why not?” Besides a host of companies releasing
shoddy games, there isn’t a single reason why more MMOs
aren’t holding up million subscriber numbers. Both style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan and style="font-style: italic;">Warhammer Online
were primed for millions of subscribers, yet lackluster releases soured
the experience – and stickiness – for many users.

Or maybe I’m just full of wishful thinking. Will the MMO
industry ever have multiple blockbusters?

“I think so,” Peterscheck answered.
“I don't really see why you won't see 50,000,000
actually. But then, that assumes that the way we measure subscribers
and our billing models don't change. Consider the impact that TV had on
movies, for example, or VCRs and later DVD players. Because
you can't know which new technology is coming that will fundamentally
change things, you can't predict how consumers will utilize
and drive entertainment.”

“That's why it's important that as developers we
keep looking ahead to see what kind of interesting experiences we can
create instead of trying to try and guess
and anticipate based on information we have today,”
he continued. “Could you predict in 1994 that in 1998 the
internet would revolutionize communication, business, commerce and just
about everything else? Probably not. And just so, you
can't really predict what will happen in 2014 that will revolutionize
some other part of the world and the impact it will

Our Hollywood informant, Steve Preeg, was a bit more hesitant in his
answer. “It seems like it *should* be able to
happen,” he said. “It’s a little bit
harder because of the longevity of the game, where movies can have
three blockbusters in three weeks. You just can’t do that
with an MMO. However, the fact that style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft has
been sitting at the top for four years seems like there’s now
enough room for another good one to come up and split up the
subscribers. That’d be like 6 million people that could go
play another MMO.”

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“I think if a new game came out with a similar sort of
quality and effort of content, I know there are a number of people
playing WoW right now that would be okay quitting and trying something
new,” he concluded. “A good game in a different
setting would do very, very well.”

But perhaps everyone is asking the wrong questions when it comes to
MMOs being blockbusters. Craig Alexander brought up a truly pivotal
point concerning MMO success, saying “Yes [there can be more
MMO blockbusters], and the key is to make the console transition with
our MMOs. Turbine’s working actively in this area. WoW has
certainly been successful in the PC space, and I think you’ll
see successes equally as large in the console side as well. 
Hopefully that will be us.”

One of the more intriguing little factoids to come out of my research
concerning Hollywood is that until the 1970s, most Hollywood films
were… tame. The era of “New Hollywood”
hadn’t really begun. Yet the 70s were a time of change, and
we saw an increased amount of violence and sexuality in films during
that time period. MMOs certainly haven’t reached any sort of
“New Industry” threshold yet, and I asked the
panelists if that would ever occur. If violence and sexuality might
make a more prominent position in our MMOs?

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This was another decisive issue between our panelists, and was really
split between the MMO and Hollywood side of the coin. Here’s
what our man from Hollywood, Steve Preeg, had to say:

style="font-style: italic;">I don’t think the
companies have gone there because it boils down to marketshare. In
film, everyone knows that if your film is rated “R”
that it will make less money than if it’s PG-13. Less people
will go and see your movie, and I think there’s something to
be said about that. Many parents don’t let their children
play certain games, or they don’t want to walk by and see
their child beheading someone. It’s all about marketshare. style="font-style: italic;" />

Look at Manhunt, for
instance. Manhunt was incredibly violent, and the marketshare they
wanted to get was that group that wanted to see what it was like to
strangle someone with a plastic bag. That was their marketshare.
Whether it was a fun game or not was beside the point at that juncture.
It was just too extreme, and the same thing happens in film. When you
start pushing the envelope, you start losing people. A good example is
Tarantino films; a lot of people have a hard time watching his movies.
style="font-style: italic;" />

Titanic made a bunch of
money because teenage girls wanted to see it over and over again.

Both Peterscheck and Alexander were a bit more on the fence with this

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“Maybe [we’ll see something like this
happen],” Peterscheck answered. “Age of Conan tried
to go down that road with some success. Something else to keep in mind
is that trends are evaluated historically not predicted in advance. In
the 1970s no one was going around saying that they were going to start
such and such a genre or movement - that was done AFTER the 1970s were
over. Same thing for MMOs. I suspect that in 10 years there will be the
such and such phase of MMOs which then naturally lead into the
whatdoyoucallit phase. Being in the middle of it we can't really make
such observations though I'm certain lots of things will be

Here’s how Alexander answered:

style="font-style: italic;">It depends on if it’s
appropriate for the setting and the content. Age of Conan was trying to
achieve that, and did to some degree. style="font-style: italic;" />

Ultimately, I feel like
fantasy is a “Teen” sort of experience. Horror or
urban based settings should certainly have a higher degree of violence
and sexuality than fantasy or science fiction. It just depends on what
genre you’re shooting for. In some cases it’s
appropriate. In others, it’s not.
style="font-style: italic;" />

What I do see in our
future is a move away from the dominance of fantasy. Clearly fantasy is
a great genre, but I think if you added up all the dollars in the MMO
space, ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of it is based in fantasy.
That percentage *has* to go down. It just has to!

As I moved onto the last few of my questions, I found myself wondering
whether the MMO industry history would work like what we’ve
seen from Hollywood. It seems like – if you quantify
Hollywood into its basest aspects – that the history of
Tinsel Town operates on a cycle. You’ll have technological
advancement, growth, regression, conglomeration, and a whole list of
other aspects always occurring in these ten year spurts.

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Since the MMO industry is so young, it’s hard to measure what
the industry’s history might be like, but if we use style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest as an
example, we might contend that the lifecycle of an MMO is really five
years before it hits a peak and begins to decline.

I asked Hermann what his thoughts were on the topic, whether he thought
World of Warcraft might
have hit its peak or if we still had longer to wait before the game
peaked out.

“I don't think [it’s peaked],” he said.
“I think that MMOs worlds are more like brands than products,
though they sit somewhere in between. For example, Coca Cola has been
successful for 100 years or so, whereas movies have a life of a few
years at most (with some exceptions). We haven't seen a successful MMO
be turned off yet, so it's hard to know what the actual lifecycle is.
For example, could you give WoW a massive graphics overhaul and give it
10 more years of life? Will my kids get hooked on it in a few years and
then play for 4 more and so on. If the games are continuously updated
and they are generational, this kind of thing may happen. Then again we
may discover that MMOs have a 10-15 year life span and that's about

Finally, I asked the gathered panelists whether we would ever see a
merging of Hollywood and the MMO industry. Both Blizzard and EA are
skirting Hollywood’s borders, but a true integration of the
two mediums hasn’t happened yet. Again, the interviewees
didn’t agree with each other, but that’s to be
expected in topic like this one. To end this article, I’ll
let the panelists involved speak for themselves:

Hermann Peterscheck:

I'm not sure what that
kind of experience would look like to the players, so I suppose the
answer is no. I'm sure we'll see even more movie licenses for
MMOs and, possibly, the other way around; but the entertainment
experience is completely different. I guess I also don't see the book
and movie industry merging either, for precisely this reason. I suspect
they will happily co-exist and just feed off each other where it makes

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Craig Alexander:

I think they can and
they will. It will particularly happen in the film franchises. The Lord
of the Rings is a *great* example of this; they’re just
announcing the next two films. While entertainment franchises have
typically been focused on the film, what greater opportunity than to
build this sort of experience around an MMO? That community is so much
more loyal and diehard than what you find with films…
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The opportunity to blend
the biggest franchises in the space around both MMOs and movies is an
extremely exciting prospect. I’ve spent a good deal of my
career trying to sort this out, and it goes far beyond the traditional
“movie game.” This is a blending of communities in
a desire to make an “ultimate destination” for
these particular high profile properties.

Steve Preeg:

already a ton of effort in that area. There are all of these assets in
games that are coming up to the point of film where you can start
sharing assets. I think people will still run into the problem of
having an hour and a half long movie compared to a game
you’ll play for months. It just doesn’t work out
that well.

On top of that,
historically gamers don’t really have good attitudes
concerning “movie games,” because the studios had
to spit them out so fast to release at the same time as the movie.
Movies have such shorter cycles compared to games, especially MMO
games, that you’d be compressing development time to an
almost unbearable degree.
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I think
there’s a lot of desire for Hollywood and video games to
merge, but I’m not sure it’s the best thing for
either party. The models just don’t support each other very
well. They’re two conflicting ideas that they’re
trying to shove into the same box. There’d have to be some
major changes in thinking between the two sides if that was ever to get

There you have it folks! We've certainly answered some questions and
come up with a whole lot more in our discussion here. While we may not
see a true merging of Hollywood and the MMO industry for awhile, it
certainly sounds like the potential is there and a number of parties
are actively working towards that goal. What does that mean for gamers?

Only time will tell. Until then, keep on gaming Ten Ton Hammer readers!

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