Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Fireside Chat Transcript recently listened in on a "fireside chat" with Visionary Realms' Brad McQuaid at Devcom in Cologne, Germany, during which the EverQuest creator talked about a number of topics around Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, why he thinks players are ready for a modern EverQuest with compelling content, the state of the MMORPG business model, and much more. They've compiled that talk into something of an article-style interview that we can easily consume:
"I think that perception is slowly changing, and we're determined to be at the forefront of changing that opinion," says McQuaid. "It's just something that happens. I don't want to sound all high and mighty but back in the '90s people were saying RPGs were dead - and then Diablo came out.

"People think the RTS is dead, old-style MMOs are dead, that everyone wants an easy game, that no one has an attention span anymore and wants to just hop around. Well, that may be true now that the games space has grown an order of magnitude since Everquest but that doesn't mean the group of players that do want a more involved, social, challenging game don't exist. Maybe since the pie is bigger, they don't occupy as big a space. But they're still there, and they feel orphaned right now, they feel left out."

As such, he describes working on Pantheon as "a great opportunity [to reach] an underserved market", adding: "Even if I wanted to make a hyper-casual MMO - which I don't - it would be going up against Destiny or something like that."

Bungie's sci-fi shared-world shooter - and similar titles like Tom Clancy's The Division - can be argued as another nail in the MMO coffin. The mechanics of a first-person shooter are much more accessible to the masses than comprehensive MMORPG systems, and players still enjoy interacting with millions of fellow Guardians at the same time. Even the focus on farming loot through raids and strikes are similar to WoW's boss fights and instances - and the visual appeal of Destiny compared to traditional MMOs is all too obvious.

McQuaid stresses that this doesn't necessarily present direct competition for something like Pantheon given that his title is aiming for a niche and hardcore audience, but it does highlight some key differences in how such games are marketed today. While Destiny can win players over with short but intensive trailers, MMOs need to go a little deeper.


Business model is another challenge for anyone making MMOs today. From Star Wars: The Old Republic to Wildstar, many titles in the genre have been compelled to transition towards free-to-play. The EverQuest designer is quick to point out he has "nothing against free-to-play" but he remains a firm proponent of the subscription model that has served some of the biggest MMOs so well.

That was all well and good in 1999 when EverQuest was released, but in 2017 MMOs have more than just competitors to contend with when it comes to convincing people to pay a monthly fee. Today's entertainment landscape is awash with subscriptions: Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Apple Music, Xbox Live, PSN, Amazon Prime, your phone bill... the list goes on. In the face of so many monthly payments, how can developers then try to sell another?

"You've gotta make a damn good game," McQuaid says. "You've got to have the compelling content - and that's true of Netflix or anyone else. If they didn't put The Defenders out, I probably wouldn't susbcribe.

"When you think about it, what does it cost to go see a movie or take your partner out to dinner? That's one night and you can blow 20, 30 or 50 bucks. I still think it's a great deal. You just have to convince [the players]."