Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Q&A, Part Two

The MMO Gamer brings us the second half of their conversation with Mythic Entertainment's Paul Barnett about Warhammer Online and various other topics related to the MMORPG industry.
The MMO Gamer: Which way do you think the market's going, then?

Paul Barnett: New people coming to computer games are playing them, but they're playing them at work in five to ten to twenty minute snatches. They're playing them on their phones. They're playing them in browsers. People are looking for games that are cheaper and easier to get into.

They're not really worried that a game has to give them 500 hours of content. Actually, games are so cheap, you just have to entertain them enough.

Think of it like dollar shops; when you go into dollar shops and you're going to go buy something, you don't really care about the packaging. If it's a crazy monkey whose head flies off and it makes a whistling noise, it only has to be one dollar worth of packaging.

It only has to entertain you for, oh, a couple of minutes. Just enough for you put the monkey in front of someone else, press the button for his head to fly off and make a whistling noise so that the person next to you smiles and laughs.

At that point, it's done its job. It's achieved all the value you ever wanted it to have, and you look at these apps on iPhones that cost a buck-all you need is a buck's worth of game. If you get 50 buck's worth of game, that means you really enjoyed it. More power to you.

The MMO Gamer: So then you're the sort of person who believes that the industry is becoming more bite-sized, casual game focused, as opposed to hardcore AAA title focused?

Paul Barnett: We're getting more casual players, and wider audiences who are less obsessed with the old-school. You've got people who want to have their gaming time defined. (I've got half an hour before I'm going out. I know playing this game will only take half an hour,) or (I've got to put the kids to bed. I know that if I let them play this game, I can say '˜you've got one more level',) knowing that one more level means 30 minutes and you can get them to bed.

The (I want to do stuff before I go shopping, or before the football's on.) The (I want to be able to share that information, I want it to be viral. I want to turn up at work and be like '˜Hey, man, I've been playing this crazy game. Here, I can beam it straight to your mobile.')

You know, people who generally don't have a hardcore computer room can get interested in this idea and understand what it is.

I look at all sorts of interesting things. My boy and girl are currently playing with UBFunkeys, which are these USB connection toys. I look at that and go, (Wow, that's really interesting.)

It's a physical product that's cute and interesting, that connects through a computer, which allows me access to a virtual world. Almost unheard of in game design.

It's made by Hasbro, it's available in all the main shops, and it's selling really, really well.

And you go, (That's where the future's going to come.)

We're going to end up with a new idea and a new concept and the hardcore, the people who didn't sell-out, who remember the good ol' days, are actually turning into the people who talk about the music from the '60s. About how it was all much better then when Hendrix was playing, not realizing that we're going to move on.

What I think is going to happen is faster development of smaller games that last less and that monetize in a frontloaded and different way.

That's going to be very challenging, but also very rewarding and exciting.
Thanks, Celos.