For those who don’t know, Mark Kern (the former team lead for World of Warcraft) recently left Blizzard to form his own MMO development company, Red 5 Studios. Mark took a brief respite from 24/7 entrepreneurship to answer a few of my questions:
When World of Warcraft first came to market, it succeeded in part by addressing some serious design flaws that plagued other MMORPGs. Now the competition has learned. How will Red 5 distinguish itself from companies like Blizzard, Sony, Ncsoft, Turbine, etc?
Competition is a good thing. We were certainly aware of it on our last project and I think we did well. So, it isn’t a new thing for us. I think World of Warcraft’s design and implementation caught many people off guard. Most felt it was the wrong direction to take and predicted that the game would quickly burn out. They are just starting to absorb the reasons why it worked, while we have the advantage of already internalizing those lessons.
To remain competitive, we will have to stay ahead of the curve, and build on what we’ve already learned. Being small has its advantages, in that we can take greater risks and are nimble enough to change direction quickly if we need to. We are also 100% focused on development. We didn’t want to have to split our attention between making the game and deploying, marketing and operating it like most other MMO studios. This can be a huge distraction.