Daily Archives: April 13, 2013

Camelot Unchained and the Mark Jacobs Interview

As I wrote about the Lord British “most game designers really just suck” interview, there seems to come a point in Kickstarter campaigns where pledges start to slow down, where all the likely suspects are on board, and now the whole things needs a spark to get more attention.

One way to get attention is to give an interview with some juicy quotes that will generate some mild controversy.

So Lord British happily and knowingly pissed all over a bunch of people in the games industry in pursuit of that attention.  That he came back and rather unconvincingly claimed he was taken out of context was a clear indication that he went too far for that goal.

When I posted about the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter launching, I asked, in more of a poke at Lord British than in a serious expectation that it would occur, if we were going to an interview from Mark Jacobs where he insulted people.  He was kind enough to post a comment here that such behavior was not his style.  But I still wondered if an interview with a good, headline generating quote might not be in the offing for that time when the momentum started to slack.


Well, the time seems to have arrived.  After hitting the halfway point, the million dollar mark if you will, earlier this week, there has been a noticeable tapering off of pledges.  Time to stir the pot.  Time for Mark Jacobs to speak to the press.

And what headline we get?

Free-to-Play Headed Towards an “Apocalypse” in 3-5 Years Time

That was the money quote from an interview over at VG24/7.

Certainly that was a good quote.  It implies a disaster for what has become the MMO industry’s dominant business model.

And the interview certainly goes into some things that have been covered before.  The days of free-to-play being a differentiator are gone.  The first blush success of DDO and LOTRO going to the model has been replaced by the need to constantly escalate the pitch to get people to buy things from the cash shop.

And by saying that Camelot Unchained wants to focus on the people willing to put up the money to subscribe, he brings up by implication one of the more annoying bits about free-to-play.

Free-to-play games also focus on those willing to put up money… but that is usually through the inevitable cash shop.  And so games on that model have to keep coming up with the next big thing to push, and it becomes harder and harder not to just sell game impacting power.

As for the apocalypse of the quote, I think we are already on the cusp.  Games following that business model are already folding up, some before they even launch in North America and Europe.  It is no longer good enough just to be free-to-play.

What I think we will see in 3-5 years is an actual good understanding of what it takes to make a successful free-to-play game.  Knocking off WoW and bolting on a cash shop will no longer cut it.  We will understand when somebody says “free-to-play” what it really means, or at least what various flavors of the business model mean.

As for the purpose of the interview, bringing attention to the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter, do you think this is going to be enough?  Two million dollars is still a long march away.