David Reid Joins Motiga [Interview!]

Newly-appointed Senior VP of Publishing David Reid chats with us about Gigantic.

David Reid has an interesting past. Between his time in the military, his four years guiding Xbox's marketing through its prime, and several other senior marketing positions, he has become an exceptionally insightful guy to talk to. Most recently the Chief Marketing Officer at CCP Games (EVE Online), he's now with an up-and-coming powerhouse: Motiga, developers of the promising Gigantic.

We had a chance to chat with David, settling into his new position as Senior VP of Publishing. If you're curious about Gigantic, already love the game, or just like industry insight...this one's for you.

See Also: Motiga Press Release


CC: Hey David! Thanks for the chat. Have you had a chance to play Gigantic yet, and if so...were you any good?

DR: Hah! Was I any good? That's a matter of taste, right? I hold my own okay! I don't think you need to be a guy who's at the top of the competitive rung at any of these genres to feel a certain amount of familiarity with what the game's about. There are very familiar aspects of the game if you're an MMO PVPer, a First Person Shooter player, a MOBA player, but...the package together takes a lot of elements. There's enough difference in the verticality of the maps, the destructible environments as the Guardians go raging, etc.

It adds a new strategic element to things, and again, not in a way that's like "Ugh, I've gotta relearn a whole bunch of different stuff." For people who have been playing a lot of these games, familiar with the 5-on-5 experience in whichever genre, there are enough differences that'll make you feel there's something fresh and exciting here...and that's on top of the art style, which is very refreshing!

I remember one distinctive moment: there's a particular stairway I was planning to get to with a Sniper-type character, and the Guardian rolled through, and the stairway was gone...and it's like "Where do I go?" I just kinda stood there and looked for a minute. "What am I supposed to do now?" And it's a moment that you don't experience in a lot of games.


CC: What has the process been like so far, joining the team and the Motiga family?

DR: It's been a blast! There are a lot of people here I know from my time at previous companies, working at NCSOFT, working alongside the folks at ArenaNet. Being back in this part of the country is 'old hat' to me, both from my time at NCSOFT and my time at Xbox before that. Now that I've come into the company, and not just seen the game from watching lines of people at PAX and the excitement they have, but being in the building as well...it's a very veteran team in all disciplines, including the publishing team that I'm working with now.

It's just really exciting to be in a position where you've got a game, it feels like you've got momentum, you've got excitement, you have something new that gamers are excited about, and there's not some raging fire somewhere in the building about a team that's having drama, or a key thing not working well. It feels like we're really on that right, proper trajectory to get serious about the publishing side of things, to bring the game out to more people, and to not see some of the issues that – frankly – less-experienced developers run into from time to time.

CC: You joined CCP very late in the game's life, a full nine years after it came out. Gigantic only went into Alpha last week. How does it feel to be at the helm of such a brand-new project?

DR: It's a blast! The business has changed a tremendous amount, even in the past two years. One of the big lessons that I learned, and a lot of us who have been in the publishing/marketing discipline for the industry for a while, is the change in how things work. Being engaged with your community is vastly more important than it was many years ago when (at Xbox) you made a game, you put it on a disc, you shipped it into retail, and...you just kinda "price waterfall" it for years after that...and the game is kinda done.

Whereas once you expose the game to the community, you're now actively developing the title with some of them. As you bring people into Alpha and Closed Beta, and into these early-access moments...you're not talking to gamers who nearly want to play your game; you're taking to gamers who want to be a part of developing the game and have an active voice in that. No developer could ever love their game as much as a gamer can, and it's important for us to just keep that connection really, really vibrant! So this is where coming in on...y'know, maybe not quite day one, but early into the process is that the communication, that dialogue, that relationship is forged, it's... a super exciting opportunity!

Thinking about EVE, or thinking about games from NCSOFT, where there were well-established communities...we're in a place now where this is just getting started. The community, its norms, its values, how it wants to engage with the developer and each other, these things are all just being formed now. We really want to make sure we do this right and listen to people. We can't always do everything everybody wants, but you always want to be able to listen and at least have a good pulse on things.


CC: Nowadays in gaming, the term MOBA is a bit of a dirty word. As far as I can tell, Motiga has never referred to Gigantic as a MOBA – instead calling it a "Team Action Game" (TAG). Has that been a very deliberate choice, internally?

DR: Well, it's funny! If you rewind to where Gigantic started, it's the early days of Motiga when the company was founded in 2010. The inception of how to make an interesting game really didn't begin from anything in the MOBA space. It was more heavily influenced by high-end MMO gaming. A number of us came from NCSOFT, one of the big leaders in MMOs. There is a fundamental problem in the (MMO) genre where you spend a lot of time grinding up an early character, hunting rats and doing FedEx quests and what-not, to get the big gameplay at the end! "Now I've got a high-level character, I've got a lot of spectacular abilities with some visual sizzle, the teamplay is much more dynamic where you're really interlocking roles across a group of people to build something bigger than any individual player

And so that influence of being part of a dungeon team or a raid team in an MMO, going out and taking on a big boss with a complementary team, is kind of where the idea came from. Over time, as the development process continued, Motiga realized "Hey, there's something even more fun if each side has a raid boss...as opposed to everybody fighting one raid boss." The influence really is more from other genres than it is from the MOBA genre; I think that's why the vocabulary has moved in that direction.

At some level, you could look at Gigantic and imagine there's a lot of MOBA influence there, but again you could look at it and see a lot of shooter influence as well, and feel a more fast-paced gameplay that is less slave to the tropes of the MOBAs. We don't have these lanes that are kind of fixed, we don't have a bunch of creeps running around...it is a pretty classic PVP kind of experience, and it has a very different feel as a result. I will say that, now that there's a publishing team here now, we do need to get crisp on this vocabulary! It can be very hard to explain to people, whether they're gamers or journalists or what have you, what it is you're doing if you can't come up with some way to describe that.


CC: Gigantic seems to have a lot of potential for drawing in more casual players who might be intimidated by other online PVP games. Will that be a target audience, or is that broad appeal just a byproduct of the game's design?

DR: I do think at a high level, we believe that the competitive style of gameplay doesn't have to be relegated to the most competitive of über eSport athletes. We do think there is a broader opportunity here. It's kind of a "lightning in a bottle" moment when the art style has resonated with people at the level that it has. That has brought the ability to appeal to a larger group of people, as opposed to a deliberate design for appeal to – if you will – a "less intense" gamer.

On our side here right now, we see that coming together, it's something that we want to think about and make sure that we handle properly. We don't want this game to be an "easy" game, but we want it to be an "accessible" game. It's okay for a game to be hard, we just don't want the game to be hard to understand. And it's okay for a skilled player to be superior to a new player who hasn't got the experience, but we don't want that to be a negative experience for somebody who is trying the game out for the first time.

There are a lot of games out there that people...it feels like people aren't playing to have fun anymore, they're playing to prove themselves! *laughs* And that's okay! There's a role for that in what we want to be able to do with Gigantic, but we don't want that to be the exclusion of what we do.


CC: On the opposite end of the spectrum: is Gigantic looking to become one of the major eSports?

DR: We see it as a real opportunity! In the alpha where people are recording sessions, and we're listening to the chatter...it feels like it lends itself on a visual level – and on a strategic level – to being a compelling eSport, if you will. There is a lot more depth and strategy, and just frankly the visuals lend themselves to something more exciting (we think) than some of the other games out there.

It's early, and it's nice to have a spark of that, but turning that into what ultimately becomes a big eSport is...y'know, there's a long way for us to go on there. It's something that we're watching carefully. It's not something that I...I think we have...uhhhh...how would I say, y'know...not a lot to announce just yet!

But we do see something here. There's a real thrill to the game, there's a real excitement in watching kind of that...there's almost like those buzzer-beater moments in Gigantic! We've seen some pretty good comebacks as a fairly regular matter of course. It's great to be ahead, but there is no "Now I can just phone it in for the rest of the game while I'm reading my e-mail" or whatever. This is a game that changes, right up until that last minute, and that also lends itself to the eSport / tournament / competitive side of things.

>> Page 2: Free-to-Play, and the First Year

Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey
Deputy Editor

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