David Reid Joins Motiga [Interview!]

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

CC: Going back to your past few years: EVE Online has a monthly subscription, while Gigantic is free-to-play. What might that change be like for you?

DR: It is very different. At some level on the free-to-play side of things, it is easier to bring people in your game. You're letting a consumer drive the car for a while before they commit. It's a very real opportunity for people to play the game and be part of it, without paying anything. The value they contribute to the community – and frankly to the company – is, if you will, the 'content' and the role that they play for all the other players.

And that's a very different mechanic than the subscription mechanic. It's almost as though active gameplay remains the currency, right? If you don't have a game that people want to continue playing, you can't succeed in either of those business models...but that's where the similarities end, in a large stroke. It's not enough to delight a player, it's important to keep a balance: in the free-to-play world, you can't let people buy their way to victory, you have to maintain that social contract of skill-based gaming. It's easy to disrupt the balance in the free-to-play business if you're not careful. And so there are things that we have to watch with a lot more vigilance than we do in the subscription business.

CC: Speaking of free-to-play, which game is the closest match for how Gigantic will earn revenue?

DR: Right at this moment, it's a little early to tell! I would say that we probably are going to, at the end of the day, look a lot more like a Dota 2 or a League of Legends from a monetization perspective than, say, a Call of Duty where you're buying maps, you're buying equipment, things like that. One of the things in this business for us is...for example, the first Halo 2 map pack. We've got to be careful about fragmenting the community with something like having multiple maps in which only certain people can play on.

And so, we don't think that's the model. We do think the model is more along the lines of: you'll have an opportunity to test-drive different heroes in the game, and you'll find the ones that you'll like, and you'll find the ones that are better suited to your playstyle, and you may make a bigger investment there if you choose to. But it is still a little early to say that with anything definitive! But that's kind of what it feels like the experience is more well-suited to at the moment. But, y'know, again – this is a dialogue we're gonna have with the community! These aren't the kinds of things you want to make a big decision about without engaging with some of your thought-leaders in the community.


CC: What have companies with similar games "done right" that you want to do for Gigantic?

DR: You know, there's a lot of answers to that, I think! There is kind of a "classic" model of taking a game to market, building up for a giant launch moment with a very binary switch. It's just one of these giant levers that, y'know...now begins the true launch campaign. As opposed to what you see happening now – which is a little more on the PC side today, a little more on the free-to-play side – of starting with a core community and fanning it out from there.

If anything, we're learning over the past few years that community and engaging with players is, frankly, more important than simply shouting at them through advertising and other broadcast media. It's not that that part of the business is going away any time soon. Gamers are people like everybody else, and we have a ton of things competing for our attention, and you do need to get the word out...but, that word gets out a lot more effectively if you've built the right relationships with your community, and established the right level of trust, and a social contract of sorts with them. So this is where I think the business has changed so much! You can see how a lot of younger companies are nimbly moving into that way of doing things, whereas a lot of the more traditional publishers who have been working with optical media at retail... it's been a harder transition for them. This is what makes being at a company like Motiga great, we can move fast and adjust to that model.

CC: Last question: in one year from now, what will we be saying when we look back at Gigantic's first year?

DR: Hah! *laugh* Well that's hardly fair! But I'll tell ya what I think!

Gigantic PR: Great question!

DR: I would like to think that in a year from now...we're in "commercialization", if you will...not to be unsexy about it. But we're probably in a place where we've moved out of Alpha and Closed Beta, into an Open Beta, and into a much larger group of players. I'd like to think that what you'll be feeling is: people who play the game today, there is a certain sense of joy, and wonder, and awe that I think a lot of games have lost. We got into a business of...the development costs kept going up, the risk aversion of proper companies in the business got higher, and fewer and fewer people were willing to take bets with new genres, new intellectual property, things like that.

I'd like to think that the biggest thing you'll be hearing in a year is like "Whoa! This really is something fresh, something different, something very appealing, something exciting that more and more people are interested in taking part in." You see the real 'heat' in the games business, the things that get people excited these days...it is less of "big budget, console titles that are on every platform and end with numbers because they're sequels to something!" It is happening more in the PC space, with younger developers, that...frankly, don't have 20 games under their belts as a developers, but who have key people that do have a lot of that veteran experience.

I'd like to think that in a year, we'll be seeing Gigantic as a commercial success, and more importantly it's something that you have a vibrant community of gamers around that are saying "Yeah, this is different!" And we've talked about "What genre is this?", "What playstyle is this?", "Who does this appeal to?" All of those things will be readily apparent because you'll have a community of people who have crystallized that for us and with us.


Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey
Deputy Editor

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