Friday, June 27, 2008

The $50 million question

I mentioned in a comment earlier that I'm near the bottom of a hypothetical list of people most likely to receive $50 million to develop a triple-A MMO. And then I noticed that this might make a good discussion subject: If somebody gave you $50 million to develop a triple-A MMO, how would your game look like? The result should be fun enough to make you want to play your own game, and we'll presume that the $50 million investor wants his money back, so we have to talk business model as well. I propose as template:

Name of the game: (if you can think of one on the spot, otherwise leave blank)
Genre: (in the sense of setting: fantasy, sci-fi, pirates vs. ninjas, etc.)
Short description of gameplay: (especially the unique selling point, what makes your game special)
Business model: (monthly fee, free-to-play with micro-transactions, advertising, etc.)

To give an example, here is the game I'd develop with $50 million. I mentioned it before.

Name of the game: Shandalar
Genre: Fantasy
Short description of gameplay: Shandalar is a 3D virtual fantasy world with many of the classic features of modern MMORPGs: Various zones with cities, wilderness, and dungeons, populated by quest givers, and monsters to battle. The unique selling point is that the combat system is based on trading card game systems: you have a "hand" full of "cards" drawn from a "deck" you built. Every card represents a possible action in combat. As your hand is drawn randomly, every combat is different, even if you fight the same monster repeatedly.
Business model: Free-to-download, free-to-play with a basic deck and common cards you loot from monsters or get as quest rewards. Money comes from players buying "booster packs" containing a mix of rare, uncommon, and common cards, to build better decks. Point out to investor that this business model worked great for Magic the Gathering.

So, how would your game look?

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