Exclusive: Will Wright On Accessibility, Future Of The Industry

As part of Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer's April 2006 issue, which recently debuted at Game Developers Conference 2006, Maxis co-founder and Sim C...
As part of Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer's April 2006 issue, which recently debuted at Game Developers Conference 2006, Maxis co-founder and Sim City and The Sims creator Will Wright has taken a rare opportunity to discuss the state of the game industry and the remarkable success of his game titles. As part of a full-length interview, and talking about just why The Sims, which has now sold more than 58 million copies as a franchise, is quite so popular, Wright suggested: "A lot of gamers treat games kind of like movies. They'll buy a game, play it for a couple of weeks, put it away and buy the next game." In contrast, he postulated: "For our Sims players, it's more like a model train set. It's more like a hobby they pick up, and they can play it month after month, year after year, which is why I think we ended up with such a high tie ratio on our expansion packs." The Maxis co-founder also tackled the subject of appealing to a wider market, pointing out: "I think by catering to the same circle for so many years, we've forgotten what it's like for someone to play their first game. And we're catering to those [same] people over and over, especially with the sequelitis. In other words, if I do a sequel, if it's World Of Warcraft 2 or 3, or Civilization 4, the general idea is "let's take the last one and add more features." And for the people who played Civ 1, 2, and 3, that's OK - that's just what they want." But, he suggests: " some point you're closing the door to new players, because you forget how much there was to absorb [in Civ 1]. If you jump right into Civ 4 having played very few games, it's a pretty damn daunting experience." Finally, Wright took the opportunity to discuss exactly if and when the game business will become a truly universal phenomenon, commenting: "The game industry is at what feels almost like a painful transition point, where we're just on the verge of being mass-market, but not quite. On the other hand, time is on our side there. The people who are not playing games are getting older every day and are going to start dying off." He concluded of this shift to the mainstream: "The average age of players goes up about four to six months every year. I think that's going to happen, and at this point it's kind of irreversible." [Wright's interview, which also references his development methodology, his 'Stupid Fun Club' experiments and his major academic influences, is available in the April 2006 issue of Game Developer magazine, currently available for paid subscription at the official magazine website. In addition, a special extended bonus version of the Wright interview, with exclusive information not available elsewhere, is available solely with the Game Developer Digital version of the issue - it's also possible to purchase the digital version of April 2006's magazine as a single issue.]

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