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Feature: An Alternative Model For MMO Design

Alexander "The Mittani" Gianturco is one of EVE Online's most notorious players, and in Gamasutra's latest feature, he lays out how CCP's game differs from mos
Alexander Gianturco is better known as "The Mittani" -- one of the most notorious EVE Online players, and in Gamasutra's latest feature, The Icelandic Model of MMO Development, he lays out how CCP's game differs from most on the market. Gianturco delivered an intriguing and well-received talk on the topic of EVE's espionage metagame at the most recent GDC. Writes Gianturco, "Launching a MMO isn't an easy business. The vast majority of subscription-model MMOs fail, with the signature 'death spike' of a surge of players at launch and reciprocal mass exodus once the first free month of playtime ends, followed by a humiliating and slowly declining subscriber plateau. "Corporate resources are re-allocated away from the ailing title, and eventually the plug is pulled on the servers. As the market has become increasingly competitive, the life cycle of MMOs has grown ever shorter." The alternative, he says, is to stop pursuing ever-increasingly costly linear content and move to a systems-based design -- a model which flourishes most in EVE Online but which could map to many styles and themes of MMOs, were it tried, he argues. "[Endgame content] doesn't necessarily have to be a PvP sandbox such as EVE's; the sandbox can be cooperative, as seen in A Tale in the Desert. The sandbox is critical because it gives the players something to do to amuse themselves immediately after a minimalistic launch while revenue and new features are being developed," he writes. "Too many developers with great ideas are intimidated away from creating intriguing MMO titles by the daunting startup costs of following the dominant blockbuster model. It doesn't have to be this way; just use a different business model! CCP began with a bare $2.6 million in funding," he concludes. The full feature, The Icelandic Model of MMO Development, is live today on Gamasutra.

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