In an in-depth new Gamasutra interview
, Cryptic's Bill Roper discusses World Of Warcraft
's unprecedented success, suggesting that its 11 million subscribers is a "totally ridiculous goal" for MMO creators.
Although Roper never worked directly on World of Warcraft
, the Blizzard veteran and key figure on the Diablo
franchise recalls how anxious the atmosphere was at the game's launch, when the team realized they'd have to gain nearly 1 million users to earn their investment back -- in an era when the most popular MMO, EverQuest
, had only about 345,000.
"How are we ever going to do that?" he recalls wondering at the time. "Then, it was like, 'Wow, can
we do that?' 300,000 was a ridiculous number."
Of course, the rest is history -- WoW
is now one of the most successful games of all time, with over to 11 million users.
But Roper, who went on to co-found ultimately ill-fated Hellgate: London
creator Flagship Studios, sees a downside: "People look at the success of World of Warcraft
-- publishers or fans, everybody looks at the success of that -- and they go, 'Oh, well, a great MMO? That's 11 million.'"
"No, that's one," he says. "That's one game that's done that. No one else in the West has been even close. And I think it's challenging from the standpoint that gets looked at as an expectation or a goal to hit. It's a totally ridiculous goal to try to be hitting -- 'Oh, we're gonna go build an MMO that's going to compete with that.'."
"I don't think any game at Blizzard, we never sat around and said, 'Oh, we're going to sell six million copies of the game.'"
In the full feature
, Roper discusses his work at Cryptic on MMO Champions Online
, plus a career retrospective that includes everything from recruitment to the painful lessons he's learned -- and how failure can teach you more than success (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).