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Rift's Hartsman: Targeting Experienced MMO Gamers A Solid Business Strategy

As game developers target the mass market, Rift executive producer Scott Hartsman told Gamasutra "you can build a really ridiculously healthy business" by catering
Accessibility in game design is one of the top priorities for many game developers today, as they attempt to reach mass-market audiences that are relatively inexperienced with more traditional games. But Scott Hartsman, executive producer for Trion Worlds' debut MMO Rift, explained to Gamasutra in a new feature interview why making MMOs for experienced gamers is also viable business strategy. "Our biggest challenge is, how do we make a game that's interesting enough for somebody that doesn't really play MMOs, but does get games?," questioned Hartsman. "For starters, I should say that [Rift] is not targeted at people who don't play games. We're not going after the gamer newbie. That's just not it," he said. Hartsman continued, "I think in the year 2011, there are enough hundreds of millions of people that have played games in the world to where we don't really need to worry about going after the FarmVille crowd. FarmVille takes care of them just fine. So, we are going after gamers and giving gamers new experiences." The executive producer also said the company designed the recently-launched Rift so that new players can jump into scenarios that other MMOs might restrict in earlier player levels. Hartsman added that other MMOs have already done the work in training up today's MMO gamer. "If you look at a game like World of Warcraft, how many tens of millions have touched that game in its life? If you look at EverQuest, how many gamers have touched that over its life?" "You can build a really ridiculously healthy business by just making that group of people happy," he said. "If nothing else, we definitely know the audience that we're going after." For the complete insightful and candid interview from Hartsman, read the full Gamasutra feature, available now.

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