In weekly essays published on Wowhead, former Blizzard designer and vanilla WoW developer John Staats provides insights into his time with the WoW team (buy now 14,99 € ) and regularly shares whimsical anecdotes - which you can certainly also read in his diary of the development of World of Warcraft (vanilla version), funded via Kickstarter.
In the current issue, John Staats looks back on the questionable relationship between developers, publishers and press during this time
We have summarized the most important findings from the essay for you below:
- When John Staats entered the games industry (late 90s/early 2000s - Vanilla WoW was his first professional project) he observed a questionable relationship between developers, publishers and the press. In his experience, negative coverage in magazines and on websites at the time was rare because people didn't want to antagonize the developers and publishers. Journalists served as another PR capacity, and since they usually had no developer experience, it was usually easy to navigate past tough questions.
- In a way, the press helped some companies dig their own graves - because the press often gave unfiltered all that was promised at appointments. Especially in the MMO area, things were often announced that were simply not feasible. As an outside developer, you could only shake your head because you knew that what they promised would never work.
- For example, one WoW team member told John Staats that he had to create fake promo screenshots at his previous employer. I guess that was common practice there. In the same way, press representatives from major games websites were apparently only talked into giving their game awards in advance with a cinematic trailer, even though the journalists didn't get to see any in-game material at all.
- The MMO bubble grew enormously after the success of Everquest. Studios everywhere wanted to develop an MMO and get a piece of the pie. However, development was expensive and a big risk. Investors didn't know for sure whether their money was well spent until the finished game was released - thanks in part to the uncritical press articles about their project that appeared in advance. In fact, some developers deliberately used the press to encourage investors to put even more money into the game through positive coverage.
- The bottom line is that a lot of stupidly invested money ended up in the MMO bubble. Many dubious projects were given the green light by ambitious, but also clueless decision-makers.
- It is remarkable that the publishers were often portrayed as the bad guys. There were reports about studio closures or wrongly treated employees. But when has a developer ever been pilloried for deliberately trying to convince potential investors of the merits of his own project with false promises?
- During this time, the WoW team was actually worried that these dubious MMO projects could make the genre mad to the target audience. So magical that Blizzard would not succeed in encouraging enough people to sign up for a monthly subscription to their WoW. This fear should ultimately prove to be unfounded ...
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