Today’s post will be quite different to what you are used to, so a brief explanation is in order. When browsing the web, I read through numerous articles, blog entries and feature pieces covering online games and the MMO industry. While some of them are better than others, something struck me – they are all just opinions. We may welcome a variety of commentary to broaden our own knowledge of a subject, to get a different perspective on it or simply, for entertainment. However, all the author is doing, is presenting his or her point of view in a manner that is interesting to read. Whether you agree with it or not, it is usually hard to check the validity of this sort of speculation as it is not based on factual data and substantial evidence.
Which leads me to creating an entry that aims to look and analyze the various shenanigans going on in the MMO world with the use of valid research and proven theories. There are a lot of resources available, so the angle of the story may range from anything business related, to sociology and even anthropology. These words may sound odd and unexpected, but have no fear! Everything will be explained, hopefully without putting you to sleep or inducing sudden coma.
Follow along, for the first part in this market report that takes a look at a software company called Quest Online. The report outlines the current market of online games and the strategies that Quest Online has used in order to pursue success in this environment. The company’s core strengths and advantages are looked at, and opportunities for development and improvements are outlined with a provision of relevant reasons. The material relies on a wide variety of sources, both from the more traditional academic publications such as books and journal articles, as well as a selection of the appropriate media portals that cover the industry of online games.
Table of Contents
Part I: Outline
List of Sources
Quest Online (QOL) was a company envisioned and co-founded by David Allen, who aimed to create online games that thousands of people around the world could enjoy. Allen formed the core team, as well as secured the necessary funds from a group of investors in order to work on the company’s first product – Alganon.
At the time, the market was becoming increasingly attractive to potential entrants due to a recent increase in size and relevance, as more people of different age, gender and social make-up tuned to the addictive and engaging experience. The title that was almost single-handedly responsible for this phenomenon was World of Warcraft, created by Blizzard Entertainment. The game managed to embed accessibility of gameplay in a product that traditionally has been served to a niche market segment due to its complexity. As a result, WoW attracted more than 10 million users and became the largest player in the market, ensuring its leadership position.
Alganon is a massive-multiplayer-online game with role playing elements that allow a large number of concurrent users to interact with each other and the game world that they inhabit. According to Wikipedia, most MMORPGs tend to have common features such as some form of progression, social interaction within the game, in-game culture, system architecture, and character customization. Allen envisioned Alganon as a game that took the best examples of these features from the already available titles and wrapped them in an interesting and engaging setting.
Gerry Johnson, who is Professor of Strategic Management at Lancaster University, and his colleagues, describe corporate strategy as the ‘direction and scope of the organization over the long term, which achieves advantage in a challenging environment through its configuration of resources.’ The corporate strategy for Alganon was to secure the necessary funds (which it successfully achieved) and to create a product that included well-established design features popularized by World of Warcraft. And also to provide more emphasis and focus on the community aspect of the game and its unique story. By doing that, QOL hoped to use the knowledge and expertise of its developers to their full advantage.
In summary, the core aim was to differentiate Alganon enough that players would feel interested to try the game, while also keeping the same addictive quality that proved so successful for Blizzard. Another benefit of this strategy was that the company avoided the cost of researching and innovating with a new product that required the kind of experience that the majority of developers simply did not have. It also allowed QOL to concentrate on the tactical use of the team’s capabilities in order to introduce features that made the game more attractive to the potential player base as well as align its core strengths accordingly.
To be continued in Part II…