Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, John Staats, former 3D level designer at Blizzard, has published a diary about the development of World of Warcraft (Vanilla version). In addition, he regularly writes essays for Wowhead, in which he gives insight into his time in the WoW team. In the current part, he looks at the questionable relationship between developers, publishers and the press during this time.
In weekly on Wowhead In essays, former blizzard designer and vanilla WoW developer John Staats gives insights into his time with the WoW team (buy now for € 32.95) and regularly gives moody anecdotes to the best – which you can also finance in your Kickstarter World of Warcraft Development Diary (Vanilla Version) can read.
In the current issue John Staats looks back on the questionable relationship between developers, publishers and the press during this time. We have summarized the most important findings from the essay below:
- When John Staats came into the games industry (late 90s / early 2000s – Vanilla-WoW was his first professional project) he saw a questionable relationship between developers, publishers and the press. In his experience, magazines and websites at that time rarely had negative reports because they didn't want to mess with the developers and publishers. The journalists served as another PR capacity, and since they mostly had no experience in the developer area, it was usually easy to navigate past difficult questions.
- In a way, the press helped some companies shovel their own graves – because the press often reproduced unfiltered everything that was promised in appointments. In the MMO area in particular, things were often announced that simply could not be implemented. As an outside developer, you could only shake your head because you knew that what they promise will never work.
- A member of the WoW team told John Staats, for example, that he had to take false promo screenshots from his previous employer. That was probably common there. Likewise, representatives of the press from major games websites were apparently only clapped with a cinematic trailer to award their games with awards in advance, even though the journalists were not shown any in-game material at all.
- The MMO bubble grew tremendously after Everquest's success. Everywhere, studios wanted to develop an MMO and get a piece of the cake. However, the development was expensive and a great risk. Investors only knew with certainty whether their money was well invested when the finished game was released – also thanks to the uncritical press articles about their project that had been published in advance. In fact, some developers specifically used the press to encourage investors to put even more money into the game through positive reporting.
- All in all, a lot of stupidly invested money ended up in the MMO bubble. Many dubious projects were given the green light by ambitious but unsuspecting decision-makers.
- It is remarkable that the publishers were often portrayed as the bad guys. Studio closings or mishandled employees have been reported. But when was a developer pilloried because he wanted to convince potential investors with false promises for his own project ?!
- During this time, the WoW team was actually worried that these dubious MMO projects could make the genre mad for the target group. So mad that Blizzard won't be able to encourage enough people to get a monthly subscription to their WoW. This fear should ultimately turn out to be unfounded …
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