Saturday, August 15, 2009

Did WoW contribute to the demise of Ensemble Studios?

Like many, I was shocked when Microsoft announced the closure of Ensemble Studios. But I began to understand when Dusty Monk blogged about the effect World of Warcraft had on the folks at Ensemble Studios (Lessons from Titan – 2 Years on a cancelled MMO):
In 2005, pretty much all of Ensemble Studios was enthralled with World of Warcraft. We all were playing it pretty much every night. We were talking about it all day. And we were, to a man, convinced we could build that game and more. And therein lay the key. We wanted to build that game.

Microsoft has devoted most of its gaming efforts of late to the console market, and on PC, it has canceled or sold off its MMO projects. Apparently it wasn't good for Ensemble to be enamored of a type of project with little appeal to its owner, Microsoft.

I ran across this back in April or so, but Syp's recent item about NCsoft's modest goal for Aion to be the number two MMO after WoW prompted me to post this. Like Microsoft in the 1990s, WoW is the 900 pound gorilla whose MMO market share has attracted numerous competitors who haven't succeeded in grabbing its share. Unlike Microsoft, though, Blizzard hasn't used underhanded tactics, and has thus far maintained its share legitimately.

The example of Ensemble Studios may prove that NCsoft has the correct goal for Aion.

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