What made you guys take up the Unreal engine? What happened with Renderware?
WG: Renderware didn't get the next-gen parts that we needed. We actually underestimated Epic early on. They told us, "We're going to do this, this, and this," and we thought, "Eh, it's going to be kind of hard." We also overestimated our team, then we looked up three months, six months, and nine months later and said, "Whoops, we underestimated Epic. Again. And overestimated our own team." We had a couple of teams that were waiting on Renderware. We probably stuck with it too long.
The dev studio in Japan just closed down. You're still just doing localization, right?
WG: We've got a little bit going, but we've failed a few times. I've been at EA long enough that it's really exciting when some of our skills and properties and processes can translate over in a market that we have a low share in. I remember when it seemed unlike we'd ever get into the video game business. Sometimes we buy our way in, and sometimes we invest our way in. So we'll see [how it goes] in Asia, but our market share there is low and the market is booming.
You mentioned recently that your favorite game is World of Warcraft. Why is that?
WG: There's a couple of reasons. For one, it's the best delivery of fantasy. The second is that I'm in a guild with my favorite people from work and I see them every night. It's the same way that my daughters talk to their worldwide friends on Facebook every night.
What got me into the business in the first place was that I once had a teacher ask, "If you could do anything and money was not an object, what would you do?" I said, "I'd like to try being an actor off-Broadway." I like that experience of being a protagonist of a really good story, but having a computer control the rest, because working with the other actors in stage is a total pain.
The next thing is that I did stand-up poetry readings in college. One was about sitting in a room in front of a piece of glass, and I could look into the glass and travel anywhere, including through time. To me, that's what online gaming does. It's a protagonist in a cool story in a virtual world delivered through a piece of glass. I have three characters that are 60+ priests, because I like buffing and healing people. I've got others, but I stick with the priests. I tell parents that being an officer of a successful guild is the best possible new media management experience that you can have.