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Y Control: Joe Ybarra On Cheyenne Mountain's Massive Plans
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Y Control: Joe Ybarra On Cheyenne Mountain's Massive Plans

March 24, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

I was actually talking to Min Kim -- did you see the Visual Fight Club thing that happened?

JY: No, I did not.

It was just him versus Kelly Flock, and they were talking about subscription model versus free-to-play model, but when I was talking to Min earlier today, he said that a lot of people seem to have really the wrong idea about what the free-to-play model is. The game is really a service, not a product. It's like, you're facilitating contact, and the game has to be built from the ground up for item sales. You can't just make a game and then put item sales into it afterward and expect that it's going to be functional. So is that something that you've been building in from the beginning, or is it more recent?

JY: Well in the case of our second product, which is what we're discussing -- our free-to-play product -- yeah, it's been architected from the ground up to support that activity. And without getting into the content of what this game is -- if I able to explain it to you, it would be obvious that, yeah, this is a really good proposition, or content model, for this type of transaction-based environment. Because some games lend themselves better than others do, and what we think is that in our second product, we've got something that is absolutely perfect for this kind of business model.

And, like you said, all online products, regardless of what they are -- MMOs, or peer-to-peer, or whatever -- have a service component to it, and, as you articulated, it really is a service. We look at Stargate Worlds as the example of that; it's that we're not building a product, we're building a real service organization to our customers. Especially if you're in the subscription-based model, you've got to be more added value to your customer than just shipping up a box and connect up to your service. We've know that from the very beginning. And that's a lot of the effort that I'm personally working on now, at Cheyenne, is building that infrastructure.

Are you mostly focused on getting existing licenses, and putting those appropriately into the game space, or will you develop completely original content?

JY: Actually, by accident more than by planning, it's about half and half. Yeah. And I say that it's an accident only because it's just, basically, a product of opportunity. We get the opportunity, like the Stargate property, to do something that we believe we can do something really good with, then we'll do that. But fundamentally, as a developer, it's in our interest to develop original IP. So we really want to focus in on that as well.

Do you think that you're going to have to partner with a publisher at all, in the case of either of these? I don't know if anything has been announced, but it seems like, with your scale, and digital distribution, it might not be necessary.

JY: Well, it's our intent to basically be the operator of the product, in that we run the service, we do the customer support, and all of the infrastructure that's necessary to do that. So a publishing partner, for us, is somebody that will help us with retail distribution, since Stargate will be a boxed product to go along with the service.

And then the other aspect, that goes back to what you're alluding to with a publisher partnership, is the global scale. You know, we can service a certain portion of the world, but we just can't be everywhere at the same time, because we just don't have the expertise or the scale yet. So, that being said, we're hoping to find partners that will help us in other territories, other than North America. And we'll just see how that works. That's another task that I've been working on now, for some time.

When do you think that digital distribution is going to be the dominant model?

JY: That's a good question. I think there still needs to be several precursors that actually have to be enabled before it becomes dominant. I mean, it's already obviously being practiced.

One of the big ones is high bandwidth connections. Because a lot of the product -- especially something like Stargate, which has really high production values -- the size of this, the footprint of this product is gigantic. So if we're going to distribute this across the internet, we've got to figure out a way to get it into the customer's hands in a reasonable time frame. So I think that's one issue.

I think another issue is the actual visibility and marketing aspect of it; because when you turn on your computer, and want to start figuring out different ways of getting content, how do you find it? There's just so much material out there, that I think there's more evolution that will take place in that area as well. So this is just, basically, how do you get brand? How do you get people to come to destination locations and get content? How do those things compete with each other? So I think that's another problem.

Another hurdle is: How do you address the cultural differences from nation to nation? Because people that purchase products in, say, the Asian territory, will behave differently than Americans, who in turn behave differently than Europeans. So you've got this mixed bag of: how do you address all those market choices?

Yeah, and there are serious logistical issues there, too. Like, in Japan, credit card use is not very common. And on the up-side, in Korea, the internet speeds are completely not regulated, so you can have blazing high speed connections there. So it's really quite -- yeah, it wouldn't be simple.

JY: No it wouldn't. No it would not. (laughter)

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

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