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Cryptic's Emmert:  Neverwinter  Business Model Still Up In The Air

Cryptic's Emmert: Neverwinter Business Model Still Up In The Air

August 27, 2010 | By Kris Graft

August 27, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Cryptic Studios' upcoming online co-op game Neverwinter won't be an MMO like the studio's past efforts, but COO Jack Emmert told Gamasutra in a feature interview that a business model with MMO-like recurring fees could still be a possibility.

Emmert said that the Atari-owned developer has yet to announce a business model for Neverwinter, but when asked if Atari and Cryptic would simply "slap a price on the box and forget about it," he replied "No."

Pressed if Neverwinter would have a monthly subscription or implement microtransactions, Emmert said, "I can guarantee you that we envision this as an online product that will continue to grow over time, that we continue to add content to."

He added, "So whether it's subscription fee, whether it's free-to-play, whether it's microtransactions, whether it's pay-by-the-minute [laughs], whether it's some sort of Ponzi scheme that I haven't figured out, I don't know. None of that has been announced."

Cryptic is the studio that created NCsoft-published MMOs City of Heroes and City of Villains. Following Atari's 2008 acquisition of Cryptic, the two companies launched the MMOs Champions Online and Star Trek Online.

Neverwinter, based within the world of Dungeons & Dragons, is a departure for Cryptic, in that it's not an MMO, rather an online co-op role-playing game that allows up to five players in one group. The game is due in Q4 2011 on PC.

Emmert said that with full-on MMOs, it's difficult to convince players to take on another subscription fee. "Now the question isn't 'Do I like this game,' necessarily, but 'Man, am I really willing to pay another subscription on top of World of Warcraft and Xbox Live Gold?'"

But he said that subscriptions will continue to be a viable business model for games of a certain quality. "...There is a threshold to get into the subscription business that requires a quality level that demands a lot of resources," Emmert explained. "That gives you a chance to roll the dice and see whether you're competitive."

"...Even if you spent $50, $60, $70 million in development, that doesn't guarantee success. It gives you an opportunity to roll the dice, whether it's Warhammer or Conan or poor APB. It's a ton of money, but you don't know what's going to happen."

Emmert explains more about Neverwinter, Cryptic's "new direction" and raising the quality bar in a new Gamasutra feature.

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