SOE's President Says Execs Who Don't Play Games Shouldn't Be In The Games Business
One of the biggest problems a lot of core gamers have with recent decisions being made in the mainstream industry space is mostly a reflection of “corporate shifting”. The changes usually induce a lot of groans from the core community and a lot of hair-pulling antics that follow. Well, Sony Online Entertainment's president, Johh Smedley, isn't one of those annoying business executives who believes in making decisions about games while having next to no knowledge about them. Instead, he believes that if you don't make games your business by playing them, you shouldn't be in the business. Sounds like my kind of executive.
In an interview with Edge Online, Smedley talks about a number of things, but the article's focus for now was on his adoration for the actual art and entertainment values of playing video games...that's right, Smedley could even be called a fanboy. He dabbles deeply in DOTA 2 and Planetside 2 and he's even part of a guild in the richly populated universe of EVE Online.
In what's probably the best quote from a video game company president since the last time Randy Pitchford opened his mouth, Smedley states that...
“In my opinion, people that don’t play games have no business in this business,” ... “It should be the gamers-only club, I think. I can’t stand people that don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to playing these things.”
Yes, yes and more yes!
It reminds me of the recent fallout over the Wall Street Journal's review of Borderlands 2. A sap who doesn't play video games is reviewing a hardcore, loot-and-shoot RPG. Unsurprisingly enough, the review is from the perspective of a casual gamer who doesn't even understand the sub-genre that Borderlands 2 fulfills, even going as far as to compare it to Call of Duty (all credibility lost right there).
The point is, if you're in a business to carry out aspects of that business you should know it inside and out if you want to be successful. I think that's one of the reasons Gearbox has really come into their own and it's one of the reasons Valve is currently at the top of the crop as a private company who makes billions and caters to fans in a grand way.
Planetside 2 still hasn't officially launched, but Smedley already has an appropriate viewpoint on how to approach the business of the video game business. Playing games is just as important as making them if you really want to see sustained and continued success, otherwise you end up bleeding money like a speared moose in the chilly forests of Nova Scotia...or more pertinent to the matter, you end up tanking hard like Electronic Arts and Zynga.
Since Smedley understands the gaming space from the perspective of a gamer, it enables SOE to adapt much more fluently to the changes at hand happening within the industry, and offer gamers the kind of experiences they're looking for out of progressive interactive entertainment.
Now, I'm not saying SOE has all the answers just because top-end management actually plays and enjoys games, but it definitely puts them in the right light to advance as a company who makes games for gamers because they are gamers. It would also explain why they're one of the few developers and publishers who have managed to stick around since the early days of Everquest. Edge plans to publish the rest of the interview shortly.
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