Emmert compared the model he's emulating with one of his own addictions. "I'm a huge comic book collector and in my office I have all these statues and each statue is a couple hundred bucks and you come in and say 'You must have spent a lot of money on it.' 'Yeah, I love comic books, that's what I love.' They put those statues out, not for everybody but for the people who really love comics. That's what we want to do with our microtransactions."
One of things that will make Neverwinter feel exceptional is the concentration on allowing players to make user generated content using robust MMO tools provided by Cryptic. You will be able to craft any kind of story or quest in the game and other players can find it and play the content you created. "If you played Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, the tool sets they used to create campaigns are similar to the tool sets that we're presenting but we're taking on the hard part," Emmert said. "You don't have to set up your own server, it's on ours. You don't need to create any art objects, you're using ours. You're writing the texts, the missions, you're assigning various AI behaviors, you're able to create your own campaign settings, your own worlds within Neverwinter."
I immediately became frightened that a lot of microtransations would be bundled with these tools, forcing you to fork over cash if you wanted to, say, include a certain type of NPC. Emmert assured me that wasn't the case at all. "We never want to do that. We never want to charge the creators, because they're making the game more alive," he said. "I'd rather have everybody playing even if they're not paying. Because the more people that play, the better chance that I'm going to find people who really want to spend money in the game."
Emmert open my eyes to what it's like to be the CEO of an MMO company nowadays. Despite the negative attention mainstream gaming news sites have heaped on the recent failures like The Old Republic and 38 Studios' Copernicus project, many games still manage to not only be profitable, but also entertain millions of players. The future of MMOs is not as bleak as it may seem.
"I see the MMO industry a little bit different because I think there have been some high profile problems and people attribute that to the entire industry," Emmert said. "MMOs are hard to make and the bust rate for an MMO is probably no better or worse than a console game or a mobile game." Many predicted that we'd never see a major MMO released again, but that's just not true. "Right now you've got Elder Scrolls Online, you've got Neverwinter, you've got WildStar, Marvel Heroes all launching soon. Marvel Heroes, I think, is launching in June. We haven't announced our launch date but it's soonish. So actually I think this is, a lot of MMOs are launching and I think the effect of things like 38 Studios kind of over hyped [the failures]."
MMOs are far from dead, but they may just operate under far different business models than we've traditionally seen. If Jack Emmert is right, the free to play model may just free up even veteran MMO companies to just make a game that's "Fun-2-Play." (Trademarking Fun2Play as we speak.)