Acclaim's David Perry has told the Develop Conference in Brighton that studios here in the West are "forgetting all about Asia" when it comes to MMO, to their peril.
They effectively "kiss goodbye" to China, Korea and India which are truly massive markets, "a lot of money down there." Western devs aren't tapping this "as much as they should."
"That's a bit of a scary trend. A lot of developers rushed off to make an MMO but what's happening is they're forgetting all about Asia. They immediately start thinking 'we'll charge for a subscription, we'll put it in retail,' and what they do is kiss goodbye to China and Korea, and India – which is the new China. So they're leaving tons of money on the table," said Perry.
He cited ZT Online as an example, an MMORPG that looks "like it was made ten years ago", but arguing that simplistic games can mean serious money without investment in high end technology. The company is now worth $1.5 billion.
"If you're thinking about that space you want to make sure your games are welcome, there's a lot of money down there," he continued. "They have been going through different generations of trying things with micro-transactions and the thing you must realise if you don't like these ideas, it's fine. Because it's like the Wild West and it's your challenge to create new ones."
Perry also warned against developers over here charging even more for their games, which strikes out those unable to keep up financially.
"I call it the money wall. Each generation we keep increasing our prices and making the wall higher. I'm worried about the next-generation – are we going to charge another USD 10 or USD 20 for a game?" he asked.
"Gamers have to keep climbing over this wall to continue to play. Many gamers and students can't afford to."
"My questions is what if a really good game was free? Halo-quality for free. There's been some really famous household name designers come out of Japan. Are you willing to bet there will not be a named person ever from China, Korea or India?"
"Because if there is, the games going to be free, and it's going to get huge numbers of players around the world. And you can bet investment is going to swing even more aggressively to their market. I can't see it not happening, it's just a matter of time," warned Perry.
A free Halo-quality game from the Asian market? Not anytime soon, but could Perry be right in offering this stern warning to us Western types? Square Enix and Konami are already looking to step away from traditional Japanese thinking, so what of our guys going the other way?