CCP chief on layoffs, mistakes: "We had the mindset that we could achieve anything."
Last week, CCP announced major layoffs and a significant shift in priorities away from Vampire: The Masquerade-themed MMO World of Darkness and back toward EVE Online.
We had a long chat with CEO Hilmar Petursson about the changes, and where they leave CCP. He explains why CCP is narrowing its focus, and says that it was "hubris" that led CCP astray.
PCG: I know a lot of people are curious about where this leaves World of Darkness. You're a little vague in the press release. What's the plan for that project moving forward?
Hilmar Petursson: We as a company were trying to achieve many impossible things at the same time. We were fighting on many fronts, and that has now resulted in us not really being able to get through [all] that. We need to focus more. So now CCP becomes much more focused on the more classical aspects of EVE Online, and getting Dust out there, and working the connection between those two games so that they add value to one another.
WoD development will definitely slow down during that process. We have a team in place which will continue month after month on that project, but it's still becoming less of a priority for CCP overall. And I am not sure, really, how much of a delay for WoD it really is, because the way we were going about this was also a very long road of getting WoD out to market. We were developing a common platform and re-integrating it into EVE and WoD at the same time. It was just a very ambitious plan.
So it's difficult to answer at this moment. The team is definitely going through scoping WoD and seeing what makes sense to make as a plan for WoD.
Like a lot of PC gamers, when I think of EVE Online, I don't necessarily think of it as a fictional universe so much as a community of players. Superficially, it would seem that CCP is an MMO company, and many of your strengths would have pointed to making a game like WoD rather than moving into a console shooter like Dust. Let's say you came to this crossroads a year and a half ago, and you had to choose which of these projects to focus on. Would you still choose Dust?
HP: That's a very hypothetical question. I'm not sure I have a good answer to that.
Dust has a lot of MMO components. It has a lot of persistence and character progression, and elements like that which are born out of EVE. Dust is much closer to EVE Online than we ever thought we would be able to do. So you could say that Dust actually adds tremendous value to EVE Online in terms of the connection between the two games.
So we look at it as there is one EVE universe that has many approaches to it.
What kind of involvement do you think EVE players are going to have with Dust? Certainly many of the EVE players I know have practically married to the game. DO you see many of them crossing over and becoming a part of the Dust community as well, or do you see them as being two separate communities that will exist in the same universe?
HP: I think initially, it will be separate communities just because the audiences are different. But we have also seen a lot of interest from EVE players, current or previous players, on trying out Dust. But after the release of Dust the game will continue to become closer and closer. So I think over time, the communities will become closer and closer. But it is also to be said ...[that] even the EVE community itself is many different things.
Have you given serious thought to an eventual Dust PC release?
HP: We can't really comment on that at this time. Currently we're just super-focused on making an awesome PS3 experience. That's really our priority right now. Part of our mission now is to just focus on fewer things and doing them well.