H1Z1 Boss Believes “The Days of the WoW-style MMO Are Over”

Sony Online Entertainment cut ties with Sony a couple months back, and now the developer begins anew as Daybreak Games. Gamesindustry.biz recently spoke with Daybreak president John Smedley about the state of the company's MMO H1Z1 and the entire genre.

Daybreak has a lot of experience with free-to-play titles, but H1Z1 represents a shift for the studio. The Steam Early Access game costs $20 currently and includes in-game microtransactions.

The new business model speaks to the changing nature of MMOs, which Smedley discussed in the interview.

I firmly believe the days of the WoW-style MMO are over. And that means we have to change with the times. Luckily, we were kind of early on that bus as opposed to late. But we're changing what we're making. Look at H1Z1. Is it an MMO? Sure, by definition, but I would consider it a session-based online game with a lot of people. And I say that because the average life expectancy in H1Z1 might be 45 minutes, and that's what today's gamers want. How many people do you still know that are still raiding in WoW every night, or EverQuest and EverQuest II? It's just the time commitment necessary has changed so much. That means we need to change with the times, and we are. So we're getting interested in a broader array of games and gaming styles.

Although H1Z1 explores new territory for Daybreak, Smedley stills sees value in the free-to-play model, specifically on the new consoles.

"I also think that as a consumer, a gamer, when you go to open your new PS4 or Xbox One, the first thing you're going to look for is what free content is there," he said. "Having that inherently built into the console provides tremendous value, both for us as a publisher being distributed on the consoles, but also for the console at large."

Do you guys still spend countless hours with MMOs, or does the genre need to change as Smedley notes in the interview?