Gamasutra has a long interview with Mark Jacobs on pretty much everything.
On competing with World of Warcraft:
So do I think World of Warcraft\’e2\’80\’99s success is repeatable today, of course not. Is it repeatable in the future? Well every time I hear somebody say, \’e2\’80\’9coh, nobody will ever touch that!\’e2\’80\’9d A few years later, somebody touches that.
On being borged by EA:
Have I promised EA that we\’e2\’80\’99d be number one? Was that even part of the deal? No. I\’e2\’80\’99ll let you in on something. Not only did I never say we were not going to be number one, I gave them numbers that were so low, and I said you\’e2\’80\’99re going to have to want to partner with us because you like what we\’e2\’80\’99re doing, you like what we already have, and you like these numbers \’e2\’80\ldblquote because I\’e2\’80\’99m not going to tell you that we\’e2\’80\’99re going to get 10 million subscribers. Because if I\’e2\’80\’99d sat here and really believed that we were going to get 10 million subscribers I would have taken my asking price, and multiplied it by 10.
I think that if a game is designed properly, and can be funded by item transactions in such a way that it does not hurt gameplay, and it doesn\’e2\’80\’99t turn the player into just a credit card, then I\’e2\’80\’99m okay with it. What I\’e2\’80\’99m not okay with are games that are designed to be nothing but quarter suckers in the online space. I think what we\’e2\’80\’99re going to see is some games that are designed well, where item sales can complement the game.
On why almost every MMO has swords and orcs:
It\’e2\’80\’99s easier. Fantasy is easier than sci-fi. Want to know why? It\’e2\’80\’99s simple. A gun. What\’e2\’80\’99s a gun, a gun is impersonal. A gun can shoot somebody from across the room. A gun in the future should be able to shoot a room from a mile away. Part of the challenge we found with Imperator is how do you make a combat system based on lasers and energy weapons, compelling to an RPG audience. That\’e2\’80\’99s one of the challenges. The other challenge with a sci-fi game is that fantasy is very well defined in our minds \’e2\’80\ldblquote we all have a vision of what something like Lord of the Rings should look like, what a basic fantasy world should look like. Sci-fi is very different, because you have all these different planets and environments and creatures, that should be otherworldly. But go into Camelot, go into Warhammer, go into Dungeons & Dragons, go into Lord of the Rings, go into WoW and look at a wolf. It\’e2\’80\’99s a wolf. There\’e2\’80\’99s a difference in the wolf, but you look at it, and you say \’e2\’80\’9cthat\’e2\’80\’99s a wolf.\’e2\’80\’9d Same with a dragon, same with a bear, same with almost any kind of monster you can name. Sci-fi, could be anything. And that\’e2\’80\’99s tougher. You\’e2\’80\’99re now creating very original IP. I think that some day someone\’e2\’80\’99s going to get it right. Nobody has yet \’e2\’80\ldblquote nobody\’e2\’80\’99s even come close to getting it right. But when they do, then I think you\’e2\’80\’99re going to see big numbers come out of sci-fi.
I also think there\’e2\’80\’99s something I can\’e2\’80\’99t explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that\’e2\’80\’99s not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that\’e2\’80\’99s not as good online. And I\’e2\’80\’99m not sure why that is.