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Q&A: Will Wright on the rules of Stupid Fun Club

Posted by ballightning on April 9, 2009

After todays shock announcement that Will Wright is leaving Maxis, Gamespot has interviewed Will Wright on why he left, what he is planning on doing, and a bit on Spore.



GS: Why choose now to leave EA and strike out on your own venture?

WW: It’s something that we’ve been in talks with EA for almost a year now, so for me it’s kind of a long-term plan and I was just in no hurry to do it. We’d been developing a lot of these concepts within the Stupid Fun Club and people would come by over the years and say, “That’s great, I would buy that.” It got to the point where venture capitalists were offering us real money to fund these projects.

With Maxis, I’d already been down the whole take VC money, do the IPO, do the acquisition thing.. I saw a lot of dysfunction in that model that was interesting to experience once but I didn’t want to go through it again.

As I started talking to EA about this, we started realizing they were very interested in the game properties coming out of this. We started exploring the idea of them funding the Stupid Fun Club as a VC would, but because their interest is in the game properties coming out, they have no interest in us becoming liquid and doing the IPO and all that. So we basically got EA to come in as our VC without committing to a path to liquidity. So we can keep the group very small and very focused and not deal with that whole business path.

GS: With your last big project for EA, Spore, there was discussion about whether or not it lived up to years and years of expectations. Did it live up to your expectations?

WW: My own expectations were always more on the toy side of Spore and getting fans involved. And we’re still learning about Spore from what the fans are doing with it. In terms of the content, what the fans have done with it vastly exceeded our expectations.

It’s kind of like The Sims 1.0. When it first came out, we learned a huge amount over the first few months about what players wanted and the directions they wanted it to go and The Sims incrementally improved with each expansion pack. We were adding in features the fans were requesting the most, and we’ll be doing the same with Spore as well. So in some sense, this is the point the fans get to come in and vote on the direction of the franchise.

Actually, Spore’s done very well with EA internally, based on their forecasts within a very tight economy. They seem quite pleased with its performance.

GS: Do you think the years and years of people looking forward to it helped or hurt the game ultimately?

WW: I think it was probably over-hyped, like a lot of games end up being, primarily because the development time was so long. From every project you learn and apply those learnings to the next project. I think there were certain things from Spore that were great, like releasing the Creature Creator early was a big win. But the people who are playing Spore, it’s a very different demographic than we were expecting right off the bat, almost like Sim Ant.

We have a lot of young kids playing Spore, as young as 3-years-old sitting on their parent’s lap describing the creature they want made. This is the type of stuff we learn when we release something. Certain levels weren’t deep enough for the hardcore gamers and we’re going back with the expansion pack and addressing that. But then other markets we didn’t expect at all to be picking it up. We never expected a 3-year-old to be playing with their parents.

Read the full Interview




2 Responses to “Q&A: Will Wright on the rules of Stupid Fun Club”

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  2. simjournexp said

    Ah, some refreshing news and from Will wrights mouth, I’m going over to the Q & A at Gamespot. Also, It’s true, this is the very first of this franchise. I mean look at the first sims, simcity, and spore, and especially the older one, if there’s one lesson we should know Will Wright get’s better and better at developing, and making what we want, and there’s drastic leaps in how the first of a franchise improves by.

    We should all be happy that the games he makes can be expanded, and go in the direction we want, and to have a developer that listens to us, and enables us, and is willing to dream big so that masses can enjoy his work.

    I seriously am interested in the Stupid Fun Club, and have joined the Google Group Stupid thought forum. You can find it on the http://www.thestupidfunclubpage. btw, the page has been changing over the month, and in the last few days. But, I know very well there’s more happening behind the scenes, and before EA even agreed to go 50% in with Will Wright. Developing properties and being a think tank for EA should mean better games, and more jobs, and hopefully, will greatly influence the rest of the game industry in a positive direction.

    People tend to be so hard on the Great, for example Lionhead studios, and the developer Peter Molyneux, but people feel big when they can hide behind a screen, and bash those that greatly work for the enjoyment of the creed and for others, and they make the money to pay the workers, investors, and to get the next game out the door. Why can’t people be happy that these developers are making tremendous games for others to enjoy and the longer they stay and work on course, the more enjoyment they’ve added to the world.

    So, Luv Will Wright’s , and Peter Molyneux’s work, and greatly appreciate those that work for them and with them, and that they’ve set out on a great adventure so we can all enjoy one when pluged in. Thank you both!!(Everyone stop being Jerks!)

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