Garriott exits NCsoft as profits plummet

Space tourist and Tabula Rasa creator wipes slate clean by resigning position at MMOG studio to pursue "new interests"; publisher reports quarterly income down 50 percent year over year.

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Whether it was a spiritual experience or alien abduction, something happened to Richard Garriott in outer space. Less than a month after returning from a 12-day, $30 million stay aboard the International Space Station, the legendary game designer has abruptly resigned his position at NCsoft.

Garriott (r.) and the ghost of MMORPGs future.

"Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space," he mused in an open letter on the Tabula Rasa Web site. "Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests." He then apologized and thanked the game's developers, support staff, and subscribers.

Garriott had been involved with the Korean publisher since 2001, when, after leaving EA-owned Origin Systems, his startup Destination Games was bought and renamed NC Interactive. There, as CEO, he presided over development of the sci-fi massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tabula Rasa, which launched in late 2007 to decent reviews--and widespread technical problems. "I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch," he said in his sign-off.

Garriott's move is the latest chapter in a decades-long career, which began with his creation of the single-player role-playing series Ultima in the 1980s and into the 1990s with his first MMORPG, Ultima Online. While sudden, his exit from NCsoft was not totally unexpected. Despite six years of costly development, Tabula Rasa failed to achieve critical mass, selling just over 61,000 copies at US retailers as of September 30, 2008, reports the NPD Group.

According to an earnings report released today, Tabula Rasa accounted for only 2 percent of NCsoft's revenue, or 1.76 billion Korean won ($1.3 million) last quarter. For the July-September period, NCsoft saw profits fall 50 percent to 5.0 billion won ($3.7 million) on sales of 78.3 billion won ($58.0 million).

Curiously, Tabula Rasa's monthly subscriber figures were omitted from NCsoft's report, which included figures for most members of the MMORPG specialist's portfolio: Lineage (881,979), Lineage II (857,531), and City of Heroes/Villains (124,939). To date, 5.59 million people have activated accounts for the Seoul-based publisher's free-to-play MMORPG Guild Wars.

Discussion

94 comments
EXODYS
EXODYS

A legendary game designer indeed. I'm glad for all the epic games Richard Garriot has given us during his long career, best of luck with his "new interests" :)

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

What a douche; taking a 30 Mill trip to space then just leaving

Docthebutcher
Docthebutcher

VERY common for anything ran by NCSOFT to fail. No customer service, being in bed wth the farmers ( we proved that in lineage 2 ) ripping their PAY 2 PLAY players off. I beta TR I knew it was doomed. Another grind feast from ncsoft. I bet if Blizzard had control of TR it would be a MONEY making game. What ncsoft calls profits is a joke. They claim so much but are always losing money. Good riddens

jknight5422
jknight5422

Looks like Garriott needed to retire from game developing. Looking back at Tabula Rasa now, it seems that he hustled the Korean company to infuse him with a ton of cash to build a game with his name on it. I don't think Garriott cared if he succeeded or not, only that he could get to "fly into space" & then burn the bridge with NCSoft so that he could focus on the most important thing in his life: Himself!

_DeadlyFred_
_DeadlyFred_

Subscription fees are not a catch-all solution for revenue problems. Guild Wars has done very well for the company WITHOUT them. Tabula Rasa, sub fees and all? Not so much. Making people pay monthly does not turn a failure into a success.

Amir29
Amir29

Hopefully he has developed an interest in developing a quality game. It's been quite a while now.

33T_L33T
33T_L33T

They should just create some exclusive content, or add subscription fees to Guild Wars 2...I mean at least then they can have decent updates because they'll be getting a regular income...Guild Wars is an awesome game, and I would gladly pay a small subscription fee

kytomasi
kytomasi

lol 12 days in space. I got banned for Lineage 2 over an stupid fight so w/e i'm glad to see their profits drop. Now they need to shut down.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

Yup, ship is leaking and the man takes a dive for the nearest planet he could find ... so typical of him to do so.

endocrine
endocrine

When you create free mmos that are aweful I am not suprised to see profits plummet

P0T
P0T

TR was horrible. Lots of stuff that was promised in BETA still isn't in the game. It does not have many subscribers, hence them not publishing the most recent numbers. If it was doing so well, RG would not have left. He left a sinking ship

fluxdada
fluxdada

Wow. I guess coming back down to earth can make you realize a lot of things. Welcome Richard.

Lpedraja2002
Lpedraja2002

Guild Wars offers great replayability for what you pay for and so does Wow. The 2 can't be compared fairly.

7_armageddon_7
7_armageddon_7

Guild Wars embodies the great model for no monthly subscription MMO's: excellent game quality, huge replayability, the best online PvP... all for 50$ instead of WoW's 20$ monthly fee (or something like that).

bertm1975
bertm1975

Garriott...come back to Ultima please. A new Ultima game is desperatly needed.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

tabula rasa isnt a bad game guys cut it some slack, its just that no one plays it which makes any attempt to take part a crappy experience. as for lord british himself you may not pass go, you may not collect $200 of monthly fees and you go directly to jail MF

aldrenar47
aldrenar47

You have been slain by Lord British

runstalker
runstalker

All those Tabula Rasa 'founders' subscribers and Dick Garriott fanboys must be happy that their $$$ went to his $30 million space trip and a golden parachute severance package from NCsoft. Nice investment. Some would say he has abandoned you, like Brad McQuaid abandoned his Vanguard people after launch, like Bill Roper abandoned his Hellgate faithful. These old-timers are getting burned-out too easily. Makes you wonder how much the games' core designs suffered, eh? Well, they all had their monster hits back in the day.

snakeyes101
snakeyes101

Man this Son of a Biatch is one crazy fool!!

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

There's no doubt that there will be a GW2. But how good will it be?

snowyjoe
snowyjoe

I hope Guild Wars is still going to continue. I was really looking forward for Tabula Rasa..... but yeah.... wasn't that great.

runstalker
runstalker

Has nothing to do with Guild Wars 2 or ArenaNet (a.k.a. NCsoft's saviors). I'm still confident GW 2 is going to be a breakthrough because those ANet fellows are so damn smart. Most of the core WoW game you know and play today is a result of ANet's founders' programming and game design. Smart cookies, great artists, fantastic grasp of PvP. Can't wait to see the Guild Wars formula become shared open world in the sequel.

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Yeah Well as someone who played UO for 6 years from BETA all I can say is.... Richard... WTF were you thinking with Crapula Rasa.... Learn the lesson of your past. Make a game that apeals to you and not one you think will apeal to the masses. Your a genius... stop listening to other people!!

jmartin1016
jmartin1016

I liked ultima....... when it came out on nes. I don't think i've played any of his games since then. 61,000 seems like a low number for a game as hyped as Tabula Rasa. I guess there is only so much room for MMORPG.

wayanbros
wayanbros

whats with choosing 1? WHAT IS WRONG

TheRez
TheRez

To those dismissing Lord British's departure as not being able to effect Guild Wars 2... I would like to remind you of the impending consolidation of non-Asian NC holdings into NC West. While I doubt his departure will have any direct effect on the game's development, the merger would put more pressure on the development team to release GW2 sooner to make up for the declining profits in NC's Western holdings. As for the news of Lord British's departure from Tabula Rasa and NC... I'm sad to see him go, especially with the progress the game has made since beta, but wish him the best in his adventures--whatever they may be (crosses finger for new single player RPG, or venture capital into space tourism)

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

@ DataDream & @ OldSchoolPlaya: Gygax was awesome. A truly great guy that loved what he did. He even hosted several gaming sessions at his house in the months before he died. It was great to see and hear his passion and love for the fans. He always seemed so genuinely interested and pleased whenever someone would say, "I became an RN because I always was the cleric in D&D" or that D&D helped actors find their voice and experiment with portraying characters different from their own psyche. He loved to hear how his game had influenced people in so many different ways. RIP Gygax, you will be thoroughly missed.

/roll 20

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

@ Gorgut: The article never said NCSoft developed Guild Wars. They just mentioned that GW is part of NCSoft's revenue, which is true with NCSoft being the publisher and all, and that GW's number of activated accounts was included in NCSoft's subscriber figures report.

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

Too bad the game never really gained enough steam. It had a lot of great ideas, but I never played it because of all the word of mouth about broken and buggy gameplay. NCSoft should be fine. Guild Wars 2 will net NCSoft enough profit to offset the lackluster sales of Tabula Rasa. Best of luck to Lord British in whatever it is he is planning up next.

BelmontMaster
BelmontMaster

I doubt this will do anything to Guild Wars 2.

geist9049
geist9049

garriott had nothing nice to say about the guild wars franchise and the free play system. if anything, his sudden departure is a boon to the guild wars universe.

snaggleoooo
snaggleoooo

It's good to see there's a lot of love for Guild Wars 2 here. I doubt it'll affect Guild Wars 2 in any way. GW2 (and GW) is produced by ArenaNet anyway, so there's nothing really to worry about.

DFalcon999
DFalcon999

I think Guild Wars 2 will be unaffected by this, if it does die it will be due to entirely different circumstances. I don't see this being healthy to Tabula Rasa's future, though. Who knows? Maybe he'll do the spiritual successor to the Ultima series from here, maybe bribe EA into giving him Ultima back...

feliscele
feliscele

If they cancel GW2 I am going to be...very, VERY angry.

Lord__Darkstorn
Lord__Darkstorn

Guild Wars 2 had better come out w/out subscription fees or I'll FREAK!

DarKage13
DarKage13

O.o I really hope it doesn't have an effect on Guild Wars at all...

ThePope2k6
ThePope2k6

The diffrence is that Bill Roper really only had a couple of hits. Richard Garriott was instrumental in getting this industry off the ground. No comparison at all...

THA-TODD-BEAST
THA-TODD-BEAST

Just like what happened with Hellgate: London; only replace that game with Tabula Rasa and Bill Roper with Richard Garriott. It's sad, really.

Gorgut
Gorgut

Richard garriots departure from NCsoft does in no way affect the development of GW2. GW2 is made by ArenaNet, not NCsoft btw. (can't belive they got it wrong in the article aswell lol)

Intrakitt
Intrakitt

30 million cheeseburgers for Africans? How stupid are you? If you gave starving people that many hamburgers their stomaches would literally explode. Idiot.

ThePope2k6
ThePope2k6

So apparently a game development LEGEND isn't allowed to have a game flop. If he does that makes him a fraud.. That's ridiculous. Few developers have had the influence that Garriott has had (and it's doubtful that any of today's superstar devs will in the future). As far as I'm concerned, he's earned the right to do what he wants with the money that he's rightfully earned and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

I also like how people cry when wealthy individuals do something they enjoy with their money instead of giving it to the poor. That's easy to say when you're not the one who earned the money and it doesn't affect you and your lifestyle. Truth is, anybody else with that money most likely would do very little worthwhile with that kind of money. And besides, how do you know what he donated to charities or not?

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

@Waximizer "1. 30 million bucks for a trip to orbital space. Or 2. 30 million cheeseburgers for hungry africans. I choose 2." So you'd send 30 million toxic cheeseburgers from McD's containing very little nutritional value to starving people? Sounds like a solid plan. Not to mention as soon as it arrived the greedy warlords ravaging the country would steal it anyway.

phase4illini
phase4illini

I think that Mr. Lord British shouldn't be jumping the shark and abandoning a company. Instead, he should be supporting his own efforts and getting himself back to his roots. If Guild Wars taught us anything it's that ncsoft is capable of a great MMORPG experience. With Garriot at the helm, why can't they bring us a fantastic single player RPG experience?

Ghimo
Ghimo

Can't blame the guy, plus it helps him save face since NCsoft would not have to fire him. I would be inclined to leave a company if I finished up an expensive long term project and had no profit to show for it.

tudyniuz
tudyniuz

I was never into Tabula Rasa...

DataDream
DataDream

OldSchoolPlaya- I think that may be because Gygax was the pen and paper GodFather - so most electronic players don't really even know who he is anymore. Which is sad. However you are right - and I actually shed a tear (at least inside) when I heard that Gygax passed. Without him the GodFathers of the elctronic gaming industry (such as Garriott) wouldn't have even known where to begin - if they would've been inspired to do so at all. It shows we are getting up there in years my friend - when early players such as ourselves - continue to see our idols from yesteryear pass away or leave the industries they created. Plus anyone who plays D&D is worshiping the devil - don't ya know?!?! LOL Seriously - remember those times? Or the movie Mazes and Monsters with Tom Hanks - which only further propogated the myths. :P Crazy how accepted our cult like passion for playing games (either pen and paper or electronic gaming) has become in the last 25+ years. It's a good thing it has become accepted and understood though. :)

Merl57
Merl57

guildwars was fantastic