Raph Koster Announces New Studio Playable Worlds, New MMO Already In Development

playable worlds logo bannerA few days ago, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies Lead Designer Raph Koster announced his new game development studio called Playable Worlds. The studio was co-founded together with veteran strategic advisor Eric Goldberg who also serves as the studio’s head of business, strategy, and corporate development. Playable Worlds is already hard at work on their flagship MMO with $2.7 million in seed funding courtesy of Bitkraft Esports Ventures.

Koster reveals a few details on the upcoming MMO in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz. “When I look at what has happened with MMOs, it feels like it's really fallen into a template, and it's a pretty old template,” says Koster. “[. . .] We know from seeing how sandbox-y play has evolved over the decades that online game players want to do way, way more than just that. And those other ways to play really not only broaden the audience, but they make the alternate world really come alive.”

According to Koster, popular sandbox games like Minecraft, Roblox, RuneScape, and Grand Theft Auto Online have had a big influence in what today’s gamers look for in a game. “There's this craving for alternate worlds that are richer than just hack and slashing your way through levels,” he says. “So that's what we're out to build.”

When asked about the current issue of loot boxes, Koster says that he’s not a fan of the “more exploitative” monetization tactics that some developers resort to. “It feels to me like everything we do in a game-as-a-service needs to be driven around the idea that you're building a community, building for the long haul, and building a relationship of trust between the operator and the player,” says Koster. “he fact that we've landed some place where there are lawsuits or legislation around loot boxes tells me we took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.”

Koster also revealed that the game will feature PvP combat but won’t really be an e-sports type of game even though a large chunk of their funds came from Bitkraft Esports Ventures. “Esports ends up being around the players who follow teams,” says Koster. “It ends up being around the passion that drives and the ongoing investment that drives. So when we start talking about the ways we want to build and engage communities, to help them develop over time and build relationships with them, I think that really clicked a lot with Bitkraft.”

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