SOE talks cultural naivety

MMO genre has moved on.

Sony Online Entertainment business development chief David Christensen believes we're all a little bit na´ve when it comes to other cultures than our own.

He was speaking following the unveiling of the publisher's new MMO, which takes inspiration from a holy Hindu poem, and aims to promote awareness of the religion to Western audiences.

"Unfortunately I think most people - not just those in the gaming industry - are a bit na´ve when it comes to any culture but their own, which is precisely why SOE believes it is of the utmost importance to partner with local talent in every foreign market we enter," David Christensen told Eurogamer. "To be successful in a territory you have to think like the consumers there."

Virgin Comics will be joining SOE on the project, and will be using its Ramayan 3392 AD publication as the basis for the game. This retells the ancient story of the Ramayana in a futuristic science-fiction setting.

The game is being built predominantly for the Indian market, but Christensen believes it will find success around the world and might help teach us a thing or two in the process.

"The game is being developed in India for Indian gamers, but we expect it to be a success worldwide; to anyone that enjoys a rich and colourful storyline," continued Christensen.

"The comic Ramayan 3392 is meant to be entertaining, but at the same there are lessons in honour, duty and karma to be learned from it. I'm hopeful we can capture some of those lessons in our game."

It's all part of Sony Online Entertainment's plans to offer new gaming experiences to the MMOG audience. Christensen feels that although there is still space for high-fantasy games like EverQuest, in general the genre has moved on.

"I think it's more accurate to say we've moved on from the traditional model of MMOGs. There are many multiplayer games today that have a 'massive' number of players, all competing for the time of potential customers," he added.

"SOE firmly believes we need to create games in new genres, and also bring new types of gameplay experiences to them; The Agency and Free Realms are examples of these beliefs."

The MMO based on Ramayan 3392 AD is yet to enter development, and Christensen expects 2010 is a likely release date - although he insists it will be given as much time as it needs to ensure maximum quality.

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