There’s been a small buzz surrounding the announcement of Molten Games’ creation, as it involves former executives from three of gaming’s biggest behemoths. The ex-head of Blizzard’s Korean office is CEO Jungwon Hahn, and he’s teamed up with former global head of e-sports for Blizzard Paul Della Bitta and former Sony Online Entertainment and Relic mainstay Blaine Smith. The names aren’t familiar to most people, but even if they were, should it make a difference?
I was one of the few people who wasn’t overly excited when 38 Studios came along and announced its “Big Three” of Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane, and R.A. Salvatore. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t a huge devotee of the latter two’s work, and the first… well, he was a baseball player. I’m a baseball fan, and I’ve even owned Schilling on a few of my fantasy teams, but I didn’t see how he brought anything – other than passion and a lot of money – to the company.
At least the men involved in Molten’s formation have solid video game and MMO experience, and comparing any company to the train wreck that was 38 Studios is perhaps a little unfair, but I still don’t think that any three people, no matter how talented or passionate or high-ranking, truly “make” a video game. I think the same thing generally applies to most large-scale creative works, like movies and TV shows – “From the people who brought you…” There are a few names, like Joss Whedon and James Cameron, who seem to rise above or otherwise have the stroke to force through their vision and acquire a significant cult of personality, but the three co-founders of Molten aren’t on that level.
By the same token, I wouldn’t rush to a negative judgment based on where the three used to work. Maybe you hate Blizzard or SOE, but, just as three men don’t make a new company, neither does one man make an old company. The MMO industry is littered with people who made their impact with one of those giants, and some probably worked on or are working on your favorite game.
It makes sense for Molten to have announced… well, something regarding its creation. And in name-dropping companies like they’re going out of style, they got decent press coverage in a slow week. I’ve written plenty of boring press releases that were just designed to get names out there and provide basic information that weren’t expected to do anything really exciting other than to get people to start the conversation. On that level, Molten succeeded.
Sure, we’re all tired of endless hype for one product or another, and we could all rattle off about six games – probably in the last year alone – that we got tired of hearing about months before their release. Some folks already are jumping onto the hype (“I love Blizzard/SOE/Relic! This will rule!”) or hipster-hate (“Blizzard/SOE/Relic sucks! This will suck!”) trains early, just so they’ll be able to say “told you so” in a couple of years when the game actually shows up.
Me, I’m going to take the “indifference” road, at least until we learn more. Just like with 38 Studios, having a few noteworthy names brought up during a company’s genesis doesn’t guarantee much. At most, I’d expect we might hear about one or two other notable hires – someone in creative, hopefully – from Molten in the next year or so, and if they’re really ready to rock, some hard details about their “AAA title.”
Until then, I think we need to keep our expectations in check. There will be plenty of time to hype or bash the game later.
By Jason Winter