Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight, this month we speak to Jeffrey Anderson, CEO at NCSoft West.
What would you say is your greatest achievement?
I’ve been very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented teams over my thirty-year career in gaming, so it’s difficult to identify my “greatest achievement.” We have been able to do a lot over those years, overcoming many difficult challenges along the way. With that said, I think that my time at Turbine was the most formative in my career.
The company was nearing bankruptcy when I joined, and we faced long odds against many larger, well-funded companies like Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Sony. Nevertheless, Turbine had a core of hard-working developers who were able to achieve amazing things by working together. The best example of that unrelenting perseverance was launching Dungeons & Dragons Online (2006) and The Lord of the Rings Online (2007). It was a tremendous feat to launch both of those triple-A games within a year of each other. I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished.
What ambitions do you have for the future of NCSoft West and the industry as a whole?
Our goal for NCSoft West is to be the place that the world’s best developers call home. We want to create a successful studio that lives our values of Passion, Respect, Innovation, Diversity and Empowerment. We want to deliver richly detailed and immersive worlds to players around the globe, building core, connected communities across all our franchises.
However, we also want to be humble about where we are and where we are going. Just as important as celebrating our successes though is learning from our failures. I hope that the gaming industry follows that approach. The industry has come a long way compared to when I was buying games on 5.25” floppy disks – but there is still even further to go. Although we have upgraded our games’ graphics and gameplay, I am not sure that we have equally upgraded our games’ teams. As an industry, we still struggle with equality, diversity, and respect. However, I am optimistic that the games industry will continue to be a beacon for other technology companies out there and continue to lead by example.
What do you see as the gaming industry’s biggest challenges in the years ahead? Will it be able to overcome them?
Without a doubt, the games industry has a lot of challenges ahead of it, but the good news is that there is plenty of opportunity as well. To start with, we need to build up our employees and our teams. I’d like to see the industry chart a course toward mutual respect. Gaming can be a force for good, and we should embrace that responsibility (e.g., create products that resemble the diversity of the world around us). Second, we need to support creativity and innovation. While I appreciate the ‘fast-follow’ approach of gaming, the next generation of games need to push the boundaries as much as the last generation. Lastly, we need to continue developing new business models that are robust. We need to build both ‘long-form’ as well as ‘short-form’ content for every player type, game style, and pocketbook.
Do you think the industry is in a healthy place – or headed in the right direction, at least?
Without a doubt I feel that we are heading in the right direction. We have never had a larger addressable global audience, bigger revenues or greater profitability. (Given those metrics we must be doing something right…) Moreover, the diversity of game types and platforms have never been more robust. I’ve had inspiring conversations with young designers about their vision for the industry, and vigorously debated with them the future of gaming. While the latter is far from clear (insert your views on NFTs here), I am confident that the next generation of leaders are poised to grow our industry far beyond where we are today.