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Big owner plays well for Seattle’s ArenaNet | The Seattle Times

In an effort to understand what the acquisition of Seattle’s PopCap Games by EA could mean for the beloved PopCap, Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times spoke with someone who may know a thing or two about the situation: ArenaNet co-founder and president Mike O’Brien.

O’Brien offers insight into ArenaNet’s history and relationship with NCsoft. They talk about ArenaNet’s acquisition by NCsoft and how that enabled ArenaNet to succeed and grow—and whether that makes them a special case.

ArenaNet kept its autonomy and creative direction, in part because it has enthusiastic support from NCsoft Chief Executive Taek Jin Kim, a gamer and game designer. O’Brien said their conversations tend to be about game design, and Kim wants “to make games that he’s proud of, that gamers are going to love and that are going to be the No. 1 games in the industry.”

Most important, ArenaNet found a buyer willing to wait until a game is fully polished, instead of pushing releases out to meet a quarterly earnings target. It’s among an elite group of studios that can say they’ll ship a game “when it’s done” because quality is more important than the schedule.

That’s rare, “but the companies that can do that create the games that gamers most look forward to and sell the most copies,” O’Brien said.

Acquisitions like PopCap’s, and ArenaNet’s all those years ago, are full of opportunity and uncertainty. ArenaNet knows they are blessed with the freedom to create the game they want and release it “when it’s ready,” and no doubt we fans will be thankful for that as well.


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