ACM Publishes Games: Research and Practice
News Brief The first issue of Games: Research and Practice was released today by the Association for Computing Machinery Digital Library. Games: Research and Practice offers a lighthouse for games research – a central reference point that defines the state of the art on games and playable media across academic research and industry practice. Playable [...]
March 20, 2023
Club Metaverse Podcast Interviews Raph Koster
News Brief Host Marc Fernandez of the Club Metaverse podcast today released an exclusive interview with Raph Koster, CEO of Playable Worlds. They discussed game design, MMO history and design, lessons learned from Star Wars Galaxies & and Ultima Online, the Metaverse, and guitars. You can view the video version on YouTube or listen [...]
March 20, 2023
Lecture at University of Maryland
At the invitation of Professor Niklas Elmqvist, PhD. of the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, Raph returned to present a second guest lecture to a game design class. The class is comprised of 50 masters and undergraduate students, mostly from the human-computer interaction and information science programs. The lecture was presented over Zoom. [...]
March 14, 2023
What Drives Retention
For better or worse, much of the games market is moving to games-as-a-service. Once upon a time, this was known as the MMO business model, because all MMOs were games-as-a-service, and virtually nothing else was. Obviously, a lot of GaaS games won’t be MMOs. Candy Crush Saga is a service, but it’s not an MMO. Nor does [...]
March 7, 2023
How Ultima Online Shapes Playable Worlds
For those that don’t know, Ultima Online is celebrating 25 years of continuous online play this month! Our CEO Raph Koster (Lead Designer on Ultima Online) helped bring UO to life all those years ago, and continues to draw inspiration from that original vision. And here we are, 25 years later, building new playable worlds. Worlds that feel alive and dynamic, where you can play from any device; using modern cloud-native architecture.
September 27, 2022
Riffs by Raph: Sandbox versus Themepark
I just watched a couple of videos about sandbox vs themepark games (in particular one by NerdSlayer and another by Josh “Strife” Hayes)… One thing that struck me about the ways players often talk about this (because at this point the history is so old) is that people think of sandbox as the older version of MMOs, and themeparks as newer. But that’s not right – sandbox is not the older form. Sandboxes are the evolution of themepark MMOs, not the antecedent.
September 1, 2022
Video Game Day 2022
For National Video Game Day, we asked the team what their all-time favorite game is and why. Yes, a bold request to ask of passionate gamers (some who may or may not have over a thousand games in their Steam libraries…) Keep reading to learn more about our favorite games!
July 8, 2022
Playable Worlds Hires Gordon Walton as Executive Producer and Chief Product Officer
Playable Worlds Hires Gordon Walton as Executive Producer and Chief Product Officer. The Executive Producer who has shipped the most western MMOs, Walton brings 40+ years of experience from studios such as Maxis, BioWare, and Sony Online Entertainment and is joined by Omar Abdelwahed, Vice President of Engineering.
June 8, 2022
Playable Profile: Addison
Welcome to another Playable Profile! This month, we're chatting with our senior UI/UX designer, Addison! We chat about what a UI/UX designer does, how it can impact the player experience, what it's like working at Playable Worlds, and more! Continue reading to meet Addison below!
May 26, 2022
Playable Worlds Raises Over $25M Series B With Strategic Investment from Kakao Games
Playable Worlds announced today that it has secured over $25 million in Series B funding, led by Korean video game publisher Kakao Games Corp., a subsidiary of Kakao, and with participation from return investors BITKRAFT Ventures and Galaxy Interactive. New investors Lilith Games and Gaingels also joined the round, which follows a $10 million Series A in 2020. This strategic investment will be used to drive Playable Worlds’ talent recruitment and fund its cloud-native sandbox MMO game currently in development.
April 20, 2022
Playable Profile: Abby
Welcome to another edition of our Playable Profile series! We chatted with one of our senior gameplay engineers, Abby! While she is newer to the gaming industry, she has years of experience programming that helped her get to where she is now. She even has some great advice if you're looking to get into the industry, too! Read on to meet Abby!
April 14, 2022
Game Designer Journey with Greg Costikyan
Our Lead Game Designer Greg Costikyan (of Paranoia and Star Wars D6) chats with Dieku Games about being a change maker in the game design industry and speaking up for indie game developers.
March 10, 2022
International Women’s Day 2022
We challenged people on our team here at Playable Worlds to join in and support gender equality in the workplace. Check out their pledges to help make the workplace equal for all genders.
March 8, 2022
Real Talk About a Real Metaverse
Lots of people are promising a metaverse real soon now. Raph Koster of Playable Worlds has actually built one before, so he'll tell you why it’s harder than people think, and what is required to actually fulfill those dreams.
February 1, 2022
Raph Koster’s Real Talk About A Real Metaverse
Not many people can say “been there, done that” on the metaverse. But Raph Koster, CEO of Playable Worlds, has been making online worlds for more than a quarter of a century. He gave a speech about what he’s learned from that experience at the GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 2 online event on January 27th, 2022. Koster has worked on online game worlds such as Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Star Wars Galaxies, and he understands the difficulty of interoperability, how people behave, the importance of creating standards, and the need to focus on fun.
January 28, 2022
Playable Profile: Brian
Welcome to our first Playable Profile of 2022! We’re chatting with Brian, a Senior Client Engineer, who has been in the gaming industry for over 30 years! He has a wide breadth of knowledge to share with us today! Read on to meet this Brian, also known as Brian III!
January 20, 2022
Happy Holidays from Playable Worlds
Peek inside for a holiday surprise from the team!
December 16, 2021
Riffs by Raph: How Virtual Worlds Work – Part 5
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Ownership of anything digital is illusory, and always will be. Then again, it’s illusory in the real world, too. Ownership is a convention, not physical reality. This is why we have sayings like “Possession is nine-tenths of the law, which basically means “you can claim you own something all you want, but if you don’t physically have the object, it’s pretty hard to enforce.” In digital settings, of course, you never physically have anything. At best, you have a physical container of data.
October 21, 2021
Riffs by Raph: How Virtual Worlds Work – Part 4
Making objects in a virtual world actually *do* something is way harder than just drawing them – and as we have seen, drawing them is already fraught with challenges.
October 14, 2021
Riffs by Raph: How Virtual Worlds Work – Part 3
Now we are finally at the hardest part of virtual worlds to wrap your head around – not coincidentally, also the aspect that gets people the most excited. Things. Stuff. Bits and bobs. Widgets. You know: objects.
October 7, 2021
Raph Koster and Jon Radoff talk about the Metaverse
Raph joins Jon Radoff's "Building the Metaverse" video series to chat about the metaverse, online worlds, MMOs, and more!
October 6, 2021
Riffs by Raph: How Virtual Worlds Work – Part 2
Last week I wrote about the challenges of moving art between virtual worlds – especially the long-standing dream of moving avatars across wildly different worlds and experiences. Something I didn’t touch on is whether this is a dream you actually want.
September 30, 2021
Riffs by Raph: How Virtual Worlds Work – Part 1
That’s why I am writing about how virtual worlds work today, so it’s easier to have these conversations, and all reach for those dreams together. And I’m going to try to do it with minimal technical jargon, so everyone can follow along. This is a big topic, so today we’ll confine ourselves to just one part of the virtual world picture: what you, as the user, see.
September 23, 2021
Riffs by Raph: But First, the Game
In the last couple of articles, I’ve spent maybe too much time talking about big buzzwords – metaverse this and that. I get it, it can be confusing! I want to talk about why our overall tech approach makes for better lives for developers and better games for players.
September 16, 2021
Riffs by Raph: Revealing our Technology
Last week, I talked about “metaverse,” the hype around it, and how much of what people dream about is actually stuff online worlds have done for many years now. I ended the article on a bit of a tease, promising that I would talk about what we are doing. I won’t tease this time.
September 9, 2021
Riffs by Raph: Online World or Metaverse?
A lot of people are talking about the “metaverse”, and as a result, a lot of folks are wondering what the heck that word even means. Frankly, it’s a reasonable question. But as someone who has actually built, launched, and operated a metaverse before, I have answers! Read on to learn more!
September 2, 2021
How Games Get Made – Part 2
In part 2 of our How Games Get Made series, Greg shares more about each team and their roles, and perhaps most importantly...what's the status of that lightbulb? Check it now! Warning: More bonus jokes inside.
August 17, 2021
How Games Get Made – Part 1
Ever wondered how exactly games are made? Our Lead Designer, Greg Costikyan, shares his depth of knowledge (albeit a little tongue-in-cheek), digging into everything from "the idea", how to get funding, and the stages of development. Read on to learn more! Warning: Bonus jokes imminent.
August 3, 2021
Non-Binary Day 2021 – Dev Advice
Hello everyone and happy International Non-Binary People’s Day! I’m Light, resident bigender prototyper (any pronouns), and today I wanted to take a little time to give some advice for those of you looking to get into games! Read on to learn more!
July 14, 2021
Playable Profile: Light
In the latest Playable Profile, I had the pleasure of chatting with Light, who is on our design team! We talked about their experiences with games, what it’s been like working in the industry for the first time, and more! It was an absolute deLIGHT! Read on to meet them!
July 8, 2021
Inclusivity at Playable Worlds
To celebrate Pride Month, we have shared more about our values and culture here at Playable Worlds. We dig into diversity, equity, and inclusion and why it matters. Read on for more!
June 22, 2021
Playable Profile: Patrick
It’s time for another Playable Profile - I interviewed Patrick, who is on our engineering team! We chatted about how he got into programming and what he’s learned during his career in games. If you’re looking to get into the gaming industry, he shared some great advice on how to make it happen. Read on for the full interview!
June 10, 2021
Eric Goldberg on Investing and the Future of Gaming
Playable World's Co-Founder, Eric Goldberg, joined the Elite Game Developers Podcast to discuss investing in games and what the future of games looks like.
June 3, 2021
Playable Profile: Danielle
In our first Playable Profile, Raph Koster interviews Playable Worlds’ Senior Community Manager, Danielle. They discuss community experiences, games, and more! Read on to meet Danielle!
May 13, 2021
Raph Koster Speaks About the Future of Online Worlds
In this superstar fireside chat from the Game Maker Insights track at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 on April 20th, 2021, Raph Koster and Joost Van Dreunen discuss true multiplayer game design & the cloud.
May 13, 2021
Riffs by Raph: What does Cloud-Native even mean?
First, let’s get real: the cloud is not really new. After all, there used to be a time where we ran software on mainframes remotely, and used a pretty dumb terminal with a thin client to connect to the mainframe. Today, instead of a mainframe, we have remote server clusters with tons of compute power that can launch and shut down a multitude of servers to allow for rapid changes in demand. There’s incredible sophistication in what has changed, but it’s still mostly tech plumbing.
April 22, 2021
How Playable Worlds is building a cloud-native sandbox MMO
Our CEO Raph Koster and co-founder Eric Goldberg chat with Dean Takahashi at VentureBeats about what we're working on here at Playable Worlds. We dig into topics like cloud-native technology, social gameplay, and living worlds!
April 19, 2021
Riffs by Raph: Thinking Long-term
The reason why businesspeople need to use other words is because “fun” isn’t particularly measurable. For one thing, it’s really different for different people. Some people find fun in raising cute pets, and others in turning them into giblets and loot. Some enjoy building, and others tearing down. There isn’t anything wrong with that! A person’s taste in fun will evolve over time, by quite a lot. When we were little kids, we all liked games that seem trivial or random to us now; one of the biggest characteri
April 15, 2021
Riffs by Raph: Designing for Social Play
There’s a sweet spot of network development where mom-and-pop shops aren’t crushed by megacorps. A sweet spot where almost no one is really disposable. Where people aren’t forced to overspecialize, but also aren’t forced to do everything themselves. Where no individual node on the graph is so powerful it swallows all the attention or all the rewards.
April 8, 2021
Riffs by Raph: Player-Driven Economies
A player-driven economy isn’t about the money. It’s about having every way to play the game serve a role in the ecosystem. It’s about all the wonderful and weird ways we choose to live and play, and how we find out that our silly hobbies are vital necessities to someone else.
April 1, 2021
The Future of Online Worlds
"We dreamt of living worlds, back then: worlds we could fall into, ensorcelled by plausibility and consistency. Worlds that would immerse us. We dreamt of worlds that offered freedom, ways to play and live that the real one does not. We dreamt of worlds where we as players made a difference." Our CEO Raph Koster shares his thoughts on the online worlds of the past, and what is in store for future worlds. Read on for more!
March 25, 2021
International Women’s Day 2021
We chatted with a few of our wonderful women and non-binary people on the team and discussed how they got into the industry, what challenges they’ve faced because of their gender, and their personal triumphs and successes. Read on to meet them!
March 8, 2021
Raph Koster speaks on the Metaverse at VentureBeat
Our CEO Raph Koster was a panelist at the GamesBeat Summit, discussing startups, the road to the metaverse, and why we need to learn from history.
January 28, 2021
Keeping Players Engaged
Our CEO Raph Koster recently spoke on a panel about engaging players over the long term, and subscription business models. Check out the video and the follow-up interview!
August 26, 2020
Playable Worlds Raises $10M for the Creation of its Cloud-Native Sandbox MMO
Playable Worlds announced today that it has secured $10M in Series A funding, led by interactive content and technology investor Galaxy Interactive via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund. The funding will be used to develop the technology associated with a cloud-based game and to continue building out the team.
June 11, 2020
The Evolution of MMOs
Our CEO Raph Koster joined Gordon Walton of ArtCraft for a panel discussion put together by GameStar, hosted by Leya Jankowski of MeinMMO and Julius Busch of MAX Monsters & Explosions. Listen in to learn about what makes MMOs special and why these two creators have devoted their careers to them.
June 8, 2020
Just how close are we to achieving the Metaverse?
Pioneers in virtual worlds Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity; Matthew Ball of Epyllion Industries; Raph Koster of Playable Worlds; Frederic Descamps of Manticore Games; and Sam Englebardt of Galaxy Interactive, met up digitally at GamesBeat 2020 to talk about the promise of the Metaverse.
May 5, 2020
Raph Koster guests on “Countdown to Classic” podcast.
Josh is joined for an epic chat with MMORPG legendary designer Raph Koster, the current CEO of Playable Worlds, and former lead designer and creative director of Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, respectively. Listen in to one of the best chats the show has featured, as Raph talks everything from Richard Garriott’s castle, to his thoughts on micro-transactions and their place in gaming, to his current work with Playable Worlds.
December 19, 2019
Welcome Back, Koster: Why an MMORPG vet is back building a new virtual world
This is what makes Koster's involvement with Playable Worlds notable: he seems intent on applying lessons learned from decades of studying online game communities, and passionate about building a shared world where combat isn't the focus. 'There are so many ways to exist and interact with these alternate, fictional worlds that to say combat is The Way is just so reductive,' he said. 'We've really started getting that lesson; for me it was a lesson we came into on Ultima Online.
October 25, 2019
Gaming industry veteran on how the Store Wars will end
“The gaming industry suffered a schism earlier this year as multiple PC storefronts triggered the Store Wars, an escalating battle for exclusive games. Gamers were divided over the benefits of this, and the debate over it continues as more games come out as “exclusive” to a store. TNW got the chance to speak to Raph Koster, a legend in the industry, about the state of gaming.”
October 19, 2019
Playable Worlds has a ‘different mindset’ on engagement
I would go further and say it's not just those sandbox-y elements; there are lessons we could be pulling into MMOs from other kinds of games all together. There's this impression that an MMO has to be something heavy, something you take two hours to do every session. I think there are a ton of lessons we've seen in everything from mobile to indie games showing you can have things that are deep and really engaging but don't require you to make them your principal hobby taking up hours and hours every day.
October 4, 2019
Playable Worlds Raises $2.7M to Create a New Sandbox MMORPG, led by Raph Koster, Designer of Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies
Playable Worlds, an online game company created to change the way immersive worlds work, announced today it has raised $2.7 million in seed funding, led by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures with participation from 1UP Ventures and several game industry angel investors. The company is led by a distinguished team of developers with many decades of collective online game experience from Disney, Marvel, Sony Online Entertainment, and venture-backed startups.
October 3, 2019
The award-winning designer behind Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies says it’s time for his ‘dream to be fulfilled.’
“I’d say that our goal, though, is to make a sandbox that looks forward, rather than one that looks backwards. There are many lessons to build on, but we’re not out to build a museum to old gameplay. We’re going to bring the best of that stuff forward to the modern day, and blend it with the best of now to hopefully make something that works for tomorrow.”
October 3, 2019