Nov 1, 2022 - Technology

Will Wright: Spore should have been multiple games

Video game screenshot of space aliens standing on grass

Spore. Screenshot: EA

The 2008 evolution-simulation video game Spore would have worked as multiple-interconnected games, its lead creator, Will Wright, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Spore is one of the industry’s most notorious misses, as the game failed to measure up to its pre-release hype.

What they’re saying: “I think Spore had some great tools in it for creating content,” Wright says, referring to its interface for making creatures and buildings.

  • “I think it didn't hang together as a game. It probably would have been better to be released as three games or four that, if you wanted to, you could intersect them.”

Between the lines: The game plays out in evolutionary phases, first shown in a stunning talk at the 2005 Game Developers Conference.

  • Initially, Spore plays like a sort of Pac-Man as players steer a single-cell organism through primordial ooze. Then, as the player’s creature evolves, Spore advances into a third-person action game, a city-builder like Wright’s Sim City, a game of global strategy a la Civilization and eventually a game of interplanetary travel.
  • It got the oh-so-rare feature-length pre-release preview in The New Yorker.
  • But it reviewed poorly and EA moved on after a small number of spin-offs, putting the game and any potential franchise on ice for the past decade.

The bottom line: “It was much more of a toy than a game,” Wright says.

  • “For 10-year-olds, the whole thing was great.”
  • “But for hardcore gamers that were expecting Civilization or Command & Conquer or whatever, it felt like each level was way too light.”

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