WoW tourists attack DarkFall.

Let’s pretend this press release about Darkfall is being honest, and not just painting a delay in a positive light. I know, it’s a stretch, but “zomg vaporware lulz” posts have been done and bring little to the table.

Thanks to the popularity of the MMO genre, and more specifically WoW, new games have to deal with the MMO tourist population. They flood servers in the first month, find out that game X is not WoW, bitch about how the game should have more welfare and run on a toaster, and leave. The plus side is you just sold a ton of extra copies; the downside is having to deal with a huge initial spike of activity before your game finally settles into its core market. Either your servers lag to death, you have massive queues, or you add more hardware and end up with dead servers in a few months.

From what I’ve read about Darkfall, the developer understands they are aiming for a niche, and they intend to cater to that niche. That’s smart business if you budget accordingly, and can be very profitable if your game appeals to that niche. 200k beta apps for a hardcore PvP game is a clear case of tourism, and hopefully DF deals with it accordingly. Lets hope the planned stress test happens on the 22nd, and more fans can give this game a shot.

24 Responses to WoW tourists attack DarkFall.

  1. oakstout says:

    Very well said!

  2. Snafzg says:

    Hehe, you have a way of ripping on WoW like no other. I like it! :P

    As for Darkfall being vapourware, people need to understand that it isn’t being produced by EA or Blizzard. Adventurine is a small, independant studio and from their press release, it seems like they’re trying to deal with some pretty big issues.

    200k beta signups does seem pretty touristy, but I’m interested in the game and I’m not signed up yet. It seems like they’re handling things pretty smartly.

    That said, I won’t touch this game at release because I just can’t see a small studio being able to pull off a flawless launch, and after all the MMO launches I’ve been around for, I’ve vowed to keep my sanity and wait until most of the kinks are worked out.

    That poses another small problem… What about all the people who share my “wait and see” attitude. If we all jump aboard a month or two in, will they have room for us? :P

  3. Thallian says:

    I think they should run the whole thing on one server just like EVE. It works for EVE, why can’t it work for a fantasy MMO? What’s that you say… crowding? Doesn’t that happen in eve? if an area is crowded, smart people leave the crowded area. If you just have one shard with a server supporting every so much space of it then you’re fine. I bet that’s how EVE does it.

    You have a great point with the tourist population though. Its like everyone just wants more wow, instead of something genuinely new.

  4. Dorath says:

    “and run on a toaster”

    Thank you for mentioning that. I believe that this is actually much more important to many players than studios are willing to credit. The vast majority of people are simply not willing to purchase a new machine just to play a new game, especially when their current one runs WoW just fine.

  5. mutantmagnet says:

    Eve was designed with a one world server in mind and it took years of hardware updates and software refinement to get it working “correctly.”

    Noone is dumb enough to try and make an MMO with interactive game mechanics like a FPS gameplay to be used on a one world server cluster.

    That’s why Darkfall can’t do as you ask.

  6. Hirvox says:

    EvE scales because star systems are generally run on different servers and the stargates are used to disguise server handovers. That’s much harder to do in a fantasy MMO where you expect to be able to seamlessly walk from one area to the next. And EvE still has the busy and timeout-inducing trade hub, Jita. It has recently been significantly improved, though.

    Aside from Jita and big fleet battles, EvE doesn’t suffer from crowding that much. Pretty much everything the player could be interested in is distributed around the galaxy, so there’s little need to flock to the same area. And because there’s no way to instantly transport items, even trade is somewhat distributed. Sure, you could go to Jita to get a discount, but bringing your items back would take time and effort. Sometimes it’s just more convenient to buy your goods from a local trade hub at a slightly higher price.

  7. Werit says:

    Publicity is free and not a bad thing. There are many small MMO’s out there, i.e. Fallen Earth, yet they manage to actually show something of their game.

    The fact Darkfall shows nothing, sure smells like smoke to me. You know the rest…

  8. Beau says:

    Yeh!

    That damn crowd of WoW players, bringing all their MONEY! Jerks!

    Look man, people that are interested in Darkfall aren’t some kind of special insiders. The game is out there, some people know about it.

    WoW players aren’t all just sitting there going “There are other GAMES out there? What?”

    “A clear case of tourism?” Except for YOU, of course.

    You gotta’ admit, this sounds pretty snobby.

    But hey, maybe that’s what you’re going for?

    beau

  9. ravious says:

    I completely agree with the tourism bit, and it’s going to keep happening. And, while I am glad that a company could pay off dev costs with the tourists, I think setting up servers and trying to then merge people that actually want to stay might be worse…

    Anyway, I hope most people have learned from long open betas… cough TR… cough.

  10. DocX GAMC says:

    Excellent post… finally someone with some brains who can write about Darkfall. The Devs have done the smart move, not what the rabid fanbase wants to happen but what is better for the game in the long run and the company in the long run. Look at what happened to the WoW tourists in WAR… EA got tons of new servers than 2 months later server transfers from low to high pop servers cause the game is designed for PvP and you need players to accomplish this. DFO will succeed in a niche market, the tourists won’t stay the game is to hardcore and indepth for casual players.

  11. mutantmagnet says:

    @Werit http://www.gametrailers.com/game/2455.html
    You obviously haven’t looked around.

    @Beau You have a point. It’s not like other MMO players haven’t acted like tourists after wishing to change games such as Everquest and SWG.

    But the other point still stands. Darkfall won’t be a game for everyone who passes through and it’s hard to say Aventurine should be accomdating for 300k people when easily half of them would drop the game because it offers too much disruptive gameplay (see the whining that occurred when Blizzard allowed people to become zombies)

    It wouldn’t be smart of them to spend money on resources that won’t be used after the 1st month and people shouldn’t be too critical of Aventurine if they limit the amount of people who can play the game when it releases (as opposed to taking their money and putting them on queues)

  12. mbp says:

    Excellent post Syncaine, We have seen the temporary WOW spillover happen to Lotro, happen to AoC and happen to WAR

    I am not sure if the same number of people will “go visit” Darkfall because DF is a pretty niche title. I bet the majority of WOW players have never heard of it and many of those that have wouldn’t touch it because of the no holds barred pvp. Mind you – the spillover could still be proportionately large compared to core Darkfall players.

    I guess game companies just have to recognise that this will happen and plan for it. I have often wondered why companies strive so hard to give their servers separate identities in the first place calling them evocative names like “Bloodmoon” and “Stormrage”. I bet if all servers were called generic names like “English server 1″ or “Spanish Server 6″ there would be far less gnashing of teeth and bad publicity when the inevitable server merges happen. In fact I really don’t know why more games don’t go the Guild Wars route – let players swap between servers at will (or at least every time they log on). You would need cross server bank, auction house and postal services and player stats and equipment would have to travel with them but I am sure all that is do-able. The benefits of such a system is that that it is totally scalable the company can add or remove servers freely and players move of their own accord to solve congestion or under-population problems.

  13. Herc says:

    Regarding being a tourist. I was a tourist from at LotrO(from WoW) when it first came out. I made 2 lvl 50 toons(tank and burglar) and I really enjoyed the quest except for the group lvl 40+ ones. After that I packed my bags and left deciding that raiding endgame was not for me.

    Maybe I was one of the ones that flooded LotrO from WoW. So what?

    Surely there has to be WaR/EvE players who are /gasp bored and are eyeing on Darkfall /shrug.

    If the company has a good enough quality niche game … their targeted audience/players will come and stay or at least come back to it when issues are fixed.

  14. syncaine says:

    2 max lvl characters does not make you a tourist, unless you did that in the first month. Odd that you left LotRO for WoW because you did not like raiding as an endgame, but to each his own.

    The issue is not about hitting your target audience, its dealing with the massive amount of players who hit every new MMO expecting it to be EXACTLY like WoW, and leaving quickly because *shocker* only WoW is WoW. In any other market, that’s viewed as a bonus, but when you have server load issues (interrupting the experience of customers who actually might stick around), the tourist might do more harm long term than the short term boost they provide.

  15. mordiceius says:

    Obviously, when a huge group of people depart, it is because they are just WoW tourists and not because a game may have flaws. Obviously.

  16. Herc says:

    Yeah I guess I wasn’t a tourist but I did accomplish that around 2-3 months. I really digged the quest.

    Lotro endgame wasn’t cutting it for me. I guess I was tired of doing end game back then.

    I have to agree that yes tourist tend to do more damage than good if they force the developers to spend extra resources only to get wasted but I guess they already added calculated that in their losses to some degree.

  17. Swift Voyager says:

    Thallian: “I think they should run the whole thing on one server just like Eve”

    According to press releases, they can have 10,000 concurrent users, so after the initial tourist surge, they’ll likely be able to run it on one server. At the very most, one server per continent. Concurrent users tends to go between 1/5th and 1/10th of total subs in Eve, so assuming that ratio is a universal constant they could support between 50,000 and 100,000 subscribers per cluster. How many subscribers do we think Darkfall is going to maintain after launch?

  18. syncaine says:

    I hope that 10k per server number is true. If it is, certainly two servers would be enough for DF, which I think in a best-case scenario will have 100k subs, and that’s only if it’s actually a decent game. It will crash and burn instantly if it’s not decent.

  19. Swift Voyager says:

    Darkfall sounds ambitious. If they can actually do all that stuff they say then I’ll be impressed. The odds of all those different mechanics working well on launch are slim to none. It’s more likely that we’ll see a repeat of tabula rasa or pirates of the burning sea, where there’s so much potential but just too many problems to address them all quickly enough. As they make changes to correct problems, they’ll introduce new ones. The developement team is very small and a day is only so long. By the time they get the game to a stable state, the subscriber numbers will be very low. The question is: do they have the funding to stay in business long enough to really get going and start to build a loyal subscriber base?

  20. syncaine says:

    Yea that’s one very possible scenario. The other is that they ship with just the core features, and all the other stuff that they promises is not in the game yet. They then focus on making the core work, and add gradually to it (like EVE). That said, EVE was a disaster a launch too, so yea, it could be VERY rough for them.

  21. Brainiac says:

    I suggest some of you go look at the leak-sites for DF + the Noob sites. There you’ll read that beta-testers are saying that the game is pretty much good to go, it just needs some polishing of the UI and some stress-server testing.

  22. Swift Voyager says:

    Well, as we’ve seen in the past with Conan and WAR, good to go in Beta isn’t the same as really working well for ongoing subscribers. Quite a few things change when you get more people online, especially in a hardcore PvP game. Fanboi leak sites are hardly reliable either, as demonstrated by Tabula Rasa and PotBS.

  23. Fortuente says:

    ““and run on a toaster”

    Thank you for mentioning that. I believe that this is actually much more important to many players than studios are willing to credit. The vast majority of people are simply not willing to purchase a new machine just to play a new game, especially when their current one runs WoW just fine.”

    QFGJ

    It’s not that I’m anti-innovation as far as graphics are concerned, it’s just that I get sick of the insane envelope-pushing that requires me to have a $1000+/year hardware budget. That is just dumb, especially when there are so many examples of the big hardware requirements simply to mask memory leaks and bugs – in fact that is what drove me away from WAR.

  24. [...] or two down the line. Syncaine wrote a bit on this sort of thing happening, calling people “WoW Tourists“. Personally, I don’t think WoW caused this, I didn’t start with WoW and [...]

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