Tasos has clearly started trolling ForumFall. With his brief mention of Darkfall 2, new servers, and ‘future plans’, ForumFall has been working itself silly speculating and trying to figure it all out. He somewhat ruins the fun with this explanation, though even that did not satisfy everyone.
The mention of a ‘re-launch’ does bring up an interesting point though, one that is very relevant to recent happenings in the MMO genre. Can you re-launch an MMO that is already live? And if so, what does that exactly mean? It’s certainly not a full wipe or ‘redo’ of launch. That’s called an NGE-level event, and it’s not a smart move. It’s also not as simple as opening up new servers and advertising; that’s called a push, not a re-launch.
No, a re-launch is some rather drastic change to your game that draws the attention of outside gamers, while not totally screwing those who have supported you up to that point. It sounds simple, but it’s a make-or-break event that could potentially go horribly wrong.
DDO was ‘re-launched’ when it went F2P. At its original release DDO was a solid game that, among other issues, simply lacked content. What was there was fun enough, but when you could finish it in less than a few months, that’s a major issue for a company hoping to keep people subbed and paying month after month. Time solved the content issue, as over the years DDO saw many large additions that ultimately fleshed out the entire game and gave the average players months of ‘stuff’ to do.
Combine that major launch issue being solved with just the overall stabilization and bug-fixing that happens from years of being live (plus some graphical upgrades), and to a totally new player, DDO looks like a great game. Make a big splash by going F2P, and hey, re-launch.
And with the dust settling, we are seeing exactly what DDO is, a solid but not mega-hit title that has its place in the genre. It is, at its core, still the same DDO that originally launched. It’s still all about instanced, small-group dungeon-crawls with a semi-action combat system based around D&D. Such a game has less appeal than the ponies-for-everyone WoW, but it does deserve more players than it had pre-re-launch (what?).
In many ways, Darkfall fits that same mold. The original launch drew a lot of people due to the many unique things the game brought to the genre, yet for many the game was simply too raw to continue with. Be it the UI, the graphics, the ‘grind’, etc, Darkfall at launch was more a peek into what could be than a fully delivered end-product. It’s only a sad reflection on the genre that even in that state, Darkfall was already a top-tier sandbox MMO.
But it’s re-launch could make a very significant impact. For starters, more and more players are discovering that Darkfall is more than just a PvP game, and certainly not the gankers paradise PvP haters try to paint it as. As the non-PvP aspects continue to improve and get refined, this word-of-mouth momentum will only continue. Next, the re-vamp of both the graphics and the UI not only draws attention, but helps reduce that initial “first five minutes” shock that many currently experience.
At the end of the day Darkfall’s core is what it is, a sandbox PvP MMO. But much like EVE, that does not mean everyone player is expressly looking for just that. Sandbox PvP MMO also means unique PvE experiences not found in themeparks, a deeper-than-a-puddle economy, and niche roles such as event organizers or political pundits that truly serve a purpose. All of that takes time to develop however, and that’s exactly what has been happening since launch.
With the upcoming (soon…) release of the Darkfall 2.0 expansion, in coordination with a focused advertising push, Darkfall can indeed ‘re-launch’ and capture an entire new audience, while still keeping its very rabid core happy. But like the concept of a re-launch itself, it’s easier said then done, so we’ll just have to wait and see how Aventurine plays its cards.
Me? My money’s on the house.
Chuck-o-the-day: Chuck Norris’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was the first to go supernova.
(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)