Last week I wrote about SW:TOR being a bad business deal (something I also stated more than a year go). Today I want to continue that line of thought, focusing on why I want current-day AAA MMOs to go the way of the dinosaurs, and why that would actually be good for MMO players.
Back when WoW was thriving, one major advantage many attributed to the game was its cost. The barrier of entry to produce something as polished and complete as WoW was seen as too high for most.
One complaint I’ve had about WoW has always been that Blizzard is too slow with their updates, and that for a game making billions, it sure does not seem like that from a content or tech perspective. If WoW is making Blizzard a billion or so a year, it should not be a question of which MMO delivers the most content. Or which MMO can do things all others can’t. In every single example, WoW should be at the top, and everyone else should be following behind as best as their far-more-limited budgets allow.
And that’s simply not the case. Be it content, graphics, server tech, innovation, etc, Blizzard is not leading the industry, and certainly not by the margin their profits (and one would think, budget) suggest. Yes yes tech spending/development is not linear, we all know that, spare me the comment. But if you are suggesting that spending 300m results in as much content/tech as spending 10m, WHY THE HELL IS SOMEONE SPENDING 300M!?
Speaking of 300m, BioWare with SW:TOR is not killing it either. Total amount of voiced dialog aside (super-critical in an MMO…), what exactly is SW:TOR doing to crush ‘lesser’ MMOs with tiny budgets? Rift cost 50m to produce, is SW far more polished? Does it look/run better? Is the total amount of content dwarfing what Rift has? And really, was Rift even that special? Yes its launch was solid and some systems (souls, beta-invasions) looked promising, but server queues were still rampant (as they are now in SW), balance was still dicey, total amount of content was average, and we all know what happened with the 1.2 patch. No surprising Trion is giving out 30 free days to former players.
My point is that spending at the AAA MMO level seems to get players very little, and that if the entire segment went poof, the genre itself would not regress to the MUD days. You would still have studios like CCP embarrassing everyone else in terms of server/client performance. You would still have tiny studios like Aventurine running servers that can (and did) support more players than WoW. You would still have games like Glitch, Terraria, or Minecraft (games that are as much MMOs as SW is an MMO) actually trying something new and succeeding. The biggest casualties with the death of the AAA MMO market would be Chuck Norris and Mr. T, who would need to find new sources of income, and all those waste-of-space studios that aim to rehash WoW.