Closing out 2013. 2014 predictions

2013 ends much like it began for the MMO genre, with a collective ‘meh’, and this blog overall has reflected that both in post volume and the number of posts about MMOs vs other games.

My most played MMO this year was Darkfall: Unholy Wars, and while I had a lot of fun with the title for a good number of months, right now it feels far too much like an oversized arena PvP game than a sandbox MMO. Character progression is short, top gear is trivial to horde, and if you don’t PvP for the sake of PvP, you don’t have much else to really do. I’ll see what AV does with the title in 2014, but right now I have little reason to log in.

I played some EVE online, but wormhole life is not something you can’t do without serious dedication, and I just couldn’t find the will to do that consistently. I’m currently out in low-sec with the alliance, and looking forward to jumping into some fleets there. Ultimately however I need to figure out a big-picture goal, either for myself or the corp. We’ll see if that happens in 2014.

I started 2013 playing UO:Forever with Keen and crew, and while that only lasted a few months, it was fun going back to early-days UO. Some aspects aged very well (PvE, housing, the worldly feel), others not so much (combat, PvP), and ultimately I drifted away because I had accomplished what I wanted, in large part thanks to the server setting character progression to Panda-WoW speed. A lesson that sadly the genre is still learning and trying to come to terms with.

So yea, 3 MMOs in 2013, one a sequel to a title announced in 2003, one a title launched in 2003, and one a title launched in 1997. Sums up the genre pretty accurately IMO.

Let’s look back at my 2013 predictions, shall we?

“I do believe 2013 will be the year the MMO genre figures itself out, and a clear distinction is made between games that are ‘real’ MMOs, and titles with MMO-lite qualities that we consume.”

Nope.

Might as well make the same prediction for 2014. It’s going to happen eventually… right?

“EVE will reach and retain 500k subs in 2013.”

Didn’t hit 500k, but did increase to just under 400k. Edit: Yes it did. Got this one correct without even knowing it…

“SW:TOR will shut down or go skeleton crew by 2014.”

Didn’t shut down. Does sell you hotbars. Recently released a Starfox mode as the big update. 50/50?

“LotRO will directly sell you The One Ring and a chance to play Sauron.”

Skeleton crew didn’t get around to Sauron, but you can pay Turbine to skip half the game, so… 50/50?

“DF:UW will actually release and exceed the first year of DF1.”

Yes and no. Yes because it launched, the launch was solid, and the game fixed a lot of the core issues DF1 had. No because the fixed issues from DF1 exposed more core issues with the game, and those remain as 2013 draws to a close.

“GW2 will have 9 tiers of gear by the end of 2013.”

I honestly care so little about GW2 and even reading about it is terribly boring so I can’t comment on this. Has it happened? I know you can pay for high tiers of harvesting tools, but what else?

“A bunch of MMOs will have kickstarter campaigns. Few will actually make it, almost all will be meh.”

No kickstarter MMOs launched, did they? I know some got funded, others failed to reach their goal, and nothing that I saw made me go “yes, that is brilliant, take my money and do that”, so I’ll call this one a win.

On to the 2014 predictions:

EQNL will have everyone loving it the first month of release. Shortly after just about everyone will be asking “now what?” and drift away.

EQN will continue to attempt to copy/paste from my design docs, and will continue to SOE them into failure.

ESO will have a big launch, followed by a quick death (F2P). I’d like to pretend that THIS massive themepark failure will teach the industry to stop, but if SW:TOR didn’t, nothing will.

WildStar won’t suck. Just throwing a dart here, as WildStar doesn’t interest me personally, but what little I know about the dev team, I like. If they stick to their ideas/goals post-release, I can see WildStar being a solid ‘niche’ MMO. We might even be calling it “themepark done right”.

The GW2 train will continue to roll, although with less steam and more heavy-handedness towards the cash shop. Such is F2P life.

LotRO will continue to provide us with amusing stories, perhaps selling you a character 3/4th of the way into the game, or something equally dumb. 50/50 on being able to play Sauron. 75% chance you will be able to buy the One Ring in the shop.

CCP will go bankru… haha just kidding. Best MMO out will continue to play chess while the genre learns checkers. 450k subs in 2014. Edit: Since we are at 500K already and this isn’t WoW, raising this to 600k.

WoW will bounce back with the next expansion and have a strong 2014. Now that the interns are back to being interns, and the real devs are back from failing to make anything with Titan, WoW will prosper. It will also help that 2014 won’t offer it much real competition (Unless WildStar draws away a significant portion of the raiding crowd, which is a possibility). WoW will end with more subs in 2014.

Did I miss anything?

22 Responses to Closing out 2013. 2014 predictions

  1. Esben says:

    “SW:TOR will shut down or go skeleton crew by 2014.”

    Didn’t shut down. Does sell you hotbars. Recently released a Starfox mode as the big update. 50/50?
    ————————————————–

    Has two million subscribers, and revived two major content expansions, but sure, call it 50/50. :p

    • SynCaine says:

      Link for the 2m stat?

    • Jenks says:

      I saw lots of news coverage on the press release that 2 million people spent a few minutes registering for free SWTOR accounts since it switched to hotbar sales. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?

    • Noizy says:

      EA announced the game had 500,000 subscribers in Q1 2013. I think if the game would have gotten back up to 2 million that would have been the story of the year on every gaming news site.

      • Anti-Stupidity League says:

        Based on number of servers and their level of activity, the number of active players is somewhere close to 1.5 million (some sources quote 1.7, others 1.2), which was reported on many news sites last summer. Google is your friend.

        It’ll have another new expansion this month so I doubt that number is diminishing. You don’t create yet another expansion for a handful of players of a failed game. For them, you create Darkfail 2.

        • ASL is in the SL says:

          Only if you know how to google the right thing, or you might get figures for active players in a discussion about subs, and that’s just terrible.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I just posted saying something similar about WildStar. It doesn’t much interest me either but it appears to be being developed by people who both know what they are trying to do and how to go about doing it – a very rare combination. It reminds me a lot of Rift at this stage and I’d imagine it will follow a very similar trajectory.

    • spinks says:

      Yeah, I was thinking it will follow a similar pattern to Rift, but it depends a lot on how people are feeling about subs these days and whether the combat puts people off. It will be interesting to compare the takeup of TESO to Wildstar, especially with a new WoW expansion coming around also.

  3. Matt says:

    Disagree on WoW. Their essential problem is that there are no new players.

    • SynCaine says:

      I think at least some of the tens of millions that have played but aren’t playing now will return come the expansion, assuming its better than recent offerings of course.

    • Antivyris says:

      I would highly disagree here. As an actual player in the game, while it’s not a constant, there is a consistent flow of new players.

      I forget the stats, but your average wow player has actually only played wow 1-3 years, being a Vet is only common in the raiding portion of the population.

  4. John says:

    “I’d like to pretend that THIS massive themepark failure will teach the industry to stop, but if SW:TOR didn’t, nothing will.”

    I would like to see a sandbox MMO that also launched successfully though…except if you think Darkfall successful, because I don’t think it has more players than Swtor…

    Truth is, themepark or sandbox, doesn’t matter because no company can provide a good quality in any of both. Thats why wow and eve still stand strong. As for ESO, I have no doubt it will fail, because it has nothing to do with the TES series except the name they strangely chosen for that game.

    Also I don’t get why wildstar has so much attention on the net..the game is more cartoonish than wow, has no epic lore, no strong IP and the theme of it is comedy. Only thing that seem intersting is the housing but I doubt is enough to make me play it.

    My prediction is that FF will be stronger at the end of 2014 with new patches that will introduce personal house and modding and who knows what else…also wow, I just hope those titan developers that came back are from the vanilla/tbc school and try to actually save what it can be saved

    • SynCaine says:

      No DF isn’t a major success, but the starting budgets aren’t the same either. SW:TOR is a pretty massive hole to dig itself out of remember. And I don’t need a SW:TOR budget thrown at a sandbox, but can we at least get something more than kickstarter?

      • John says:

        Yeap I agree..I don’t like any of the Kickstarter projects too and I would like to have a good sandbox. I think ESO had this potential..I mean when you think about TES games, the last thing it comes to mind is a themeparky game experience…At least there are some promising sandboxes on the east..Black Desert and Archeage seem quality MMOs, but it is stil lunknown when they will come to west..

  5. Ponder says:

    Seriously, MMOs are dead.

    Whilst, Minecraft and its modpacks are completely taking over.

    Syncaine, play one of the FTB modpacks.

  6. j3w3l says:

    haha my review nailed it with Darkfall… a pvp sandbox without the sand.

    I’m wondering what you think of the Repopulation as well.. it has a lot of interesting sandbox and PvP features and should be releasing this year some time

    And I think you might be wrong about landmark.. if it gains even a tenth of the popularity of the minecraft crowd it will be big, creation tools are still quite popular

  7. Coppertopper says:

    ESO has some interesting PvP planned – for that alone I will check it out. 20mins to cross the PvP map? Yes please – if there is enough drive to bring players out en masse. Also think there is just one server? Or is that Wildstar?

    What’s killing wow is its tired combat – which Wildstar seems to be addressing with its actiony take on quick bar tapping.

    GW2 – no they don’t need to lean on FTP transactions. With such an awesome art style and fun combat all they need is to add customizable player housing and something to draw all the weirdness of PvE into a single focus – the item shop is currently a masterful balance of utility vs buying power instead of grinding for the same.

    • Kobeathris says:

      On the GW2 item shop, I saw someone on reditt (how is that for solid sourcing?) do an analysis of the gem shop harvesting tools. Their conclusion was that you would need somewhere over 100,000 uses before you reach break even on them, they are purely for convenience.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Regarding Wildstar, it appears to me that people have been pulled in by the cute trailers and the antics of the devs. The lead dev, Gaffney, bumbles around and acts like a fool and they eat it up. The fanbois are also all over it, and that’s always a bad sign. I’ve watched about ten hours of Wildstar videos and it simply does not look fun at all. The quests look like they came from a game made for little kids.

    I am expecting a GW2 type trajectory with this game.

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