Candyman, candyman, candyman

Trollbold is back it seems, and in classic style.

Let me just cut that post down completely with one question before moving into the details: What day-one F2P MMO has been more successful than recently launched sub MMOs?

Because if the sub model is dead, surely some new F2P mega-hit must have replaced it, right? That’s what everyone must be playing now? The new F2P hotness called… what was its name again? You know, that F2P from day one MMO that is doing so well. Never can remember its name, or all those other really successful F2P MMOs before it…

I do find it hilarious that Tobold is linking to Superdata as well. Just trolls linking trolls and dancing around in a fantasyland circle together.

But let’s put aside fairyland numbers and look at something solid shall we? That recent NCSoft financial report for instance, that showed WildStar bringing in more money than GW2. Now GW2 isn’t F2P, but it’s also not good enough to be a sub MMO either, and NCSoft’s numbers back that up. An MMO made for the “1%” pulled in more than the MMO who’s manifesto told us was changing everything for everyone; funny how that works. And yes, WildStar will drop because its box sales drive the numbers up, but isn’t it cute that the “1%” consists of about 450k people initially? One would think you could sustain an MMO off such a population if you did it right, huh?

Of course the most glaring omission from the two troll sources is FFXIV, but it’s hard to call something dead when a 2m+ account behemoth is standing right in front of you, more than a year after launch. And while you’re at it, you should probably also ignore its previous iteration, FFXI, because that also isn’t helping your case.

The problem here is the same one we have had since day one; in order to remain a subscription-based game, an MMO has to be good-enough for its core audience to keep them. There are some MMOs at that level, and then there is a near-endless landfill of F2P titles below them trying to sell you a hotbar or the One Ring, because if you aren’t a quality game, you might as well try to dupe suckers out of a few bucks before they catch on. But just like with FFXIV, whenever someone has something they know is better than average, they go with the business model that best supports good games, and unless the genre just up and decides to stop making worthwhile games, the sub model will remain.

21 Responses to Candyman, candyman, candyman

  1. bhagpuss says:

    That’s certainly not one of Tobold’s better argued or more rational posts. It’s more wishful thinking than factual analysis.

    On the other hand, you might want to check back on how Wildstar stacks up against GW2 on NCSoft’s reports when it’s been out for two years rather than two months.

    • SynCaine says:

      One would hope GW2 is much higher, seeing as how one game was aimed at the mass market (and had/has the supporting budget), while the other made it very clear since day one it’s aiming at a niche (the joke here is the 1%, because as WildStar has shown, a hell of a lot more people are at least interested in a raiding-focused game than 1%, how many of them WildStar retains comes down to how well WildStar executes, I’ve not played it so I can’t say).

      The point however is that GW2 failed to be that mass market ‘for everyone’ MMO. It has a following, sure, and a very small percentage of that following tosses NCSoft a few bucks via gems, but the numbers make it very clear that GW2 has ‘failed’ in being more than just yet another MMO that can’t justify charging a sub.

      • Kobeathris says:

        This is what drives my crazy about GW2. I’m not paying a monthly fee for it, so I don’t feel like I am wasting money if I don’t log in for a bit. But they do the living story stuff, which if I don’t log in while it is ongoing, I miss. But when I do decide to log back in, in spite of having missed a bunch of content, which obviously cost them money to make, none of the core gameplay problems have been touched.

      • carson63000 says:

        If GW2 made $20 million in a quarter, that’s more than just “a very small percentage” tossing “a few bucks”.

        Unless you think they have tens of millions of players, that is.

        I can’t understand where the money is coming from myself. I’ve played the game a lot since release but never seen anything even remotely interesting to buy in the cash shop. But it’s definitely coming.

  2. Isey says:

    I bought WildStar and contributed sub fees for a couple months. The servers are emptying faster than it takes to write an EG review (via your site!) =)

    I’m not at the end game – barely into it – the words from the podcasters and raiders who are way more into the game than I am is that they aren’t executing. There are bugs in the end game raids that make them unable to be completed, and even a huge bug in the giant attunement chain that if you happened to be on a certain stage, they just ended up giving everyone at any point credit for it – earned or not.

    Its those kinds of miscues that are going to sink it. But as I said- if they land 125,000 regular subs at it, and stick to what they want to do, will be hard to call that a “failure”. If that 125,000 trends up to 150,000, 175,000 (etc.) over the next year (or whatever time period) then that is successful. You don’t need 500,000 subs to be a good game. You just need a core audience and a growing subscriber base.

    Be like EVE, and that’s fine.

    I unsubbed (recently) as I don’t have the hours to put in, and the endgame even if it WASN’T buggy would probably still be unreachable to me, anyway. I’m not the 1% anymore.

    (all numbers and such are my opinions or observations, the 125k etc is all sampling and what ifs. I don’t have insider knowledge, that much should be obvious – I just wanted to clarify that I’m not preaching or spitting out facts, just what I see, read, and think!)

    • Asmiroth says:

      That’s the crux of the argument. WS aimed for niche and came out with around half a million people. It’s where SWTOR claimed “break even”. Time will tell if that marker was hyperbole or actual fact mind you. And if the latter, they certainly have a chance at long term growth.

      And as for the bugs at end game…I don’t even want to bother linking the same issues with every other MMO 3-6 months out. It’s distressing that those still occur.

      • carson63000 says:

        To be accurate, they aimed for niche and came out with around half a million box sales. I think SWTOR claimed break even (for them) was retaining half a million subs. So the two numbers aren’t directly comparable.

        If Wildstar retains, say, 50,000 subs, is that success or failure? I have no idea.

      • Isey says:

        The scary thing is about those ~500k boxes is that they are not retaining their subs. Will be interesting to see if they ever announce where they are at, but I can tell you from my personal experience there is definitely less people playing than at launch – and yes, that is also very normal for MMOs these days. Big hype, big launch, 1-3 months of a lot of players as it declines.

        The bugs are extra bad for a hardcore focused – end game game. The tested 1-32 great but 32+ only had a very small, short testing period. Everyone knows everyone at launch races to max endgame so little excuse for it – even moreso if you aren’t fixing quickly and correctly (they also introduce new bugs with the old bugs, and again, nothing new.)

        So no one is really surprised, but I think everyone is waiting for that one company to surprise us…. its just not going to be Carbine.

        • SynCaine says:

          I think what it does show however is that there is more than enough market for someone to come along and deliver something solid. I mean FF14 isn’t off the charts amazing, but it does what it does really well, and just “do themepark really well” is worth 2m subs. That’s how sad the genre is right now. First person to make something that just “does X really well” is going to be richly rewarded.

          A lot of people want a solid MMO. A lot. Problem is in the last 10 years, almost no-one has delivered.

  3. kalex716 says:

    You viewpoint on this, is getting rather narrow. Lots of “F2P” games you besmirch so ardently, pretty much require subs in order to actually be a user outside of a weekend anyway. The lines blur really quickly.

    Yes, these games still have a cash shop that they can nickle and dime you further out of even more cash, but even the stalwart of sub games also offer the same thing.

    Its not 2010 anymore. Your opinions on this discussion need to evolve more.

    Clash of Clans.

    • Rammstein says:

      Kalex, you’re aware that your reply works much better as a retort to Tobold than it does as a retort to Syn, right? Did you post it on the wrong blog or something?

  4. Ivar says:

    Additionally, many of the so-called F2P games are really ‘unlimited trial’ games, pushing players toward a sub. SWTOR is a good example of this and ArcheAge will be another one.

  5. SynCaine says:

    So basically, the sub model is dead, which is why the few not-complete-garbage F2P MMOs have strong sub options as the best way to play them if you like them enough to care.

    Got it.

  6. Thank you for correctly identifying GW2 as non-F2P. I considered leaving a response in the comments section of his blog, but after careful deliberation decided that I would rather set my own hair on fire.

  7. wokyr says:

    It seems no one talk about one reason the numbers are “low” ; some people are waiting to see how the game do before joining.

    I played during a beta weekend, and I liked it. The animations, combat system and universe humor was nice. Not enough to buy on day one with all the bugs that come with it, but I though about joining 3-6 months later, and still think about it.

    The last MMO I played was Rift some weeks ago, the game is nice, and has a very nice F2P model (so nice I even gave them some bucks while thinking it was worth it). But the animations are crappy, there isn’t enough people queing on stuff at the strange hours I play (+ summer vocation = noone on most MMOs), and I don’t like most of the zone where I need to play currently. But good chance I’ll come back on the expension that come in a few months, as there’s a lot of good things, and as F2P you can take a break without issue.

    Before that I was playing FF14, some nice ideas, superb animations, great art style, harder dungeons than I though (that’s good), but combat is way too slow, and the community wasn’t that nice. And I didn’t likd much endgame… at least not enough to continue paying 15 bucks / month. Expansion soon here also, but thinking about the money to send to come back… I don’t plan to soon, maybe never.

    Both game have lots of qualities and a few defaults, I don’t consider one being way better than the other, but as they are not good enough for me, the one being F2P have a big advantage (and seriously if Rift had a way bigger budget to hire more people, I’m sure it would be way better, pretty sure if it had the same money as FF14, it would be better than it).

    But what do you do when you’re an old MMO player and you left all the last games you tried and are not willing to try the new one that is too expensive? Well you think back about WoW. Seriously I’m thinking a lot about coming back to the next expansion (don’t have Pandaria, Cataclysm was a big let-down to me, I loved TBC and WOLK, but after…). But I won’t come back for 50€ for a box +13€ for a sub… they are crazy.
    But good chance some (or maybe lots) of people thinking of trying WS at this time will do it, as the price tag would be the same in this situation.

  8. NetherLands says:

    From what I understand Drakensang Online for example does pretty well, and Tibia Online (from the days of Ultima Online and such) is still running as well. Runescape is a toss-up on wether it’s F2P or not, but is very succesfull.

    More importantly however, WildStar isn’t marketted as a ‘peon-game’, the least in its TV- and Media campaign. That dark little secret is tucked away in parts of the blogosphere and other corners of the Interweb most players never visit, most people just see the sparkly commercials, a box with a reasonable amount of ‘free’ playtime, and a content lull in most notably WoW.

    Even then, in the ‘white bread weeks’, it sold less boxes than (on top of my head) AoC, Rifts and SW:TOR in that same time-period, so this initial box sale doesn’t tell that much, except perhaps that not many people research their games ahead beforfe buying.

    Heck, even Tobold apparently bought and played it (did you btw? haven’t followed you much after your break with Darkfall) , which would make him one of the ‘1%’ by your logic.

    Might as well ask it now: where does your Blog name actually come from?

    You’re clearly into Guild- and Group-run events like Raiding and in general you seem to have an antipathy for doing things on your own in these virtual world-games we call our home-away-from-home, which isn’t a very casual approach to them (as you need to match agenda’s etc.).

    Wether or not relying on the help of other people is very hardcore is a discussion that would be rather pointless (for starters because we’re talking about video-games here, not exactly say hurling, alligator-wrestling or spelunking) but I always wondered on why you call yourself ‘Casual’ when your gaming interests don’t seem to ly in that direction.

  9. GamerDroid says:

    I’ve yet to play a good F2P MMORPG, sad but true. I’ve been following Archeage for a while but I’m afraid my concerns will be justified when the game is finally released; after they’ve milked as many people with their foundation packs as possible. Not to mention that the game looks like a weak form of P2W-F2P.

    F2P is still a con, as it always will be. The principle aim is to construct a game that maximises profit over quality, and does so in an underhanded way. This type of business model is seriously undermining the quality of current generation games.

  10. […] Gevlon in the comments and SynCaine in a post come out of the gate with a rather blistering one-two retort: 1) maybe recent sub games are […]

  11. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    “What day-one F2P MMO has been more successful than recently launched sub MMOs? Because if the sub model is dead, surely some new F2P mega-hit must have replaced it, right?”

    No. That’s a non sequitur. Didn’t read further – your premise is wrong so your conclusion is garbage in any case.

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