SW:TOR – Good enough to be a sub MMO again?

June 17, 2015

Two observations about the ‘big’ SW:TOR expansion announcement (based only on reading Rohan mostly, since lulz actually playing SW:TOR):

Bit early to call SW:TOR trying to save itself here as it going the FFXIV route. FFXIV isn’t special in so much that SquareEnix made major changes, but that it’s by far the most successful MMO released in recent years, and that it may already be the largest MMO out in terms of total subscribers. Lots of MMOs have released large updates or overhauls; but few saw significant improvement/gains. Given the overall history of SW:TOR (hotbars! Get your hotbars!), let’s see what this really brings. Emphasis is still being placed on the 4th pillar from what I can tell, and we all know how well that worked out the first time.

The more significant bit IMO is the heavy leaning back towards the subscription model. SW:TOR launched as a sub game, it wasn’t very good, and as all not-very-good MMOs, it went F2P. The other side of that coin, the one rarely seen, is that when an MMO gets ‘good enough’, it has the option to come back to the major leagues and return to the sub model (Allods). Let’s assume this update is a major positive step for SW:TOR, can it get ‘good enough’ to be a sub MMO again? That would be something.


HS: Speaking of why F2P is the minor leagues…

June 4, 2015

$10 for a skin to a throwaway afterthought game huh? Haha, silly Blizzard, you aren’t Riot and you don’t have anything remotely close to LoL with HS, get this sad money grab out of here.

But then again, when you are clinging to a top 20 grossing spot on the iPhone list with your freshly released mobile game (anyone have the finger stamina to find HS on the iPad chart?), you do need to get desperate, and this is desperation 101 right out of the SOE/Turbine playbook. Oh how far once-mighty Blizzard has fallen.

Free-to-Play, ALL THE WAY!


2015 midyear check-in: Still not a single great F2P MMO

June 4, 2015

Wildstar announcing it is moving to the minor leagues of the MMO world (F2P) is… something? Personally I have zero investment/interest in Wildstar, as I never saw the point of creating a ‘hardcore’ raiding MMO and then picking a hyper-cartoon artstyle and thinking more than a tiny population would remain interested. Those seem a bit contradictory, and anything bigger than “tiny niche product” for Wildstar was never going to happen anyway.

The only real surprise I guess is that Wildstar is going F2P later than ESO did, though I highly suspect the delay for Wildstar had more to do with resource limits, and console-release deadlines for ESO pushing it towards F2P faster-than-needed (and I’m not sure ESO wouldn’t have stayed sub if it was a PC-only title anyway).

But all of this does further reinforce my point about business models in the MMO genre; if you have a good game, it can be great if its sub, and no F2P MMO can be great. That Wildstar wasn’t great and is now moving down to F2P doesn’t change that. Nor does ESO, as ESO wasn’t great.

What was of interest when both games were announced with the sub model is that it gave both games a chance, at least in terms of the business model, to be great. No MMO that is under the F2P weight can ever be great. If an MMO tomorrow is announced, and part of that announcement is that it’s F2P, we know that, at best, it will be mediocre, with very good odds that it will be hotbar-selling garbage.

That’s just the upper limit of F2P. Always has been, and midway through 2015, nothing has changed. In 2015 the best and most successful MMOs are still sub MMOs (FFXIV, WoW, EVE). Saying the sub model is dead or outdated makes you sound like an ignorant fool at best, if not an outright idiot. What is almost-dead is the MMO genre itself, at least compared to days of old, with only a few studios still making MMOs that are anything above mediocre. But make no mistake; if you are one of those studios, the sub model is the one model that will allow you to truly create something great. That hasn’t changed in 2015. As always, lets revisit (repeat) in 2016, shall we?


Beep beep beep

April 23, 2015

Just because you SOE yourself initially, doesn’t mean you have to stick with that mistake forever (unless you’re Trion, then you just take being SOE to 11). So um… grats to ESO for undoing one stupid F2P step, and already doing something that SOE never could. That said lets be honest, they are going to do something dumb down the road, because “do something dumb” is what F2P is all about. Can’t wait!


ESO: Well that was quick

April 18, 2015

The former SOE “F2P ALL THE WAY” train has rolled into the Zenimax station, and all ESO players ‘benefit’.

#prayforESO #ESOlivesmatter


Shocker, a successful MMO is going to the sub model

March 19, 2015

Lineage 1, which I’ve actually played a good amount of and must say the game is very solid (in a very Asian, hyper-grindy way), is opening up a sub-only server in China. In freaking China!

Really weird how if a game is successful, it stays or goes to sub, while if an MMO sucks, it launches/stays F2P. Almost like each model represents something. Someone should blog about that a time or two…


FFXIV: Sub model isn’t just about higher quality, its also about safety

March 10, 2015

Full interview can be found here.

So, just because ESO moved into a free-to-play subscription model, it doesn’t necessarily mean for us to move into that direction as well. Also, for use we have taken player surveys and took a look at what our customer satisfaction level is and we actually garnered data that shows that over 80% of our players are satisfied with the subscription model and they feel very assured that it is a constant. You are safe to be in that environment, and you know that you can expect a decent amount of updates and content. So, we don’t believe that FFXIV needs to shift in that direction and not everything that other competitors or titles do will necessarily apply to our title.

Bold section for emphasis as its something I’ve always felt is true about the sub model vs other models, and it’s nice to have a senior dev from the most recent successful MMO state it as well.

As I’ve written before, each update from a sub MMO is usually a celebration of getting something new or improved, while each update under non-subs is a potential “give us more money” cash-shop power update or ‘addition’. In short, you cheer sub updates, and grow to fear non-sub updates, which itself has a pretty significant impact on overall enjoyment.

PS: If/when they add the snowboarding game from FFVII, that’s going to be a massive time sink for me. God I loved that game back in the day.

 


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