2015 predictions review

Prompted by Wilhelm again, lets look back at my 2015 predictions.

DF:UW will shut down. The population is at an all-time low, AV is completely lost with the title, and Forumfall continues to stick daggers into the one game even trying to give that crowd something to do. I don’t see how the game survives 2015 short of a miracle turnaround or wipe/DF3 plan.

Technically DF:UW didn’t shut down, but right now the game has 1-2 developers working on it, meaning other than slight changes, nothing new is going in, and AV is supposedly flirting with the idea of licensing away DF1 to allow fans to run their own version.

WoW will lose subs. Yea, going for easy points here. I think the WoD bounce will fade, and I’m not sure New Blizzard is capable of really fixing the game to return it to growth.

As I said, easy points, and with WoD Blizzard has not only given up on growing the game, they have basically accepted the fact that outside of a ever-decreasing core, players now view WoW as a ‘jump in for a month, consume expansion, jump back out’ title. Not the worse position by any means, but a far cry from what WoW once was.

FFXIV will gain subs. More easy points. With an expansion coming, a solid foundation, and a studio not called SOE or Trion supporting it, I think 2015 will be an even better year than 2014 was for this gem.

This indeed happened, with FFXIV crossing the 5m sub mark and now being larger than WoW.

EVE will gain subs. Again more ‘in the right direction’ thinking here, although less confident in this predication than I am in FFXIV, especially if Star Citizen launches (it won’t) and isn’t completely horrible.

I don’t think this happened, or at least not in a significant way? I haven’t seen any recent ‘EVE is dying, see!’ posts from the usual suspects, but I also haven’t seen any growth indicators either. Did the population just stabilized in 2015?

LoL will continue to sit atop the gaming world. I don’t see Riot slipping in 2015, I don’t see any game challenging its popularity, and the MOBA genre has a long-established history of longevity. The eSport side of the game will also continue to grow and dominate that segment.

Correct on all accounts. LoL is easily still the biggest game out, and it’s recent eSport numbers show its also a monster for that. Who could have predicated that in 2015, 36 million people would tune in to watch a videogame match?

CoC isn’t budging either. Similar story to LoL; solid developer, solid foundation, no serious challengers, CoC will finish 2015 as the top mobile game, just like it finished 2014.

Despite of heavy marketing push from Game of War (which is a 100% garbage game), CoC is still king of the mobile space, and the recent mega-patch and introduction of TH11 only strengthen its position.

Hearthstone will continue as Blizzard’s least-successful title. A weak foundation, core design flaws, and a complete lack of long-term hook will continue to see the title float between unknown mobile titles on the revenue list, while occasionally getting a jump when new cards are released and the whale famewhores dive in, only to drop back down shortly after. Won’t be much of a factor in the 2015 eSports scene either.

Nothing in 2015 turned HS around, as the painfully slow update cycles and zero effort to balance the game, along with all its other flaws, continue to leave it in a sad state. The only takeaway from an eSport perspective is that even the ‘best’ HS players make simple mistakes, leaving one to wonder why Blizzard even bothers taking the game in that direction.

ArcheAge will continue to be comically mismanaged by Trion, giving us as least half a dozen “Trion being Trion” moments in 2015.

I mean, predicting Trion being Trion is like predicting the sun will come up the next morning…

EQN won’t release. Nor will Landmark move out from under it’s ‘beta’ tag.

The public, slow execution of SOE continues.

The rest of the ‘that’s still online huh’ F2P junk titles like LotRO, SW:TOR, EQ2, etc will float on in who-cares-land. None will be put out of their misery, but none will move up either.

Good ol’ F2P minor leagues, always predictable.

I think game funding via Kickstarter will see an uptick as more Kickstarter-funded games launch and are well received. Pillars of Eternity is the one that has my eye (and money), and the continued positive development of MMOs like Camelot Unchained will show people that the platform, when used correctly, does work.

Well Pillars was a huge hit, and easily one of the best classical RPGs to come out in years. Crowfall (from what little I’ve played so far) is shaping up very nicely, and CU continues to make progress. I think its safe to say Kickstarter is an overall big plus to gaming.

I honestly don’t see any MMO in 2015 shocking us and restoring faith in the genre. It will be more of the same, with some good (FFXIV), some bad (pick a F2P MMO), and most being meh.

To pile on to the above, did anything shocking or of major note even happen in 2015 for the MMO genre? I guess FFXIV surpassing WoW is a big deal, but feels less so because in large parts its due to how Blizzard continues to mismanage WoW, rather than strictly based on how great FFXIV is. Certainly would have been a much larger story if FFXIV surpassed WoW’s peak of 12m.

So that’s it for 2015, fairly accurate if a bit safe. Working on the 2016 predictions now.

Posted in ArcheAge, Camelot Unchained, Clash of Clans, Crowfall, Darkfall Online, EQNext, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Kickstarter, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings Online, Random, Site update, SOE being SOE, SW:TOR, Trion being Trion, World of Warcraft | 16 Comments

CoC and DB get big updates

Lot of big updates in the mobile gaming world that myself and many blog readers are part of, so lets talk about them!

First, did I know Damian Schubert works on Dungeon Boss? He’s the hotbar salesmen from SW:TOR right? It kinda makes sense actually; Dungeon Boss is a good mobile title, but its business model is not only Pay-4-Power, but also has a lot of ‘that makes zero sense’ built into it. I bet Damian did all of that work, and others did all the work that is actually good.

Moving on, a big update has hit DB that added Guilds (again, I’m guessing the fact you have to pay 500 gems to create one is Damian Shubert’s touch). If you are playing and want to join up, the name is Inquisition. The update also added a new dungeon where you fight up a tower, with damage and energy from each battle carrying over, but you can switch heroes after every battle. I’ve only done a few levels, but I do like that this will encourage leveling up more than just four heroes, especially because there are a lot of cool and interesting heroes in the game. Finally there is an Evo combination system, but the hotbar saleman basically ruined that by adding a gem cost for the stuff that is actually hard to get. Nice work buddy.

Clash of Clans also had a huge update, most notably adding Town Hall 11 to the game. No one in our clan is THAT close to moving up to TH11 (I’m near-max TH9, so likely won’t see TH11 for a good number of months if not a year), but since our clan is level 5+, the new troop levels at TH11 will come into play for us during wars from donations. In particular, I’m curious to see how strong level 3 witches are going to be. Plus there will be the ‘fun’ of being matched up with a clan that has a TH11, that should be really interesting.

Speaking of donation, you can now also donate one dark elixir spell, which is a HUGE power boost, as this means you can now take out two air defenses with lighting/quake. I expect a lot of air-focused attacks in wars at the TH9 level because of this. I also wonder if using 8 quakes to take out two large sections of walls with a GoWiPe attack is going to be a thing.

Between those updates and the somewhat recent Boom Beach update that added HQ21, things are busy and a lot of fun in mobile land. Our CoC… clan is full, but feel free to apply to our Boom Beach task force (Hardcore Casual) or the Dungeon Boss guild (Inquisition).

Posted in Clash of Clans, Inquisition Clan, iPhone, Random, RMT, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Defeat leads to victory, and victory means defeat

How many times have you quit playing a game because you lost? How many times have you quit a game because you won?

The first is rarer than the second, right? We view defeat as motivation to improve and try again, while often times victory is indeed followed shortly by ‘game over’, both figuratively and literally (I may not be using those words correctly, some English major feel free to correct me).

As games transition away from a product model and more towards a service (which IMO is a great thing, but that’s another topic), it becomes more and more important not just to get someone to try/buy your game, but for them to KEEP playing/paying, be it a monthly sub or DLC purchases.

Tie these two things together, and its interesting that so few games really push or focus on defeat. Dark Souls is of course an excellent example, and I’d put games like Civilization with its long list of difficulty levels here as well. A game like LoL has basically infinite difficulty, because as you get better, so do the players you play with/against, and I think that is a HUGE contributor to that games amazing sustained success.

In the MMO space the exact opposite push has happened in many games; defeat is almost impossible in WoW today outside of very specific content (non LFR raids for example), and the leveling game in almost all MMOs is borderline trivial. The strategy in the MMO space is not to defeat you and focus on improvement, but rather to stretch the road out so instead of 40-60 hours of content, you plow through thousands of hours. The flaw here is once you have been through one such road, you more or less know it, and so you won’t be as excited to repeat a similar process in a different flavor or theme, and I think this is a major reason why we are seeing an overall decline in MMO interest.

One of the themes the PvE Sandbox MMO Design tab touches on is the concept of the players fighting an ever-increasing, and ultimately ‘impossible’ battle against the world. The main reason I think this would be successful is players of all levels push themselves to improve, and we like seeing that improvement. Easy example; we all like the feeling of finding a really powerful item, and the short-term effect of being able to easily handle something that was more difficult prior to finding that item. But long-term, if said item has now trivialized a lot of content (or worse-case, made everything too easy), that item is a net-negative to the whole experience.

The solution isn’t to remove the item, but rather to allow the game to escalate the difficulty until, even with said item, you are challenged. And by challenged, I mean defeated until you again improve. Fallout 4 is a great example of this flaw. When you find a great legendary weapon with crazy DPS, its a great feeling. Its also great fun to use it the first few times and melt enemies. But long-term such a find trivializes the game, and you are left with the option of either not using the item, or starting a fresh game. Wouldn’t it be better if instead the game was able to handle such a find, and keep you challenged?

Posted in Fallout 3, MMO design, Random, Rant, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Actually do something good

I almost never post about real life here on this blog, because I know people don’t come to a blog that is usually rando rants about videogames to hear about serious topics, but today is an exception for an important reason.

The amount of mass shootings in the USA is insane if you look at the statistics, yet you still have people argue that MORE guns is going to help the problem. Even more insane is the amount of people I’ve read who seriously list “being a militia against government tyranny” as a reason to own a gun. Because yes, your AR-15 is really going to turn the tide should the US Government decide to use drone strikes and F15s against you. Also everyone knows when you are out hunting, an extended mag is crucial to putting that deer down.

The Daily News, a NY city based paper, recently also put a cover out highlighting the hypocrisy of some politicians that tweeted out “Thoughts and Prayers” as their way of ‘doing something’ about this. A lot of people missed why this is hypocritical; these politicians CAN do something substantial about the issue rather than just blurt out (over freaking Twitter…) the easiest thing possible, but don’t because, in part, they are part of the problem and block guns laws from passing that would move the US towards more of a civilized nation that doesn’t have mass shootings as a weekly event.

On a smaller but equally important scale, there was news today on Massively that one of the people murdered in San Bernardino was an EVE player that had a wife and young daughter. Friends of the family set up a GoFundMe page, which as of this posting has collected 25k+ from over 600 people. It has also been shared 8.7k times. It would be nice if more of those 8.7k “thoughts and prayers” shares actually did something of substance (give money), wouldn’t it?

/end rant

 

Posted in Random, Rant, Uncategorized | 64 Comments

Steam: A premium service at a basement price

I’ve teased Az a few times about his ‘poor people’ life choices, be it not going with an iPhone or buying games for a few bucks less on a platform that isn’t Steam. The root of the teasing is that for most people earning a decent living, time is far more valuable than the amounts of money in question here, yet while Az has the money, he apparently loves throwing time away to save a buck or two. I will 100% of the time pay $5 more on Steam to save myself an hour of frustration installing or trying to play a game.

This got me thinking about Steam itself; in almost every way save for the actual price of games, Steam is a premium platform. Downloads are lighting fast, it’s as unobtrusive as DRM can be, the UI is top-notch, and it’s very feature-rich (friend list, achievements, profiles, wishlist, etc). If Steam never had sales and you regularly had to pay $5-$10 MORE per game, it would still be worthwhile for me compared to hunting down games across a bunch of sites and dealing with each sites downloader, patcher, etc.

But we don’t pay more on Steam. Hell, thanks to Steam we usually pay far less. Valve has, almost single-handedly, changed how PC gamers buy games and the price-points they do it at. I always laugh when console people make a huge deal out of a ‘buy two, get three’ sale, but the truth is that IS a huge sale on console games. A game at 50% off on a console is considered a steal, while almost every single day we look at games that are 50-75% off on Steam and consider that normal.

Most people and companies won’t resort to selling a cancer drug marked up 2000% to make a buck, but Valve is almost on the opposite end of the spectrum here; providing a premium service at an often-times outrageous discount. It’s good to be a PC gamer, unless you’re Az of course.

Posted in Random, Steam Stuff, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Fallout 4:Virtual Boston is real world fun

One thing that is clicking for me about Fallout 4 is the location, given that I currently live just outside of Boston. Just recently I was driving into Logan airport and mentally comparing the real layout of Boston to the one in Fallout 4, and its pretty crazy how accurate it all is. That accuracy and familiarity has certainly boosted my enjoyment of an already incredible game.

I never got the sense of a real city in either Fallout 3 or New Vegas. In F3 the downtown areas were all split up into smaller zones, and it didn’t help that they were connected by the dreaded subway system (easily my least favorite design in any Fallout game). In NV Vegas itself felt incredibly small, and also suffered from the fact it had to be broken up into multiple zones. I was also disappointed in how minor/small the casinos were, given how central they were to the plot and the setting.

F4 nails the city feel. The downtown streets, in addition to being accurate to the real world versions, also make you feel like you are walking down a former city that is now mostly abandoned. The buildings that loon over you feel real. Looking over the city from one of the taller buildings doesn’t feel like looking over a videogame map, even though there are tons of ‘gamey’ locations visible. The layout makes sense because its the layout of a real city, but amazingly at the same time the layout doesn’t make for bad gaming, which is a huge testament to the work Bethesda is capable of doing.

Speaking of locations, Vault 81 is another great little bit of content (minor side quest spoilers here). In the Fallout universe very few of the vaults are actually intended to save people, as most are designed for different experiments by Vault-Tec. This makes exploring them interesting because you usually have to dig into the details of the area to uncovering the purpose of the vault.

One previous logical leap that is usually required with the vaults is the assumption that the Vault-Tec employees would just go along with their evil corporation’s plans. Take Vault 111 in F4; why would all of the scientists and security working for that vault just go along with surprise-freezing everyone?

What makes Vault 81 so special is that, finally, there was a Vault-Tec employee who said screw it, and went against the plans and just did ‘the right thing’ and saved everyone inside the vault (well, almost everyone). I like that the details of Vault 81 deal with what it took to keep the vault going for 200+ years, and the current-day struggle and reality of having to work with the outside world a bit.

Future DLC request: Raiders or some other ‘bad guys’ attack Vault 81, and you need to help defeat the threat and then work to rebuild the vault, either remaining mostly isolated, or evolving into a more open part of the Commonwealth.

Posted in Fallout 3, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Testing a new theme

Tell me how much you hate it.

The main reason for the change is I noticed the old theme removed the tabs near the top for the CoC and Sandbox pages. Just more WordPress doing WordPress things.

Posted in Site update, Uncategorized | 8 Comments