2010: Year of the Tourist?

Tobold is asking who plans to be a tourist in 2010 (continuing his new adult entertainment blog theme in the process), which got me thinking whether 2010 itself might not just be the ‘Year of the Tourist’, and furthermore whether catering to the tourist crowd might not be a viable option.

For starters, I fully expect Star Trek Online to see its fair share of tourists, as once again many will THINK they want Sci-Fi when in reality they do just want more elves. It will (hopefully anyway) be a little different than the traditional quest/profit themepark, which again will SOUND good to many but not actually work out for most. Assuming the game itself is solid enough to keep its core, it should do fine after the masses move on, but expect the first months to be tourist-tastic.

But the biggest tourist title of 2010 (assuming its actually released) will be SW:TOR, again not just because of it’s Sci-Fi base, but also because how long can you be entertained by voice-acted story in an MMO?

But that got me thinking, what if SW:TOR is actually designed around the tourists? What if the goal is to attract as many people as possible initially, give them a good 1-2 months of gaming, and then expect and plan for them to leave? As long as they leave happy, you can bet they will come back in 6 months or a year to see the new story content you have added, and there might be a business around that pattern.

We know SW:TOR will sell big at the start, the combo of Star Wars, BioWare, and EA make this all but certain. We also know SW:TOR will charge both a subscription and have RMT elements in play (I believe this is confirmed?). So lets say the game sells 3-5 million copies (about what a major gaming title sells), and that base, spread out over 12 months, rotates in/out at 1-2 months a pop, re-subbing and also dropping a few bucks for some extra items/story/whatever. As long as SW:TOR overall image or ‘buzz’ is positive, that would still work at attracting new gamers and keeping former players interested in any new updates.

And really, this could benefit everyone in the market. For the players, you know you will have a solid experience to return to every now and then, eating up whatever has been added and then going back to either your main MMO or trying out something else. For EA/BioWare, they have a constant stream of revenue, and high motivation to continue improving and adding to the game in significant ways. And for other companies and the genre as a whole, SW:TOR does not completely monopolize a player like WoW, so those 3-5m players WILL be playing other games and staying interested in the MMO genre as a whole. Sound like a win/win/win to me.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Mass Media, MMO design, Random, SW:TOR, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to 2010: Year of the Tourist?

  1. spinks says:

    Star Trek totally has elves!

    Vulcans = elves
    Klingons = orcs
    Romulans = dark elves
    Orions = sexy dryads

  2. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Yeah, like Spinks said, Vulcans are space elves.

    Consider that base covered.

    • SynCaine says:

      I thought only humans and Klingons were playable in STO?

      • I don’t really understand how it works. You can create any race you want so you could make yourself a Klingon if you wanted. Don’t really know how that fits in with the playable “races”.

      • Alice says:

        It’s Federation and Klingon, and seeing as how the Federation is a vast collection or races it allows for your character to be any race or a race you create.

        If it was mostly humans the side would be Star Fleet, which is Earth’s forces.

  3. Anne says:

    IDK if this is EA/Bioware’s plan, but if it is, nice going.

    Personally not that interested in it myself, Star Wars IP is meh and looks more like a single player game to me. AND I really dislike the whole ‘please select your text respone’ thing Bioware have going, seems more like a interactive book then a game to me. Games should be able to bring gameplay and player choice together (e.g. you actually kill the NPC/player in combat rather then select, “I’m going to kill you now!” and then see your character kill them), hence NOT be like a Final Fantasy (or any other fandom) personality test.

  4. Malakili says:

    Frankly, I think that is Cryptic’s plan for STO more than EA’s plan for SWTOR. Cryptic has this engine now and they just seem content to pump out a new game every year regardless of quality, sell some boxes, and move to the next game using the same engine. There have been rumors of NWN Online coming from them after STO, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that is their business plan, pump out a new game at low cost, sell boxes, people who stay on are gravy, c-store is gravy, and then you use your profits to fund the next title.

  5. Maladorn says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the SW:TOR thing plays out a like that. While I’m looking forward to the title, I think the MSORPG (Massively Single-player Online RPG) theory is more likely with TOR than any other game I’ve seen so far. For my money, if I can get KotOR 3-10 (assuming one play-through for each class), I’ll be pretty well pleased because that’s what I want out of the game. The Old Republic setting is a great new place that, while still Star Wars, doesn’t yet have everything all laid out and set in stone. (I suppose for clarity I should mention that my experience with Star Wars includes only the movies and several video games. Haven’t gotten into any EU novels or comics.) There are still stories to tell, and characters not named Skywalker. Moving to a Massive format will let people play some of those stories together. In my mind, it’s a step forward for the KotOR franchise, not a step down from “real” MMOs. If they can capitalize on the fact that tourism will happen, then I think they’ll achieve big-box-style success.

  6. silvertemplar says:

    Indeededly, as others mentioned , i don’t think this is an “epidemic” restricted to SWTOR. I believe this model has been followed since the likes of Warhammer, maybe unknowingly, but the end result was pretty much massive box sales, 1-2 months later and the game starts bleeding.

    Player retention seems of lesser concern, and basically player “turnover” is the focus. This implies “re-releasing” the game every 6-9 months with different models. Either pulling an NGE (re-vamp the game) or change the payment model. Looks like the payment model is more successful. EA/WAR is perfect example, they turned it into a “unlimited trial” for Tier 1 , basically pulling in some new players, DDO another example.

    If you look at it, there’s very few MMOs out there that can SUSTAIN a population longer than 2-3 months. The MMOs that does have the content to sustain the population long-term are the ones that’s been chugging along since 2004’ish [and earlier], WoW,EQ2,EVE .

    All the rest are designed and developed for the TOURIST, 3 months and you are done. Just like a singe player game, except now you pay double…

  7. Derrick says:

    I suspect that will be the case, and honestly I hope so.

    I’m done with MMO’s eating up all my play time, and becomming the only game I play for years on end. I did that back in the day with WoW, and I won’t again.

    My schedule prevents me from doing any kind of scheduled group play, so while I’m a huge fan of guilds and socialization in game, I can rarely contribute to group activities as I basically play at totally random times/days.

    So, if SW:TOR ends up being a highly solo friendly themepark style of RPG with the ability to play with friends when possible (but not in any way requiring that) I’ll be estatically happy. I’ll play through the storylines, like I would a single player RPG, then I’ll move on to other games. The same thing happens for me with any MMO anyways now – I’m uninterested in long-term play as mostly-solo play is only fun until you run out of new content; then you need to move into more group-based activities to create your own content – and those inevitably move towards needing to be scheduled. It’s senseless to keep paying a monthly subscription when there’s no content left you can take part in.

    So, yeah, I’m a tourist, but I’m an honest one. I’m not in the market for a game to play for years on end, I’m in the market for a fun, social game to play for a month or three. Variety is the spice of life =)

  8. Stabs says:

    Excellent insight on SWTOR.

    I hadn’t thought of it quite like that but yeah, what we know of SWTOR so far is essentially non-repeatable content. There are 8 stories and the designers are openly saying that what they want a player to do when he finishes a storyline is make a new alt. Rinse and repeat 8 times and then….

    A lot rests on the “and then”. What I’m honestly expecting is an Alterac Valley style theme park where you can take your maxxed character and farm other players and non-players for your purple pixel dopamine fixes. All meaningless and pointless on a strategic level.

    What I’d like is a game of Eve-type depth and complexity but they have given no hint that they’re planning this.

    So yeah do the stories then stop, it is as you say a game aimed at tourists.

    • Derrick says:

      Eve-like games are great, too, but I’m for one glad that someone is making an MMORPG that’s not two games awkwardly smashed together: A levelling game and the end game.

      I just hope people can break out of their silly insistence on “How MMO’s Should Be”. I think it’s important that there are MMO’s that focus on the RPG part of the game; the story, the character growth. This style of game – a more traditional RPG style – inherently lends itself towards finite character development. They SHOULD end. Not every MMO needs to be an ever-lasting process.

      This is a good thing to have just like deep, complex eve-like games, open brutal Darkfall style games, or even everlasting purple-pixel-farming games like Warcraft.

      I say, it’s about time someone made an MMO that focussed on the story and immersion as opposed to tacking on some text blurb giving you a half-assed poorly written reason(that you won’t read anyways) to kill 10 rats. It’s fine time to see an MMO developer work to make your character’s growth be the key point of the game, rather than a tedious timesink before you can really start playing.

      The length of time you play a game on a single playthrough is not necessarily indicative of how good a game it is.

      • SynCaine says:

        When I say it might be the perfect tourist game, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. If ST:TOR is fun for 1-2 months a year, that would be a nice break or side-game to DarkFall for me, or for whatever ‘serious’ MMO someone is playing. That’s why I was saying it might be good overall for the genre.

  9. pitrelli says:

    Nope I’ll be hanging up my Tourist name tag and will be sticking to two games: Fallen Earth and I’ll pick up WoW again when Cataclysm releases. In saying that I will also probably subscribe to darkfall on months that I fancy a change.

    ST:TOR is one I’ll wait and see what the reception is after a few months.

  10. mbp says:

    “What if the goal is to attract as many people as possible initially, give them a good 1-2 months of gaming, and then expect and plan for them to leave?”

    Yes please. This is exactly the kind of mmorpg I want. I do not want to sign away three years of my life to play just one game. I want to play lots of different games for a few weeks each. Give me a goal I can achieve in a month and then leave with some sense of accomplishment. Guild Wars episodic model comes to mind.

    By the way I note that you are still reading Tobold despite his public rejection of your own blog. No hard feelings?

    • SynCaine says:

      I read any blog that entertains me, in whatever way. That Tobold had his monthly fit directed at me is on him, not me. I’m going to continue doing what I do. I mean I still read Keen, even though he has me blocked at his site, although I read him more for comedy than actual insight, but in the end its all about being entertained, right?

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  12. Brian Inman says:

    I want SWTOR to be my next MMO, but for some reason it may just be a tourist. I want to try Cataclysm, and GW2 also.

    I just haven’t been able to find my fix this last year or two.

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  14. YuriPup says:

    The Love them and Leave them (or let them love you and leave you-tourist style) game is a mistake from a classic marketing prospective. Landing a new customer is something like 10-20 times as more expensive as maintaining an existing customer relationship.

    I suspect ignoring that truth will cost a lot of money.

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