The MMO hype-release cycle getting worse?

Is it just me, or is the hype-release cycle in the MMO world getting crazier and less professional as time goes on? It just seems like not only are projects being announced as soon as someone comes up with a rough sketch and a general concept, but we are seeing early beta or even alpha-quality products pushed out, not to mention companies asking for money earlier than ever.

Take for example Xsyon, which beyond looking terribad on just about every level, started taking pre-orders before they even had a single gameplay video up. Are people really that quick to throw away $40? And is that all it takes today; just put together a long list of features that may, at some point in time, be in your game, create a few screen shots (be sure to include awesome clipping in 90% of them!), and ask for cash?

Slightly better but still extremely questionable is Mortal Online. MO was set to go live when they had still not solved the very basic issue of players staying connected to the server, and that those connected could not actually interact with others due to desync issues. And if this desync issue is a problem in a limited beta, what exactly would you expect to happen when you go live and get flooded (relative to the size of beta anyway) with players? Yea, I’m sure the desync issue will just sort itself out when you increase the number of people trying to connect all at once… And who knows how the actual game will function when you do have all those players connected and interacting, hardly anyone can test whatever content is there. Again though, I’m sure all of that will just sort itself out in a PvP MMO, rather than be abused to hell and back. No no, THAT has never happened before, and certainly not recently…

Let’s move on to an MMO that did launch, but then not, shall we? Algonan has gone through more crap than most MMOs go through in five years of successful release, and it’s not even officially out yet, sorta. See Algonan did launch, it did charge for the client and then a monthly sub, but since it was (reportedly) an utter disaster, the devs decided to roll back time and not launch 4realz, and went back to open beta. And during post-go-live-open-beta, they decided to change the game over to the F2P model (sorta, I think it still costs $20 initially, for now), with a cash shop coming soon, setting the record for fastest sub MMO to demote itself to F2P status; current record: open beta. And this is all over a game that is literally just trying to copy WoW word for word.

And then we have Copernicus from 38 studios, which has already had a longer hype cycle than most games and we don’t even have a name for it yet. Props to them for not taking pre-orders I guess. Or SW:TOR, which even before release we already know it’s make-or-break status thanks to big talk by EA, which worked out really well for them the last time they did this with WAR. Plus who can forget Allod’s very, er, memorable cash shop price switch in it’s early days? I could go on, as the list really does appear endless here.

Are we really this stupid? Do we really have so much money/time to throw around that the second someone waves a feature list under our nose, we open up our wallet? Has the hunt for “the next great thing” gotten to the point where not only does the next thing not have to be great, it does not even have to exist yet for us to start drooling?

(And yes, I realize the above is somewhat hypocritical coming from someone who has been playing DarkFall since launch, but at least DF launched and surprised everyone when it actually worked. And even though the first few months were a bit rough, it’s shaped up nicely and now, more than a year later, is still going strong. And yes, DF did start its hype cycle somewhere around 2003-4, with a now completely out-of-date gameplay video dating back to at least 2007. Still waiting on half the stuff in the video…)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Allods Online, beta, Darkfall Online, Mass Media, MMO design, Random, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The MMO hype-release cycle getting worse?

  1. Stabs says:

    Are we really this stupid?

    I think most of the people who bought pre-launch lifetime subs to Cryptic’s 2 recent MMOs can answer a resounding Yes!

    Especially the people who lifetime subbed to CO only for the STO beta which let them lifetime sub to STO and get bored after a month.

    • SynCaine says:

      Ah yea I totally forgot all of the lifetime-before-live sub offers. Complete fail on my part with that, and good addition.

  2. Ravious says:

    OTOH, we have freakin GW2 which tells us nothing! <3 tho

  3. Andrea Bargs says:

    “And even though the first few months were a bit rough, it’s shaped up nicely and now, more than a year later, is still going strong.”

    LOL. Gotta be the one of the biggest lies from you yet.

    I think to most people, going strong means stable or increasing population. DF has neither.

    Keep the hype machine going.

    With Greece getting a bailout, you shouldn’t worry about your paycheque from Aventurine.

    • kemp says:

      You’d hope that one of conditions of bailing out Greece would be to stop its unrestrained spending. You know, like giving a grant to Aventurine and having them make an MMO with the funds. 50k to profit? Please.

    • Remastered says:

      Just out of curiousity, what is your source for your claim that DF has neither a stable nor increasing population?

      • Billy Hicks says:

        The last thing announced by the devs said the population dropped after launch and since then has been slowly growing.

  4. adam says:

    “And this is all over a game that is literally just trying to copy WoW word for word.”

    The new lead designer/producer/something said he’s trying to fundamentally change the art direction to be unique, as well as some of the more WoW-like gameplay elements.

  5. PeterD says:

    I’d like to say that it’s not that players are actually that stupid, but that game companies think players are that stupid. Unfortunately, the point about lifetime subs for the Cryptic games shoots that idea in the foot. Especially when people start screaming “unfair” when the company “runs out” of lifetime subs for the game that hasn’t launched yet. Sigh.

  6. Tobias says:

    For the record, the video you linked is a fan made video. And as for the features listed in said video, just about all of them are in game, and have been since launch.

  7. silvertemplar says:

    Just to be the spelling nazi, it’s called Alganon .

    Anyhow, i think it’s a case of people craving for something NEW and FRESH. WoW has turned us all into “one size fits all” MMO-gamers. So now we play MMOs, but we’re actually all bored with the entire genre and constantly looking for something else. Unlike single player games where there’s a new one every month or two, MMOs takes years to actually launch…so inevitably we’re constantly obsessed about the next MMO and end up trying and buying them long before they’re ready :(

  8. Maggnus says:

    The MMO industry is a copy of the film industry. Companies constantly churning out total garbage because they know the fan base will buy/preorder their garbage.

  9. Joe Welcome says:

    I would argue that MMO games should be developed by people who eh love their game. But this affection has to be there prior to development. On the contrary, it is not interesting in the end when/if the claim of affection become more like an apologetic excuse.

  10. Malakili says:

    The reality is that there isn’t much space in the long term MMO market. The money to be made at this point isn’t off subs anymore, its off boxes. Developers know this, and they are acting accordingly.

    The main point, in my opinion, is as follows: People are willing to pay a 50 dollar box fee for something they only intend to play for the free month. Even if you only play an hour a day for that first month, you’ll get 30 hours our of it, and even at that price its still pretty cheap entertainment, and certainly stands up to other single player games in that respect.

    Lifetimes are another issue, because that presumes people expect to play it for well over a year at least. But thats not really what we are talking about here (at least not ONLY what we are talking about). Now, we can argue about whether or not its stupid to buy an MMO you don’t intend to play long term, or don’t care if you play long term, on the presumption that you’ll get your 50 bucks worth even if you don’t subscribe after your month, but thats not really going to change the fact that 1000s of people seem prepared to do it.

    The pre-release hype is all to get more boxes off the shelves, and people seem willing to pay box price to check MMOs out, stay for a month and leave. You call it the tourist problem, and whether or not its a problem, who really cares. Its just people paying 50 bucks to play a game for a month, I’ve done it a dozens of times with single player games, and most people who don’t give a second thought to things like MMO design philosophy, or theme parks, or sandboxes, or anything else for that matter aren’t going to suddenly treat MMO games with a different philosophy about how long they are going to have to play it to make it worth the box price.

  11. Bhagpuss says:

    “Do we really have so much money/time to throw around that the second someone waves a feature list under our nose, we open up our wallet?”

    Yes. It really is as simple as that. As a cultural subgroup PC gamers are very time and money rich. The costs aren’t significant to most of us and there’s sufficient value in just test-driving these things and satisfying our curiosity.

    If I buy a can of Coke in the shop in the filling station 30 seconds walk from my house, it costs me the equivalent of more than a dollar. It takes me 30 seconds to walk there, 15 seconds to buy it, 30 seconds to walk back and I can drink it before I get back to the house. A dollar gone in 75 seconds.

    Compared to that kind of thoughtless, everyday purchase, $50 for a game I might get a dozen hours of mild amusement from looks like stellar value. I think the only people being puzzled by the current throwaway nature of MMO design are old-timers who still think MMOs are a scarce commodity.

    • Malakili says:

      Yeah, this basically. Even spending 50 bucks on a game (which, if I wait just a few months I can often get it cheaper than this, but that isn’t the point), I still get an amazing return on entertainment per hour compared to say, a movie, even if I only play the game for a single evening or 2, think about it.

  12. Max says:

    Yes. It really is as simple as that. As a cultural subgroup PC gamers are very time and money rich. The costs aren’t significant to most of us and there’s sufficient value in just test-driving these things and satisfying our curiosity.

    I don’t know about you but I start feeling the MMO market is so crowded I don’t have time to simply check the games website, let alone “test drive it”

    On the other hand I of those games I did check they have same old design flaws . So I have no desire to check yet another wow clone or another cash shop asian grinder , or another “indy” “pvp” fail

    If I can have fun while trying it out then yes I dont mind money and time spent.I regret paying for darkfall because it was really wasted time for my own money – lesson learned, not buying without trying anymore.

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