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…)