I’m starting to get a little worried here. First Tobold starts playing (and enjoying) a hardcore niche MMO, then he agrees that used game buyers are thieving parasites (not his words), and now we find ourselves again on the same side of the latest ‘issue’ in MMO land; the FFXIV xp cap. The hell ice-skating rink is open for business.
The reason I initially favor the cap (I’ve not actually played FFXIV, so expect an EG review sometime next week) is simple: MMO players turn into soulless drones when given the option to chase a shiny. If something will advance a player in-game, the majority will do that and only that until they fall over dead, even if it’s the absolute least-fun activity. Be it chain-queuing WAR scenarios, blood walls in Darkfall, or playing WSG for 16 hours a day for 5 weeks straight in WoW (old High Warlord), if there is a shiny, MMO players will walk over glass and through fire to get it, complaining that the game is broken all the way there.
The other thing we know is when you DON’T offer a direct path to a shiny (or it’s not yet know what’s the most effective/painful way to get it), MMO players actually, wait for it, play for fun. And, even more shocking, actually HAVE fun. The hour before UO servers went down (they did not record that hour), the first week of a new MMO (before the ‘optimal’ path is discovered, wiki’ed, and youtubed), the final days before a server wipe or a game shutting down, etc; all of this leads to the drones waking up and doing what they find fun. Amazing how that works eh?
So the way I see it, FFXIV players will do whatever soul-sucking activity gets them the shiny fastest for the first 15 hours of a week, and then either log off (if you are a true masochist, i.e. the hardcore), or stop and do whatever activity is simply the most fun in-game, which if the game is designed in an even half-decent manner, will be something social that truly plays up the best parts of playing an MMO; the Massive and Multiplayer stuff.
In an odd way FFXIV might just become a very casual and ‘friendly’ MMO with the xp cap. Of course this heavily depends on how important levels ultimately become. If all the good stuff is at the end, then yea, the xp cap is a horrible idea, but if levels are not a major factor (CoX-ish), or despite differences in character power players can still play together (DF, EVE) it could work out for the better.
Chuck-o-the-day: Every time Chuck Norris leaves a room, the song “There Goes My Hero” starts playing out of nowhere.