Fact not opinion

The only fact that exists about WoW right now related to its success and failure is that it went from a game that was rapidly growing to one that is rapidly shrinking.

Every comment or theory behind the ‘why’ is an opinion. Blizzard has an opinion, I have an opinion, and commentators here have an opinion. I’m waiting for Azuriel to give his opinion. He has so far spent a lot of time, a lot of typing, and a lot of quoting to show that my opinion of the ‘why’ is not a fact.


Backing up an opinion with a fact (WoW is shrinking) does not make the original opinion a fact itself. I find it terribly boring to debate this, since, you know, it’s not a debate.

What I don’t find boring, and clearly what others are interested in reading, are just those opinions about the ‘why’. It’s actually what this blog is mostly about (well that and shilling Darkfall).

You know what else is boring? Spending a lot of time/typing arguing something that was never actually said (At least seriously, good trolling is an art after all). Counter-arguing that making WoW harder/easier would not have completely solved all its woes is pointless. Difficulty/accessibility is not some be-all end-all cure/disease for an MMO. It’s a factor, and perhaps a very important one, but not THE one and only factor. But in order to keep posts focused, and in order to keep them at a length that most people find readable, I often talk about one factor at a time. That does not mean that magically that one point is now all-important, and pointing this out in every post is a waste of everyone’s time.

EVE is not solely successful because everyone plays on one server.

EVE is in-part successful because everyone plays on one server.

And the above is not fact. It’s my opinion. We all on the same page here?

I love to debate MMO design and theory. Tell me why you think something works. Tell me why you think it doesn’t. Feel free to use past experiences or the success/failure of games to support this. Bring up some little-known fact from some game as an example of something. All good. Really good actually.

But don’t attempt to turn a discussion of opinion into some scientific formula where you plug in a few values and get an absolute result. Not only does it not work, it’s not very entertaining.

And at the end of the day, that’s why we read blogs, to be entertained (fact).

(Bonus points if you can tell me the source of this post’s title)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Mass Media, MMO design, Rant, Site update. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Fact not opinion

  1. Does it begin with a “T” by any chance?

  2. Snafzg says:

    What makes an MMO any different than a popular TV show?

    They usually have a decent start, then the audience grows for a while, and then the numbers generally maintain until people have had their fill and they start to fall off. Eventually, the show goes off the air and people move on to some other show (some go out with a bang on their own terms and some linger on until they’re cancelled).

    If it’s acceptable for a TV show of 5-7 seasons, why not an MMO?

    • SynCaine says:

      Some shows don’t last an entire season. Some hit 500 episodes. Few are M.A.S.H., 60 minutes, or RAW.

      Does that mean every show should not strive to be one of the above?

      Lost ended when it should have. Lost is a single-player game. Something like 60 minutes is an MMO, if you get my meaning.

    • Rammstein says:

      I decided to check your assertion for popular TV shows. The very first show I checked was Seinfeld:

      “Here is a list of Seinfeld’s ratings per season throughout its nine-year run.[5]

      Season 1: Not in the top 30
      Season 2: Not in the top 30
      Season 3: Not in the top 30
      Season 4: #25
      Season 5: #3
      Season 6: #1
      Season 7: #2
      Season 8: #2
      Season 9: #1 ”

      The second show I looked up was Friends:
      Season 1 : #9, average viewers 14.88million
      Season 2: #3, 17.93million
      Season 3: #4, 16.30
      Season 4: #4, 15.78
      Season 5: #2, 15.61
      Season 6: #5 20.95
      Season 7: #4 19.7
      Season 8 #1 24.5
      Season 9 #3 21.14
      Season10 #5 20.84

      Are those 2 shows representative of popular TV shows? Well, they’re not representative of average TV Shows, but they’re definitely the 2 popular shows that jumped to my mind first. Obviously MMO makers are going to aim to make a game that goes up with time like those 2 shows did, instead of a game that quickly peters out.

      One relevant difference between TV shows and MMOs is that these super successful shows end with these actors having made a ton of money, but maybe feeling like it’s time to stretch their boundaries and do movies for a while. Obviously, MMO characters are unlikely to display such desires any time soon.

      I haven’t really answered your question “If it’s acceptable for a TV show of 5-7 seasons, why not an MMO?” directly, but I don’t feel that’s really a fairly posed question, so I’m going to just end here.

      • Snafzg says:

        I probably should have said “average TV shows.” I only meant “popular” in the sense that they were popular enough to not get cancelled in their first few episodes or seasons.

      • Rammstein says:

        That’s ok, pretty much everyone is responding taking into account both popular and average TV shows, so that imprecision didn’t really affect the discussion.

        The thing that is holding the discussion back is that you’re referring to something else that’s not in the original post, you’re not exactly specifying what it is, and your argument presupposes the conflation of normality with ‘acceptability’ in an unclear way.

        Leaving aside the opinions of professional critics and the like, even asking the random person on the street “is the average TV show high quality art and entertainment?”, you’d probably get an answer of no. the average food item is cheap and low quality, but food is a commodity item, so it is what it is. Digital entertainment is nearly costlessly copied and not a commodity item, in that province the logical fate of any “average” good is consignment to the trashbin. The vast appetite for new low-quality TV fare is a confirmation of the already common sense viewpoint that becoming a couch potato is not a particularly rational thing to do, and that a more emotive social viewpoint is the only way to explain the function of watching television in modern society.

        An interesting hypothesis is that the recent frenzy of badly done MMO’s is in fact caused by people making the exact same mistake that you’re making here, conceptualizing the development framework of new MMOs in the preexisting molds of how we know new TV shows and movies to be developed. It’s not that I’m claiming that the emotive social viewpoint fails when designing MMOs–it still applies. The difference is that people only play one MMO at a time, generally. (also the thing I said before that copycat MMOs are more difficult to make than copycat tv shows, because a copycat TV show takes a few well paid actors, but a copycat MMO takes a ton of talented programmers working for not that much money.)

      • Rammstein says:

        Devil’s advocate: Obviously in between TV shows and MMOs lies the sequel infested realm of console gaming. The question is,…well take Madden for example. Is the extra profit generated by Madden’s constant yearly editions because most people actually buy each game as it comes out despite the lack of real difference? Or is it a form of planned obsolescence, where people buy the newest Madden because that’s the newest one, the one in stores, and then people with older versions eventually upgrade to the new one to be able to play the same version as their immediate social group, once the new version reached a critical mass? I lean towards the latter but I don’t really know. That interaction between personal rational preference and pressure from the social group is obviously a factor in all 3 of the above domains, however.

    • Rammstein says:

      “Lost ended when it should have. Lost is a single-player game.”

      I thought Lost was more like a single player game with 2 bad sequels :P

      “Something like 60 minutes is an MMO, if you get my meaning.”

      I’d say a themepark MMO is like a popular sitcom, LoL is like the UFC, and EVE is like a reality show, but one of the interesting ones not like the Kardashians. Then again, maybe EVE is more like a few mushed together, like it’s the Kardashians/deadliest catch/iron chef all in one.

      The MMO that I’d say is like 60 minutes is definitely a virtual world MMO, but we should reserve that title until the WoW of virtual worlds is made. It’s coming, and I’m not even sure that’s a good thing, but it is.

      • Hong WeiLoh says:

        EVE is more like Hell’s Kitchen, complete with fucking-over, skullduggery, backstabbing, rage, fighting, and ever so importantly: tears, lots and lots and lots of tears.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    I was replying to Tobold’s post about this, or one of the posts there – it had something to do with soccer. Anyway, I lost the will to live, deleted my comment and came here instead.

    I agree with your thesis and your conclusion. This blog is entertaining. That’s why I read it even when I disagree (often) and even when it focuses on games I have no interest in (EVE, mainly).

    As for why WoW is or isn’t losing subs, does anyone really care? It’s still much bigger than everything else and until that changes it doesn’t really matter if it’s 10 times as big or only 5 times.

  4. Malthesia says:

    Mike Felger’s catchphrase on the afternoon sports talk show in the Boston area. Broadcast on 98.5 the Sportshub. Can I get a t-shirt that says, “Someone got casuals in my MMORPG and ruined it!”. :)

    • SynCaine says:

      Boom, headshot.

      Nicely done. Want an EVE 21 day trial? :)

      • Malthesia says:

        Thanks for the offer, but Science Fiction isn’t really my genre. I’d love if someone made a Fantasy version of EVE! Just nice to know that a fellow gamer listens to sports talk radio. :)

  5. Bristal says:

    @Bhagpuss I’m still chuckling over that one. We are having similar days.

    If my life were a sitcom, it would totally be Frasier because of his awesome apartment and that hot producer Ros.

    Wait, what was the topic?

    Oh yea, entertaining blogs. Nailed it.

  6. UnicornDick says:

    Uhhh,,, WOW sucks. Always has – Blizzard’s greatest innovation was how they were able to make N64 graphics work on a PC.

  7. Roq says:

    Maybe its a bit misleading to treat the success of games in isolation from the state of their communities at a point in time (and noone plays Pong any more, either).

    A design that works at launch won’t necessarily be such fun six months later. A game where all the players are level 1 for the very first time, is a very different game than one where everyone has reached level cap and is farming for some kind of item or points.

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