Return to sanity

So this happened over the weekend. Head on over and enjoy, especially the comments section. If you skim, don’t worry, I’ve got a lot of the choice quotes here.

On the surface this just sounds like a bitter ex-MMO blogger venting because others are talking about a PvP MMO, and to them those types of games are scary monsters to be shunned. More of the same, right?

Except it’s not just that, especially if you go into the comments section. There, it’s an interesting look into the MMO genre and how it’s currently in a state of correction.

To put it bluntly, SW:TOR was the last of a dying breed. We will never see another mega-expensive themepark focused on refining what made WoW work, primarily because it’s now been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the model does not work; not in WoW now, not in titles trying to be it.

In part, it’s because this is who you are targeting:

MMOs are DESIGNED to be a quick and replaceable pastime, they are easy to pick up and require minimal investment (like all games compared to any real-life activity). Nobody ever designed them to be the Mozart-equivalent of anything. Just because you’re not able to retain perspective, and treat them as the *games* they are, does not turn them into anything different.

You expect the player above to play/pay for months and months in order to make your money back. As EA themselves stated so well: “if SW:TOR can’t do it, no one can”. Oh how right they were.

I find all of this comical in a way. These are the players always telling us that in PvP games, the wolves eat the sheep, and then the sheep leave, and the wolves are left with nothing; yet here we have the sheep leaving their pastures after a month or so, dooming one title after another. Not that I blame them of course; when you are only given a month-worth of content, why stay indeed.

What really seems silly here is the perception of expectations. Let’s start with this:

If today a game released and got 250,000 players, it would be considered a failure

That’s a funny metric isn’t it? Because by that standard, only a few MMOs qualify as a success, and only two of them can be solidly confirmed (WoW and EVE). Everything else? Either hovering near that, or they are far below.

(WoW) remains the yard stick with which other games have to be measured:

If this was 2007, then the above statement would only appear foolish to a few :cough: But its 2013. It’s been almost 9 years since WoW has been released, and in those 9 years, how many titles and how much money has been spent without a single title even coming close to retaining a tenth of what WoW peaked at? No, today no one is using WoW as a yard stick, just like no new music record is using Thriller as the make-or-break point.

But the angst is understandable, because the slow confirmation is sinking in; those who enjoyed what WoW offered will be left out in the cold soon. That ‘mass market’ is, shockingly, just not profitable. The content is too expensive to produce, the players don’t stick around long enough, and even when you seem to get most things right, you still fall about ten million subs short of expectations. Again, in 2007 maybe this was a debate, in 2013, it’s not.

In the whole subset of humanity, people who like MMOs are a small subset, and guys who will always like MMOs are a tiny subset in that subset. Basically not worth even considering when talking about MMO gamers as a whole.

Ah yes, our little niche. The problem with the above is rather simple. If you aim to retain 500k subs, and only get 250k, you have failed. And if all you can plan for is that 500k, the MMO genre seems like a really difficult place to do business. And for years now, all most have heard about is the go-big-or-go-home mantra of WoW-cloning. Why aim at 50k when you can target that juicy 12m?

Because the 12m is a lie, isn’t it? For a multitude of factors already well-covered, the 12m that played WoW back in vanilla/TBC just don’t have a real interest in MMOs as a whole. They never did, and while they were briefly attracted to a bright light every now and again, the tourists always came back, or just left and went home altogether (though ‘9m’ still remain, right?). Yet for years studio after studio tried to chase them, dressing their offering up as a robot, or a superhero, or countless variations of Gandalf. And all failed. All of them.

What has always worked in this genre is accurate targeting and delivery. To most Darkfall 1 was not a success, because it never got above 100k subs and Aventurine’s track record was and is, well, let’s call it special. And yet DF1 was a sub-based MMO for three years, had three expansions and launched a second server six months after release, and now has a sequel of impeccable quality (snicker) in beta. From a players perspective, it’s exactly what you could hope for. More importantly, for those at AV, from the original crew to the new hires, they get to continue doing what they love and getting paid for it. And DF is just one example among many, with by far the most prominent being EVE; a title still growing after ten years that is more true to its vision than just about anything else. A title that started in a niche of niches and carved itself into the second-biggest MMO out. Not bad for Excel Online.

More importantly, Camelot Unchained and others show that the future of the genre is, finally, not in chasing the mythical WoW unicorn, but in reproducing what actually worked; delivering a measured product aimed at the crowd that actually wants it. And if that crowd is only 30k strong, as Mark Jacob’s estimates will be the case for CU, so be it. 30k people paying you each month is more than doable from a business standpoint; you just can’t spend 300m to get there.

And that’s where the fear comes in from the WoW-clone crowd. Titles like CU offer nothing for them. Nothing. They are too focused, too targeted, and demand too much from them. Worst of all, these titles don’t NEED the WoW-cloners, and that scares them to death. After all these years of being catered to, of having one massively over-produced monthly snack after another, the next wave will ignore them and move right past them.

It’s what niche products do. And MMOs are most certainly niche, one unique and unreproducible outlier aside.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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55 Responses to Return to sanity

  1. Chris says:

    So much agree.

    I don’t know what the players so anti-niche games are worried about. WoW will be around for another 10 years. That’s enough, right?

    What’s interesting is all the people talk about how they can take or leave MMOs, that we all have rose colored glasses and are nostalgic for times and contexts that don’t exist. And yet they always return to WoW and talk about how great it was when they started while soon bitching about Blizzard changing this and nerfing that. Meanwhile, we’re all so deluded, right?

    Tobold is right in one way. People’s “best time” does tend to be their first time. Except those of us who can look at the pre-to-post WoW progression and see where the wind is blowing can at least be reasonable. Yeah, not every upcoming game will be for the average WoWite. Not every upcoming game will be for me or John, or Joe, or Jill either. But I can see why we need to differentiate. WoW players want WoW. They don’t want close approximations. So should we tank the whole industry, loses thousands of jobs, and degrade people calling for a change because developers “can’t do it right” or do we try something new, which is ironically, recreating the old.

    In other news, humanity has given up on solving global warming because alternative power just isn’t the same.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I am perfectly confident that there will still be new, big, content-driven theme-park MMOs launching for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Along with many much more focused “niche” MMOs.

    With a bit of luck, as the whole genre matures the audience will stratify so that few players of big theme parks will know or care about the niches and vice versa. Just the way it works in most forms of entertainment.

    Takes a while for these things to settle down – we haven’t even been a it for twenty years yet. Come back when we’ve had MMOs for half a century and we might begin to have some idea how things will settle out.

    • Mekhios says:

      “I am perfectly confident that there will still be new, big, content-driven theme-park MMOs launching for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Along with many much more focused “niche” MMOs.”

      I think that should read “new, small, content-driven theme-park MMO’s”. Do you honestly expect to see another $300 million monster like SWTOR? I don’t think so.

      Given the current tourist MMO market I sure hope the Skyrim Online devs aren’t spending a huge amount of money on their MMO.

      • SynCaine says:

        Skyrim will be interesting if only because, in some aspects, it looks like just another themepark disaster. But then they spend so much time talking about the RvR, and I wonder how much “oh shit, replan” went into the game.

        We will find out shortly. If it looks like a total cluster of WoW-clone and “hey PvP”, we will have our answer.

        • kalex716 says:

          I think if they had substantial evidence that they have a new design strategy to bring to the table it would have been articulated by now.

          The fact that no one can really point their finger on why we should care about Elder Scrolls Online at all so far has me convinced this isn’t worth my time.

      • bhagpuss says:

        Good point. No, I certainly didn’t mean $300m MMOs with $250m of that spent on pointless voice acting. I meant what we’d call AAA quality, produced by companies we’ve heard of. I’d like to think they could bring an MMO in for $50m tops. Rift supposedly cost that.

  3. “And that’s where the fear comes in from the WoW-clone crowd. Titles like CU offer nothing for them.”

    That is the ticket. It is difficult to just admit that a given game may not in fact “suck,” it might just not be a game that interests you.

    And that is all the more so because MMOs are decidedly NOT “DESIGNED to be a quick and replaceable pastime,” but rather are supposed to offer what can be a deeper, more social, and more rewarding experience.

    To get that requires a bigger investment from the player, which in turn makes them more resentful when it does not pay off. And even more so when the MMO changes over time, becoming something you no longer enjoy.

    I also take exception to the whole idea that you can never get that first time MMO feeling again, and that anybody seeking it is on a fool’s errand. I have actually had very strong, first time MMO immersion reactions to at least four different MMOs over the last 14 years. It doesn’t happen often or easy, but it happens. And it is usually because the game in question offers something special that pulls you in.

    • kalex716 says:

      Yea i’ve been doing the MMO thing since 1997… I can think back over every game and recollect fantastic memories in almost all of the ones of significance for a wide variety of reasons depending on my moods…. Sure, theirs always something special about your First (NexusTK for me, still around, and I still reg with my ancient character once a year or so to this day), but the others can be brilliant too.

    • bhagpuss says:

      /applaud Wilhelm

      That was the gist of my reply to Tobold. I have had an experience comparable to my first experience with MMOs several times over the last 14 years and I fully expect to have several more.

      The best MMO I ever played may well be the next one.

      • Mekhios says:

        I’ve had a number of best MMO moments:
        1. WoW vanilla & 40-man raiding – my first MMO
        2. GW2 – the closest an MMO has come to recreating my first MMO experience.
        3. EVE Online – finally got into this fully with the Retribution expansion. My previous attempts dating back to 2006 were sporadic and short lived. The new player experience is no where near as poisonous as it was back then. Now I can’t stop playing it.
        4. LOTRO. Still a stellar themepark experience that respects the original LOTR lore.

  4. Jenks says:

    Moronic post (by him, not you). I’ll just respond here

    “Ask anybody who played MMORPGs over the last decade or more what the best MMO is, and the answer will invariably be one of the first games they played.”

    Yes, because the genre gets progressively worse as developers strip player choice and freedom and replace it with quick rewards and cash shop garbage. No matter when you started playing MMOs, they’ve gotten more restrictive since then. SWTOR may as well be Virtua Cop or House of the Dead for all the choice you have.

    I actively play EQ on the Al’Kabor server. And no, EQ was not my first MMO. It has nothing to do with nostalgia.

  5. sid6.7 says:

    I agree with both of you in a sense. I agree with Tolbold in the I still believe WoW is the benchmark. I also believe a mass market model could work if it was managed correctly.

    That’s the rub and where I agree with you. Putting half a billion dollars into an untested idea is insane. The approach should be extended betas on the small scale perhaps years prior to release.

    Instead, the big budget guys spend millions on artwork and PvE content that has nothing to do with making the game play fun enough to retain players longterm.

    That’s what the niche games do really well. Test ideas on the small scale and make adjustments to improve the experience.

    • SynCaine says:

      But the masses don’t want gameplay and time investment. They want 30min solo chunks they can pick up and drop on a dime.

      How does that align with spending what you need to spend to deliver on said content?

      PvP content is ‘easy’ in that it generates itself. Same for more open-ended, reusable stuff like gathering/crafting in UO, or playing the market in EVE.

      What is the mass market, solo-friendly equivalent of that in terms of dev costs? Player-generated PvE? Yea, that’s really gone well so far…

      • sid6.7 says:

        I think what the masses “want” is to be what I would term “group lurkers”. In other words, they want to be grouped — but they also want to just be able to jump on and play in 30 minute chunks.

        This is why scenarios, battlegrounds, warzones, dungeons and so forth are all popular. Jump in, group, maybe never even talk to the other people, and then log off.

        That’s what make them lurkers. They want the interaction without actually having to invest in interacting. Just look at your own blog stats. The vast majority of your readers likely never post a comment. Why would you expect an MMO to be different?

        Thus, successful content, whether it be PvP or PvE needs to be stuff that allows certain players to easily lead and other players to easily follow. As long as the masses (lurkers) can easily follow and have fun doing it — you’ll likely have a successful game.

        • sid6.7 says:

          BTW, this is even true in games like EVE and DF. The most vocal people in “vent” or the guys do the leading. The quiet ones who don’t hop on vent or talk much are the lurker slaves quietly farming all the resources to build your battleship/city/whatever.

        • kalex716 says:

          Very interesting points…

          Developers who realize the above, immediately get convicted of “dumbing the game down” the second they try to implement sentiments in favor of the things you call question to.

          Its a fine line to hit it just right.

  6. Lyss says:

    Although the topic here is MMo gaming, cant the same not be said for more genres?

    I cant help but get angry when idiots like him proclaim that a hobby of mine is a fucking pasttime just because its games and we all shouldnt take them to seriously.

    Of course if I want my games demanding if I want say, a rpg singleplayer with a very good story, more then 20 hours gameplay and actually designed as an rpg and not a game with elements from every possibly genre which just so happens to have character stats my perspective is just wrong because durr its just games.

    Was he not the same idiot who argumented with bandwith cost per minute or some such nonsense? How does it fit into his no heavy involment past time argument to pay 60 euro (or whatever dollars) plus monthly costs plus the same every one to three months for the newest game. Where does he getall his money to throw it out the window for a measly past time activty?

    And how does he type sentences like its not worth talking about people who always like mmos as we talk about people who play them wthout his pc exploding? I mean… who the hell does he think plays theese games?

    How is it possible to play something I dont really like just to be able to blog about why I dont like theese things that I pay for.

  7. Azuriel says:

    We will never see another mega-expensive themepark focused on refining what made WoW work, primarily because it’s now been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the model does not work; not in WoW now, not in titles trying to be it.

    Err… what part of the WoW model is “not working” in WoW currently? Infinite growth in a contracting genre?

    I agree with your premise otherwise. I might even agree with your casual hand-waving of 9.6m subscriptions away, insofar as it is possible that WoW’s model only works because it has achieved sufficient critical social mass that makes 1-month content turn into 4+ month content. But to suggest that the WoW model doesn’t work for WoW anymore is just silly; it’s working for every reasonable definition of work.

    • SynCaine says:

      Its not working in WoW now in that they are losing subs (and don’t tell me you really think they actually have 9.6m subs right now…), despite, as you said, having critical mass far beyond anything else, and all the social hooks that go with that.

      If EVE can keep expanding after 10 years off a base of 50k, or Linage 1 in Asia for even longer, why is it just assumed WoW has to decline after 8 years with a base of 12m?

      (But yes, financially WoW is still a juggernaut for Activision, that parts pretty obvious.)

      • Azuriel says:

        I believe they have 9.6m as of 12/31/12, because that is what they wrote in the investor report. More subs could have been lost in the meantime, but I highly doubt 600k dropped in the last 2 months. That was par of the course in Cataclysm, but Cataclysm was a terrible expansion for casuals.

        If EVE can keep expanding after 10 years off a base of 50k, or Linage 1 in Asia for even longer, why is it just assumed WoW has to decline after 8 years with a base of 12m?

        Well, for starters, why assume any subscriber trend model works across all games at all population levels?

        Besides, Lineage 1 peaked in 2004 according to MMOData, which is about 6 years of (up and down) growth. Indeed, it first started losing subs in 2002. The highest population it ever achieved was less than 3.5m, which is at least three times less than WoW at its own peak.

        The more salient point, though, is the one you frequently make yourself regarding the 30-minute’ers. What is WoW’s true base? As far as I can tell, vanilla WoW’s total population was 8.5 million before TBC. I think everyone here would agree that someone who buys an MMO and plays for a month (or 3) doesn’t “count” as an MMO player, yes? Imagine if EVE ever becomes the MMO-of-the-month with 300k more subs that sweep in, then sweep out thirty days later. Would you count that as a decline, EVE’s fall from grace? Probably not – whatever change that drew in 300k casuals notwithstanding. You’d say the content locusts swept in, and then got swept back out. Who is to say that is not happening in WoW on a much grander scale?

        I am not trying to defend WoW per se, or denigrate EVE’s historical growth. I absolutely believe WoW peaked. I simply reject the notion that the decline (especially on this gentle slope) is particularly indicative of anything meaningful. WoW has changed over the years, no doubt, but it hasn’t changed that much. Or if it has, how is it that there’s still more people playing now than there was in vanilla? And there is no indication that the people leaving WoW are moving to other MMOs, which calls into question what “decline” even means in this context.

      • Kaliy says:

        Even if WoW loses subs, they still have several million players on a subscription mechanism. They could lose a huge % of subs and still come out with immense profit – and that’s not even taking into account purchases from the vanity shop or the actual game. I think people place far too much value on sub number, linking a dip with loss in profits, when in actuality it just means LESS profits.

    • Mekhios says:

      WoW continues to sustain population because people do not like to leave their comfort zone. The WoW that exists now is nothing like the WoW that existed back in 2005/2006. The game has become the ultimate Farmville clone and requires little to no thought to play.

      Which is not a bad thing. There is a market that still exists for players like that who don’t like their MMO’s to be difficult and prefer easy of play and relaxing times. GW2 offers that and a whole lot more with far better graphics and sound than WoW.

      • msp says:

        It’s kind of hard to buy “little to no thought to play” argument with regard to a game with official PvP tournaments and semi-pro guilds doing hundreds of pulls on raid bosses before getting a kill. WoW that exists now isn’t all that different from the 2006 version, except Blizzard started providing content for all skill levels. Add the polish and the variety, and (as Azuriel said) you have a working model: a game that reliably adds subs with fresh content, then slowly bleeds them until the next cycle, making a ton of cash in the process.

        I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before somebody else decides they want a piece of that pie and hundreds of millions are thrown at the next potential WoW killer. Personally, I’m more worried about the current F2P/item shop trend than about running out of themepark games to play.

  8. kalex716 says:

    This post is an elbow off the top ropes for truth!

  9. John says:

    agree with one exception. Theres no wolves and sheeps. There are fat/no lifers/no girlfriend gangers and regular people. when I read about your idea for a pve sandbox I did agree in everything and I am an old school MMO player but I hate the ffa pvp and especially the forced ffa pvp.

    calling someone that gather a group of 5-10 people and go to gang someone who questing or gathering, a wolve, then what we must call the real skilled players? Give me a pve sandbox any day and I can pay you 30 euro per month. Currently I am sick of all MMOs..I only play single player games for now or not play anything…

    the pve focused games are all themeparks and wow clones, while all the other are going into a ffa pvp content. There are lot of players out there, pve players that would like an epic pve experience again , like vanilla wow..40 man raids, epic grinds, server reputation, travel through map by foot or with slow mounts, resist gear (yes it makes sense, you are about to fight the fire lord, you need to gather fire resist gear and of course you cannot harm the fire lord with fire!).

    Not that vanilla wow was a pve sandbox but at least it had some quality. TBC was ok and after that shits came from all over the place to the reach the pandaland…its like a bad joke the whole story but ok…

    so the majority can enjoy their dailies and their themepark game and rest of you, you can go gang and get ganged…I ll be in the middle hoping for a miracle or continue play my single player games

    • kaldeem says:

      What the heck? Respecting both types of content for what they are, I must say your point of illustrating a gang of players vs a solo player and calling that skill is absurd. I dont believe anyone would recognize that as skill. But in life, if you go to miami and travel the wrong streets, there’s a good chance of getting ‘ganged’ up on. Sad thing is thats part of life and life in game’s.

      Dont go to miami and you dont have to worry about getting jumped. Make sense?

    • Anti-Stupidity League says:

      “calling someone that gather a group of 5-10 people and go to gang someone who questing or gathering, a wolve, then what we must call the real skilled players?”

      If you’re solo questing or gathering alone in ffa pvp game, you’re not really a skilled player.

      • John says:

        you mean it is not clever to go far malone in a ffa pvp game…how can you define skill from the activity itself? can someone that play a group for x hours take 1-2 hours off to go and grind solo or he is automatically a noob?

        and once you decided to bring real life examples for a game, do you consider those gangers in miami “wolves” and the people that will avoid going there “sheeps”?then maybe I am getting too old or I don’t see holywood movies often enough..

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          “you mean it is not clever to go farm alone in a ffa pvp game” – Well, you can go, but it doesn’t really require a high level of intellect to realize that in free-for-all pvp game there might be some consequences of doing so.

          It’s pretty stupid to blame multiplayers (i.e. people playing in a group) of “ganging up” in a massively multiplayer game. They’re not doing anything wrong, it’s a fracking massively multiplayer game. It’s meant to be played with other people. If you get killed while soloing, you might consider that maybe it’s you who is doing something wrong, don’t you think so?

        • John says:

          multiplayer can mean that we can team up against an enemy or the comuter is not neccessary to fight against each other…where the hell does multiplayer = pvp?Multiplayer is that you play a game with other people…the decision to play together or against does not define multiplayer

        • Lyss says:

          skill is to get the results you want in the most efficient way the game allows, meaning no exploits.

          Calling a gang which goes around and ganks players for their stuff no lifer gankers without skill is idiotic.

          They have to know how much players they need to be relatively save and also be able to make it worthwile for theese players. They have to find valuable targets (meaning you, your loot, and your code of honour, your dignity if they are really good at it). Its proper planning proper execution and proper results.

          you on the other hand are careless enough to got out alone, you have no traps set, valuable loot in your pockets, and only your honorable behaviour to protect you. You take the risk, that doesnt make you a noob, crying about loosing the bet after the gank does.

          If you where also skilled you would know the risk, take it or leave it, and live with whatever outcome.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          “where the hell does multiplayer = pvp?” I don’t know, maybe in free-for-all pvp massively multiplayer games maybe? You know, the games we were talking about? Or did you want to change the subject to some other games where you have problems with ganking?

        • John says:

          lyss if someone need “proper planning proper execution” to kill someone else probably lower level or while he is fighting 3-4 npcs then he is really the worst noob and probably got beaten by his school mates in real life haha

        • Raelyf says:

          I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a series of stupid fucking posts on this website. Congratulations! It seems that, for once, you’ve beaten the curve!

          In any case, no one is saying PvE sandboxes shouldn’t exist. Or that multiplayer must be PvP. What they’re saying is that, if you choose to play a FFA PvP game where going off alone makes you an idiot, then you are an idiot if you go off alone.

          Whining about being ganked in a PvP game that favors ganking is fucking idiotic. It’d be like playing a PvE sandbox and whining that the other crafters work together to produce goods cheaper and undercut your prices, and are therefore ‘no life gangers’.

    • j3w3l says:

      There are PvE sand boxes out there and funnily enough there doing much worse then the ffa pvp ones. For a sandbox to truly work you need all the elements intertwined not just the mechanics you feel comfortable with.

      What pvp adds to the experience is immense, it is adding a randomness to the world and a sense of caution, the biggest area of dynamic content, and importantly for the economy it offers a regular way of removing resources and items.

      Sure, I don’t know if everyone sandbox has to be ffa to work but there does need to be pvp as a part of it

  10. kaldeem says:

    To be honest, imo, the MMO market is much like how Hollywood was many years ago. Dead for ideas and looking, dare I say desperately searching for something to keep them afloat. Venturing into the relm of comics has given them a short sensation of success, but whats to come? Comic books build off each previous book, the movie industry tries to rebuild the wheel every couple of years only to miss a great majority of what made that comic(s) great.

    Wow was great for what it was, it’s still a great game, but all the other developers making game’s for and around wow players are missing the boat. Take Donald Trump for example, he doesn’t build his buildings for average joes. He builds them for his kinda people, the rich and extravagant. Are average joes allowed to vist, stay and shop… hell yes, but its not designed for them.

    Build the game you want to play and people will play it. Lets stop this coming decade from following the last decades mistakes of cloning games because World of Warcraft exists

    • John says:

      the problem is that Donald trump can price his buildings however he likes while in MMOs there is always a fixed price for everyone.If a company makes a game for a selected few but then decide to charge them however they feel is like what would be the people response to that?

      cash shops already aimed to that, to get more money from people that love the game but have lot of disadvantages for people who cannot afford buying more things. So what?make a nich game for a few selected, sell it for 200 euro and charge 30-50 euro per month?

      If a company decides to target a selected few and also make a quality game for them they must be sure that they will get money from them more than the fixed 12 euro per month or why not target the masses?

  11. I’m inclined to disagree with the wolves/sheep bit, but find what you wrote fascinating. Permission to cite in a future Devil’s Advocate piece? :)

  12. DSJ says:

    I think you are going to see big budget titles still get produced, but they will almost certainly take a different approach to development. There are plenty of examples of games that have substantial sales and player counts in a chase for millions of customers — but most of them right now are FPS games.

    I see this in the popularity of WoT, PS2, and the coming Dust 514.

    It is clear that SOE’s goal with PS2 is to start with a solid FPS backbone and develop into the MMO aspect of gaming. Their initial effort appears to be very well done. They are bridging that gap between those that want immediate, but time limited content and those with more time to invest and getting them to jump in and play together. This kind of development model seems to be much more sustainable over the long term than the model of spending big to publish everything at one time.

    This development model also allows for subs to those that can pay and are willing to and the numbers required to sustain an MMO game from free-to-play players keeping the overall game world stocked with fresh fish.

  13. Sev says:

    I’ve always kind of thought that people, whether developers, bloggers, or players, sort of miss what makes MMOs so worth playing for so long. It’s not the gameplay, not really any part of the gameplay. It’s not how you interact with the game that matters at all. It is now, and always has been, how you interact with other people playing the game.

    Certainly some aspects of gameplay affect this, most obviously how PvP works, or if it’s even present. Quality gameplay also helps in general. But that’s all secondary. What you need to make an MMO worthwhile is player interaction, and there’s basically only two aspects of it that you can really affect through gameplay decisions.

    First, you need to keep people in the game. The more concurrent players in any given area, the higher the chance that people will interact and create the stories we so love to hear about MMOs. You can accomplish this any number of ways, it doesn’t matter, as long as people have a reason to keep playing. Second, you need some reason for people to interact, and what that reason is doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s there. Most themeparks do it by having content that’s hard or impossible to do solo. PvP games do it by the simple method of having the side with more people at an advantage. Again, it doesn’t matter so long as people have a reason to group-up and stay grouped over a long period.

    If you have those two factors, your game can be successful no matter how bad your graphics, gameplay, or story might be. If you don’t have them, you may as well just make a single-player game and be done.

  14. Kemwer says:

    Hey, my kid was sick, I was was at home bored, I needed something to do. I’m just glad you didn’t pick any quotes from my comments. :P

    That thread was just… bizarre. It’s the wrong premise, supported by the wrong arguments, with the most facepalming follow-ups I have ever seen. As people posted both here and there, yes you can enjoy MMOs as something new, as long as you want to. Tobold does not.

    • Rammstein says:

      As soon as you understand the crucial fact: to wit, Tobold does not, will not, and NEVER has enjoyed MMO’s, then that thread will make perfect sense to you. The crowd of which he is a member is huge, it’s the farmville crowd. They don’t want MMO’s, and they don’t want single player games. They want single player games that they can play socially.

      The thing is, that crowd is huge and fickle and ill-informed. If they want to call those games MMOs, fine, we should let them. That’s how it works, the smaller in-crowd popularizes a name, the large crowd steals it for their own, and the forward-moving crowd creates 10 new names in that span of time. The Tobolds of the world are stubborn and imponderable , you don’t win by replying to them, but by moving on to new areas they haven’t even heard of yet. The thing that makes the frontier the frontier isn’t anything more than the absence of the mainstream crowd. Lift those feet up.

      • Mekhios says:

        I thought Tobold was originally a WoW carebear player? I remember reading some of his posts complaining about how hard raids were and how it was too hard to get groups and that he hated having to spend more than a couple of hours in WoW to achieve anything.

        I also seem to remember he was an incessant farmer and seemed to mostly enjoy boring repetitive tasks in WoW that would drive most people insane. He is the ideal Farmville player. :)

        But I am not sure why he bothers to comment on MMO’s anymore. He has said he has abandoned the genre and now only layers tabletop AD&D.

        • Mekhios says:


        • Lyss says:

          The same reason wow players who quit felt the need to tell, on the wow forums, why the game is bad and every other person has to follow them to wherever because they are dumb if they dont?

          Its easier to feel right aout yself if I find enough people who suport yopinion, even if this opnon is dumb.

        • Rammstein says:

          Exactly, he played a bunch of Wow in that style–my point being that by my definition of MMO, Tobold has never enjoyed playing MMO’s. He played WoW as a single player game. By the same token, by Tobold’s definition of MMO, I don’t enjoy MMO’s, as UO and EVE don’t fit his definition.

          Semantics are boring. Arguing with Tobold about which definition of MMO is ‘better’ is an argument with 2 losers and 0 winners. New terminology both avoids those arguments, and hopefully then stodgy World of Farmvillers won’t even know what the new term means, avoiding even more lame arguments.

  15. Alleji says:

    Tobold’s blog is a healthy dose of facepalm every time I try to read it. (Which is once every couple months when something like this post makes me do it)

    How does such an amount of ridiculous self-contradicting nonsense even fit into one person’s head??

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  17. Helistar says:

    Well, thanks for quoting me (without attibution).
    And thanks for this thread, which only goes on to confirm what I had written. You *have* lost perspective on what an MMO and a game is, and are using them as cheap replacements for “success” which is a whole lot harder to get in real life.
    It’s beyond comical that you people go bashing the WoW-ites for their “instant gratification” and “guaranteed success”, when you’re doing exactly the same, while repeating yourself that you’re different and that your game is not like WoW because it requires investment and skill. Yeah sure.
    Go try your hand at some real-life stuff and you’ll see that your precious MMOs are a joke compared to RL when it comes to investment and skill. Actually, to be precise, they are a *game*, compared to RL. You know, a game, the thing people play to have fun and pass time.

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