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Thread: An Analogy (10/15)

  1. #1

    An Analogy (10/15)

    In an interview with Gamasutra, Funcom Montreal's Creative Director, Craig Morrison shared his views on player expectations in regards to MMO releases. It's his belief that player expectation for massive day one releases is holding the mmo genre back from its true potential. I can't exactly say that I agree. [more info]

    Funcom's The Secret World had 500,000 players in beta. But, only 200,000 copies of the game were sold. One can wax philosophical about what caused the game to "flop". But the simple truth is probably in the neighborhood of "they let too many people into beta (which is free), showed too much of their content, and then had nothing left in the bag to entice players into forking out actual cash for the game."

    Number comparisons to other Triple A MMO's doesn't really matter. I've yet to encounter a player saying, "man this game was awesome, but I can't play it unless it can scrounge up at least a million players". That's silly. Immersive gameplay and enjoyable mechanics will almost always move a title. But hey, maybe he's right. I haven't played the game, so maybe it does require 1 million other players to be seen as viable by people willing to pay for another $15 a month MMO.

    ---

    Speaking of MMO's, Project: Gorgon. It's an indie project, 3 years in the making, now seeking Kickstarter funding to enter the final phases of production. With only 18 days to go they're sitting at just over $8000 of their $55,000 goal. I'll admit, it's going to take a minor miracle to get them there at this point. But, it never hurts to spread the word.

    Project: Gorgon on Kickstarter

  2. #2
    I have found what he says to be valid in general, just not in regards to Secret World. Consider SWTOR. They showed the people the content for a long time before hand, and still had more people buy the game. SWTORs problems arose towards the end: There just wasn't enough end-game/the pacing at the end was too fast. This was my problem with the game. It was fantastic, I just got bored of doing the same 2 raids over and over. ( Mostly one in fact, because the second one was harder with essentially the same reward. )

    However, I knew quite a few people that got into the Secret World closed betas pretty early on. Every single one of them told me the game itself was pretty terrible. You can bet they didn't buy the game. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a large proportion of the 200k that bought the game never played the beta.

    Now, this also doesn't say I disagree with Woody. I don't find the 2 to be mutually exclusive. It's perfectly possible for a person to get bored playing just the beta. I am fairly certain I saw this in TORs beta. There was a number of people claiming boredom because they largely completed the end-game between wipes. Mostly it was people who had been in 3 or 4 waves and were thus able to skip a lot of content and rush towards the end, and already had strategies down.

    However, I found these people to be largely in the minority, and I know plenty of them still went ahead and bought the game anyways.

    Other games have shown this as well, where they can still attract plenty of people initially, but then stumble later on. Warhammer Online had no problem at all selling units in its first month.

    Then there's also the opposite. I don't think EVE Online even broke 100,000 its first couple of months. However, it has an extremely high retention rate. So, even with very few new people joining, EVE continues to see a climb in population.

    When it comes to MMOs ( as far as making big bucks ), 1 thing and 1 thing only matters: Long-term retention. I don't think any MMO out there has had too few of people on launch day. Even Secret World with 200,000 is more than enough. If it can keep all 200k though, it's easy to slowly attract people over time and grow.

    So, there's the tricky part. Gamers are naturally a bit ADD. We are constantly looking for the next best thing. Getting us to stay in 1 place for a long time is extremely difficult. Far more so for an MMO where they want to attract many different gamers.

  3. #3
    What current game producers call "beta" has now become a complete farce. They should rename it to "preview" or "advertising phase". There are no tests done anymore, no bug reports filed.. it's all full of kiddies who want a free early access to the game. How should this even work, with 500.000 "beta participants". 5000 might be ok for a beta phase that's supposed to be useful.
    Sure, if people can play the game in the "beta" phase for free, why should they pay afterwards.. you've caught that problem nicely.
    Through the ranks of the Unbeliever we shall move,
    creating a river of blood as we go!

    Steelgrasp, Kurashasa Dread Knight on Telon

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    I think the biggest problem with new MMO's are the players. We (speaking about the entire group, not individual exceptions) race to endgame, usually skipping low level content, and then burn through the endgame. All of this happens long before the dev's have made more endgame content. If the devs make the game take longer to level up to max, then it's too grindy, not enough fun, etc. Then there is the loot. Let's face it, we are all loot whores to a point. If there is too much loot, then people don't feel special or elite. If there isn't enough loot, then the game isn't fair because we don't have the time to devote hundreds of hours to playing like those losers with no life.

  6. #6
    There's also a critical mass. If players don't see enough other players they cancel and tell their friends and it kills follow on sales.

  7. #7
    I never even heard of this MMO. I just googled images and the theme looked like something that would appeal to those that like the undead/occultish kind of stuff that is popular lately and the art didn't seem bad. I would have to guess that their issues were marketing (since I never heard of it) and most likely gameplay (due to less than half as many purchases than beta accounts). Wondering if anyone in the GU forum actually has played this?

    I did have to chuckle at how apt the boobies analogy was.

  8. #8
    I have tried many MMO's in the last few years, WoW started me off.

    What i have noticed from many of the MMO's released post WoW is that many players compare the MMO to WoW. Not WoW as it was originally released but WoW as it is now, the WoW that has had many years to iron out bugs, the WoW that has for all intents and purposes been continued developing since its original release.

    I played Rift, age of conan, Aion, TSW. Aside from Age of conan each of those games i love/d, i am still playing TSW and enjoy it, if what i've heard about Kotor going free-to-pay is true i'll probably play it too. In the end though none of them can compare to the amount of work that blizz has been able to put into WoW and its expansions.

    I honestly can't blame players for wanting to avoid the first months of a MMO's release in order to avoid the early bugs they inevitably have if they can instead go to a game with years of polish.

    So in a way, i'd say Craig Morrison is correct but could've said gamers wanted a MMO release to be as bug free, heavy on content as a game that has been fixed and added to for years.

    All of that said, i am not a WoW fan, i like it but can't stand the 'culture' thats developed around it and its endgame.

  9. #9
    Funny, I started watching The Secret World back when they did their first ARG (Augmented Reality Game) and have been following the game for 5 years. I wasn't in the early beta but got in for the last 3 months of beta. The game is very different than any other MMO I've played.

    There are no classes. Skills are grouped by weapon, each weapon makes a small tree with 6 branches and you get to decide what braches you want to follow. Actually using abilities in the game you get to have two equipped weapons and pick 7 skills to use and 7 of the passive abilities you know (even if they don't come from those 2 weapons). Most of the combat you have to pay attention to what the monster is doing. If the monster is going to use an AoE attack you see the AoE get drawn on the ground and a "wave" move out from the creature. If you can get out of the AoE before the "wave" reaches the edge you avoid the AoE. Trust me, you want to. You select targets, you don't aim. Moving is incredibly important in this game. Going a bit deeper into the game, at the top end of the game crafting a group with the right abilities doesn't make the game easy, it is a necessity if your going to do "nightmare" dungeons. Certain people need to make sure they are using "purges", "cleanse", "affliction" and everybody needs to make sure that one person is responsable for "impairment" because if too many crowd control effects get used the monsters become immune for 60 seconds. That usually means its a wipe.

    The world itself is incredibly well done. The story behind everything gets told through cutsceens, journal entires, web sites (real websites), dialogue (not much suprisingly), and mission reports at the end. Big missions get full cutseens. Little missions...you know its a side mission and even they get more respect than 90% of the quests you see in a typical MMO.

    Graphics wise, meh. I've seen better, I've seen a lot worse. You don't get a whole ton of character customization at the beginning, but one of the interesting things about the game is your "armor" represents various peices of magical jewelery. So clothing wise you can wear anything. Seeing a guy in a 3 peice suit next to someone else wearing a hazmat suit is perty funny. Clothing doesn't do much for you in the game so there is no outfit or look that dominates (other than women in string bikini tops and hot shorts...get a life guys).

    PvP. Well, it isn't the best. While I enjoy the PvP as a distraction the vast majority of players would rather do dungeons. You can level up a character completely on PvP and fully equip them. I just don't recommend it.

    Oh, and yes I am one of the 200k playing. I've got a life subscription too.

  10. #10
    Along the lines of what Reciprocity said, I think one of the major problems getting to the "end game" too fast before the devs have flushed it out.

    I remember back to when I started EQ (after Kunark came out), there was a massive world to explore. My first character didn't get level 60 until almost 100 days played. Now if it takes 100 hours to get max level people complain that it is grindy and slow.
    Retired Player of EQ
    Enjoy the Simple things in life.

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