Rant: Unfinished MMOs
In light of some of the recent games in the MMO genre, I just want to take some time out to rant about "Unfinished MMOs". Now don't get me wrong here, I understand that no MMO is ever really "finished", but there is a big difference between being "finished" and being in an "Acceptable Retail" version.
I am going to throw Vanguard under the bus as an example (There are countless others) because at the time of me writing this, it is the most recent and one of the most highlighted examples I have seen regarding this issue. This is a game I have followed very closely since its beta, sorry let me correct that, non-retail beta, through members of the guild who were among the select few who were chosen to test the closed beta. Quite frankly, if you had seen this game develop, it was painfully obvious that this game never had a chance in hell.
Here are 5 facts about Unfinished MMOs:
1) Unfinished games hurt the genre. Nobody wins. The developer is going to get hosed, there will be less competition in the field of games, which in turns lower the bar for all other games. Newcomers who have just started playing MMOs may pick up your hot steaming pile of crap and end up being turned off to the genre because you were their first experience. If their first game is a good one, they will be play for a long time and try other games as well. World of Warcraft is a classic example of this. More people in the genre is a good thing because it will inspire more people to make games because there will be a bigger market.
2) You will not recover for a bad launch. It just doesn't happen. Even if you turn the game around completely, people will still be unwilling to try your game, especially if there is bad word of mouth, or they were previously burned by it. A classic example is Anarchy Online. This game had one of the worst launches in the history of MMOs, and it was probably the first MMO to fumble right out of the gate. The game eventually turned into a diamond in the rough. The game broke the mold of the traditional MMO, had a skill based system along with levels. They had probably the biggest game world in its time only rivaled to that of Asheron's Call. They released an expansion that was massive, that added new classes, and new game play dynamics. (Take some notes Blizzard)
3) Open Beta = Retail. How many times have you heard some honest objective criticism leveled against a game in open beta, and some Fanboi screams “ITS ONLY BETA!!11!one!”? It happens with almost every game. Now I’ve been around this genre for over 8 years, and had the privilege to beta a lot of games both good and bad. I’ve got news for you foaming at the mouth lunatic fanbois…Open Beta is ALWAYS the mirror image of what will be sitting on the shelf plus or minus some bug fixes and character balancing. Massive game altering features are never added in between and quite frankly shouldn’t be because they haven’t had time to test them. If the game gargles balls in open beta, it will gargle balls in retail. Chances are you will be paying for Betail (beta + retail / Beta 6 / Pay to test), and unless you’re on the payroll or a stockholder, you have nothing to gain.
4) Potential is not enough. How many times have you heard this line? I got a Fox news Alert for you, potential never gets fully realized and isn’t worth justifying playing if the game sucks. Dark and Light had potential. It ultimately turned into a virtual scam that lured players in, got their billing info, overcharged them, lost their billing info to third parties, and released probably the worst pay-to-play game ever made. I don’t know about you, but massive rollbacks and fraudulent billing is not my cup of tea. The only potential that was realized here was the potential for a class action lawsuit. We aren’t even counting countless other games that started off good and totally botched it by making stupid decisions, but that’s another rant.
5) Fanboism is part of the problem. Seriously, you know who you are. Stop the madness. The reason developers can even consider the option of releasing an unfinished game is because they know they will sell copies because fanbois will buy them. Example Vanguard. Brad McQuaid has admitted himself several times that the game came out too early; the reason behind it to me is irrelevant. Your knowing asking for money for something that is giving you less then you promised. Would you buy a car with the transmission missing? Would you buy a computer without the RAM? Unless you some type of mongoloid I would hope you have enough respect for yourself to not make a donation to someone who is misleading you to help fund his train wreck. Your not a stock holder, your not on the payroll (I hope) so why don’t you make these bastards work for your money. You need to objective. Where there is smoke there is fire. When you hear beta testers say it’s not ready, or it’s a buggy mess that won’t run on the system requirements on the box, its probably true.
When we as players make them work for our money and deliver what we expect, they will be forced to do it or crash and burn by their own deceit and stupidity. Hold these bastards accountable for them. I’m a small business owner, and I have to stand by my product. Make them stand by theirs, and if it sinks, they get to go down with their ship.
Co-Leader of Inquisition