How many times have you seen a forum post or an article comparing MMO vs MMO. If you have been around this genre for any length of time you have no doubt seen it time and time again. One of the most common arguments used to try to justify the failings of an MMO debacle is the argument of potential, which I mentioned in my very first article about Unfinished MMOs.
I wanted to take some time and finally try to put this word to rest once and for all when it comes to this genre. Potential is defined as the following by dictionary.com:
1) possible, as opposed to actual
2) capable of being or becoming
3) a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed
All of these definitions have one commonality, a separation from what could be compared to the reality. This is key to countering the potential argument that desperate fanbois will cling to like a life-preserver on a sinking ship. Am I the only one to notice that when the word potential shows up next to an MMO, that the MMO in question always turns into a debacle? Look at some of the biggest disasters in the industry and think about it.
Asheron's Call 2 was the sequel to one of the most innovative games, yet Turbine practically threw away everything from AC1 except the names on the world. Dark and Light had potential to change the way we look at games, and that it did as the accusations of unethical business practices became rampant. Brad McQuaid "vision" and "next-gen" MMO baby Vanguard culminated with its developers being taken into the parking lot and fired just in time for SoE to come in and rummage through the debris. Funcom will forever be known to many as Failcom (go to www.failcom.com for a laugh) after giving us a game with the best graphics and music, but a side order of mismanagement, poor customer service, Exploits, and Undocumented Patch Notes.
3 Facts about the Fiction
1) Potential swings both ways. If things have the potential to get better, they also have potential to be a debacle. The history of this genre has shown us that games will try to justify their subscription to a game on the chance it could get better, when more often then not the potential they cling to favors the chance it will yield copious amounts of fail.
2) Potential comes with a cost. Most of these games require you to pay money every month to play. How much are you willing to pay to see the game get where it could be, or should have been at release? Let's face the facts here folks, potential is a mythical promised land that you hear is out there but nobody has ever found. It is not a valid argument or a legitimate justification for paying some assclown devs for a hot steaming pile of shit. It is no more real than the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, Brad McQuaids "vision", or Funcom's state of the game letters from the director.
3) Potential also comes with an expiration date. Look at some of few exceptions where a game actually did pull its act together. Anarchy Online was so bad when it came out, that the review should have been posted on ratemypoo.com. Today it remains one of the complex MMO's ever created, but after hitting the expiration date. The expiration date is when people are tired of paying for hope, and if that hope ever does come, there aren't enough people left playing to matter. We see the same thing now with Age of Conan. At a certain point, any headway made will be meaningless when players find themselves standing in empty servers, and with MMO's on the horizon that actually have what is advertised, it may be very soon.
We need to stop using potential as an argument. It is the first nail in a failing game's coffin, and something a fanboi clings to like a life-preserver to try to justify the belly full of bullshit they willingly swallowed. We as subscribers need to stop paying for what simply isn't there. When we stop paying for hope, and start paying with reality, they will be forced to deliver what they promised or fail.
Co-Leader of Inquisition