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Teala's Wickedly Cool MMORPG.com Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Dear Bill Murphy - A rebuttal to his column: Bringing In The Non-MMO Gamer

Posted by Teala Tuesday September 24 2013 at 7:21PM
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Dear Bill;

I do not know how to say this without rolling my eyes after reading your latest column about Elder Scrolls Online: "Bringing In The Non-MMO Gamer", here on MMORPG.com.  Seriously.   After all the years of you being in this business, and knowing the history of MMORPG's, you wrote that column as if you are a total noob to the industry.   ::sigh::

Ugh...let's start from the simple knowledge that the MMORPG genre is filled to the brim with bad games and over the years we've seen countless games with big names fail - and fail big.  So that is your first mistake.  Thinking that the popularity of the IP will somehow get people to play it.   One thing this genre has shown us over the years is that an IP's popularity is not going to get people to buy and play it.    Here are just a few examples.

  • Sims Online - this IP's popularity is unquestionable - yet it failed to pull in the numbers and died.  (Yes Sims still holds the record for the most box units ever sold for a video game franchise - ever).
  • Matrix Online - despite its movie popularity the online game crashed and burned.
  • Warhammer - another popular gaming franchise known by millions of gamers - closing down before the end of the year. 
  • Lord of the Rings Online - big IP, huge IP, probably the biggest IP to ever be made into an MMORPG, and yet it never managed to draw in the numbers Turbine was hoping for - eventually it had to go free to play to stay afloat - just barely.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic - LotR's is huge, but there is not a kid or many adults on this planet that haven't heard of Star Wars - this game become known as the Tortanic for a reason.
So yeah...counting on an IP's popularity to sell your game is one thing, but if that game isn't a great game right out of the chute - it just isn't going to make it.  All indications of what we know about ESO is that it is no Skyrim and it certainly isn't a TES game.   Nope...sorry, the IP alone will not make this game great.
 
Then we come to the selling factor that this game is being made not just for PC gamers, but for console gamers as well.   Sorry to laugh. 
 
LMFAO!  
 
If Zinamax and Matt Firor honestly think that console gamers will play their game for years to come...they don't know their market.   Console gamers are notoriously ADD.   Game publishers cannot even keep them playing games all ready on the market long enough before they(the gamers) are out looking for the next game.   Yes, FPS games do have people playing them for countless months, but that is only until something bigger and better comes along - plus FPS games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are not MMORPG's.  So we won't even count them - because they are not the gamers that Zenimax are marketing toward.  They want the MMORPG players and the fans of TES, and especially Skyrim.  I seriously doubt many console players of Skyrim still play it.  
 
Which brings us to the MMORPG PC market.   A market over flowing with MMORPG's, many of which are just hanging on by their teeth...and that includes free to play ones.    Now Zenimax is going to bring us a new fantasy MMORPG based on the Elder Scrolls(but isn't the Elder Scrolls based on what we know so far) and if Matt Firor thinks that slapping the name Elder Scrolls on his game is going to sell it to the MMORPG gamers - he is on some really bad mind altering chemicals that he should stay far away from.    If console gamers have ADD - MMORPG players are worse.
 
MMORPG gamers are not casual gamers.   Of all the gamers on the market, MMORPG gamers are like locust.  They get the latest game, and eat its contents up - faster than the Artful Dodger could pick your pockets, or Oliver and the boys of the Old Strand Workhouse ate their porridge.   We've seen it countless times, in countless MMORPG's, where players go through the content, and before the developer can get the first patch in for bugs and fixes, the players are begging for more content.  "Please, sir, may I have some more?"
 

 

And if we look at what Matt has planned for ESO, you the player will only see 1/3rd of the games content - which means even less content for you.   Unless of course you want to fall prey to his SWTOR selling point crap that if you wish to see all the content, just make a new character for one of the other factions.
 
Which then brings me to this.
 
It didn't work for SWTOR and other games - it isn't going to somehow magically work for Elder Scrolls either.    If you force people to have to endure making more than one character to see the content of your game - it is going to fail and fail hard.  People tend to play one character(it is known as their main character), only after they have played their main to some degree will they make a new one, and then, not necessarily to play new content - but to try something new.    In all my time playing DAoC I never played Midgard, and never played for Albion.  Can't even tell you what those two lands major cities look like.   I played as a Hibernian - Ranger and a Cleric.   Ranger was my main and my Cleric was something I ran when I wanted to do something different.    Same for any game I have played.   I played WoW for years and never played an Alliance character - ever.   All my characters were Blood Elf, and I played my main a Huntress the most.   I am loyal to my character - not some faction.
 
Know what  the difference between WoW and Elder Scrolls is?   WoW has an open world.   No lines in the dirt stopping me from exploring.   Elder Scrolls - lines in the dirt.   For that alone WoW is a better game and if I were asked which game I would suggest a new non-MMORPG gamer play  for the first time - I'd point them to WoW.
 
And that brings me to this...
 
...Matt Firor also thinks that he can copy Blizzards success with faction loyalty(Horde vs Alliance) by having players jump around playing the other factions.   So tell me Matt how does having to switch races and factions and forcing me to create a whole new character build loyalty?   Clearly he is clueless on why people play the race and characters they do and it has nothing to do with loyalty to a faction.   Because if I had my way, I would have defected with my Blood Elf to the Alliance when Garrosh took control of the Horde in World of Warcraft.   I do not play a character for the faction - I play the character for who it is and what it is.   I played a Blood Elf because I liked them.  I played a Hunter because I liked that class.  I could have cared less if it were Horde or Alliance...at the time my Blood Elf was for the Horde, but as I said, after Garrosh came to power - I'd gladly switch sides and join the Alliance.
 
Forcing artificial alliances between races in TES is just stupid, and he is only doing it so he can put in what will ultimate fail as RvR.   That topic however is for a whole other article - which I will be putting up a little later on why Zinemax's Elder Scrolls Online as a game  is doomed to fail.
 
So yeah...not going to happen - ESO is dead before it even launches if Zinemax releases it as the mess they intend to release.
 
Now we come to this games other so-called big selling point - PvP/RvR.   Yeah...hello!  Did I just wake up in some bizarro alternate gaming genre where PvP has been a big selling point of MMORPG's?   MMORPG players are not exactly huge fans of PvP, not even controlled and limited PvP.    Sure there are lots of MMORPG's that offer PvP in some manner, but the number of actual players that participate in that aspect of the game is never in great numbers.   
 
Matt Firor is still thinking it is 2001 and he is releasing DAoC.    Well sorry Matt, that was then and this is now.   Back then, DAoC succeeded not because of of the PvP or RvR, it succeeded because there were only two other titles it was competing with:  EverQuest and Asheron's Call.   Some MMORPG gamers were looking for something different and DAoC fit the bill.   It was an MMORPG with a twist - it had built in PvP and or RvR.    It was different, and it was new, and one of a couple of games available for online RPG players.
 
Now let's look at today's market.   No MMORPG launches without some form of PvP, but is that what gets people to buy and play it?   If it is, than Warhammer should still be going strong!   Oh wait...that is right, game is shutting the servers off on Dec 18th of this year - RvR didn't save Warhammer.   If PvP is what sells MMORPG's than games like GW2 would be packed with players, Rift wouldn't have gone free to play, Aion would still be big, Age of Conan would not be merging the last of their servers, and games like Darkfall:Unholy Wars and Planetside 2(and PS2 is free to play!) would be blockbusters.   Yeah...PvP certainly sells games...not.
 
I am sorry Bill, but Elder Scrolls will not make new MMORPG players.   Not the way World of Warcraft did.    Elder Scrolls is all ready shooting itself in the foot, the hand, the stomach, and the head due to the way they are making the game play.   Sure...they will sell maybe a couple of million copies, but not to the people that he thinks.   Console gamers hate monthly fees.   If they have to pay for the service, and then also subscribe - lol - forget it, you can count them out.   No the ones that will buy it are the locust of the MMORPG genre.   The ones that buy any piece of fey wu game and then abandon it when they get bored.   Then, like many MMORPG's before it, Elder Scrolls will fade slowly into the abyss of bad games.
 
That is Elder Scrolls fate - it is all ready written - because Matt and company have learned nothing about what makes a good MMORPG(despite all the failed games they could have learned from), and the definitely do not know what made TES: Skyrim the great game it is and why it was so successful. 
 
Yes I do have a crystal ball.   Yes I am that accurate in my predictions for games.    But hey, don't take my word for it, just watch and see.
 
 
Stay tuned for my next entry - Elder Scrolls Online: Why it is the next big title that is doomed to fail.   :)  
 
 
 
ThomasN7 writes:

Totally agree.  This is totally just an attempt to cash in on the Elders Scrolls name. Developers today simply do not think as gamers which is ultimately a bad sign for the genre.

It is like that saying.. In order to catch a thief you must become a thief. If developers want to catch gamers then they must think as we do when they design these games.

Tue Sep 24 2013 7:46PM Report
FlyinDutchman87 writes: As much as I'd like to argue the point...... I'm 90% sure your right. Tue Sep 24 2013 7:49PM Report
artemisentr4 writes: Your rant about making another character to see all the content is wrong. A second faction opens up at level 50 when you complete your story. Then a third opens up after completing the second story. All on one character. Giving you end game gear for your effort. Although they did say you may need a friend to go through the third faction to stay alive. Tue Sep 24 2013 8:32PM Report
Teala writes: @artemisentr4 Not according to what Matt Firor said.   I am just going by what he said.  Yes it is true you can visit the other factions lands after you reach level 50 according to how they are making the game - but that is after you are 50!  And what does that entail?  You can visit the other lands.  Can't do anything there - but hey - you can visit them.   Oh and this I have never heard of, you get gear for completing a special quest for you after completing a story that allows you entry into the other factions lands?  So in the end - it is all about a gear grind.   That makes the game even less appealing. Tue Sep 24 2013 8:53PM Report
ZombieKen writes:

"It didn't work for SWTOR and other games - it isn't going to somehow magically work for Elder Scrolls either."

Agreed.

Tue Sep 24 2013 8:55PM Report
superconducting writes:

The skepticism and pessimism of this article is beyond measure. This is more accurately classified as a rant as mentioned above. Comparison is made to SWTOR, then says ESO will fail. Comparison made to WoW, then again claims failure. Comparison made to DAoC, then again says fail.  Seeing the pattern here?

Tue Sep 24 2013 10:07PM Report
PAL-18 writes:

This product,it sounds like playing Spy Vs Spy two-player mode but without the 2nd player.2nd player is somewhere in its own dimension.

And they are doing this to ES seriers which are known for open game play.

Its disgrace.

 

Wed Sep 25 2013 1:11AM Report
lezmurf writes: I really want to argue that you're wrong about this, how ever the same thoughts has crossed my mind when looking over the "teasing hints" of the game. Wed Sep 25 2013 4:07AM Report
g0m0rrah writes:

You know, if Zenimax attempted to add something new to the IP, something innovative, I wouldnt complain. The problem is that this feels more like a regression.  Its as if they are taking things away from the player and acting like, oh it will be great.

 This just goes to show that when it comes to online entertainment, developers are simply out of touch with the consumer.  Companies like Zenimax and Bioware  need to go back to producing their hit console games and stop saturating this immensely crowded MMO market with nonsense.

Wed Sep 25 2013 7:40PM Report
fluxen writes: Teala bloody awesome post, I really want teso to be great but looks like another gear grind with too much faith in the IP Wed Sep 25 2013 7:54PM Report
Tolroc writes: I don't like the pessimism of this blog and the barbs at Bill Murphy. However, I agree with the  writer's assessment of ESO. I think you nailed it. Thu Sep 26 2013 10:26AM Report
valun writes: Teala, have you played at CBT? Fri Sep 27 2013 1:48PM Report
LionsouI writes: I belive they said that after you finish the story of your own faction you can go through the others with the same character. Something like a new game plus where you stay with what you have. They even said that low level dungeons opened new areas after you hit level 50 so the new zones will have a challenge. There are also adventure zones that I belive 24 players play together to be able  to finish or something like that and there are also special dungeons(Not sure for this one). So basically  you get new game ++, adventure zones, the special dungeons(again not sure) and the pvp and everything else you will be able to do in Cyrodil. Each story suposedly takes 120 hours to complete(probably more) plus all the other extra stuff. If this game can nail exploration, give you a decent story(please be good) and give you the freedom to create a character however you want then it will succed. That's what a elder scroll is all about. The game may give you fewer options in combat but each spell have utility and a function. Mix and matching will be very important in this game and being creative may lead to some really good combos. Seeing how hard the enemies hit if you mess up probably means this game wont be easy. You also need to be careful with your resources. You can burn them in seconds by going all out when starting a fight but then you would have a hard time because if you need a skill in that moment, you wont be able to use it.  Fri Sep 27 2013 7:41PM Report
LionsouI writes: The Elder Scrolls is about losing yourself in the world. Some people don't even touch the story and just explore the world. Everyone have a different way to play them. I played Oblivion for many month and I played skyrim for a couple of month and in neither I came in close to completely finish them because I am a person that love to explore but it does get lonely not being able to interact with other real people.. I probably didn't play more of it because I didn't really like all that much how they made the area of skyrim for some reason. Fri Sep 27 2013 7:47PM Report
Rogosh writes: Great post Taela! What mmos do you see coming out that might break the mold and actually succeed? Sun Sep 29 2013 9:50AM Report
syriinx writes:

"It didn't work for SWTOR and other games - it isn't going to somehow magically work for Elder Scrolls either.    If you force people to have to endure making more than one character to see the content of your game - it is going to fail and fail hard. "

I partially disagree with you here.

I think one of the cardinal sins in MMO design is that one character can see and do everything.  If you see everything the first time, it makes alts boring.  If your character can do everything (ie tank, heal and dps), then you have no identity and attachment to your character comes difficult.  Combine the two, and you have a character you dont really care about and no desire to roll an alt because you have seen it already (which is one of the main reasons why Rift's retention has been bad despite a polished product).

Another cardinal sin is to exhaust your permanent character growth options quickly.  In other words, fast leveling where after the first couple of weeks your only character progression is gear based, which isnt permanent because next patch your work is worthless because the gear gets replaced.  

This second cardinal sin is something that also drives people to alts, because part of the appeal of RPGs is character progression.

And now we have the problem with SWtoR.  You level fast and exhaust your permanent growth options and think maybe you want to try a new class and see its storyline.  However, the unique content for that new class is small and its tied to the same linear path you already took.  Its not that SWtoR forces you to roll an alt to see everything, its that you have to deal with a forced path youve already walked upon to see this content.

People need choice,across all levels.

Lets look to the biggest success of the genre, WoW.

Even if you left out the other faction, there was no chance one character would see everything.  You could even stay on one continent and not see everything.  It also took the casual player several months to hit max level.  And then when they got around to rolling a new alt, they could get a completely different experience.  And even once you had seen everything on several characters, you could hit your favorite zones and vary your experience.  This sort of thing is gone from most games today.

Everquest is another example.  People took years to level in that game, and didnt see all of Norrath.  There was so much to see and do.  Its because you had choice of where to go and want to do, not just one option.

 

So I do think what SWtoR did isnt going to work anywhere, but its not because one character cant see all content.  Its because there isnt enough (any) choice in what content you do see and you have to retrace far too many steps to see anything new.

 

Tue Oct 01 2013 2:03PM Report
Nephaerius writes: Long time reader of your blog, but I must say this time I just stopped reading at "console gamers are notoriously ADD." Citation? Yeah didn't think so. Your blogs are full of hyperbole and personal opinion dressed up as facts. Tue Oct 01 2013 5:00PM Report
Alleneira writes:

What I find more disturbing at Bill's post was the line: " They need to make an MMO that at once has all the features MMO gamers have come to expect..."

So what are the features MMO gamers expect? Grinding for gear? Killing 30 wolfs ot get their pelts? Clusterf*cking an area and spawnkilling NPCs? Slaughtering 1092309 NPCs each day for xp and loot? ... aren't that these things all MMO players get sick off?

The MMO market need something new like an interactive world which Skyrim kinda offers. Imagine you have a very big world and now the King/Jarl/Mayor offers 10 players a quest to annihilate a bandit camp... but only these 10 players, since why should he give out that quest to 100 players and to the 100 next and 100 next.. endlessly, when the camp was already destroyed once? Let the ones who accept the quest and don't do it even get a messenge when some of the other players done the quest while you were chilling in a tavern and with that the quests ends for them too.... yet there should be a twitch at quests, they should be more interactive.

The game could keep track on the NPCs around the camp... lets say an troll is near, why shouldn't he attack the camp? Maybe after the bandits are dead, maybe while you fight them, maybe even before you fight them and the only thing you see are ruins and corpses. You could now either cash in the reward or investigate what happened there. Follow the trails of the troll, let the game lead the troll even past other players who might find him, die at him or just hide and later meet the adventurers who chase the troll. The adventurers maybe could have lost track of the troll and could ask other players around if they saw it and they could bundle up together, sharing the new "kill the troll" quest.... and if you fail, you get a followup quest for everyone about a troll terroriziing the countryside.

GW2 kinda tried to do that but utterly failed, but if executed right, you would have something new, always new quests which outcome can always be different... MMO gamers are sick of a static world with stiff NPCs who you slaughter and spawnkill on mass (at least I am), but for me it seems that ESO tries to go the same route as every other MMO, with the same features and same combat and same bollocks which we got fed with over and over.

Maybe MMORPGs just cant support an interactive world due to the sheer amount of players in it who flood the playground. I think even Skyrim could not support more as 5 players, if you don't want to step on each others toes.

Mon Oct 07 2013 5:52AM Report
Kyleran writes:

I've quit reading articles by MMORPG.com writers gushing about the next upcoming AAA title, they rarely see the forest for the trees and end up way off base in their predictions about the ultimate game as released.

I'd like to see TESO be a good MMORPG, but I'm really not getting the impression that they had a solid vision that they stuck to right from the get go, I think they are trying to satisfy everyone, and at the end of the day will please few.

 

Thu Oct 10 2013 1:09PM Report
Nihilist writes:

I don't really get how in DAOC you never cared about playing the other factions, yet now not being able to do so in TESO is a major problem.

The point is to create an experience unique to members of that faction which will hopefully create some form of faction pride in RvR. Part of why DAOC RvR worked was because the enemy was completely foreign, unlike say GW2 where everyone is an exact carbon copy.

Alts were stupid in SWTOR because all of the content outside of the story specific quests was shared. It was boing going through the exact same lengthy zones and side quests over and over.

In TESO an alt would be going through entirely different geography and quests which would hopefully be more interesting.

 

Thu Oct 17 2013 3:36PM Report
karmath writes:

 I'll prob get banned again for saying it but many of the MMORPG staff are on many publisher's payrolls and/or receive incentives like early access to games for exclusive review/preview purposes/articles.

Many of the MMORPG staff have already had the tour of Zenimax and have played a alpha version of the game. If they actually wrote non biased truthful critical articles do you think they would get such treatment from the developer? Pretty unlikely.

MMORPG.com is a business, like most business, they are in it for the money not the medium.

Mon Oct 28 2013 1:58AM Report
mmoguy43 writes:

The professional doomsayer does it again.

Want to know my negative outlook of the future???

The answer: Don't care.

 

@"paid reviews" Well generally developers want you to be truthful in the review but they most certainly don't want you simply listing everything wrong about the game you can think of. If you did or were known for doing that you probably would never get to do press coverage on anything. They need to strike a balance in what they have to say about the game. Some are more generous but that may have to do with their own feelings with the game. No matter what there will always be some bias either way. You just have to use your brain to realize that.

Sun Nov 03 2013 11:54AM Report
aspekx writes:

while this is pure rant material, it is sadly true im afraid. my friends and i wanted Oblivion or Skyrim online. not a gear grinding, themepark, class based system, riding on the shirt tails of Bethesda's successful IPs.

 

whatever happened to an open skill system, for instance?

Thu Nov 07 2013 11:08AM Report
Stormakov writes:

Druids. You played a Ranger and a Druid in DAoC.

Clerics were an Albion class, you said you didn't play in the Albion realm.

......yes I commented simply to correct you of that. DAoC nazi? Yea probably.

Mon Nov 25 2013 7:39PM Report
muppetpilot writes:

I like a lot of what this author said.  ESO is indeed a massive franchise but that means absolutely nothing in relation to the success of it as an MMO.  If Zeni thinks that it can possibly appeal to everyone all at once, they are very wrong. The most successful MMOs in history - I would offer that WoW and Gw 1 are two of them - never tried to appeal to everyone or be all things to all people.  They succeeded by giving their players choices and in WoW's case, the size and scope and accessibility of the world was a huge factor.

I can't help but think that ESO is just the latest so-called "innovative!" and "groundbreaking!" MMO to hit the market, and all of the games that have touted things like that so far have failed as subs, or have struggled to maintain their player bases.

Oh, and if Zeni and Firor think that limiting players' ability to make money and be part of the in-game economy by implementing this wacko "PvP economy" is a good idea, I've got news for them.  Limiting player choice is NEVER a good idea in an MMO.

Sun Dec 01 2013 2:15PM Report
kjempff writes:

I wish makers of mmorpgs would start to understand their target audience better. Most of all these so called mmorpgs that keeps failing is because they try to get non mmo players to play a mmo, and at the same time they loose the limited amount of mmo players because their game has taken a wrong direction for those.

The mmorpg crowd is limited and a special kind of players who can and will invest time building characters; this doesn't  imply hardcore, but it means that people to some degree connect and care for their characters. Casual players (still has nothing to do with hours played), are not that interested in long term relationships, and therefore they are not a good audience to target for a mmorpg.

So just because a person watched the Hobbit or read the book, it doesn't mean they will like mmorpg aspects of a game.

To target mmorpg players You need to have deep long lasting mechanics, content content and more content, limited or no p2w so that the efford people invest has value. I am not saying You should close the door to a broader audience, just not sit between two chairs.. If the game is a mmorpg, then it should concentrate on beeing that.

Fri Dec 06 2013 10:00AM Report
killahh writes: First real mmorpg to come to the console, plus Skyrim lore and theme, coupled with the fact that 90% of the player base is Console means it will be a hit Teala. Fail post. Sat Dec 28 2013 8:42AM Report

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