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.
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. :)