I’ve been part of numerous MMOs from announcement to quit and one thing has always been consistent, the players turning on the game before it’s even out. It generally goes like this;
#1. Game is announced and the early fans rush to forums to theorycraft and throw out ideas (these are the good times). The group is usually small. They usually get along well. Hope is the ideal of the day. Everyone is coming together in hope that the game will be shaped around some of the ideas they have come up with. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, the future is open!
#2. The few weak links. In every bushel you have a few bad apples. They are the first to break, to crack, to threaten, and to turn on the game. They tend to come in with ideals they refuse to compromise on. When the game looks as though it won’t be putting their idea in (despite any evidence or sense, or majority opinion that said idea would not work) they begin to threaten the game with things like “well I was excited for this game now I don’t know if I’ll be playing it” “I wanted to like this game but if they aren’t doing my epically epic idea I can’t” “looks like yet another MMO fail” “this game will be worse than SWTOR” (SWTOR being the gold standard of a game that the fans felt betrayed by). They usually get met with “move along, nothing to see here, move along”. They often put up a bit of a fight, but in the end they seem to leave the community in peace to go complain about another game on another forum.
#3. The game nears the halfway point. Updates tend to slow down around this point as the game is in grind mode meanwhile the word has gotten around and the forums pretty full. Most of the original fans have seen and discussed just about every aspect of the game so they are less active. The details we have give a pretty good description of what the game will be like but the influx of new posters doesn’t care, they still want to change it to their ideals. Every day a post that was beat to death months ago appears atop atop the pile. Every day one of the vets points out the subject has been settled, adds a link to the original post, and gets flamed by the newer member. These new posters aren’t as loyal or dedicated as the vets, but they are determined to run roughshod over them offering little respect in the process. The negative posts rage, the forums become a place of volatility and complaining. “If it doesn’t have X I will quit” “It will fail if it doesn thave X” “this game is going to fail” are all over the place. Most of the vets have gone into observer mode as they are tired of fighting the forum war. (these are the bad times)
#4. As the game nears launch the bandwagoners come in droves. For some reason they want it to be like WOW despite allegedly hating WOW. Their posts have been beaten to death in the years prior and now the complainers and the vets go to war with them. We have 3 types of posters, all with different perspectives, different desires, and things are extremely tense. Posts like “will it kill wow, will it beat wow, how much like wow will it be, is it hard, what class is best, did you get into beta” are everywhere. It’s an exciting time for the new people. It’s complain time for the weak links. Surely it’s now or never for them to push that idea that sent them fleeing prior. Surely they can make on last run to get it in game despite it being too late! The vets barely come by now, they've seen this all before and can’t stomach it any longer. All thats left is to wait for launch (after all you’ve been in beta for a while now ;).
#5. The game launched. Even more new players came flooding in. The forums scream of posts like “what is the best class, this game is broken, this game failed, WOW is better, what is the easiest class, this game disappointed me, my review of the game (despite it being day 2), already quit-back to WOW, what is the fastest way to level”. The vets are happy. After so soooo long, years of waiting, they are enjoying the game they committed to. The weak links are flaming the forums telling everyone not to play and generally stirring up as much hate as they can because they never got over their bad ideas being rejected years ago. The band wagoners are asking questions they were answered months ago. The vets glance at the forums but are far far too busy playing the game they’ve been committed to for years to bother with such trivialities.