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Yohda's blog of randomness

Look at the blog title, now you know what this is about.

Author: Yohda

Is there any comeback for a MMO after a bad release?

Posted by Yohda Friday January 22 2010 at 10:24PM
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This will be short and to the point (hopefully).


Many MMOs have had a horrible launch, for many reasons


Horizons (now Istaria Chronicles of the Gifted) launched buggy, crashed a lot (especially during monster invasions. Do they even still do monster invasions?) AND biggest thing was all the stuff they said was going to be in the wasn't. I remember that they promised that the Bane (Undead in Istaria) was going to spread by themselves and the people playing would have to fight them back. What did we end with? The Bane was actually controlled by the devs and didn't spread dynamically in the game. Not to mention that they completely changed the game before release...but I won't count that, since games do tend to change before they are released...and sometimes after. But the dynamic AI is only one example of things they promised that weren't in.


Now, many years later...Istaria has new owners, and a very low population. Is it partly because its old? Or is it because they launched in a horrible state, and now most people don't give it a moments thought. I can say, it has improved a lot from release...and only MMO where you can actually play as a DRAGON. Outside of that, I never did get far in my trial. Though I can say, game when I tried it, was a lot more lively than Vanguard (MMO I'm going to speak about next.). But this was a year or so ago, so not sure what its like a year later. I do know Istaria has/did have a much more active chat than Vanguard's chat.

Then take a more modern MMO, Vanguard Saga of Heroes. It launched with a lot of bugs (and still has quite a lot of bugs) and performance was horrible (greatly improved now). But I don't know too many promised features that didn't make it into the game...a few, like Druid's controlling weather, some classes that were taken out (and never put back in)...but not really (in my view) anything major like what Horizon's promised. And classes being removed is understandable if they were unfinished/bugged etc. No one wants to play an unfinished class. But as I mentioned, current Vanguard is greatly improved...sure some bugs are in the game. But, I saw many bugs in WoW as well (for example, some monsters being stuck and you were unable to kill them). Every MMO has bugs that I've it can't be that, can it? Why did Vanguard never make a comeback? 

Lack of advertising? Can't be. I never once see an advertisement for Istaria...and yet, its doing (at least relatively) really well. Well, maybe I need to check up on it again and see how its doing in the present day.

Is it because Vanguard is owned by SOE? 

Or an entirely different reason?

So, is it ever possible for a MMO that had a bad release to make a comeback? So far, every MMO that has a horrible release, hasn't really done too well afterwards. Okay so, Anarchy Online had the worst release ever...and now its doing pretty well...but that is probably because its now free to play, so it doesn't truly count.

What do you think? Is it possible for a MMO to have a bad launch, but earn the right to be given another chance? Or, is a bad launch it for a MMO?

velveeta writes:

as a long time player of istaria (actually it usta be horizons...) that lived thru the times of troubles, i can say that istaria is alive and well, tho we are still small.

the current owners have done much in the way of revamping the game while still keeping the game that we love so much.  new content, new quests, new skewls and abilities, even geographic changes and new monsters to fight - for players of all levels (the new dungeon is epic in every sense of the word...)

is istaria perfect?  no, not at all.  its old, so its graphics turn off a lot of younger players used to so called 'better looking' games (i have played several other games, including wow, and i find istaria's graphics to be comfortable and homey...).  it is only recently that the game could even be played on vista systems.  the devs attempts at balancing all the elements of the game has led to some hard feelings of nerfs, etc.

its a niche game, no one can deny that.  but i have played it for literally years, and it remains my second fave mmo of all time.

i advise anyone interested to check out the game for themself.  there is a free trial period, but you can play for free as long as you want - it is limited of course.  you can only play a human and can't own a plot, but other than that, you can advance as far as you want without obligation other than being a considerate gamer.  we have little tolerance for leets and powergamers.  with 3 shards to choose from, you are certain to find something that interests you!

Fri Jan 22 2010 11:17PM Report
Bomarr writes:

There is a saying in the industry: "You only launch once."

Sat Jan 23 2010 6:23AM Report
Kyleran writes:

Sure, WOW was terrible at release due to server overload, with massive loot lag, inability to log in due to horrific queues and yet it went on to become the great because they quickly addressed the problem, mitigated the issues, compensated their users with free playing time for every minute lost and most of all, the game was inherently good and complete at launch.  EVE also came back from a less than spectacular launch and has many times the subs today 6 years later (300k) vs the 50k or so they had in the first year.

Sat Jan 23 2010 7:04AM Report
ghstwolf writes: It's unlikely but possible. It depends heavily on what it's failures are and the time to correct them. Really we as players can be pretty forgiving on capacity and to a point stability issues, especially if the company is up front about them and makes some form of contrition. EVE is a freak. For 6 years there has been no competition, it's simply that far outside the mold. Everyone is (has been) too focused on iterating high fantasy DIKU muds. This cycle seems to be looking in other directions. I would also say it is far less likely with today's flooded market. Lots of games lead to fewer chances to woo gamers, and launch (maybe X-packs)is your only concentrated shot at the market. It's the one moment you are the new neighbor everyone wants to meet, and where everyone feels equal. Sat Jan 23 2010 4:12PM Report
bamdorf writes:


Back in the days when most people didn't even know what an MMO was, and had never seen a 3D MMO, and were not at all used to paying $15 a month to play a computer game, there was Everquest, and it had a horrible launch, and it had a bad time every time there was a major update, not to mention an expansion, and it had forced grouping (more than any game I have seen).    So all this for an untested type of game (when I first ran it I said to myself..what the ?).

And guess what it, it launched the genre (sorry UO, you were a part of it but not the explosion that achieved liftoff for MMOs).

So my comment is, if there is something potent in the "vision" (to borrow the Verant term) of the game, it can overcome massive difficulties and can become a hit.   (I said can, not will)  And if there isn't, it will stumble anyway.    So barring a complete unmitigated disaster at launch, the good stuff  will persist.

The problem is most new MMOs don't do very well, and its not because of their launch, its because of the game system.  The correlation of bad launches with mediocre games is high because most new games are mediocre.   Unfortunate, but true.   We desperately need some good stuff.   The question might be asked, though, is whether anything more in the MMO genre is possible at this point.

But that's another subject.


Sat Jan 23 2010 9:41PM Report
Ataaka writes:

I'm an MMORPG game launch freak. Since 2000, I have pre-ordered every game on the MMORPG List... no joke! Each game failed at launch, nothing to do with the problems that WoW had, but much to do with the game not being playable (ready), major game changes (such as class changes shortly after launch), and of course the big killer for me... Devs who don't care to hear the voice of the paying customer.

You would not expect McDonalds to carry the Whopper Sandwich, anymore than you would be happy that McDonalds changed the BigMac to a Double-Cheese burger with special sauce.

I was the only person there when I earned my paycheck. If I fail to deliver on the due date, I could lose my job. Therefore, when I get my paycheck, it proves that my services were appreciated (at least for that past week). When devs start paying me to play failed launched games, I will probably not be interested. I already have a job I love. Being entertained from playing a game is not promised. But, when devs state what their game can do... thats a contract in my book.

I do not make MMORPGs. If I did, I would lose my job before launch, becuase I would be the fool jumping up and down, waving my arms frantically, saying WTH! KSSSK! OVER! I'd rather make money honestly and earnestly... no words... actions.


Mon Jan 25 2010 5:44AM Report writes:
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