Ok, so this will be my attempt at predicting how Aion's release will go.
Note right now, from the beginning of this blog, that I am not saying that I wish for Aion to do poorly AT ALL. In fact, it is the opposite. If you comment something along those lines, you win for Best Avoiderer of Really Obviously Stated Points.
To start, I can't make some kind of cloudy prediction, that's too easy. I can say general things and might get close to correct, but I'd rather be all grown up and put it out on the table. Be aware that I know nothing about Aion but what I have heard when talking to good friends like Cindy, reading some articles and blogs here and there, and from playing it a bit in beta.
So, I have no idea if they made announcements about server types or what to expect from the beginning. I am semi-comfortable in my prediction because while many bloggers/podcasters/community members like to say that they are "jaded old gamers", I like to say that I am more of a "jaded old community member."
That is to say that most of the MMO worlds issues are caused by the community, not the developers. For many reasons.
I am not saying that it is bad or good, just that it is.
Anyway, on to my prediction, which has to do with Aion and it's "success."
Aion will do OK, to start off with. It will sell plenty of boxes/downloads and will be played by what most would consider a good amount of people. I am going with (these specifics are the hard part, but screw it I can't wuss out now) 575,000 people. It will open with 12 servers.
Then, after 5 months, we will see the first "..how the game messed up" posts. Well, not the first, I am sure that many beta players are already saying that, but oh well.
Soon after 5 months, let's say on Feb 16th, 2010, the game will start to show some serious wear despite being brand new and actually a good game.
The strong PvP element will scare off most players. Server mergers will be announced on May 23rd, 2010.
PvP'ers will stick around, the game moves on with 5 servers.
The rest of the players will move on to being excited about the next game, without realizing that the cycle is starting again. The same cycle they have been a part of for the last several years:
1) New Game gets announced. Players talk about why it is good, even though they haven't played it.
2) Players begin to compare it's game-play to WoW.
3) Beta's get handed out, players get more excited to see the new game in action.
4) (we'll skip all this stuff about release and all that.)
5) Players get bored because they play the game for 6 hours a night for 2 months straight, and move on.
Anyway, those are my specifics. I hope I am wrong, but in this age of instant information, full game trial downloads within 2 hours and so so so many MMO's (and more coming out all the time) players get bored faster and faster and faster. I am curious to see when the great mass of players will have a collective AH-HA! moment and deal with their problem by just enjoying many games at one time.
If you are uncurably bored, the only cure is variety, not playing with one toy for so many hours until your are....you know, bored.
I could be way, way off. We'll see, and I hope so.