In recent blog posts and on the forums here and elsewhere there is a hue and cry over the recent release of AoC. Every poor launch brings a cacophony of complaints that, "we are tired of paying for beta" and "the devs/publishers are big companies and they don't care about us", or "do they even play their own game?" and "get it 100% done and perfect before release".
Look, we all know software is complex and MMOs are the mostt complex software around. Add to that the fact that not only are you trying to create running computer software, but also trying to create content and a game's ruleset, and that's quite a bit to get "100% done and perfect". Held to this standard, no MMO would have ever been released.
There was nothing wrong with the releases of Hellgate London, AoC, Fury, and Vanguard. There was nothing wrong with the SWG NGE, or EQ2's revamp, or Enhancement Diversification in CoX.
Let that sink in... nothing wrong.
How can I say that? The companies in question did what they thought was best for them, or possibly what they thought they needed to do to survive. That might mean releasing "too soon" (too soon to gamers might have meant "just in time to meet payroll" for the company), or maybe making huge changes to core gameplay of a mature game. The companies thought they were doing what they needed to do to survive and compete in a tough business.
And... in most cases, the market punished them and rightfully so.
On the other hand, some games survive bad launches or game changes. Anarchy Online was a bad launch and it still exists today. EQ2 made major gameplay changes to character progression, crafting and combat and it is a better game than it ever was. As maligned as Sony is, they saved Vanguard and by many accounts, it is getting stronger with each new update. CoX is better because of the nerf that was ED. People are still playing Age of Conan.
There is a very fine line between a good change and a bad change, or a good launch and a dismal failure. There is a fine line between a "timely release" and "making people pay for beta."
You know what that line is? Simple. Do people like your game enough to put up with the crap associated with the messy business which are MMOs?
That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Does the good outweigh the bad? I am sure that the original EQ had issues during its lifetime. I remember problems logging into Asheron's Call when I started. Meridian 59 most certainly disappointed someone. Shadowbane was a clunky mess at times. Every game has issues, but does your game bring something to the table that overshadows those issues?
I bought Age of Conan, played a month, then uninstalled. Why? Because for me it brought nothing to the table that wasn't done better elsewhere. Someone else certainly feels differently. Good for them. I hope, whether they are paying for beta or not, they continue to play and support the game they like because if they do, that game will likely survive and get better and you will continue to like it. As soon as you don't enjoy it any more... cancel and move on. No need to howl and foam at the mouth.
It's just a game, right?