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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Developers Getting it Wrong

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 21 2012 at 4:16PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "How do game companies get it so wrong?" by mgilbrtsn. In the thread, mgilbrtsn wonders how game developers manage to get MMOs so wrong when it comes to what gamers actually want:

I was wondering how game companies who obviously have put a lot of time and money into a game, can so miss the mark on what the gaming community wants.  I'm not talking about nitpicking every little thing a game does right/wrong, becausee those are always up for debate.  Instead I'm wondering at a more Macro level.  Star Trek Online and Champions online come to mind.  Its obvious that a lot of money was spent on them.  The quality shows.  However, they are so far off the mark on what players wanted, that they just fail to attract the masses.  I know that politicians and others do a lot of market surveys and focus groups to help them make decisions.  Do game companies not do this?  Just cruious.

Onomas feels its all for the kids:

kids, they want to make games as easy as possible for the little ones.

As some of the community want indepth, crafting, exploration, open world, streategy, skill, death penalties, and features galore.

They keep making these console style rpg games with tons of eye candy and lack of innovation for the kiddies which now take up most the community.

I wish a company would go back to old school mmos and actualy make a real mmo for a change. WOW realy hurt the mmo community by attracting the kids and the need for easy single player  eye candy games :/

Manarix actually thinks developers listen too much to gamers:

Here is what i think.

I think developpers listen WAY TOO MUCH to their so called customers.

And the endresult is a bland product, that does not excell in anything, while trying to cater to as many as possible.

Ultima Online and Dark Ages of Camelot were games that were made by people with a vision. They made the game like they wanted it to be, games they wanted to play themselves and have have a good time wasting time with. If you didn't like it, well too bad, you didn't play...simple as that. And to be honest, both games went downhill when the developpers started to "listen" to what the players wanted, most times fragmented ideas of people that didn't like a, b or c.

Vhaln believes that decisions are being controlled more by people with money than by creative people as the genre has grown over the years:

Being good at making money and being creative are very different, and as gaming becomes a bigger and bigger business, the more its controled by people with money instead of creativity.  You'd think it'd be a no-brainer for a game company to give creative control to someone with proven creativity, but people with money tend to be ego-maniacs who don't want some peon ruining things with all their vision, imagination, and other worthless crap like that.  Certainly not someone who wastes all their time playing video games, to boot.

So instead they create these formulaic games, based on what they think sounds fun, to people looking at it from the outside, who don't even know what a fun game is, and just figure its like any other industry where you can buy your way to success.

There is certainly something to be said about the "formulaic" games Vhaln mentions. There are quite a few MMOs that have been made with a back-of-the-box bullet list in mind, and these games are definitely uninspired.

However, I'm not sure I really agree with the premise the OP raises to begin with, at least the way it's been worded. It's easy to feel that developers have "missed the mark" as far as what gamers actually want, but consider this:: what "gamers" want today is vastly different from what they wanted 10 years ago. Gaming, both in general and the MMO genre, has grown and broadened exponentially over the last 10 or so years and what people want from their gaming experiences is as diverse as ever.

I don't think it's particularly settled in terms of what gamers actually want from these games. In my opinion, it is frankly evolving all the time. This is particularly troubling for the MMO genre as these games take longer to develop than your typical 18 month console/PC game cycle. Often what players in the genre may collectively want when the project begins may be completely different by the time the project is completed.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!

fenistil writes:

Sure that players may want something diffrent when projects begins and when projects is finally released after f.e. 4-5 years.

That's even more reason to stop making copy-cats and put some vision in a product.

 

Well whole thing OP mentions is unsolvable ,but imho more and more games that are too tightly keeping it's old design will fail to achieve their 'promised' sales targets.

I mean mmorpg games.

If nothing will change genre will suffer , will lose popularity to other mmos (like mmofps, mmorts, etc) and non-mmo games like MOBA and single player games.

 

It's already started it is just not so visible yet.

 

CoD is not in any danger even recycling exactly same thing for years.

Sat Jan 21 2012 6:27PM Report
Ezen_Surreal writes:

Manarix has it spot on!

Sat Jan 21 2012 8:22PM Report
Nebless writes:

And I think Manarix missed the mark.  Don't know about UO but yes DoAC worked no doubt about it.  But for his PRO comment, I'll throw out a NEG one: Pirates of the Burning Sea's.

Here's a game independently developed by a company that didn't have to go looking for money.  They made a game THEY wanted to play and to use Manarix's words "If you didn't like it, well too bad, you didn't play...simple as that."  Problem was; money out for dev work - lack of money coming in to turn a profit.  This was a game that went F2p because the alternate was to shut down.

There needs to be a mix.  Have a plan, and take the best idea's from the future players.  They just may think of something the dev's didn't. 

Take too much and you screw the game up before it's even off the drawing boards.  AoC would be an example of that.  The original plan would have been a hard Pvp-fest and instead it went to the dogs as a PvE game and THIS is from a PvE player.

Sat Jan 21 2012 9:53PM Report
Segun777 writes:

Yeah thanks for the pie in the sky nonsense. This is a buisness and a luxury one at that and if you havent noticed the economy aint doing so great. Yes Developers listen too much to gamers. I personally loved the story in DA II much more than the tripe nonsense in Origins but so what? Developers need to make money they go for the lowest denominator. Lets not forget that the blame goes two ways. If we gamers were less a bunch of whiny, arrogant, critics developers could afford to try more new things.

Sun Jan 22 2012 3:00AM Report
Ezen_Surreal writes:

Amen, segun777!

Sun Jan 22 2012 9:16AM Report
Banden writes:

They get the games wrong because they are getting the demographic of MMO gamers wrong. World of warcraft had 12 million subscribers but what they dont realise is that the demographic of that game varied as much as gamers in general. There is no broad appeal.

World of warcraft is what happens when you have a deeply rooted franchise (blizzard) aswell as a community who has never tried a MMORPG before. A lot people was introduced to a new and fascinating concept so they ate it no matter how the fish was cooked, and their friends and their friends friends and so on. They came from every genre of gaming.

So what happens when you have a diverse consumer base and you try to sell them a product with a new brand but otherwise entirely like the one someone else sold them? Some will buy it because they liked the other one, but the rest will wonder why they need another one. SW:TOR is not going to kill WOW because in essence it is exactly the same.

Big studios spend multimillion dollar budgets making games that try to appeal to a demographic that is too diverse to gain broad approval, so what we end up with is one subset of the demographic getting absolutely saturated and other subsets being left to disillusionment.

They might think that they are developing games for the lowest common denominator but what all these developers are doing is trying to appeal to the same 12 million people over and over and over and over again.

Why not spend less money making games that appeal to a niche instead? 

Sun Jan 22 2012 10:19AM Report
Golelorn writes:

Its because they design a game to make money. They don't worry about a designing a fun game. I suppose they believe they can add the fun in after everyone is long gone.

Sun Jan 22 2012 3:55PM Report
itgrowls writes:

I agree with the second statement they make the games too easy for the kiddies and it kills the immersion/fun for the rest of the majority of people who like this genre of games. It doesn't have to be a test in biochemistry for it to be fun but it definitely has to be challenging.

Sun Jan 22 2012 9:23PM Report
Akais writes:

I don't know that ST:O or C:O are good examples of this as the Lead for it also built COH and has already asserted that he applied differing variations of the same formula to make those games. I don't think it's a case of "getting it wrong" in those cases as it is "doing what worked last time" as opposed to innovating.

I think the actual problem is multi-layered.  Companies go into the process with intent to build this dynamic game of games that their game designers would want to build and their budget flies away from them as investors want a sure thing.

Or the game releases in a working alpha state because they need to start turning a profit on the game or they lose backing.

Example: AO,AOC, AC2 , FFXIV

Advertising/Hype creates an impression for the game that can't possibly be met in it's launched state.

Example: DCUO, WAR, too many others to list.

We, the players, ruin the community thereby killing the game.

Example: Aion

Mon Jan 23 2012 9:32AM Report
Akrux writes:

If you are looking for a game where the devs are gamers themselves then you might want to take a look at Dominus. Its DAoC 2 in a sci-fi setting complete with three faction PvP.

It is currently in early beta. As an added bonus the devs really do listen to the community for suggestions and talk to the community via the forums and biweekly chats.

Mon Jan 23 2012 7:02PM Report
Hatefull writes:

I agree with Onomas here.  I started gaming when you had to figure out how to do everyhting on your own.  There was a learning curve, you did not have a addon telling you where to stand, when to cast a spell etc.  I agree also that WoW put this particular genre (MMORPG) of gaming on such a basic level it's turned into a little kid I want it all and right now fest.  Gear score, Dps meters, we raided a lot before any of that was ever around.

Now it's ok quick group.  Ok noobs let me see your gear, ok fine.  Make sure you have thi saddon, I don't want to have to think or talk to you while we do this.  Ok go.  Win>loot> back to main city so I can stand around arguing in general chat and telling new players how leet I am and how scrub they are.

Yeah, we need another one of those released right now.

/rant off.  Anyway, yeah this entire genre needs an enima. 

Tue Jan 24 2012 5:35AM Report
haplo602 writes:

I like :-)

 

Finaly a game were the motivation for PvP does not come from gear grind. I mean would you gear grind if the gear had no special attributes but just a unique look ?

 

Gear PvP division only favors the older players. Skill/points earned favors better strategies and tactics.

Tue Feb 21 2012 7:14AM Report

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