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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

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: Pay by Day?

Posted by MikeB Sunday November 27 2011 at 7:26PM
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This week's Community Spotlight goes to the thread "Pay by Day?" by iicogigen. In the thread, iicogigen wonders if a pay-by-day model would be a good idea:

The basic idea is as it is stated in the title of the thread, you pay by the day.

Basically, the average sub is $15, so we'd make it $.50 for every day that you log in.

I understand the idea would have problems, but every idea does.

As a whole, what do you think? Would you accept this model?

So, what does the MMORPG.com community think fo this? Read on to find out!

Scot notes that concepts such as pay by day, hour, etc, were all tried before we ever ultimately settled on the monthly subscription many of us are used to today:

The concept of pay by day is not dissimilar to Pay by Hour or Pay by Month. Arcade games were close to pay by hour and some early online games used Pay by Hour. Those online games were seen as something of a con though and the monthly fee came to reign supreme. In this new era of Pay to Win (F2P), Pay by Day could be a variable payment method it depends on the overall strategy.
 
Look at SW, first we hear there will be a cash shop then that there will be Goggle in game. So it is the overall price plan and any advertising that players need to look at before making any decisions.

fivoroth isn't fond of any pay by x concepts, even the monthly subscription:

I think that games should only charge you for the box and expansions/dlcs. MMOs charge monthly which I think is the wrong way of doing it. A subscription fee of any kind be it daily, monthly, quarterly or annualy is wrong because it ruins the game with excessive time sinks. Online games do not need a subscription fee. And no my sub fee does not go towards the development of new content.

No sub = no unnecessary time sinks. The MMO crap we are fed these day about server costs and developing of new content (ROFL this one always makes me laugh) is just ridiculous.

Mendel doesn't feel new pay-by-x initiatives would get any traction as MMO publishers are gravitating towards F2P due to the vastly increased revenues:

A potential issue with a Per Month subscription and/or a Per Day (or Per Hour) subscription is that neither of these models work as well as the newer microtransaction models.  Companies are moving to F2P with Cash Shops, not because the players are demanding it (quite the opposite on these forums) or it is benefitial for the players, but because the microtransaction model generates more revenue for the gaming company.

Without knowing specific earnings of games that have been converted from subscription to micro transaction models, it may be necessary to have $25-30 as a subscription charge to make the equivilent revenue as the micro-transaction model.  Since none of us have the specific financial details, why can't we assume that the companies that have the specific data are making the change to micro-transactions for very sound business reasons.

Subdividing a subscription model into smaller and smaller increments only creates another, finer grained subscription model, not something new.  And the subscription model is currently believed to create less income than the micro-transaction model.

And a subscription model with smaller increments (daily, hourly) has much more administrative overhead.  Now the company would need to interact with the credit card issuer on the same increments (for a pay-as-you-go system), and record accurate session times for a billing-model.  A pay-as-you-go payment system would be very dependent on establishing connections with the credit card company, and many, if not most, credit card companies charge a fee for transaction processing.  Can anyone really see gaming companies agreeing to pay a transaction fee and plan to generate a transaction every minute someone is online?  No matter how this transaction fee is set (percentage or fixed) or the actual rate (from $.001 upwards), this just comes straight off the top of the company's revenue stream.

I've been around long enough to remember the pay-by-hour days of a variety of online games (Gemstone III, anyone?) and I was honestly never fond of the idea. I like the monthly subscription because it's predictable and easy for me to fit into my budget every month. Living in NYC, it's easy for me to drop $70 just going out to dinner and a movie with my girlfriend. $15/month is a hot deal to me considering what I get out of my money!

Community Spotlight: Most Discussed = Skyrim?

Posted by MikeB Sunday November 20 2011 at 8:05PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuse on the thread "Most discussed MMO on MMORPG.COM- Skyrim" by Picklebeast. Picklebeast has noticed (as I'm sure many of you all have) that Skyrim is quite the topic of discussion here at MMORPG.com lately and is offering his thoughts on why:

Isnt it interesting that the most discussed thing on MMORPG.com is... A single player game made (essentially) with Console Gaming in mind?

I do not want to discuss Skyrim here, its flaws or merits- Rather I want to discuss why a single player game is currently the best "MMORPG" out right now... Or at the very least- Its the most interesting.

Is the genre that bad, that stale? Is Skyim that good??? Seriously, this is probably the biggest MMO site out there and the hottest topic for the last week (or longer) is Skyrim- Or at least it seems that way. And its notjust here- Every other MMO forum I frequent sems to have Skyrim as its hot topic.

Personally, I think this says a whole lot ablut what us MMORPG lovers have to choose from in terms of solid games. How many of you still play an MMORPG? I havnt in probably a year...Still...Waiting...

-AND right now we are on the heels of a Star Wars MMO which (not wanting to discuss this either) I feel is a WoW clone and isnt going to hold gamers attention very long... But at least we currently have a game worth hype. What  if it fails to deliver, what then???

Thoughts?

Read on to find out what the MMORPG.com community is saying about the subject!

Teala's short but sweet post appears to sum up the reasoning behind the Skyrim enthusiasm succinctly:

I think we're all so excited because Skyrim is delivering whart so many MMORPG's fail to give us players - a living breathing virtual world.

Meridion is just an out and out Elder Scrolls fan:

It's because I've been an Elder Scrolls Fan since Arena and was critizising TES games for their lack of engaging animations, in-world events and clunky skill system (Morrowind acrobatics anyone) for 15 years; Praising their unique and uber-epic open-world approach, free questing, extremely well implemented lore...

These games were among the best stuff I had the pleasure of playing through in the past 20 years; And Skyrim has actually, while other sequels tend to deteriorate into laughable shadows of their original selves, IMPROVED everything people were complaining about in the prequels (except the UI, which was honestly never Bethesdas strength)...

So well, it's probably the best game I've laid my hands on for years, it is what no MMORPG in the last 8 years could deliver for me and presumably, telling by the 3.2 million copies sold during the first 2 days, this strikes true for a whole lot of people.

Bethesda is the last company, even Bioware slipped and twisted, on the planet to commit to their style of games no matter where the market goes. And I love them for this.

I even bought the collectors edition; My first collectors edition ever, not because of the stuff that's in it, but to support this one last true "western open world no shit just gritty epicness"-RPG company. Cheers.

M

solarine takes Teala's thoughts a bit further, explaining that Skyrim is where MMO fans 10 years ago hoped the genre would be today:

It's probably because Skyrim is just what most MMO players ten years ago was hoping the genre would be like in the future. Fun, freedom, impact, character; and epic adventures in an interesting world. 

A poster in this thread said Skyrim killed the MMOs for him/her. That's probably because, after all the disappointments and the actual effort of still trying to keep the faith, now playing Skyrim you realize why we're not seeing - and perhaps will not see - just this kind of awesome in MMOs. And you become aware of how the genre has strayed further and further from this initial vision. So Skyrim is like both a wake-up call and comfort food at the same time! 

Anyway...

fus ro dah, mahfaeraak. fus ro dah. ;)

I'm going to have to agree with the growing consensus that is everyone here is excited about Skyrim because it's mostly what they want to see from an MMO. This comes to no surprise to me as we've got quite a vocal sandbox-loving community here and Skyrim offers some great sandbox gameplay. I'd really love to see the Elder Scrolls as an MMO. It's got me thinking about Star Wars: The Old Republic and how I love BioWare's storytelling in the game, yet I'd probably love the Elder Scrolls' storytelling even more were it in an MMO. The world itself tells a story. The whole game world simply feels alive. You run into people just traveling, maybe they want your help with something, maybe they don't, but they really add to the believability of the world. Things just..happen in Skyrim, and I think this sort of approach may be the real future for the genre if it were done right.

What are your thoughts on all the Skyrim excitement? Share 'em in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Sophomore Slump?

Posted by MikeB Saturday November 12 2011 at 11:26PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "why can't companies do better then their 1st success?" by hercules. In the thread, hercules wonders why many MMO developers tend to disappoint with their follow-up MMO efforts:

intresting that most mmo companies cannot do better then their 1st success.

soe - never had more subs then everquest.closest came swg but never able to beat it 

cryptic - CoH .CO and STO never  made it to that level

ncsoft- lineage.in terms of subs nothing beat L1 at its prime even L2 .guild wars probably sold more copies but does not use subs .

blizzard.only 1 mmo which ofc is WoW but do we really believe they will ever beat wow subs.i highly doubt it

mythic - DAoC.WAR never got to its level despite inital sales it certainly has not got the raves DAoC .

square einx - FF XI .certainly FF XIV as we know never came close

funcom- ok here is a grey area on which one is more successful .AO or conan.in sales i think conan for sure but will it be able to  hold the same subs when it gets as old as AO.doubtful but only time will tell.

exceptions to the rule  for me so far would be turbine  with LOTRO doing better then AC1.

ofc there are many mmo companies that have only done 1 mmo like eve,aion.so are not counted even though i mentioned wow .

Is it true that MMO developers experience the sophomore slump? If so, why? Read on to find out what the MMORPG.com community has to say!

rober4818 offers some thoughtful ideas on why MMO devs tend to follow-up their debut projects with less than stellar performances:

A number of different reasons.

One reason is that a company with a big success might be too afraid of wandering too far away from the winning formula.  Which just leaves players wondering why they would pay for essentially the same game again.

The flip side of that coin is that a company may want to move away from a successful formula, only to find out that players were expecting a game closer to their old favorite than what they got. (WAR vs DAOC)

Then there's the fact that even though the companies may be the same, the teams probably won't be.  This means that behind the scenes, that same magic and synergy might not be there.  

Finally, times may have changed.  COH was a big success when it came out.  But it was also the first Supers MMO, and it wasn't existing in a crowded MMO market.  CO on the other hand had supers competition from COH, and existed in a Post WOW world.

Loke666 feels that ArenaNet will be an exception to this rule with Guild Wars 2, and offers his own ideas as to why this happens in the first place:

I have a feeling that ANET will do pretty fine with their second game, and Biowares real masterpiece is their online (but not MMO) "Neverwinter nights", their third game.

But yes, the first book in a serie is usually best and there are zillions of band that never been as good as their first album (Rage against the machine, Slayer, The Mission UK... The list goes on).

In some cases they get a great idea and turn it into a game, boook or movie, but it is hard to top something like that. In MMOs I think it often is because you used up all your best ideas in the first game and even if you use them again the players already seen them.

In some cases like EQ the idea was made by a small company (verant in that case) and SOE bought them and their idea up to get the game. They did the same with Vanguard but messed up by releasing the game in a sad shape.

Some people seems to be able to come up with great idea after great idea but most people runs dry after a while, it is just the way it is.

Kotatsu actually feels the problem lies with the players more-so than the developers:

I think one is that when a successful game brings in masses, those masses have already reached a comfort  zone in the first game. So by the time they release a new one, people aren't so quick so welcome change. Its kind of hypocritical because people want new and groundbreaking but then turn around and start comparing it to the previous version. Its just hard to make a lot of gamers happy these days.

Robert4818 likely hit the mark with his litany of reasons. The fact of the matter is it varies too widely, but it does appear to be true that most MMO follow-ups tend to be a miss rather than a hit. I don't have any scientific proof to back this up, but I'm going to wager the likelihood of this is probably proportionate to how successful the original game was. When there is real money involved, things tend to get a lot more complicated.

At the same time, there is also a lot of truth to the idea that times change between the development as well as subsequent launch and success and the release of the follow-up project. How a company adjusts to that and anticipates the needs of the market years out from their original project probably plays a large part as well.

In short: it's complicated!

If you'd like to take a crack at why MMO follow-ups tend to be disappointing, share your thoughts in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: MMOs Less Social?

Posted by MikeB Sunday November 6 2011 at 9:23PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why have MMORPGs become less social? Is it the design or the players? (Poll)" by Creslin321. Creslin321 says:

"Whether you prefer the old school MMORPG style or the new, I think that everyone can agree that newer MMORPGs have made a definitive move towards becoming less social.  Whereas players used to form communities, conduct trade, and group up for PvE; players now compete for quest goals while soloing and rush through dungeons with random people.

So my question is, what is the main factor behind this shift?  Some argue that it's because the "new generation" of players are just not interested in being social and have a "gimme now" mentality.  While others argue that the games themselves necessitate less social behavior due to things like quest-node leveling and dungeon finder.

So what is your opinion on the issue?  Please answer the poll and tell us why you feel that way."

So does the MMORPG.com community agree that MMOs have become less social? Read on to find out!

Dragim has a well thought out assessment of the entire situation:

"I believe it is a little of both.

I hate to, but I will use WoW as an example, as well as Everquest and Dark age of camelot.

In everquest, you had to ask questions to obtain your goals, you had to work together with people to acheive the things you wanted to acheive (generally.)

In dark age of camelot, it was similar.  Player housing provided a new way to interact, as well as the "open dungeons" that you could go into, that were not instanced.

Then came WoW.

It was great at first, people grouped, people talked, there was Open World PvP, that was unstructured, people just did it for...(GASP) the fun of it.

Then...came dungeon finder, cross server PvP, cross server dungeon finder.

You no longer had to make friends, you no longer even had to know anyone.  You could play your single player game without any player interaction what so ever.

Heck even the dungeons are so easy that you don't have to speak 1 word to your group, just go in and go through the motions.

---

Now many other games are copying this type of play because they feel "this is what the players want" and it also is a prevention to when their game fails, because if they already offer cross server grouping, cross server instanced pvp, then they don't have to "introduce it" as a last ditch effort to keep people playing when the game is dieing.

I can see the "good" in allowing cross server grouping, but in my opinion it destroys server unity, it destroys relationships, and it defeats the whole purpose of playing a true MMORPG,

If you want "cross server grouping/pvp"  maybe you should play a game like DIablo, which is designed around that sort of thing.

--

I know it can be scary to actually interact with real people and talk to them, but aren't humans generally social creatures in some form or another?

---

So I guess my closing statement will be that it is the players fault for the MMOs becomming less social, but it is also the developers fault for allowing these people to be so anti-social and basing their games around instance type scenarios instead of Open World type things, such as PvP, Bosses, Dungeons, Or even Live Events...(Live events in EQ were awesome and seemed to happen a lot, the only other game I have heard of live events happening would be Rift, but that was in beta, I do not play Rift in release mode)."

angerbeaver feels MMOs are less socia land this is due (ultimately) to the people playing them:

"I would say the people.

If the majority of people did not want the way the games are designed, then the majority wouldn't play them.

In the above example why would you blame the developpers for catering to the mass of it's customers. Generally speaking that's how business stay open (especially niches).

I personally enjoy not having to sit around looking for a group or rely on guildies for everything. I enjoy the games I play but I don't have time for LFG etc... etc..."

Terranah also agrees, but feels it is due to a combination of both players and design:

"It's a combo of both design and players.  

I think the assumption of game producers and developers is there are a set number of gamers in total and to attract more to this particular genre you need to broaden the appeal, so by incorporating mechanics similar to other genres and platforms they appeal to a wider base in theory.  But console and fps, two genres heavily drawn upon, are not really social beyond...."BOOM, HEADSHOT!!!!". 

Thinking back to my fps days and six to eight hour marathon sessions playing Star Trek Elite Force, the only socializing I had ingame typically was, "GG."  Even when I got on vent or TS and played team deathmatch or capture the flag, conversations were kept to a bare minimum, to plan or describe strategy.

My console days were even more abysmal, even though I had an XBOX360 with headset.  You'd think it would have been a great tool to socialize, but conversations were typically adverserial, crude, racist, sexist and homophobic, so I turned off the feature.

After my fps and console days, I began to yearn for more than pew pew.  I felt a void in my gaming life, and my virtual persona longed to be more than a 2d action figure.  Enter Precu SWG.  I was primed for it right from the start, and SWG did not disappoint.  

Different genres of gaming require different skill sets, and socializing nicely is a particular skill set that is not requisite for success in other genres."

It's definitely true that most MMOs nowadays seem to be a deal less social, but it's hard to say whether it's truly due to development or people not wanting to socialize. The optimist in me wants to say its a result of game design catering to the lowest common denominator (the ADD types) and that there are actually a huge segment of MMO gamers that are likely quite social. The problem is you need a reason for people to be social and it's hard to establish one without bogging down the game. Nowadays, developers add "social hubs" to their games in the hopes that players will you know, socialize, at them. I can't say this really ever works as these areas only tend to offer vendors and auction houses. Sure, it gets a bunch of people in the same place, but most of them are either hawking wares or glued to the auction house interface and ignoring everyone else.

If I think back to games that were highly social, I think of games like Star Wars Galaxies. Why did social hubs work in SWG? Simple. There were reasons to hang around for lengthy bits of time. For example, you'd spend a good 5-10 minutes sometimes acquiring a Mind buff from a dancer in a cantina. Players hanging around would often get into conversations as a result, especially since the players who played Musicians and Dancers were often very social and liked to socialize amongst each other as well as their customers. The flip-side of this is, as I mentioned earlier, it does bog down the game if you need to go hang out anywhere for 5-10 minutes to get buffs in order to go out and quest successfully. That kind of dependence doesn't seem to be around so much anymore.