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!