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News & Features Discussion  » General: Jennings - 2009: That Horrible Year

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127 posts found
  Teala

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/16/04
Posts: 7429

"Really officer, they're herbs."

12/23/09 12:38:50 PM#41
Originally posted by MrcdesOwnr

My favorite part of the article was actually the following caption, that you had next to a WoW race change ad/graphic:

When Blizzard just said,
"Oh well, why not, they'll buy ANYTHING."

The irony is, I'm starting to truly believe that this is the mindset of most of these companies today and therefore the real cause for the mess we are in and most likely the culprit behind these layoffs as well.

These companies, ie Funcom and Mythic took us for a bunch of fools. Due to Blizzard's success they had these huge dollar signs in their eyes with overconfident expectations and champagne and caviar dreams. All the while, trying to pass along unfinished products with misleading advertising, with their hands on our wallets and a snickering laugh.

Hopefully 2009 is the year where developers have learned that we are not the fools that some mistook us for and that we will not settle for half-finished garbage products wrapped in a golden bow of lies and deceit.


 

Don't count on it.   Look at the number of fools that spent money on games like Aion and Champions.    Guess what theose same people will be buying games like Mortal Online and Star Trek and later SW:ToR...and nothing will have changed.    The game companies will continue to pump out garbage game after garbage game because they know that gamers right now are so looking for the next good game that they are willing to shell out money on anything they (the game publishers) put on the market and that is a shame.    If the majority of games(like some of us) had the will power to just stop buying these games maybe then we can force some real change on this genre.   Until then...they'll just keep putting out half-baked garbage.

  GreenLanternFan

Novice Member

Joined: 9/06/08
Posts: 380

12/23/09 12:44:37 PM#42
Originally posted by Teala
Originally posted by MrcdesOwnr

My favorite part of the article was actually the following caption, that you had next to a WoW race change ad/graphic:

When Blizzard just said,
"Oh well, why not, they'll buy ANYTHING."

The irony is, I'm starting to truly believe that this is the mindset of most of these companies today and therefore the real cause for the mess we are in and most likely the culprit behind these layoffs as well.

These companies, ie Funcom and Mythic took us for a bunch of fools. Due to Blizzard's success they had these huge dollar signs in their eyes with overconfident expectations and champagne and caviar dreams. All the while, trying to pass along unfinished products with misleading advertising, with their hands on our wallets and a snickering laugh.

Hopefully 2009 is the year where developers have learned that we are not the fools that some mistook us for and that we will not settle for half-finished garbage products wrapped in a golden bow of lies and deceit.


 

Don't count on it.   Look at the number of fools that spent money on games like Aion and Champions.    Guess what theose same people will be buying games like Mortal Online and Star Trek and later SW:ToR...and nothing will have changed.    The game companies will continue to pump out garbage game after garbage game because they know that gamers right now are so looking for the next good game that they are willing to shell out money on anything they (the game publishers) put on the market and that is a shame.    If the majority of games(like some of us) had the will power to just stop buying these games maybe then we can force some real change on this genre.   Until then...they'll just keep putting out half-baked garbage.


Not sure you can lump Aion in with those other titles. While someone could argue that Aion was a grind it was nowhere near as buggy and problematic as the majority of other games that have been released. I can only hope that the list of games coming out in the near future are released with as much polish as Aion.

While Aion may not be your cup-of-tea, I wouldn't go as far as calling it half-baked garbage.

 

Your fail comment, failed.

  ozy1

Novice Member

Joined: 7/22/05
Posts: 323

Darkfall from Day 1

12/23/09 12:51:33 PM#43

With all the half baked mmo this year there no surprise some people lost their jobs,

Hopefully we will see an end to half ass games being released.

Hope all works out for those that lost their jobs

Playing Darkfall EU1 Server

  Bountytaker

Novice Member

Joined: 1/09/07
Posts: 323

12/23/09 1:40:30 PM#44

Nice article.  Better summary of the trends of the year than most.  And, I agree with others that say this was probably the THIRD bad year in a row for mmo's...which doesn't make '10 look promising.

 

I don't know that the whole "recession vs. bad games" debate can be completely solved now, as it usually takes years to truly assess that effects of major economic climate changes.  I think there are a lot of good points here, and the data, both empirical and not, is pretty solid, so I think the discussion is nice.  I just don't know that anyone will have a simple answer ("this caused the hardship in the market") right now.

 

But...because all the great posts here got me thinking, let me offer up one "compromise" possibility:  What if the Recession AND "bad products" caused the retraction of the industry this year?  Let's say that many (most?) mmo's run on investment dollars, both from individuals and publishers.  A recession hits, and those individuals and companies have left themselves vulnerable (say because they were basically running on loans to cover payroll).  They need to see a QUICK influx of cash from somewhere to keep THIER company afloat.  What do they do?  They push (force?) the mmo company they are funding into an early release in order to start recouping investment via sales/subscriptions.  The investors hope that the influx of money, at least right away, will replace the no longer available loans.

The problem is...the game isn't ready for release.  So, the devs rush out a bad game, it gets crushed by the public, and the sales don't happen.  A "bad game" doesn't generate any income.  Maybe that causes layoffs.  Or, perhaps, a next step.  Investors try to force the dev company to get them their promised returns.  Does that lead the dev company to layoffs?

Overly simplistic example, I know...but just a thought about how both the economic changes, and bad products, could be combined into a "retraction" of the workers in the industry.

Again, great article, and great discussion.

  User Deleted
12/23/09 1:42:28 PM#45

Great read. 

I do beleive games, mmo's in particular are immune to recessions however.

It was also nice to read about the facebook game scams, and the unethical practices it takes to make the kind of money off free games w/ microtrans that the usual suspects are going after. Though the games themselves are highly addictive and enjoyed by millions. (why the scams worked). Those little social minigames that were thrown out of the mmorpg genre years ago. A shame that potential playerbase is still ignored.

  Redemp

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/30/05
Posts: 1055

If I didn't respond to you, chances are you're a idiot.

12/23/09 1:44:02 PM#46
Originally posted by Bountytaker

Nice article.  Better summary of the trends of the year than most.  And, I agree with others that say this was probably the THIRD bad year in a row for mmo's...which doesn't make '10 look promising.

 

I don't know that the whole "recession vs. bad games" debate can be completely solved now, as it usually takes years to truly assess that effects of major economic climate changes.  I think there are a lot of good points here, and the data, both empirical and not, is pretty solid, so I think the discussion is nice.  I just don't know that anyone will have a simple answer ("this caused the hardship in the market") right now.

 

But...because all the great posts here got me thinking, let me offer up one "compromise" possibility:  What if the Recession AND "bad products" caused the retraction of the industry this year?  Let's say that many (most?) mmo's run on investment dollars, both from individuals and publishers.  A recession hits, and those individuals and companies have left themselves vulnerable (say because they were basically running on loans to cover payroll).  They need to see a QUICK influx of cash from somewhere to keep THIER company afloat.  What do they do?  They push (force?) the mmo company they are funding into an early release in order to start recouping investment via sales/subscriptions.  The investors hope that the influx of money, at least right away, will replace the no longer available loans.

The problem is...the game isn't ready for release.  So, the devs rush out a bad game, it gets crushed by the public, and the sales don't happen.  A "bad game" doesn't generate any income.  Maybe that causes layoffs.  Or, perhaps, a next step.  Investors try to force the dev company to get them their promised returns.  Does that lead the dev company to layoffs?

Overly simplistic example, I know...but just a thought about how both the economic changes, and bad products, could be combined into a "retraction" of the workers in the industry.

Again, great article, and great discussion.


 

That is a good point, and a plausible one given all the half baked releases these last few years. It comes down, for me, to which came first... The Chicken or the Egg.

Perhaps it can be answered with a simple question :

If sales figures were up across the board, if subscriptions were up and being retained, would people have still been laid off because of the "recession"?

Be careful though, its a trick question.

 

  fallenmoogla

Novice Member

Joined: 11/30/07
Posts: 11

12/23/09 2:38:55 PM#47

I just want to say F2P games are doing great. IJJI.com had it's biggest year this winter, so many new games and updates. My head is still spinning.

  NoobTech

Novice Member

Joined: 11/13/09
Posts: 35

12/23/09 2:40:26 PM#48
Originally posted by Nightbringe1
Originally posted by NoobTech

What game companies need to be doing is finding out why people stop subscribing to their games and add content that will either bring back former subscribers or bring in new ones. trying to squeeze extra $$$ out of already paying customers is just plain greedy and needs to stop...and i don't care if it's only 'cosmetic' mt's either.

lets hope 2010 is the year the companies start to listen to their customers instead of lining their pockets.


 

I don't think there isanything the developers can do about unemployed customers.

 

 i understand that they will have lost some customers due to the economic situation. but i just feel that if you sign up for a game thats subscription based, then thats all it should ever be...not subscription based and then a couple of years down the road throwing in item malls and mt's..it's just plain wrong in my book.

what ive always liked about subscription games is your an equal to every other player and how good you are is all down to skill, the time you put into it and hard work, rather than the f2p with item mall games where you basiclly pay to win/be the best, which basiclly shafts everyone but the very rich.

 

If times are tough, then they just need to tighten their belts like some companies have done with job cuts (although i'd rather this was a last resort), have more time limited promotions like discounted subscriptions for new players, have a free access week for old subbies and things like that, which will get more people playing/coming back. when times get tough people tend to look for value for money more, which is what game companies should be looking at providing a lot more during tough economic times.

 

Anyway, lets see how next year fares, at the end of the day it's profits that decide how successful subs+mt's are and if they just don't work then i can see em vanishing pretty quickly (crosses fingers).

 

  wootin

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

12/23/09 2:47:34 PM#49
Originally posted by LumTheMad
Originally posted by duggie

hey scott...you really oughta remove turbine from that list of devs forced to layoff due to the recession.

the reason being that those folks let go last year around the release of MoM were all long term temps hired specifically for the duration of the Mines of Moria expansion and for the most part were all QA related jobs.

so i for one would not categorize folks let go at the end of their contract as recession forced layoffs.


This isn't true. Turbine had opened a satellite studio in California which was believed to have been focused on console development. I had heard that the entire CA studio was shut down as part of those layoffs (although it looks like they've been staffing it back up a bit based on job postings, but more for associated LOTRO development then console work.)

In any event, uh, laying off QA still counts. Especially, you know, if you're in QA.

And also, laying off QA counts if you play the game. 'Cause QA is the only thing keeping any software (or any product, really) from sucking.

  wootin

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

12/23/09 2:56:08 PM#50

I feel as much sympathy for an unemployed MMO industry worker as I do any other, but that's also a sign of how badly the industry was overemployed. Just as the general IT industry was way overemployed in the dot-bomb era, so it was in 2009 with the MMO industry. It's very sad that technical schools just churn out as many people as they can get tuition from regardless of the need for their skills in the real world.

  wootin

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

12/23/09 3:04:57 PM#51
Originally posted by Teala
Originally posted by MrcdesOwnr

My favorite part of the article was actually the following caption, that you had next to a WoW race change ad/graphic:

When Blizzard just said,
"Oh well, why not, they'll buy ANYTHING."

The irony is, I'm starting to truly believe that this is the mindset of most of these companies today and therefore the real cause for the mess we are in and most likely the culprit behind these layoffs as well.

These companies, ie Funcom and Mythic took us for a bunch of fools. Due to Blizzard's success they had these huge dollar signs in their eyes with overconfident expectations and champagne and caviar dreams. All the while, trying to pass along unfinished products with misleading advertising, with their hands on our wallets and a snickering laugh.

Hopefully 2009 is the year where developers have learned that we are not the fools that some mistook us for and that we will not settle for half-finished garbage products wrapped in a golden bow of lies and deceit.


 

Don't count on it.   Look at the number of fools that spent money on games like Aion and Champions.    Guess what theose same people will be buying games like Mortal Online and Star Trek and later SW:ToR...and nothing will have changed.    The game companies will continue to pump out garbage game after garbage game because they know that gamers right now are so looking for the next good game that they are willing to shell out money on anything they (the game publishers) put on the market and that is a shame.    If the majority of games(like some of us) had the will power to just stop buying these games maybe then we can force some real change on this genre.   Until then...they'll just keep putting out half-baked garbage.

 

You can't blame us players though, if that's all that  is out there for MMOs, what else are you going to play with your friends?

And unfortunately, anyone that isn't a customer has no power to effect any change. The decision-makers do not listen to "the person on the street", they listen to the person with the customer survey results. Scott Jennings also had an article here a week ago that mentioned this very issue -  game companies do not listen to non-customers and therefore really don't know what to do to get new ones.

  wootin

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

12/23/09 3:20:37 PM#52
Originally posted by Redemp
Originally posted by LumTheMad
Originally posted by Redemp

 I honestly get tired of the " Its the Recession" waggle.... I stil have a hard time believing MMO gaming was hit at all. The only company I can really see people pointing to, to solidify the claim is EA/Mythic and I honestly think that was not a recession based layoff.

I have many out-of-work friends, acquaintances, and former co-workers who were laid off from companies not named EA or Mythic who would beg to disagree.


 

 It was a bad gaming season all around, not just in the Mmo field. Which I still think had nothing to do with the recession. Its been a year full of flops, and very few sucesses on every platform. Are the layoffs a direct result of the recession,  which would imply consumers are not buying games like they did prior to...  or is it that combined with a bad year of games being unleashed, bad press.. and then that the looming " Theres a Recession " scared the companies into cutting their numbers?

I'd like to see data on game sales across the platforms to support a  " The Recession caused gaming developers to cut employes" if you understand what I mean.

 http://news.cnet.com/8301-10797_3-10241545-235.html

Interesting read  in regards to game sales in April

http://news.cnet.com/8301-10797_3-10309560-235.html

Another read in August.

Generally people are questioning whether its a recession proof industry, the article lists a few key reasons why sales are down that don't begin with R and end with the dust bowl .

 I see the " Its the Recession" as a clever scapegoat... alot of business's and people find it very easy to just jump on the wagon... but demonstrating with data the corelation they won't do. For the gaming industry it seems pretty open and shut :

1. Few large sucesses

2. Reduced prices on all systems, games, and accessories ( Remember the prices were all higher last year, so you may be selling the same amount.. but the sales figures will show a stark drop)

3. Few guaranteed hits being released. ( Madden and MW:2 being the exceptions )

Combine all that with a climate ( The Recession ) and it seems easy enough to see why people were laid off. Did the Recession directly cause the layoffs, or did they simply force the hands of the companies?

I'd go on .. but I am in danger of blaming the waggle of "Its a Recession" on everything... Panic does horrid things... if the media states we are in a Recession, get ready.. because if we arn't .. we will be soon.

 

 

I just finished a contract in a totally recession-proof company (electricity industry). They did not lose money at all because of the downturn. They literally can't. But people lost their jobs regardless, because management had to be seen to be "doing something about the recession" by chopping budgets and pushing necessary, time- and money-saving projects back.

No managers lost their jobs of course, just employees. The one I knew personally that lost her job was an awesome worker, respected and liked at the senior manager level, and was easily head and shoulders above the "more experienced" (longer tenure) members of her department. But her projects were taken away by the senior people when theirs were pushed back or cancelled, so she had to exit the company.

However, like all awesome people, after a short time of regrouping, she now has a better job, is kicking butt at it, and has just referred me to them as well :D 

  Player_420

Novice Member

Joined: 2/19/04
Posts: 696

12/23/09 3:49:00 PM#53

Great article!

Jennings is the best writer on MMORPG.com :)

I play all ghame

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 16939

12/23/09 3:52:51 PM#54
Originally posted by wootin
 

 

I just finished a contract in a totally recession-proof company (electricity industry). They did not lose money at all because of the downturn. They literally can't. But people lost their jobs regardless, because management had to be seen to be "doing something about the recession" by chopping budgets and pushing necessary, time- and money-saving projects back.

No managers lost their jobs of course, just employees. The one I knew personally that lost her job was an awesome worker, respected and liked at the senior manager level, and was easily head and shoulders above the "more experienced" (longer tenure) members of her department. But her projects were taken away by the senior people when theirs were pushed back or cancelled, so she had to exit the company.

However, like all awesome people, after a short time of regrouping, she now has a better job, is kicking butt at it, and has just referred me to them as well :D 

 

lol, that's why I lost my job. Even though our sales shrunk by 10% our future pipeline was solid and the general health of the company was very good.

So most of our office got laid off.

good times.

  Ozmodan

Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6561

12/23/09 4:09:05 PM#55

Not much to crow about in this industry this year.  I have found nothing worth subscribing to.  Next year does not look much better at present. 

I think the industry, at least the MMO part of it is undergoing a realignment.  The me too designs released with half finished games has made many of us highly suspectful of any new releases.   Next year we are looking at another half finished game releasing in STO.  Don't these developers ever learn?

I just wish someone would put the fun back into MMO's.

  User Deleted
12/23/09 6:51:09 PM#56

The state of the economy makes the near future pretty dismal for gaming, as well. In the next 1-2 years the short cycle of browser development will mean major companies (SOE) will be putting out applications for this format. Much less risky to capitalize on a current trend than to put out something that tries to break the mold.

Microtransactions, cash services, etc. will be used to increase margin. Lots of projects will dry up. It's not going to be pretty.

  local93bc

Novice Member

Joined: 12/22/06
Posts: 365

12/23/09 7:26:28 PM#57

Well i can only speak for myself.

most years i spend 1000$ a year in the PC industry. Games hardware, sub... etc..

this year iv spent arround 400$ on PC gaming in all.

 

Iv never bought or spent money on consul.

Well this year for the first time iv spent  1000$ with Nintendo.

 

Iv said this beffor in my post on this web site.

I feel like the PC is one big train reck. nothing is compatible, games crash over and over again. etc.....

They need to wake up!

 

Well in all  it was a good year for me in the end I lost 60 pounds and i feel great.

I  support  company's that innovate.

 

 

 

  Einherjar_LC

Tipster

Joined: 5/03/05
Posts: 1067

12/23/09 7:32:58 PM#58

While I may agree that the economy was a contributing factor, I have to think quality has as much, if not more,  to do with companies not seeing the figures they want to see.

 

This year was especially rife with big name, big hype games that offered little for players to stick around after their initial 30 days.  The quality was not there.  The genre is maturing and so are the players, but the development houses on the whole seem to be regressing.  The keep on regurgitating the same crap in different IP wrappers with nothing innovative to speak of.  The result is players who have many choices that will not stick around for your game if it stinks or is the same as the game they left.  WAR, AoC, CO, Alganon are all examples of this in action.

 

Like many others here, I usually spend quite a bit on this genre in any given year but the last few years I Have not spent anything close to what I have in the past because quite frankly, not much has piqued my interest.

Einherjar_LC says: WTB the true successor to UO or Asheron's Call pst!

  Khalathwyr

Tipster

Joined: 6/02/04
Posts: 3151

Google is your friend.

12/23/09 9:42:57 PM#59
Originally posted by Teala

Might as well put 2010, 2011, 2012 and onward on your list because game designers lack creativity any longer and all they wish to do is give us the same old, same old, or poorly designed and implemented games.     It's all about how fast and simple they can push a game to market and or how some indie company pushes out a crap game that they hype up with tons of promises of innovative game play that they cannot deliver on.   Just look at games like DF, MO and FE.   Crappy animations, crappy graphics, crappy game play, crappy MOB AI, crappy combat, crappy worlds.  Though they tried, they failed miserably.   Better luck next time.

We need game designers that love their game enough to make it truly epic.   The old school designers of Asheron's Call, now they loved their game and it showed it.   Same goes for Blizzard and how they did WoW and payed attention to details.   old school DAoC with it's innovative RvR.    What we need is designers like these that have focus and creativity to design a game that brings back the magic that these older games once had.    What we're getting is garbage any more and I refuse to pay for it.

 

This. But they don't have to have creativity anymore as they aren't designing MMO's as deep worlds rich in lore and in things players can do (and do, 50 different ways to PvE combat or PvP combat is NOT the answer). They are making shallow arcade-like games.

Somewhere along the line the Quake and Halo folks seemed to have taken over and the table-top dungeon Masters have been kicked out. Maybe it was due to all the whining about "combat is boring" on various forums that allowed this regime change but one thing is for sure:

Combat isn't king.

There's a serious need to get back to world building in an early TSR, Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman storytelling, D&D yesteryear way than this modern wave of so-called world builders who don't seem to as the questions "why" and "how" when putting things into a world.

"Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."

Kickstarter 1 / Naysayers 0

  User Deleted
12/23/09 9:57:23 PM#60

I can believe there have been job losses due to recession, but at the same time I have to say, as a customer, that the games coming out these days are not very good.  There is no originality, no support after the sale, and in the case of MMOs, the developers really have no clue path before a release and are easily swayed into making bad game-breaking decisions.

Take Champions Online for example.  That game is pretty good as far as mechanics of combat, but its boring as hell.  Its like playing a single player game because the way the game was designed doesn't support a community very well.  People sign on in droves, hoping for the next best thing and suddenly everyone is suprised when the subscriptions fall off drastically after a month.  The same day that game was released they decided to make sweeping changes because the game was too easy?  Huh?

Same goes for Warhammer Online, which I know wasn't released this year, but has suffered a seriously decline of players.  Now the game is free for everyone level 10 and below and they ripped apart tier 1 to do it.  I could go on and on about the engine and other complaints I have with the game, but whats the point?  I'm not here to complain about Warhammer Online.

There really isn't much in quality MMOs to choose from these days.  WoW has been out forever and is really just an endless grind.  Sure its fun, but after so many years people are looking for something different.  Game designers and publishers need to stop complaining about the economy and start getting innovative again.  I do feel bad that some of you lost your jobs due to the economy, but seriously, some of you lost your job because you are not making good games.  You have lost the vision of gaming and its more about the almighty dollar (like everything else in this country) than providing a lasting and unique gaming experience.

Take RTS games for example.  When is enough going to be enough?  Where is the innovation in this category?  Nearly all of them are copies of StarCraft, Warcraft or Command and Conquer with different graphics.

Games have been seriously dumbed down for the console market.  Now, instead of PC games being released for the PC first, we have to deal with games designed to work on a console and ported to our precious PCs.  You know what?  I'm not going to buy a game like that.  Game publishers - I will move on to something else.  Bring me Ultima.  Bring me Fallout 1 and 2.  How about Wing Commander?  Civilization?  Master of Magic?  Master of Orion?  The list goes on and on, as the quality of our PC games goes down and the graphics go up.

FPS games.. How long will you idiots release games without co-op?  Surely you don't think we can sit around shooting eachother forever?  What do you think made Doom so popular?  It wasn't the deathmatch.  It was good for a laugh, but it got old.  Playing Doom with my family wondering when that imp would jump out, now that was fun.

Listen to your customers - make innovative games and put in features we ask for.  Then you might have more jobs because your games will sell.  Or you could make another failed wow-clone because you listened to some suit who doesn't know jack about gaming.

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