We've spent a lot of time here at MMORPG.com, both official contributors and forum goers alike, attacking the current crop of MMORPGs out there. We've talked about what's wrong with the current crop of games, and we've talked about what could be done to fix them.
But in the end, I'm left wondering if we would really be willing to accept these alternative games and game design suggestions any more than we do the current trend toward linear, theme park style games, or would be complain all the louder at the realities that some of these new ideas (or in some cases old ideas) would bring.
Instead of sitting here and giving you answers that I know half of you wouldn't agree with anyway, I decided to use my column this week to ask you all to think about the answers yourselves and hopefully let us know on the forums, like you always do, what you think:
Would we accept a higher monthly fee for "our game?"
I heard it said recently, and a number of people agreed with it, that if only a game company would develop the deep, sandbox experience game that so many veteran MMOers were asking for that they would gladly pay an elevated monthly fee for the privilege of playing it. The idea being that if we aren't as large a market as the theme park crowd, we'd make up for it in terms of a higher fee.
In the end though, is that really what we'd want, or would such a game be held to such an impossibly high standard that mid-way through development, the fans who pledged their support and extra money would be crying foul?
Would it be possible for any developer to please enough fans to actually count on enough revenue generated even from a $40 or $50 a month subscription fee, or at the end of the day would there be a resounding chorus of: "WoW only costs $15 a month, how dare they charge this much?"
Would we accept minimal developer content?
One of the biggest complaints that we hear on a daily basis about just about any newly launched MMO is that it doesn't have enough content. In fact, I can't remember a recent release that wasn't plagued by that particular phrase.
Now, a sandbox, by its very nature, and the fact that so much development time has gone into creating the world and the systems with which the players will, theoretically, entertain themselves, that there isn't likely to be enough in the way of developer made content, at least in the beginning, to keep many players from saying: 'There's nothing to do, this game is incomplete."
Would we accept a "slow build?"
When discussion of a commercially viable, sandbox MMO comes to the forefront, it is an absolute guarantee that someone out there is going to point to EVE Online as the shining example of a sandbox MMO, with lots to do that's got over 300,000 subscribers.
What people often forget is that EVE Online was a very slow building game. The game that players are in today is almost incomparable to the game that originally released. One of EVE Online's greatest strengths has been its ability to continue to grow and add significantly to their game over time.
I often wonder if players who are looking for a similar game experience would be willing to accept that the game that launched wouldn't be as "complete" as they might like.
It's easy to get on board with a solution that sounds reasonable at first. Heck, I do it all the time. What's more difficult is to try to look at those suggestions objectively and ask yourself whether it's really something that would work or whether it's something you'd like to see work so badly that you'd get behind it.