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The Official MMO philosophizing corner.

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Author: Enigma

A growing trend I have been noticing among MMO players ....

Posted by Enigma Wednesday August 20 2008 at 10:25AM
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.....and that is MMO players are having less patience for the many ways developers handle their games and, in my opinion, this is a good thing as it may force developers to actually make sure their games are playable before releasing.
The reason why I bring this up is because of three MMOs that comes to mind:
  • Star Wars Galaxies: New Game Enhancement.  This has been debated FOREVER and I wont go into who was at fault or screwed up this more..LA or SOE.  I could really care less at this point.  I remembered when I was on staff here I did a review on the NGE (its still on the SWG section) and while I was playing it, I thought to myself: well, crap, this wont go too well with the players.  I remember when SOE tried to keep it under wraps but Amazon dropped the ball by releasing the new NGE details too early.  The Community Manager over at SWG kept on denying the truth that the Developers were messing around with a game that has been in productivity for two years now. Sadly, the Community Manager literally did not know and when she voiced her opinion against NGE, she was promptly fired.  No matter how many commercials (you guys remember all those SWG NGE commercials?) they produced, the exodus of players from SWG was jaw dropping.  Since I have been playing MMOs (since 1999), I had NEVER experience such a massive withdrawal of players from any MMO at one time ever.  This was the first wave (and hint) that players weren't going to take it anymore.
 
  • Vanguard Saga of Heroes:  This game was the second AAA rated MMO that was affected by the players' mentality of we aren't going to take it anymore.  Brad McQuaid took a good idea and completely crashed and burned it into the ground leaving only a few survivors.  In his mind, he thought he could lead a company because he had a nice ranger in EQ and he was on the EQ development team. Well, common sense dictates that a game developer who helped with artistic rendering would not necessarily qualify them for running a multimillion dollar software company.  He had no business skills (or educational training) whatsoever.  He was so convinced that people would play his game regardless because of the nifty features he was adding (seamless world, diplomacy side quests, etc) but what he failed to realize was that many players just will not play a buggy game anymore.
McQuaid was so convinced of it, that he screwed around with Microsoft and lost millions from that and during the last 2 months of development he hardly ever went to work.  But when it was released, the players quickly realized how buggy the game was and in two months time the subscription numbers went from 250,000 to 20,000.  They lost so many players that Sigil could no longer afford to maintain the servers and to pay their developer salaries.  Later in the second month, Brad drove away on his motorcycle and hired a 3rd party person (who is paid to fire people...kinda like in Office Space) to fire his entire company save for four people. They brought them out in the parking lot, said you are fired and made them all go home.  Sigil failed because they hyped a game and lied about results. They thought the player would be understanding and that Sigil will continue to get money from there player base so they could "fix" their game while we payed to beta test their game further.  Their failure to comprehend basic principles of business cost them their company and they ceased to exist.
  • Age of Conan:  We all knew the hype.  It was hyped for YEARS and 99% of us thought it was going to be our miracle MMO that we have been waiting for years.  The screenshots were incredible, the combat combos were revolutionary and the fatalities were new.  However, when we started to play it we realized the hard truth.  It had a pretty game skin but the inside was just rot.  They are plagued with bugs, GMs unsure about their own PvP ruleset, questionable moderators, etc.  They boasted 750K subscribers in the first month alone declaring it from rooftop to rooftop and we saw it. The servers were packed and many more were coming in.  However, it had a fatal flaw:  it was release with way too many bugs, false promises, and missing features.
Funcom has had the mindset that Sigil did. We'll let the monies that come in from the release and the subsequent months to further pay for our developers to come out with better patches to stabilize this game. This is a fatal flaw because players are tired of paying for beta. They've just washed their hands and said no more.  We'll see what happens to funcom in the future. They still have a chance to save themselves but they need to be honest with their playerbase if they hope to achieve this.
Players are tired now of half assed MMOs. It doesn't matter if the MMO is the most hyped MMO of the century, if it is release in a shitty state of affairs players just aren't going to stick around anymore.  It isn't because players have lost patience in development of MMOs; it is because players have grown to dismiss the excuses that developers give them now.
Watch the interview with Jon and the Lead Developer of Funcom. Funcom was skirting those questions like Clinton during the Monica Lewinksy hearings. 

It’s in the hands of us now as the players to tell these companies that enough is enough. Develop it right the first time or don't do it at all. MMOs have been released with VERY LITTLE bugs in the past so it can be done. The question is whether or not these companies have the ethic morality of taking the time to do it right the first time versus having their first few months of subscribers pay for their patches