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Mmogamer co uk

Games are my life, I play them and I write about them.

Author: HuxleySeven

Duty of Care

Posted by HuxleySeven Wednesday September 17 2008 at 3:05AM
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I resubbed to World of Warcraft last night. I feel slightly dirty, but am doing it nonetheless. I played it for years when it first came out and up until the Burning Crusade appeared. As with everything, I got bored and tried pastures new. Games like EQ2 (again), SWG (again), CoH, CoH, Eve, Guild Wars, LoTRO and Tabula Rasa to name a few. A goodly portion of the MMOs out there, and many single player games too. Most recently Age of Conan, the less said about that the better I think.

That got me to thinking. Do we players owe a duty of care to the industry to support them if they try something a little different?

I will give you an example. Pirates of the Burning Sea. A great idea, welcome in the fact that there wasn't an elf to be seen. A nautical MMO based around the 18th Century Caribbean where you can sail your ships in various guises and complete quests, PvP and all the usual stuff. The format and mechanics are largely the same as most other games. You have quests, levels and skills.

There is grinding, lots of grinding. It looked okay if you glossed over the towns and avatars and played okay as long as you remember the red circle of death...

It isn't doing too well if the latest news and gossip is to be believed. I left after a couple of months because I got bored. There were/are gaps where a lot of grinding is required during levels. There were glitches where you would be sunk with a couple of hits, even with full armour by an opponent of the ame level and class. Many others, which may or may not have been addressed by patches.

Then there is Tabula Rasa. A curious game that like Communism, is an idea that only appears to be good in theory. A great time to be had for a few weeks, but content was a little thin for me.

Anyway I digress. As we all know, the market is full of games that are, well, average at best. Similar mechanics, hand holding throughout and everything served on a plate. The only challenges in these games is following instructions and trying to prevent boredom. These get made because they sell. It is apparently what players want.

Well lets be honest here, if we as players don't support publishers when they try something a little different, sooner or later there won't be anything different. Conversely, why should players support buggy games that don't play that well, even if they are trying to do something different? Why waste money like that. Not everybody has the kind of disposable income to waste subbing to games they don't play.

So what is the answer? I can only think of one, and that is to change the subscription model. Nobody likes shelling out their hard earned on a game that is a waste of time, and a monthly subscription adds insult to injury.

However, (thinking AoC here), if once you had the game it didn't hit the spot, at least you could leave it for a while and try again in a few months time. A couple of the studios are looking into an alternative so called ‘micro transaction' based models. 

Would it prevent the reflex cancellations once it didn't live up to the hype? Would players be more likely to revisit it in time? I think maybe so. At least retrying the basic games would be financially painless, the only cost being a couple of days of your time.

It wouldn't answer all of the problems in the MMO industry. If a game is bad, then no amount of remodelling can help it survive. Those borderline cases however may have a chance if the reflex cancellations could be prevented.

I have no idea if this would make a real difference or not, but I hope that publishers will continue to try new things and attempt to give the player base something original and different. Even if we don't return the favour and support them when it doesn't live up to our expectations...

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