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Just One Moar (formerly: How To Lose Your Life To An MMORPG)

Part diary, part commentary, part news reviews and editorials covering the world of MMORPGs Among many MMORPG:I feature Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft

Author: giantsquid

Is Inaccessibility Choking the MMO Market?

Posted by giantsquid Monday November 23 2009 at 2:26PM
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I recently downloaded the Allods beta. I still haven’t recieved an email with a beta key, but I wanted to get the game installed and patched so I’d be ready to jump in. I installed to get a corrupt file warning that fixing didn’t correct. I uninstalled and tried 2 more times before redownloading. The new download was the same. I checked the forums to find a large thread that had various techno-babble that “might” help solve this problem for some people. It is now the next day and I’m redownloading so I can attempt one of these manual fixes.

This is a typical scenario for many free to play MMORPGs.

For me and some of my past game jounalism acquaintances, we always loved to discuss the business side of the gaming industry as much as the games themselves. I came to a personal belief that one of World of Warcraft’s biggest claims to fame is its accessibility. The game is extremely approachable by many demographics.

I found that playing WoW was about as easy as playing a game on my Playstation 2. I just pop the disc in and I’m practically up and running. It had me thinking of all the people that aren’t playing other MMOs because they take more effort on the users part. Many people aren’t some determined MMO lot that is accustomed to this, or even understand how MMOs work at all. They just know that it’s a game that looks fun and would like to try it.

I consider myself to be averagely skilled with computers and am still reaching a frustration level cap with getting Allods to work.

Runes of Magic, my current favorite game, is not without this problem. We see new posts from new players daily on the official forums with errors and other problems just getting the game started.

Two good friends of mine, who aren’t really MMO players as much as they are video game players, loved WoW but they’ve told me they want stuff to work period. If they are buying a game, if it doesn’t work it’s total and utter useless junk to them. These are guys who’ve owned every gaming system imaginable and have played PC games for over 10 years.

I played the Vanguard trial over a year ago. I had extensive problems and confusion over Sony’s site with registration, getting ID codes, and the like. Personally I went through it and loved the game, and plan on playing in the future, but I’m one of those determined type that will go the extra mile and know how to.

MMOs in general are not always as easy to play as console games. Adding a flood of free to play MMOs with constant corrupted file problems can immediately make a persons decision of whether they will ever play that game or not.

Have you had mainly friendly experiences with MMOs? What games do you think do a great or poor job with handling accessibility?

Should companies start beefing up tech support and waiting longer to put out well tested downloads, and making user experience smoother and more easily understood. Or is this too fine a line where people have it too easy and just need to put the work in, if they want to play?

Blazz writes:

In grade 8, some seven years ago now, I got a laptop. In fact, I was in a "laptop class" - a group of about twenty five students - that had laptops.

Over the years since then, I have become quite computer/technology savvy, and I can usually get something to work, as long as I have the internet running, and can research via it.

So usually, when something doesn't work (which hasn't happened to me very often), I google search it, and then fix it according to whatever help or documentation I can find.

When I'm doing this, though, lately, I think of how other people could find doing all of this. My girlfriend, for example, didn't understand that closing her laptop lid actually did something (put it on standby) and would therefore stop everything. Additionally, she didn't know about changing battery settings and such so that the laptop wouldn't turn off on her after ten minutes on battery power without pressing any buttons.

These things are second nature to me, but the majority of people on computers know how to use their favourite programs and that's about it.

Yes, I believe that video games that are difficult to actually start and play will have trouble keeping their sales up over time if their install process is stupidly long and bug ridden - especially for MMOs where the player is umming and ahhing about paying a subscription for the service.

Companies should give a good service for good money - getting the player in the door, and inviting them to have a nice game, shouldn't be a three hour process of google searching, installing, reinstalling, uninstalling, and manually patching things.

Mon Nov 23 2009 9:51PM Report
Tumbleweeds writes:

When i started to play Wow , 4 years ago , i knew from the get go the game was going to run smooth , and that feeling of trust for Blizzard quality followed in game . Of course things change ..


Mon Nov 23 2009 11:37PM Report
sfc1971 writes:

To a degree, yes. SOE has a bit of a history in this, with installers being the wrong version and so on. There are also frequent problems with Lord of the Rings Online with people getting the wrong region.

This is stupid and silly and looses customers who can't figure out what goes wrong and just go elsewhere.

But when you get to the level of "don't know a laptop goes in standby when you close it"... well...

You can't code for an idiot. When you make something idiot-proof, the world produces a bigger idiot.

This applies not just to installing, but the tutorial. You need to find a balance between insulting the experienced players and handholding the newbies. Explain to much and the experienced players think the game is beneath them, explain to little and the newbies can't play it.

There is also a point of diminishing returns. Each step in being more userfriendly costs more and more money to develop.

Case in point: Simple HTTP download of full install file = trivial

Bittorrent support: slight more complex.

Small installer that downloads the rest automatically in one big install: complex

Small installer that downloads on demand so the player can play faster: highly complex

A lot of the smaller MMO companies are REALLY small. They just don't have the resources to do it all. 



Tue Nov 24 2009 2:28AM Report writes:
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