MMOs at Expos
The Electronic Entertainment Expo generates exciting video game news that often becomes the catalyst for weeklong discussions. That’s always a highlight for me when attending these events. While my group and I scoped out the convention center, the following questions started stirring up conversation: Is the aspect of an MMO displayed at conventions indicative of the focus of the developer? And can we speculate the success of that game based on that focus?
This topic began when we marveled at how much work goes into planning out an event of this magnitude. Many of the same members of my group have exhibited at Wondercon and Comic-Con with me, and understand the pressure to prep, set up, and present. It’s pretty draining to say the least, and so we are always in awe of the work developers put in to their displays at conventions like E3.
How do MMO developers decide what aspect of their game they’ll showcase at an expo? Do the developers only show what’s ready to show? If that aspect is let’s say PvP, we could assume that that feature was a priority, and could possibly be a big feature when the game releases. Granted, it takes a huge investment of time to get an MMO demo ready to present at a convention, and frequently the most polished feature will most likely be showcased. However, it’s still intriguing to ponder the correlation between the key feature at expos and how those represent the game on release day.
With this in mind, we walked the floor comparing MMOs and looking for what feature the developer chose to showcase. We arrived at Pixel Soft and sat down to check out their display of Blade & Sword II. After taking a seat, I barely got the chance to see how the character moved or check out the horse mount abilities before the rep suggested I try out PvP. She hit a few buttons and the next thing I know my character’s been ported to a new zone with my opponent now facing me. The match began and right away I knew I liked the combat animations. The developers modeled the fighting styles after actual fighting champions, and the style felt crisp and intricate. Afterward we couldn’t help but agree that Pixel Soft’s presentation suggested that PvP was a huge developer focus for this game and could be a unique feature that sets it apart from others.
When we got to FFXIV’s display we had a very different experience. Their focus was PvE. Two shoutcasters commentated as players joined up and fought Ifrit. Widescreen TVs were mounted above the players’ screens to allow anyone passing by to watch. The UI looked clean, the graphics looked great, and we all agreed that if PvE is your thing, FFXIV is going to have it covered.
The Age of Wushu developers at Snail Games took their display another way. They seemed to be most excited to show off the zones. They’d point out beautiful landscapes and explain the detail that went into the artistry of the world. They showed me the basic controls and had me try out the “running on water” feature when I fell in the lake. They really wanted me to see the martial arts influence and the artistic look of their game.
The endless amount of features that an MMO can offer drives us to try out the new releases as well as hold on to the classics. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to try every MMO at E3 but it will be interesting to follow the upcoming releases and compare player’s favorite features to what we saw at the expo.
If developers have options when choosing what to showcase at conventions, which MMO aspect would you enjoy seeing most?
Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.