Posts Tagged ‘F2P’

Death of a Superhero

August 31, 2012

 

If you haven’t heard, the first superhero MMO, City of Heroes, is planning on shutting its doors for good come November 2012. I am personally of the opinion that this is a good thing. Now before you jump all over me about the folks that work there and the fans of the game that are losing their MMO home, let me explain.

First, I feel very sorry for the folks that are losing their livelihood. I would never wish that on anyone. I hope everyone at the company finds new and gainful employment as soon as possible. Having been unemployed for a year after graduate school, I know how awful that can be when you have a family that depends on you.

That being said, I think all MMO’s should have a life cycle that includes an end date. Why? If we eliminate the large MMO anomaly that is WoW, the MMOverse is a relatively niche entertainment sector. Unless it starts growing by leaps and bounds, there are only so many people to go around. Developers, on the other hand, keep pumping out games. Not at breakneck speed, but they are steadily coming out. Thus we have the development of the free-to-play era where there are more games than people to play them and in order to maintain players, the developers have to lower the barrier for entry to their games.

I think that if games have a life cycle, even if it is 5-10 years, it will allow for the development of new games and reign in the market saturation. People say “the more choice the better,” but at the same time how different are the games really? There is no real innovation because there is so much risk involved and there are so many opportunities to play other games. Developers create games that are clones because they think that is the safest way to make money. There are no pioneers left because the landscape has already been populated.

So here I am advocating that developers close down some games, not to eliminate choice, but to lead to a more vibrant community in the games that we do have and to inspire some innovation. EQ, AO, DAoC, UO, WAR … it is time to go. We will always have the memories, but your time is past. Make some room for the new breed.

-Pid

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Should MMO’s Have an Expiration Date?

June 21, 2011

I pose this question for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that it seems that more MMO’s are being developed than there are being shut down. If we remove the WoW population from the equation there is a finite number of MMO players that is continuing to be diluted and diluted to a point where only the really good MMO’s are viable without resorting to some form of extortion technique free-to-play scheme. An argument against this is the fact that more choices are always better, but my rebuttal to that would be with all the clones out there, are there really that many choices?

The second reason I bring this up is the idea that if something has an end date, are we more likely to play the heck out of it and then move on to the next. It seems that people are constantly moving from one title to the next like some kind of nomad. It is hard to build a community when it is always changing. I imagine one of the big reasons the community in those early games like EQ, DAoC, and Ultima had a great community simply because they were semi-permanent.

I know that this idea is unlikely to catch on because companies are not going to shut down viable money making entities, but what if companies took a leap of faith and ran with it. Where would the die hard, never played another MMO ever, EQ crowd go if SOE said it was closing the doors in 2012? Would people in LotRO move on to a LotRO II if the devs made an ending for LotRO and gave everyone a date they had to complete it by? Would I bother purchasing that Hello Kitty Online game if I knew I really wasn’t interested in it and I only had 6 months before DDO closed its doors for good? All questions that would be relevant if games had an expiration date.

World of Warcraft: best if used by December 7, 2010.

-Pid

[WoT] Tier VI and Staying Power

June 7, 2011

Got me a new set of tracks…will roll.

Every time I enter a new tier in World of Tanks I am super excited and then rapidly it turns to frustration. No I haven’t changed my mind about the game, I still think it is a crazy amount of fun, but in order for it to be a winner for a long period of time, it needs to fix a couple of things. They are undoubtedly making a profit now, so they need to focus on life after the growth mode.

There will be a plateau at some point where the number of new players/accounts tapers off and the number of people who get bored with the game increases. At this point any game needs to improve itself or watch all their players run off to the next big thing. Here are a couple of areas that I think need some work.

The biggest thing in my opinion is optimizing the matchmaking system. For those of you MMORPG’ers out there, this is the “leveling” content of the game. Currently you click on the random battle button in the game and you are tossed in a 15-on-15 tank battle with tanks/tank destroyers/artillery from tiers that range from 3 tiers beneath you to 3 tiers above you. The battles are organized in a manner of seconds which is awesome. The problem is if you are the player that is playing at the bottom of that 3 tier range. Oddly for whatever reason it seems that I am at the bottom of the tiers more often than at the top, but that might be just perception.

The problem with this matchmaking system is that frequently tanks that are at the bottom can do absolutely nothing to tanks at the top aside from make a good target. Depending on  the tank, you can probably do some damage to tanks a tier or two above your own, but those big dogs at the top are near impenetrable. If you have a stock tank from just entering a new tier, you may as well just put it in drive and point at the other side of the map and play Words with Friends on your smart phone. I understand, the battles are random and sometimes you are the top dog, but I would much rather have more frequent even battles rather than some battles that I can’t do anything and others where I can mop the floor. Whatever they do, they need to sort this out. Even if new algorithms require a longer queue time, it would be well worth it.

One of the other problems I see is that clans (guilds for the MMORPGers) need more to do together. At present, you can play in one Clan Wars battle (15 clanmates vs 15 clanmates from another clan) a night (more if you win the first) and then the clans are relegated to teaming up in groups of three (aka platoons) to enter random battles. For me, I can only participate in the Clan Wars battles on the weekend because they are scheduled before I get home from work.  Something more useful would be setting up 15-on-15 random battles that could take place at any time so that clans could still participate in group events even if they don’t effect the Clan Wars campaign.

Again, this is a great game. It is well polished and is ultimately a lot of fun. I can see it getting old after a while though and there is only so much that adding a map or two here and there can do. Hopefully the folks at Wargaming.net aren’t just resting on their laurels and are actively trying to make this gem of a game even better.

-Pid

FreeQ2

July 28, 2010

So what the heck? I go away on a work trip for a week and I come back to find out that EQ2 is going FreeQ2. Well at least in part. I really haven’t had time to look at the pricing scheme, but what I don’t get is that they are releasing this F2P version in addition to their subscription model. I see this as a rather unfortunate idea as veteran players who might want to play with some of their friends who are casually playing EQ2 can’t play on the same servers. I currently am going through a little bit of MMO burnout, so I can see how this model would be good in the long run, but why can’t I take my current account and use it as a F2P one? We’ll see how this shakes out. I’d guess that a number of server mergers are on the horizon for the subscription servers as the population begins to dwindle.

On a side note, the prediction I had for Blizzard and WoW way back when might come true for EQ2 instead. Is there an EQ3 in the works?

-Pid

WoWee a Free MMO

June 30, 2010

Let’s come up with a hypothetical situation where you were developing a new AAA MMORPG. You have had success in the past with the genre, but you are getting bored with the old games and want to make a new one. You want to be successful at your new venture, but are worried that the most successful MMORPG to ever have been made will really prevent your new game from being as successful as you want it to be.

Sounds pretty standard really for any development company, right?

What if you are Blizzard though? What if you just so happen to hold the reigns of WoW, and are developing a game that will directly compete with it? Maybe you do something crazy and take that ridiculously popular subscription based game, and make it Free-to-Play with a cash shop and cash services and the whole nine yards. You figure they already have all that in place WITH a subscription model in place.

One of the bigger criticisms of WoW is all of the “jerks” that play the game. What if you opened the flood gates on the population and eliminated any barrier of entry for so called “jerks” to play the game. Possibly a mass exodus of the core players from the game? Where would you go? You like what Blizzard has done with WoW, perhaps you try out NuWoW.

I think it is a pretty neat scenario that Blizzard is setting up here. I wonder if it will turn out that way.

-Pid

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From Failure to F2P

November 13, 2009

Robbiebit (who has yet to post here) and I were playing Dungeons & Dragons Online a few days ago and then recently (before the news) we thought to try out the unlimited trial of WAR. I have to say that for the casual MMO guy that I am, these games really fit the bill. Why is that? Perhaps a little background would help. (Feel free to skim because this turned out to be a bit longer than I anticipated)

My first stint in playing MMORPG’s was when Star Wars Galaxies came out. I was newly married and in graduate school and while the game was fun, I was more or less playing alone and mining farming resources. I decided that I really didn’t have the time or money to keep up with it and promptly sold my account on ebay. Apparently that is frowned upon but back then I had no idea. I ignored WOW when it came out because I was knee deep in graduate school and was experiencing fatherhood for the first time. Free time was at a premium here.

In 2006, my brother-in-law then told me that his buddy was setting him up with an account on Everquest and for whatever reason I decided to give it a whirl. This was the first time I had played an MMO where I actually knew someone in the game world and I was hooked instantly. I created a halfling druid named Piddleglum, but everyone just called me Pid. I was playing as frequently as possible and was having a blast. It reminded me of the times in undergrad when I played a MUD with some of my dorm mates. Life was good, but after a while the time I was spending in the game was testing my marriage (I was also unemployed at the time after graduating from graduate school) and some in game personality issues really made me reconsider my subscription. I know, this is a terribly unique experience, but bear with me.

Warhammer Online came out and I dove into that and ate it up for a while. The early game was a blast for me, but then in tier 3 I justcouldn’t drag myself to log into the game. Between the terrible performance on my computer, the lack of a coherent guild or groups, and the utter spamfest that RvR turned out to be really killed the game for me. I subbed for 3 months after the initial month, and only played for 2 of them.

During all of this time my brother-in-law was crafting a kings ransom in EQ but not really playing all that much. There was an announcement of the closing of a progression server on EQ and I misinterpreted the details of it to think that all servers were going to wipe any characters below level 10. I resubbed to EQ and then played for 5-7 months before realizing that this aging game just really didn’t appeal to me. My brother-in-law and Robbiebit were playing as much as I was and that camaraderie was awesome, but soon my B-i-L was not signing in and the game is pretty tough without a group even with the new mercenaries. I just couldn’t justify paying $15 a month for an aging game that had little to offer if you weren’t a raider or in a well established guild.

I tried my hand at Champions, but it didn’t fancy me that much. Then DDO said hey we are going F2P and now Robbiebit and I play it once a week or so. The game is tough for a duo and Robbiebit never played pen and paper D&D so he is a bit lost, but for the money, you can’t beat it. I splurged on the Drow race and Favored soul, but haven’t otherwise spent a dime on the game. We are level 4 and play when we get a chance, but not avidly. It is a win-win situation as the game is very polished and has gobs of content, but I don’t feel the need to “log-in” to get my money’s worth. Awesome!

WAR recently announced its endless free trial program and I thought, is this possibly the path for all future “failed” MMO’s? (WAR and DDO were considered failures by many.) If they can’t sustain a population that is viable through regular subscriptions, will this be a fail-safe device to at least get a little return on the investment? Only time will tell, but until then I will be casually playing DDO and waiting for the next “failure” to give a free trial out too.

-Pid