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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node
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    Modern MMO - What's going on?

    A bit of curiosity. We all know the MMO market is over-saturated. using the word "crowded" to describe it doesn't even begin to get there. Likewise, we all know the failure rate is somewhat high. Many MMO's simply don't make it. Likewise, the rate at which games that wanted to charge subs are now forced to do otherwise - LoTR; Star Trek; Conan; Even WoW is F2p to level 20. All of these are examples of either partial failure or in the case of WoW the game's age finally catching up with it.

    And yet...yet...developers - and their publishing house overlords (bit of exaggerated humor there) - continue to insist on entering into this overcrowded market. Despite abundant and very clear evidence that the MMO is not the cash cow many think it will become, everyone wants a slice of the MMO pie. Partly, I believe, because each studio is arrogant enough to believe theirs will be the "next WoW" and will woo millions into a new subscription fee. SWTOR and maybe Rift seem to argue that the possibility of this, though diminished, yet remains.

    But most fail. Either partially - like LoTR and Star Trek, forced to go f2p despite wishes to the contrary - or completely, leaving the scene altogether or maintaining such a small player base as to be worth very little to their parent company.

    I guess my question is this: Why do they keep trying? And why, if they are going to try, do studios enter into a crowded market by offering more of the exact same style of product already so prevalent in that market? Seems to me that, if you wanted to market an MMO in this day and age, your best chance would come with offering something dramatically different from the mainstream fare. As opposed to, you know, virtually copying it.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    If you look at the major companies you see Warhammer 40k MMO is now not going to be an MMO and the Kingdom of Amalur setting MMO has been canned, people are well aware of the risks and costs of launching an MMO.

    And there will always be people launching second string versions of popular titles, rushing to cash in on someone else's hard work.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldspar View Post
    Kingdoms of Amalur setting MMO has been canned
    Are you sure about that? Interviews last month said it's still going ahead.


  4. #4
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Althea View Post
    Are you sure about that? Interviews last month said it's still going ahead.
    Okay, I'll admit that was from hazy memory, but hasn't it at least been put back?

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldspar View Post
    Okay, I'll admit that was from hazy memory, but hasn't it at least been put back?
    Nope, they're saying it's going to be out this year.


  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Feldspar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Althea View Post
    Nope, they're saying it's going to be out this year.
    Wow, what was I thinking of, then?

  7. #7
    Network Hub Mbaya's Avatar
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    I love MMO's, ever since I started with Asheron's Call back in the day. I think an MMO can offer a more unique experience than a lot of games, although the realms are merging as technology progresses, a game doesn't have to be a typical MMO experience to feel like a living, connected world anymore - but that connection, that persistence is what makes it a special genre for me.

    Although a crowded genre, I wish more games would delve into this route, but developers need to strive for more (or in my opinion, look back at what made MMO's great back in the day and try to reclaim some of that magic)...but you summed things up quite well with:

    And why, if they are going to try, do studios enter into a crowded market by offering more of the exact same style of product already so prevalent in that market?
    At this point, it really comes down to wanting a slice of the pie. They are expensive projects and people don't want to take the risks, those that have usually under perform. I'd say it's one of the hardest genre's to 'get right', despite there being so much potential that just isn't realised.

    This is one area where I think crowd funding could really benefit - to allow experienced developers to fulfil their visions of a truly great MMOG, without a publisher looking over their shoulders. Unfortunately, I fear this would require some great names and a whole lot more cash than we've seen from recent kickstarters to really produce something special.

    As far as subscriptions go...I'm not sure we've seen the last of them, the F2P model is working well at the moment, but as more and more games enter that market and incentives such as daily boosts build up, I certainly think they'll stop seeing the sort of proffits they're seeing today. There are only so many hours in the day, after all.

    But, as technology progresses...I truly think someone will come along and shake things up, there is already potential on the horizon, it's just a matter of time (and a bit of luck) until someone hits the sweet spot and takes the 'crown', as it were.

    Then we can look forward to everyone trying to copy that and another slump while people figure out what to do next!
    Last edited by Mbaya; 14-04-2012 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Evil, evil spelling mistakes.
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mbaya View Post
    a game doesn't have to be a typical MMO experience to feel like a living, connected world anymore
    A game can't be a typical MMO experience if it wants to feel like a living, connected world. Theme park MMOs are pretty much dinosaurs at this point.

    While persistence appeals to me - which is why I've characters in a dozen MMOs - what's important to me now is being able to affect the world in my image.

    TR tried to do that with invasions. AoC tried to do that with FFA PvP and instanced guild cities. WAR tried to do that with public quests and RvR. MO tried to do that with full loot PvP and player homes. EVE's been doing that for so long it's daunting to even try to enter it. APB had an attempt with unique fashion and tagging. Rift tried to do that with its invasions, public quests and PvPvE. SWTOR tried to do that with private storylines. GW2 will be attempting to do that with a combination of invasions, public quests, and private storylines.
    Last edited by Nalano; 14-04-2012 at 08:24 PM.
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  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node Winged Nazgul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldspar View Post
    the Kingdom of Amalur setting MMO has been canned
    Source? Everything I've read says they're still planning on releasing this...maybe sometime this year.

  10. #10
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    MMOs are a big investment, requiring serious development time to account for their size and complexity (network code, server infrastructure). Any MMO that isn't a WoW clone is a large risk. It requires actual game design beyond creating yet another variation of the healer/tank/DPS formula.

    If the videogame industry is wallowing in mediocrity, current MMOs are the pinnacle of that. Much easier to create something safe and bland and make modest profits (if they weren't profitable, they'd be shut down, and very few MMOs have truly died) than to do something new.

    Only a few have tried to break the mold - Darkfall, Mortal Online - and they simply don't have the resources to make a game that's finished and good.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Vexing Vision's Avatar
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    Having seen Turbine's growth, revenue reports, increased server sizes and salary increases over the past few years, I am surprised why you would consider Lotro a financial failure. "F2P" is actually a valid business model, and Turbine is the one company which excelled at the conversion of their titles.
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  12. #12
    Network Hub sendmark's Avatar
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    I think outside of Blizzard's next mmo, there won't be another big budget subscriber based mmo. Old Republic's failure will put everybody else off.

    I think a lot more publishers will be looking at the Guild Wars model, or they certainly should do. No sub from the start but with cosmetic purchases and regular expansions to keep the money coming in.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    If players spend $200+ on special editions of my game, I'd milk it too.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus duff's Avatar
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    I think it's just a case of the risk being great but the reward matching that. Even if you can maintain a stable subscriber population of 2 million that's a massive amount of revenue. Clearly no mean feat but a constant stream of that kind of money is a publishers wet dream.

  15. #15
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    Some very good points here. And to clarify: I would not call LoTRO a failure, per se. It failed to bring in the sorts of revenue streams publishers hoped for from the stable, subscriber model they originally had in mind. But as F2P it has been something of a success, come to think on it. Which makes me happy for those players currently enjoying the game.

    And I am hard on games. Everywhere I look, with rare exceptions, I just want...more. Like the RPS article about "Solid Food" from games, I want something substantial. Something that challenges the brain as much as the fingers. Not puzzle solving games. Not that sort of intellectual challenge. Something weighty and maybe a little risky or racy or thought provoking.

    In terms of narrative, Bastion and the Witcher 2 delivered big time. Bastion kept up that sense of mystery throughout, and the narration is nearly perfect. Witcher 2 offers the moral grey areas I think games need to venture into more often. Its not afraid to be a game for adults, which makes sense, considering the average age of gamers is far and away older than the age for which most games are intended.

    Hopefully, this is a sign of the times. When an adult-oriented, mature game can sell 1.1 million copies on a single platform while available DRM free, publishers ought to stand up and take note. Its time we get more from our games, whether MMO or otherwise, and the proof of the marketability of such games is now in evidence.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    My dream MMO.
    No grinding, no unlocks, no gated content of any sort, rich narrative, pvp gameplay (npcs can exist but your real rivals should constantly be people).

    Impossible? It just needs Planetside+ everything unlocked and player/squad specific narrative. And you play these missions for fun, and maybe hats.
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  17. #17
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    I often dream of an RPG/MMO game without levels, hidden skills or stats of any kind. In this world, the weapon I have looted determines the damage I do. Blocking blocks all damage, and I can bash or shove or kick to break blocks and so can my enemies, who will do so intelligently.

    In this world characters are detailed, with facial expressions, tone of voice and mannerisms. To persuade and cajole I must pay attention to their tone and mannerisms and choose correct dialogue options based on visual and auditory clues. To pick locks, I must use my own skill in the mini game. To pick pockets, I must make sure people are distracted by other things - fighting, diversions I can create or conversations with others, and time my attempt based on their level of distraction.

    In this world night time is dark and perfect for thievery. I can creep in shadows, am readily visible in light, and loud when running. In this world I can hug walls and peer around corners and fire noise makers and other distractions.

    In this world food and water are both rare, and necessary, because survival is key and thriving a pipe dream.

    In this world hidden items are truly hidden. You find them not through a skill that highlights them for you but through exploration and with patience.

    This to me is the perfect RPG world. How I hope....

  18. #18
    Network Hub Splynter's Avatar
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    For all its failings as a 'game', I still believe that EVE is the closest any MMO has ever gotten to the genre's true potential. What's the point of a world with thousands upon thousands of people in it where they have no real effect on anything, and all their accomplishments happen in a vacuum (though, I suppose that applies to EVE...)? Give me a living world that I can shape, give me permadeath, or at the very least hard consequences. Don't give me a theme park, don't give me a power fantasy when every single other person in the game is becoming godly in parallel, and let me make my own stories.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splynter View Post
    For all its failings as a 'game', I still believe that EVE is the closest any MMO has ever gotten to the genre's true potential. What's the point of a world with thousands upon thousands of people in it where they have no real effect on anything, and all their accomplishments happen in a vacuum (though, I suppose that applies to EVE...)? Give me a living world that I can shape, give me permadeath, or at the very least hard consequences. Don't give me a theme park, don't give me a power fantasy when every single other person in the game is becoming godly in parallel, and let me make my own stories.
    The thing about EVE is, it peaked at 360k subs, and a lot of those are dummy accounts. While there's plenty of brash talk about wanting something with full loot, where the threat is from other players blah de blah, relatively few players actually seem to want that. They get pissed off enough when they're ganked in games where there's no consequence to death.

    I think most players would be satisfied with something more akin to player housing et al, at least until the countryside looks like suburbia a la UO, or war-as-sports like the RvR in DAoC and WAR.
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  20. #20
    Network Hub Splynter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    The thing about EVE is, it peaked at 360k subs, and a lot of those are dummy accounts. While there's plenty of brash talk about wanting something with full loot, where the threat is from other players blah de blah, relatively few players actually seem to want that. They get pissed off enough when they're ganked in games where there's no consequence to death.

    I think most players would be satisfied with something more akin to player housing et al, at least until the countryside looks like suburbia a la UO, or war-as-sports like the RvR in DAoC and WAR.
    You're right, most players don't want that. That's why even EVE has a large contingent of cuddly carebears. I understand that a lot of people don't want to feel threatened when they play a game and would rather be wrapped in the safe embrace of a guided tour through awesomeness. The majority of people will not want to leave the cutthroat real world to delve into a cutthroat simulated world, and I get that.

    I was going to write more about consequences, but you know, I think we're generally in agreement on the point. Also, I should really be studying...

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