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Thread: What is wrong with MMOs in general (

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    Default What is wrong with MMOs in general (

    A lot of threads going around about what Rift is doing wrong or this game or that game etc. All these threads made me sit down and think about what the issue is and I think I finally got it.

    MMOs used to be about the journey. Only the smallest of the smallest % of people who cared about who did something first...just doing it was applauded. Now the measure of achievement is NOT reaching a goal but in what order you did so. You can even see this in WoW, the 800 lbs gorilla. Look at their sub history. The game started in NA/EU. It grew in that market almost non-stop...UNTIL late TBC when they started to water down the journey. Then the growth came exclusively from expanding into new markets not from growth in existing markets. There they arguably started having lower profits as marketing expenses grew just to maintain static numbers.

    Yes some people can get all bent over "I didn't get to see that or this" BUT what has traditionally kept the recurring subscription ticking? Having that goal in front of you. Even if that goal stayed just out of reach trying to reach that goal, trying to achieve that sense of true accomplishment was what kept the player plugging along. The more swiftly a goal is achieved, the faster one gets a sense "I won <insert game here>" the faster subscriptions lapse and the faster IPs fade.

    Subscription based MMOs are NOT like finite single player games you can "win". They grow and live off of a constantly moving finish line that the player should never reach. If players manage to reach it they swiftly become bored and subscriptions lapse.

    So with this in mind I think Trion has made a specific mistake. Rather than making the actual content (dungeons, raids, rare contested mobs, chronicles etc) give this sense of accomplishment they have made these almost mind boggling easy. They instead have mindless grinds for marks, faction etc.

    Lets be honest what gives you a greater sense of accomplishment. The first time you clear a zone that gave you a hard time as you learned a new build, got some gear, learned the script or when you could say "I got 38 marks time to buy my next item?"

    It is that sense of accomplishment that made MMOs the profitable enterprises they are and yet for some bizarre reason every MMO seems to be forgetting that lesson of history.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    You have a good point, but it's not quite it. There's nothing "wrong" with MMOs, I'd say that your problem is mostly that you are outgrowing the genre. Our interests change over the years, and the things we like don't always change with us.

    MMOs grew out of MUDs, Multi-User Dungeons, and as such were a tiny niche market that was driven by the demands and interests of a small segment of gamers, themselves a small segment of people in general. Originally offline RPG players who made the transition to online games, there were no games which really captured their experiences playing D&D around a table with a group of friends, so they used the tools they had and created something similar.

    There have always been variations in their interests, but there was enough in common to make a specific kind of game that appealed to them. One where developing the individual character was as important as developing the story, and both were placed in the hands of the player. Character death in RPGs isn't like video games, the GM isn't going to allow you to "reload" the game from a previous point and replay the encounter, so losing characters, experience, gear upon death was accepted. The MMO experience was fundamentally different from other games and closer to the "sandbox" genre than what is common today.

    But as a tiny niche of a subgroup of people in general, there isn't a lot of potential for growth and over the years many gamers get older and their interests change. Eventually the older gamers drift away and there aren't enough young gamers replacing them to keep the games afloat as they are. Couple this with improvements in technology, better computers mean better graphics, faster internet connections and reaching more people. Companies are made of people, and those people have ambitions, want to make a living creating games and want to grow bigger, not to see their products become almost-forgotten relics of the early years of the internet.

    Change is inevitable. From the beginning MMOs were always a hybrid game, the Ultima name carries with it a tradition of story-driven single player games and many players coming from that background would be lost as just one player in a sea of Avatars. Blizzard turned a successful Real Time Strategy game into an MMO, but again players familiar with Warcraft are used to commanding entire armies, not just being one cog in the machine. Bringing other gamers into the game means adjusting the game to suit their expectations, not the other way around.

    So, over the years MMOs have transitioned away from communal storytelling and into other genres, and grown an audience many times larger than the original in the process. But in doing so they have moved away from the desires of the original, tiny group of players and towards the interests of gamers in general. The games gain much by doing so, but also lose something in the process.

    If your interests remain the same as those original MUD users, or have gone in a different direction from that taken by most MMOs, then it is only natural that you will be disappointed in what modern MMOs offer. They were created to appeal to the larger market, not to you specifically. There's no shame in this, no widely available product is going to appeal to an individual as much as something custom-made for the individual, or focused on the smaller subgroup to which he belongs.

    If you cannot find what you are looking for among what is currently available, then do what the original MMO audience did, and adapt the games that exist to your needs, if there are enough people who want the same thing, then the games that you want to play will be made.

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    Ascendant Galibier's Avatar
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    I know change is inevitable bit here is the problem. What makes a financial model work does NOT change. Perhaps I should have said "subscription based MMOs" because my idea does not work with b2p or f2p. Those financial models are not dependant on maintaining a recurring subscription which in turn requires a constantly moving finish line. As long as you get a new player to buy the box or 1 out of a 100 to buy something from the store you have made profit.

    So with that in mind please look at my thread in the context of a game that succeeds or fails on having the same person maintaining a constant subscription for months, even years at a time. One can argue of course whether the necessities of the subscription model have run it's course but so long as devs keep floating subscription based games in the market...they can not forget the dynamics that keep a subscription recurring.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    Edit limit. The subscription model, for those unfamiliar, is not as dependent on getting huge numbers the way a f2p or b2p game needs in terms of accounts. A study was once done that broke down f2p games. They determined that 89% pay nothing, 10% pay the minimum (say the sub of a hybrid model game) and 1% pay money hand over fist. So if you have a f2p game with 1,000,000 accounts a subscription based game with "only" 200k accounts can be at least, if not more profitable.

    Very often when people use the trope "the market changes" they are not accounting for the differences between financial models. They do not look at the fact that over the last decade WoW has watched it's net profits drop in the face of the increased marketing requirements. As they lowered the bar to a level that was more f2p oriented they under cut their subscription based model because the duration of a recurring subscription shrunk.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galibier View Post
    I know change is inevitable bit here is the problem. What makes a financial model work does NOT change. Perhaps I should have said "subscription based MMOs" because my idea does not work with b2p or f2p. Those financial models are not dependant on maintaining a recurring subscription which in turn requires a constantly moving finish line. As long as you get a new player to buy the box or 1 out of a 100 to buy something from the store you have made profit.

    So with that in mind please look at my thread in the context of a game that succeeds or fails on having the same person maintaining a constant subscription for months, even years at a time. One can argue of course whether the necessities of the subscription model have run it's course but so long as devs keep floating subscription based games in the market...they can not forget the dynamics that keep a subscription recurring.
    Not quite. The company is interested in keeping X subscriptions, not X players. If there are 100,000 subs, then they count on losing, say, 10,000 players per month due to boredome, life issues, changing interests, etc. If they focus on making those 100,000 ppeople happy, in a year they may only lose about 5,000 per month but they will still lose people. A smaller number of new players may come to the game and they will still have 50,000 subs but it will not be enough to keep the game profitable. They have to replace those people leaving the game to stay afloat.

    There may be five million MUD-type users out there, but there are 500 million gamers in general. The smart company goes for the biggest market they can. You can't change the game to satisfy each individual, you have to accept that not everyone who pays a sub is going to be there in a year. Any game that focuses on the tiny market will eventually burn out.

    Note: numbers are examples only and not based on actual data.
    Last edited by Ancem; 02-20-2013 at 01:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galibier View Post
    Very often when people use the trope "the market changes" they are not accounting for the differences between financial models. They do not look at the fact that over the last decade WoW has watched it's net profits drop in the face of the increased marketing requirements. As they lowered the bar to a level that was more f2p oriented they under cut their subscription based model because the duration of a recurring subscription shrunk.
    WoW has pretty much reached its limit and is slowly dying. At this point, nearly everyone who would want to play it has tried it, and while they retain some long-term players, it probably won't be enough to get it through the next several years until the younger generation matures enough to take up the slack. Products have a life expectancy, and the internet moves faster than anything ever did. Five years is a great run for a game, and ten years is probably the limit without making major changes to fundamental areas of the game, such as transitioning from Warcraft the RTS to World of Warcraft the MMO. Without a new product to entice players to move to, the game will eventually die out.

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    I don't mean to insult you, Galibier, but your posts seem to indicate you believe that the entire MMO industry is run by individuals who cannot see what is obvious to you, a user of their products who doesn't seem to have any actual experience or inside knowledge of the industry.

    Personally, when I think of someone who has a decade or more of experience in an industry, especially an industry I have only casual knowledge of, then I tend to believe that person knows more about the industry than I do. Trion, Blizzard, Arenanet, Bioware, and other companies that produce MMOs are not run by omniscient supergeniuses who can do no wrong. But they are run by smart, competent people who employ other smart, competent people who are experienced, if not experts, in related fields.

    The sum total of all this experience trumps my limited experience of the genre. So when people say things that imply these people are misguided, if not stupid, then I tend to believe that perhaps the individual making these claims doesn't see the big picture.
    Last edited by Ancem; 02-20-2013 at 02:20 AM.

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    This my friend is where my saying "more Bloomsberg and less fan sites" comes into play. Example WoW. Prior to Cata less than 30% of new accounts progressed past level 20 (the limit on their try it for free program.) This was during the most easy mode period of the game. Now in this same period the marketing budget for WoW grew at an unprecedented rate. Their subscription numbers were COMPLETELY static during this time as well.

    So when we look at the history of the game we see a game that slowly but surely erroded the journey. As they did this their growth ground to a halt. At the same time they increased their marketing budget non-stop. As they had no subscription growth during this time the increased marketing budget was only to maintain their current subscription rate. This is not financially sustainable.

    Oh btw this is not just my analysis. The CEO said the exact same thing at the pre-Cata earnings call...that the changes that were implemented in WotLK were a long term BAD decision for the maintance of the subscription model. This has also been noted by actual analysts of the gaming industry that work for different investment houses, Lars Buttler during his Bloomsberg interview in 2010, Smedly (SOE's boss) even says it when he talks about how f2p is the future. His justification for f2p being the future is that the generation raised on console games wants the instant gratification of the single player games they were raised on AND that this is incompatible with the subscription model.

    I think it safe to say my theory is sound. If both sides of an argument (subscription based lives vs. subscription based is dead) use the exact same dynamic (namely the journey being necessary to sustain a subscription based game) as proof of their point of view either you sir are a genius and the head of every major MMO developement house should be fired or you sir are wrong.

    The problem is that some players want the best of both worlds. They want a game where you get it all for a cheap subscription and not alla cart f2p (which can get damn expensive) BUT the dilution of the dynamics that make a subscription model game work works counter to making that model financially viable.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    No I think they do know. My point is this Rift gets it. They just made a mistake in adding a grind to marks and faction. They get the concept I just think their methodology is wrong. Smedly gets it over at SOE, that is why he is converting all of their games to the hybrid f2p model. WoW gets it, they are just having an issue finding the middle ground between how far they went with WotLK and then the opposite pendulum swing they went with in Cata.

    As I said in my last bit. My thoughts are NOT based on my own unique analysis but the actual statements of the CEOs themselves. Smedly I give credit too. He has written off the subscription model. I disagree that it is dead BUT he at least is currently designing content based solidly in his chosen financial model.

    My issue with the still subscription based games is largely with how they seem to be stumbling to find the middle ground they themselves all acknowledge they need to find. We all know old school EQ would not work today, but the opposite end of the spectrum is also fail for the subscription model. I think you do have one point that applies to this. The speed of the internet. When there is rapid rage, even if from a very vocal minority, they feel a need to act and act right then and there. Sometimes rapid dev cycles can be a bad thing.
    Last edited by Galibier; 02-20-2013 at 02:34 AM.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    Technically speaking, I am a genius, but I don't have any actual experience in the MMO industry so my IQ doesn't really matter. But thanx anyway. ;)

    Hindsight is 20/20, but we don't have the luxury of knowing the consequences of our actions before we do something. I'm sure the people in charge of Blizzard have made mistakes with the game, and could have found other ways to extend the life of the game. But a profit is a profit, and they are smart enough to realize that the cash cow won't be giving milk for very much longer.

    There are many variations on sub-based and cash shop games, and hybrids of the two approaches as well. The statement about F2P models replacing subs is probably accurate, considering that the hardcore sub-paying players are an unsustainable resource. All it takes is a market crash in the US or Asia and people have to reevaluate their spending habits, the sub-based game may not survive losing half its paying customers but the F2P game is more flexible.

    Anyway, it does seem as though those CEOs agree with me, in that the market for these games has much more potential beyond the original MUD-players and that going for that market means moving away from the original experience of playing MMOs. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it is a disappointment to what's left of the original market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galibier View Post
    No I think they do know. My point is this Rift gets it. They just made a mistake in adding a grind to marks and faction. They get the concept I just think their methodology is wrong. Smedly gets it over at SOE, that is why he is converting all of their games to the hybrid f2p model. WoW gets it, they are just having an issue finding the middle ground between how far they went with WotLK and then the opposite pendulum swing they went with in Cata.

    As I said in my last bit. My thoughts are NOT based on my own unique analysis but the actual statements of the CEOs themselves. Smedly I give credit too. He has written off the subscription model. I disagree that it is dead BUT he at least is currently designing content based solidly in his chosen financial model.

    My issue with the still subscription based games is largely with how they seem to be stumbling to find the middle ground they themselves all acknowledge they need to find. We all know old school EQ would not work today, but the opposite end of the spectrum is also fail for the subscription model. I think you do have one point that applies to this. The speed of the internet. When there is rapid rage, even if from a very vocal minority, they feel a need to act and act right then and there. Sometimes rapid dev cycles can be a bad thing.
    I think the rep grind thing is a few people making mountains out of anthills. I can see their motivation to extend the life of current content, they knew upon releasing SL that they deadlines coming up for other games and need to divert some of their focus from Rift for a while. The hardcore players who chew through content faster than Trion can provide it are a known issue - their complaints don't matter because by definition these players are impossible to satisfy. The casual players don't care how much of a grind it is because they will get there at whatever pace they want.

    The critical area comes between the two, where they have to manage the expectations of players without boring them too much that they abandon the game. But there really isn't a choice there because the next several months are critical to the company as a whole, not just Rift.

    And, yes, moving too quickly can be as bad as moving too slowly. Recently I've seen both approaches as Arenanet and Trion both reacted in different ways to complaints about bots. The end result is the same, a lot of noise from a small number of players and a lot of inconvenience to everyone playing the games. I'm not sure that there is a way to avoid either.
    Last edited by Ancem; 02-20-2013 at 02:51 AM.

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    I agree with you that the market has greater potential. As I said Smedly gets it, he has said f2p is the future because he wants that console generation. Buttler gets it, its why some of his games are f2p and others not....not many fps fans are going to pay a sub but there is still a market for subscription games in his mind (from his Bloomsberg interview.) They all get it.

    The issue I have is when it is execution time with subscription based games. Rift, as an example, to have the grind a subscription game needs, put in what seems to be universally viewed as a tedious grind of multiple factions instead of grinds that could give a real sense of accomplishment.

    They almost completely lacked a grind in 1.0 due to a perception reflected in Hartsman's notorious "i don't care if people get to 50 in one day because we have end game" statement. So this time around the put a grind back into the game BUT rather than the methods that can disquise the grind with a sense of accomplishment, they made it bleedingly obvious with the faction stuff.
    Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ancem View Post
    You have a good point, but it's not quite it. There's nothing "wrong" with MMOs, I'd say that your problem is mostly that you are outgrowing the genre. Our interests change over the years, and the things we like don't always change with us.
    Partly true, but the things that DO change us is the MMO's themselves.

    Take the launch of DAoC for example, that game was a pretty "hardcore" MMO both when it came to PvE and PvP because it had absolutely no interest in holding your hand. There were limited quests and they didn't give that much XP or even any items and they didn't tell you where to go other then in what zone (and they were huge) until way later. Elites hardly existed but people wanted to group anyway because it was so much faster to level by farmight high level groups of mobs then going about it solo. The game actually GAVE XP bonuses when you grouped, it didn't penalize you for it like 99% of todays MMO's..

    The PvP were even more brutal before the realm abilities got introduced because you had very few (none actually) counters to crowd control abilities and they lasted FOREVER. If you got stunned you had nothing to do but sit there and eat the damage for up to 10 seconds, same with the mezzes, you got one and you just had to accept being nothing but a spectator for up a minute and a half or until you got targeted.

    Then came WoW and dumbed everything down in the name of "casual gaming" and here we are.

    Almost everything is solo friendly and what group content exist is easily avoidable because that's what WoW taught us.

    That said, i'm not actually BLAMING WoW here, if that game hadn't done it another would have. But IF it wouldn't have happened we'd still have games like DAoC, EQ, early EQ2, AC, AC2 etc etc. And gamers of today would have been better off.

    The extremely few MMO's that tries to go back to what it used to be fails miserably and either shut down or bite the bullet and transition to the ever horrible "WoW clone" that everyone seems to hate but still violently demands anyway (seriously, make up your mind people)...

    So yes, our interests do change, but not without a reason. And that reason is called "casual gaming"... It's a phrase and "game mechanic" i loathe with my entire being and i seriously wish the person(s) that came up with that had silly mustaches tattooed on their faces.

    /edit: I'm not referring to this game specifically but MMO's in general.
    Last edited by Torasil; 02-20-2013 at 03:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galibier View Post
    I agree with you that the market has greater potential. As I said Smedly gets it, he has said f2p is the future because he wants that console generation. Buttler gets it, its why some of his games are f2p and others not....not many fps fans are going to pay a sub but there is still a market for subscription games in his mind (from his Bloomsberg interview.) They all get it.

    The issue I have is when it is execution time with subscription based games. Rift, as an example, to have the grind a subscription game needs, put in what seems to be universally viewed as a tedious grind of multiple factions instead of grinds that could give a real sense of accomplishment.

    They almost completely lacked a grind in 1.0 due to a perception reflected in Hartsman's notorious "i don't care if people get to 50 in one day because we have end game" statement. So this time around the put a grind back into the game BUT rather than the methods that can disquise the grind with a sense of accomplishment, they made it bleedingly obvious with the faction stuff.
    Where do you get this "universal" view? How many thousands of Rift players have you heard from? I only see a handful of anecdotal reports on the forums.

    It's been about, what, four months now? More than a quarter, certainly, and enough time for Trion to collect data about the reception SL got. If there is a universal problem with grinding, then they'll know about it by now from the massive drop in logins and sub cancellations.

    I haven't kept up with the PTS and such, are they planning a massive overhaul to the rep system in 2.2? If so, you're right and there is a problem with the way they implemented it.

    Myself, I saw the same complaints a year ago. People did it then and they do it now, because they want the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or they get tired of chasing it and quit. The gamble is that more people want the reward. So far it's held up pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torasil View Post
    That said, i'm not actually BLAMING WoW here, if that game hadn't done it another would have. But IF it wouldn't have happened we'd still have games like DAoC, EQ, early EQ2, AC, AC2 etc etc. And gamers of today would have been better off.

    The extremely few MMO's that tries to go back to what it used to be fails miserably and either shut down or bite the bullet and transition to the ever horrible "WoW clone" that everyone seems to hate but still violently demands anyway (seriously, make up your mind people)...
    .
    Seems to hate is right... you've mistaken the vocal minority that comes to the forums to complain about their personal issues as the average gamer. This simply is not the case, or those games that you mention would still be vibrant and growing and the "extremely few" old school MMOs would never cave in and change the game to the modern model or fail.

    Because, you see, while there is a small and very vocal oldschool MMO community, it is too small and too hard to please for a new game to capture them and make a profit doing it. So they either go for the larger market or fail.

    Most of the games you mention are still active, and I suspect the majority of old school MMO players are still playing them. There simply isn't enough room left in that market for a new game to make a profit and the existing games each have too small a population to be a smashing success.

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