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The Success Anomaly

So the big news of the weekend for MMOs was that Star Wars: The Old Republic has an official release date, and will launch over the Christmas holidays this year. 

The game will most likely sell extremely well out of the gate, almost certainly the most successful first month sales of any MMO ever, and probably by a wide margin...it will then possibly even retain over a million subscription customers (something it should be remembered no game other than World of Warcraft has managed)...truly massive numbers...unless the game somehow collapses it is going to post seriously impressive numbers...yet...you can already read many comments across the net which indicate that there is a sizable number of people who are referring to that as a potential 'failure'. 

Suddenly being the second most successful MMO of all time, would not be enough for some folk to a call a game a success. For some it seems to boil down to a simple formula, where they believe the only success factor is ongoing and consistent growth, and any significant drop after your launch month is banded about as a sign of failure

Put simply we have an issue at the moment with the perception of what constitutes a successful game...jump past the break as I take a deeper look at the challenge of defining success in the current market...

So what is the root of this disconnect? To me it seems to stem from the fact that many fans of the genre base their opinions on assumptions that are quite simply well out of date.

We're not in Azeroth anymore...

The cornerstone that drives a lot of the definitions that fans fall back on is of course World of Warcraft...and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It is natural that people will compare other games to the indutsry leader. What they often fail to acknowledge however is that even World of Warcraft launched in a very different gaming environment. 

2004 was a very different time...

The world has changed since the launch of World of Warcraft...for example do you remember the internet before You Tube? Blizzard's Behemoth launched some four months before You Tube was founded, that's a lot of change. Sometimes it is hard to remember exactly how much things have changed since then.

Five or more years ago these games did not have as wide a market available to them. You can now sell through over a million copies or more right out of the gate. (and I fully expect TOR and GW2 to do even more than that). That was only a pipe dream when many of us started making these games. I recall the early estimates for first month sales on Age of Conan back in 2005 were as low as 50,000 units yet the game ended up shipping over a million copies in the end, and other games have been in the same ballpark.Games like Rift and Aion are probably holding quite healthy subscription numbers over two hundred thousand users. Prior to the launch of World of Warcraft no game in the west had come close to reaching a million subscribers (the last reported numbers for a game like Everquest were 430,000 players).

So games launching now benefit from the fact that there are many millions of more players that know what an MMO is an might want to try a new one.

Games that launched five or more years ago simply didn't have the profile to attract that kind of a starting audience, and neither did they have to deal with an ever more crowded market with dozens of competing games. This growth was much easier to achieve since your starting numbers were not as large, and most of the games grew organically as word of mouth spread. 

Now, it is much more likely that a high profile game in the genre will start out strongly as more people try the game, but not everyone will find it to their tastes.

There are tens of millions of users now that play online, that simply were not there as an addressable audience five years ago. The success of games like World of Warcraft did change the game, and significantly so, they didn't just move the proverbial goalposts, they changed the rules of the game itself.

Different tastes...

With a growing user base for MMOs as a genre, and with more varied games appearing, it is only natural that there will also be a wider set of preferences out there.

This means that a title that gets mass market attention, and a game like The Old Republic definitely falls into that category, it won't necessarily appeal to everyone's tastes. That doesn't mean it won't appeal to more than enough players to be firmly considered a success. 

The Variety Show...

The next twelve months or so present an intriguing time for the genre, with some big games on the horizon. Between The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and our own The Secret World on the way, and titles like Carbine's Wildstar, Trion's next two MMO projects, End of Nations and Defiance, and some interesting imports like Tera and ArcheAge on the way via Korea, the market is going to get ever more crowded

Then throw in the host of titles following the Freemium path, with DC UniverseStar Trek OnlineCity of Heroes, and Fallen Earth all switching business models to try and attract more players, and mix in all the F2P eastern imports, and you have a virtual stockpile of game vying for your attention even before you consider all the major titles still trucking along nicely years after they launched.

...and that is without even mentioning a little game called Diablo or something that might just steal some time form the MMO playing public...

The veterans view...

The other notable factor playing heavily into comments amongst the MMO communities is that veteran players, many of whom have been playing these games for over a decade now, and yearning for the next advance in technology at a time when the industry itself is still refining the experience offered by the first generation of games. 

The 'formula' for an MMO is still pretty much the same, in terms of structure, as it was a decade ago...and that frustration at a perceived lack of 'progress' is what fuels a deal of the complaints.

The idea of an MMO brings with it so many dreams and potential in terms of interactivity and community based gaming that many of those veteran users would rather that developers were more experimental rather than concentrating on making more efficient and more polished version of these online worlds. 

You could argue that while those veterans yearn for more complex communal experience, developers have been refining how we can succeed at pleasing the individual in a multi-player world. It wouldn't be an unfair accusation either. These games are expensive, in particular with the requirements of today's production standards, which makes it less likely the bigger budget games will take risky game-play choices. 

Not about excuses...

Now one clarification here, this is not about any situation where a game clearly fails to live up to their early expectations,or get over-hyped. There you can very easily understand that gamers will have a negative impression, that isn't where I am going with this. So let's park those games, this isn't intended as any kind of apologists lament at being misunderstood. I talked about this last year, and the further along we go, the more I am convinced that we need to keep asking the question so that we can try and find a way to change people's perceptions about what constitutes success.

This also isn't just about huge one hundred million dollar games like The Old Republic...it filters down to other studios and titles as well. The same lack of acknowledgement that things have changed significantly over the last five years means that many titles have been tarnished with the same 

This is about hearing people consider games like Aion, or Rift, as 'failures', simply because they didn't grow after their launch. It is exactly the same forces at play, the same perceptions that are doing an injustice to good, solid games that many people enjoy spending time playing. 

Setting expectations...

So all of these factors clearly show that times have indeed changed. Of course there is little you can do to change a perception on the internet outside of talking about it. That is really where we can do better as an industry. Just as I talked about wishing we could have a ratings system of some kind before, I feel that this is an area that we can influence more in our communication.

Can we market our games without the need to claim we will be the be all and end all to all people? I think we can. Can we set the expectation that yes, the first month might be the highest user number we ever reach, without being seen as a 'negative' message to the marketing folk? I think it might not be as scary as the marketing folks might tell you.

Can customers handle an open approach to ambition, or are we too far down a partisan road of instant judgement that even admitting you would be satisfied with a certain level of success would be seen as a lack of confidence, that would then be reported as such, and would then potentially affect your sales, a genuine fear for a business that many will tell you should simply be avoided.

Could we be more open about our numbers, so that we then could start to educate our customers on what constitutes a success, and what they should, and should not, worry about? Part of the issue there is that we have a fairly fundamental fear about how customers will react to trends. Would they understand seasonal fluctuations? Would they tolerate short term dips, or would any such instance be amplified, because players could see it, and react to it? More valid concerns for any business.

The problem, as always, is that people don't like being held to estimates and projections, even if we have to do them, we don't necessarily have to share them. Neither can people use budgets to help gauge, as they do with movies, since the costs of these games is rarely revealed outside of financial reporting.

Personally I think a more open approach could work, much in the same way a movie can influence expectations by it's budget, its cast, scope or even it's release date. We need to find ways in which we can talk more about levels of ambitions without harming a games marketing... 

Wrapping up...

 I also think that those advances the veterans yearn for will come, and the genre will become more dynamic and community focused again, but maybe not in the near future (and almost certainly not with the upcoming generation of games), and maybe not in the way we think it will...but in the mean time, we are in these changing times, and games will be successful despite not reaching World of Warcraft numbers. We should embrace and applaud the successful games, because in the big picture, they will all contribute to the growth of the genre. If theses games become too risky to make, then you won't be able to blame the investors and publishers from being afraid of the investment. 

I hope we continue to see the potential, through successful games, so that we continue to get the opportunities to push the boundaries...but that is another subject entirely, so lets wrap this one up.

So what do you think?

As always, ending with a question for you all - do you think that The Old Republic will be a success, a huge hit? A modest earner? A genre defining moment? What are your expectations for the largest MMO launch since World of Warcraft started to change our worlds?






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34 comments

Striker said...

I think it will be a huge success in the western market, and fail to excite the east. That means that EA will not see the same level of success as World of Warcraft, but it will rake in huge revenues for them. Even if the combat might be uninspired (from the look of beta footage) the story elements and Bioware polish will ensure it is a great experience.

Treras said...

New MMOs launching have a fundamental problem. They need to break the comfort blanket of social groupings in established games. Most of the time they do superlatively well in terms of box sales and I expect ToR to do the same. Whether it manages to retain the players once the initial hype has died down is another matter. I believe a large slice of that initial population will filter back to their original games of choice, while some will stay with the ToR and make that their game of choice.

It will be a successful game, I think, but that's not too difficult for any premium MMO. They can recover a large percentage of their costs through box sales and DLC + subscriptions can turn a nice profit afterwards. They will have the advantage of a Star Wars backing, but that is also becoming a tired IP as the people who enjoyed the movies in their youth are now what ... in their late 40s and 50s? While still a viable gaming market the newer generations have their own IP they grew up with which will make better games of choice for them ...


Now what do I need to do to secure a beta invite to MY game of choice, huh? :p

Davis Richter said...

I honestly feel that SWTOR has a good chance to be bigger than WOW. It has an amazing license, a built in fan-base, a truly great developer with a tremendous track record. They can't go far wrong. I think it will be an awesome MMO and keep far higher numbers than many think, and it will be a bigger game than Guild Wars 2.

Anonymous said...

The Star Wars IP is abit tired but id say its more due to the fact that its been milked for so many years now, not because the fans or old because i enjoyed the movies in my youth but am only 25.

Anonymous said...

*are old

Anonymous said...

There be many ways to measure success.
As player succes is when a game fits my taste, makes me feel fun and entertains me and as mmo doesnt close for lack of subs.
From the business aspect each mmo making money is a success´, maybe not as big as expected.

And that is the problem, to much hype, to much promises, to much expectations from all sides.

I predict that SWTOR will be WoW2, maybe not as big as WoW but having the first time since more than 1 million players for longer than the initial 30 days.
As well as Blizzard is Bioware known as quality game developer, having quite a number of fans from quite a number of succesfull game series.
WoW the same time gets older and older and even die hard fans get bored more each day and if Blizzard has done one sin than it is that WoW has become nothing more than a giant threadmill.

SWTOR will probably be Tortage throughout the whole game, having the Companions you know from the SRPGs while not overwhelm players with totally new shemes of control or this fps-mmo-shit that fails at every try.
Tradition, polish, new game elements will make it very successfull.

And all the houses that have tried to make WoW-Clones will also fail ot make SWTOR-clones bcs there is only place for one big kahuna.

GW2 is B2P and wont hurt sales or subs.
TSW can be a niche hit like EvE has become.
Archeage - to much hope leads only to disapointment - its asian, asian love doing boring, repetetive things, western players do not - time will tell.

At whole the mmo market is ripe for a step forward regarding to a next generation virtual world simulation mmorpg (Not FPS!).

Powermonger was able to have its NPCs have a little virtual life using 4KB of ram for that.
Ultima VII, a few MB in size had a deeper virtual world than any game since then.
Ultima Online, Daoc, SWG have shown many working formulas and at least the 2 former have no trouble with storage^^
I really dont see that games have taken many steps forward since the 90s outside of graphics advantage.
There is still no 64-Bit game breakthrough.
The Witcher 2 (with the best male avatar ever made) is a grat game, great visual and still not a world as deep as Ultima VII or even the much older Darklands.
GTA 4 is a great game, mmyself not a fps gamer i still like thisgame for anything else it offers.

But in the mmo business they give us Rift.
RIFT!!!!
A clone as polished as one can be but as boring as well rightfully having much lower numbers as they would themself call it a success.

I think really, that a good mmo can be easy to join, easy to start with, and then offer many ways, for inexperienced as well as experienced players to find a place in a fun and entertaining virtual world.
There is no law that al classes must have the same level of challenge to play.
That any player must be participate in pvp.
That loot has to be BoP.
That economy is a bad thing and degrading equipment will drive players off.
But yes, we have educated many a mmo player that way with our games that way and that is wrong bcs in the end it kills the genre for lack of choice and growing boredom.

SWTOR, TSW, Archeage, GW2 will impact the mmo world and hopefully investors and developers will see the need for the next step of the genre.

In 4, 5 or maybe 6 years will be another oportunity to launch a outstanding mmo that can have outstanding financial success and the crowd of players bored from the usual formula will be even bigger.

And really - NO FPS plese!!!

BTW: When it came out i have paid 3 boxes of AoC and more than 4 years of subscription for me and my family, do i get a candy ? ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typos, as i age my eyes handicap goes worse and worse.
That iso ne thing i want to mention alos, developers still got aware that older gamers may be more pleased with bigger font types and bigger mousecursors coloured in a way it doesnt hide in all the garphic effects that happen on the screen.
I frequently die in aoc bcs i dont find the damend mousecursor and i dont play EvE for the reaons that the UI is WAYYYYYYYYYY to small.
And i do not want use mods of sources of questionalbe security.

Thx :)

AmandaP said...

I think that SWTOR will be a massive hit. I am more looking forward to both GW2 and TSW personally, but I expect that like everyone else, I will be playing SWTOR until then, so they have the chance to snare us all ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the real problem with all new releases is that everyone wants every game to be exactly how they want it to be. This personal feeling turns into argument, which turns into forum posts, that turn into escalating arguments with the entire community arguing about how the game should be, whether it be balance, difficulty, or accessibility.

Developers then make changes to make the majority happy, and then lose the players in the minority. This is fine for normal subscriptions, but the thing that they do not see, is that it affects some servers to the point to where they become ghost towns, or in the case of games not being difficult enough, you lose a lot of the big guilds that help cause a lot of hype for the next game they want to play.

Servers get merged, and people begin to think the game is failing. Meanwhile everyone is still arguing about difficulty, or class balance, or changes to pvp, and it is an endless cycle.

Wow is the industry standard, and as much as I haven't enjoyed it since the burning crusade, I still bought every xpac.. you would have to be an idiot to say it isn't still the most successful game out there, and you still have a friend or 2 still playing and say fuck it, I will bite again. It is also at the forefront of continually shedding players from build to build, and just sucking them back in with a new expansion. Great for blizzard, because they get to keep selling titles, but servers still go from being full at the beginning of each new release, to ghost towns until the next expansion.

It becomes more and more homogenized, and continually sheds the "minority" of players. Eventually, even Blizz will see that if you shed the minority 50 times, it eventually becomes the majority of players.

The first mmo, to be challenging, and stick to their guns on their direction and not pander to an entire community over and over will get my next $15 a month. I would take integrity any day over dealing with sweeping changes to gameplay.

Anonymous said...

Question: Has BioWare made a game that flopped?

Anonymous said...

Has bioware made an mmo that has not flopped?

Anonymous said...

You dont lose the minority of players, you please the vocal minority and lose the silent majority.

Avery said...

It's going to be a big financial success and a moderate theme park thrill ride for the mature gamer Sil. I think to expect nearly full voice over, some good story telling and general PvE, I think it's going to be a bit of a let down in PvP. With everything read and seen I am not sure what TOR has to make it stand out in the ground.

Avery said...

*from the crowd (predictive text arrgh)

Vampero said...

I think SWTOR will be very big ! So many worlds,endless stories to tell,PvP,PvE...etc I think The Secret World will flop because many people out there will not try a new type setting in a MMO world. Best move you did was make 3 factions in game !!

SA_Avenger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SA_Avenger said...

You are right of course but that doesn't mean that the "veterans" ought to like the way things goes. There are two very different view here one of a player and one of someone in the industry.
It seems nowadays that developpers take one or two attractive features and build a game around it. A good game probably and depending the budget, time of release, games on the market it can be very successfull but seeing the amount of features the big contender has it's hard to feel complete satisfied with any of the most recent games.

I for one think that Aion and Rift while not bad game per se had the chance to release when no real competition was showing and hence could build a base (among which you'll always have hardcore players who will stay for years no matter which game you have so the highest number you have at launch the higher your chances are to retain those).
This means basically that a game that would solely focus on that hardcore crowd (not meaning the mortal online type but the end game content type) while pretending to cater to the masses in advertising phase (or let's say having a starting experience casual enough to be able to be advertised as such) would probably be more successfull than a only casual game.

Then the current market also shows us that the teenager's licenses are attracting a much bigger crowd than any other game. Be it from a nostalgy value or the sheer power of the license (and money behind it).

What as a player I find disturbing is that with such an impressive budget a game like Swtor didn't manage to do more than that. Not only does it fail to impress visually (compared to TSW, GW2 at least, Wildstar didn't impress me either) but there just seem to be a lack of depth while older games would have much more mechanics and gameplay available to players.
So we are in a phase were games look better, are more stable with a better interface and a good amount of content but they do not always have the depths of older MMO's. And it's a whole market trend not only MMO's. So when you are an old player you sometimes find the new release tasteless compared to the old ones, it doesn't mean that the old ones were better but they were broader. (sometimes to a fault).

I think we are in this situation now because for a game to be considered a success by everyone it'd have to basically propose everything that has already been done on day 1 and that won't happen.

I think Swtor will be a huge success at least if they have enough content to feed people in the next 3-5 months. I don't like what I see, I don't like the way it's sold and I won't buy except if I get into beta and like it (basically don't have the money/time to invest in a game I'm not convinced about pre launch, so might wait a free trial later one) but doesn't mean it won't be successful for sure ;). So hopefully it'll allow bigger budget games and the industry will move a step forward. But right now we are making baby steps and usually not even in the right direction (I'm more a believer of Funcom's route but you guys are the only ones to take it)

edit: corrected some things sry

Anonymous said...

Does anybody else understand how detrimental it is to judge the success of new games based on existing mature games like WoW?

People want to have just as much content in a gem that hasn't even releases yet as there is in a game that is nearly 8 years old with multiple expansions, patches and refinement. If it doesn't they get bored and run off. How is a new game supposed to exist without given a chance to grow?

This is where it is tricky for the developers. It seems lIke the only options for devs are to create a game with just as much content at release as an 8 year old multiple expansion game like WoW or gamble on creating something new and innovative. One is time consuming and expensive and the other is risky. Seems like SWTOR is going for the first option.

Anonymous said...

The flaw is, of todays mmos, that everything that could break up the rush thru the content is neglected for wasting time and not being focussed.
You focuss players so much and educate them to rush thru the content making everyone not doing so a loser or lamer.
Enjoyment and Entertainement, Fun do not come from the number of mobs you can slay per minute but it sort of measured by that.
A mmorpg shouldbe multifacetted and some of thisfacettes can be sort of autogenerated repeatable contend with random changes.
Give the players tools to hang around ingame wasting time with things that make them feel good and entertained without having them level by that way.
The non-leveling gameplay needs a huge improvement and i really dont know why there be still levels ingame.
Levels mean you ahve won the game at max level and can move on to the next game to wil (level up) your avi.
I am curious how TSW will fare with its skill system.

Ken Obeni said...

There are people who consider this game as failure only because they base their opinion on experience in WoW. Its not a secret that most of gamers played or tried WoW and most of those who care to post about SWTOR most likely played WoW for quite a while.

Those people don't understand that SWTOR is not the same type of MMO as WoW or Rift is. Even though Rift is a copy of WoW it still didn't attract millions of subscriptions as one would think it may since its a copy of WoW just with better graphics and even higher number of group related activities and mechanics in game.

You can compare MMO to MMORPG. Most of the online games on the market today are MMOs, they always lacked the factor of real RPG and SWTOR is first game in 20 years who will finally have this pillar in game. If this means SWTOR will lack in other MMO standard features - that doesn't mean that game is going to be a failure.

SWTOR will attract several millions of fans around the world just for what it actually is - Star Wars based, mmoRPG. People who just want to raid and PvP may not find it as appealing eventually so they will most likely move to GW2 and then to something else and to something else etc.

Every online game is developed with aim on a specific demographic. In case of SWTOR - its a a few groups of gamers - First of all - Star Wars fans, then RPG fans, Bioware game fans, and MMO fans. The last ones usually migrate between the different MMOs so there wasn't a point to attract and keep them for years.

Bioware will definitely try, but either the game is failure or success will depend on how close they will stay THEIR OWN course while developing the game further. If they stuff the game with raids and group content it won't be a guarantee that they will retain raiding community, but that may definitely affect the game's future and other fans who will be mostly enjoying the game for its story based content and play raids and PvP just an addition.

Taiphoz said...

I think Tor will do well, I do not think any game will ever reach the numbers that wow did, its spread was a result of the market and timing, and not a sole result of the quality of the game, and since the market , the economy and even the games and the choices they have has changed, wow will never happen again.

I am glad that Tor is on the way, but saddened that its still following this theme park trend, and the mmo that I am really looking forward to the most, is Archeage, because it seems to be offering a step forward and could be the first second generation mmo.

Valdur said...

SWTOR will definitely be successful with massive box sales but what will really make it apart from previous games such as Rift is that Bioware games are about RPG and it's been a long time since an MMO made the RPG in MMORPG shines.If Bioware pleases Bioware fans and StarWars fans first and above all and not the fickle minded 10% vocal minority who plagues every single new MMO they will remain successful for a very long time.

For me the greatest flaw in today's MMO is that they are no longer virtual Worlds where I want to spend time,where I have freedom and that everything is not combat driven for advancement.Instead what we have is a backdrop for game play where the developer only motivation is to get the player to max level the fastest.By then they just take you from the world to a remote hole in the ground.

As a veteran player I'm looking for a sandbox game with some theme park features and I see only one game in the near future which have this kind of promise...so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

ArenaNet is the company that I have the most respect because they are the only company(and CCP) which has stay true to their philosophy.GW2 is a huge step in the right direction in next gen MMORPG development and I can't wait to give them my money.

Jack Pipsam said...

I think SW:ToR will get high numbers, but I don't think it can live up to the hype. Also the fact that SW:ToR is not coming out in all places at the same time (e.g Australia and New Zealand not coming out till much later) is a very silly thing to do. I can why there doing it, but it's just going to backfire in the end.

I think The Secret World will have a better chance in the long run as you guys have done a great job of keeping up hype, but NOT overhype.
ALSO it's coming out in Australia and New Zealand.

Esben Jensen said...

Players and publishers have different ways to measure success for a reason. Publishers wants an MMO to turn a profit, players are in it for the long haul and want the game to remain fun for a long time.

I have a feeling that a big title like SWTOR may very well recoup it's development cost quickly, something I'm sure investors appreciate.
Players however would want to play in a world that feels active for a long time, and this often means a large amount of consistent subscriptions. Players also have an interest in the long term profitability because that means the game may see more up to date development and maintenance.

MMOs are as much about faith and trust in the franchise as it is about the actual game itself.

Irinir said...

About the being more open about numbers bit, there's a little company called ccp that actually shows those numbers and that makes for some interesting study.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it will be a massively successful launch because it looks like a game with a very low barrier to entry. The graphics are designed to run on "most" computers, it will likely be highly polished and easy to learn, and it is an extremely well-known franchise.

They have put tremendous effort into the story line, which solidifies the pve element. That is enough to keep the game running for a long time, but not enough for huge sub numbers. For that, the game will need to have a properly developed competition element, in the usual forms of pvp, wealth, prestige, or guild ranking.

Scott Ware said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I don't think even Blizzard are capable of recreating the success of WoW. SWTOR will be a success of sold boxes, but it just feels like WoW with lightsabers, and as a big fan of the Star Wars franchise I can't help the fact that the game goes in the footsteps of WoW, which will kill the longevity in my opinion, I mean, we already seen that. WoW was a breakthrough using it's formula, and a new and fresh formula is needed, new and fresh ideas, something different is needed to be that successful again.

J.Marshall said...

My sense is that yes SWTOR will be a success both from retail box sales and ongoing subscription numbers. However I don't think we will ever see another subscription based game reach the peak numbers that WoW has. Quite simply there are many more MMO choices on the market now for John Q. Gamer and we've not seen a huge influx of new gamers entering the market. What we're left with is that gaming companies are essentially all fighting over the same subscribers. In my opinion in order for the market to grow or to even approach WoW numbers it will require a game that revolutionizes standard MMO mechanics and has the balls to take a risk. Veteran MMO gamers such as myself are yearning desperately for something truly innovative.

Anonymous said...

I believe SW:ToR will do extremely well when it launches but will decrease in numbers rather drastically after some time. I don't see that many Star Wars / Bioware fans paying $150 a year (retail box/addon + subscription) for playing KoToR 3 with some group content, especially with some in-house competition like Mass Effect 3 and some other good looking games on the horizon

Anonymous said...

Nice and deep analysis.
I suppose that SWTOR will be a success, but it will not change anything in the industry: the game is a classic theme park with some single-player features well developed; a good idea, but far from innovative.
Now, CCP announced WoD, and even if it's only on paper for now, it seems interesting; clearly, a software house that do not aim at millions of subscribers can still innovate the genre... the ball is in the park of the small ones, not the big, costly and fearful big developer

Kdog254 said...

Well I think a number of things about SW:ToR.

It is definitely going to sell more at launch then any other previous MMO that has come out at launch. This is do to a number of reasons. First Starwars has a huge following and if you remember Galaxies had a huge community and launch as well. Second its the new MMO on the block that has friendly specs. Third major reason is its Bioware and retains the Bioware story telling which is a huge thing for any MMO.

Will the subs stay up?

This comes down to a number of things. It has to have real progression, something that successful MMO's seem to all have or had at one time while keeping the game appealing to casual, less hardcore players.

It also needs to offer a lot of content all throughout the game to keep people interested, once again, stuff that can appeal to casual and hardcore.

We already know the quality will be very high but if the game lacks content then it will sink, no matter how good the game looks/plays/sounds.

One last thing and something that the Behemoth Blizzard has been doing is, they need to bring it to as wide of an audience as possible. This means not just Windows users but Mac and Linux as well. Not that there's an official Linux version of WoW but people are easily running it on Linux. This is a huge problem that most newer MMO's have and something that needs to be addressed at early stages. Excluding potential costumers or guilds from other games only hurts your product in the long run. This is something that Bioware will have to address sooner or later, not overlook and give the cold shoulder to, as it can be the downfall of the game.

Another thing I'd like to touch is, like what you said earlier more open communication is key to making successful games. If you look at the industry leader again, WoW, and look at a completely different game in a completely different genre, Minecraft, though they're both extremely different games, they have 1 major thing in common. Communication. While Notch is definitely more personable as he's the only or I believe "main" developer now, the developers over at the WoW boards pay close attention to a lot of consumers, though with as many people playing WoW as there is now they have to pick and choose who they listen too at this point do to whining kids and trolls. However the communication between the developer(s) and users is what drove the success of both of those products and its a shame that more publishers aren't realizing this and make the developers keep such a tight lip on a lot of projects.

I do understand why they do this but MMO's and more persistent online games where the game and community change over time can't survive using the same basic marketing techniques and strategies that are used for single player games. Using the approach for a MMO that you would for a single player game can kill the game before it releases. In order to make a successful game the more personable relationship between the developers and community is definitely key. No persistent online game, no matter how big the budget is and how glitch free and flawless the gameplay may be, can survive without this especially if its an original IP.

xmenty said...

SWTOR combat gameplay is such a dull way to play an MMO.
Go play Dragon Nest, Tera, GA, WAR Inc.
and you can see the huge difference in combat.

Anonymous said...

@Ken Obeni

I'm not sure what you're smoking saying ToR isn't the same type of game as WoW or Rift, as someone that's been beta testing the game pretty extensively I will say it is practically a carbon copy of WoW only with a few extra elements. The higher you go up the more it turns into WoW as well, the heavy story is more towards the beginning of the game. The leveling structure is the same, the PvP is the same, even the class specs and playstyles are very similar. Speeder bike paths that branch from place to place that you fly on and watch the landscape go by? Quest hub to quest hub leveling structure? Even the PvP maps are extremely similar to WoW BGs. And the classes? I mean look at the the Sith "warrior". It uses a rising resource mechanic called "rage". It has a charge that you can spec into to use in combat. It stuns. It even stuns for the same duration as a WoW warrior charge and has the same range. They use bleeds, except they aren't called bleeds so it's okay right? That's just pure lazy. That's called, "We don't want to balance so let's pull from another super balanced popular game" (lol balanced). That carries over into other classes and gameplay elements too. Some of them are more plagiarized than others, but the fact remains it pulled -very- heavily from the mega monolith on the block. All it is is a rehashed repackaged highly polished version of a million other games on the market that were spawned by the success of World of Warcraft. Oh but in the Star Wars universe of course so it will be super good.

ToR will be an amazing out the gate success. I very very highly doubt that it will maintain that level of success simply because of it's short sightedness and lack of real end game. You will play, you will level to max, you will get bored and stop. Just Like KoToR. You just can't have a MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER online game where the large majority of your time leveling and discovering story bits is done just as it would be in a single player game. Bioware went in the polar opposite direction that they should've been going in. Guild Wars 2 is on the right track with their huge open dynamic events, I really hope it works and catches on. Molds need to change and that's what I'm hoping for out of GW2 and The Secret World. If TSW isn't terrible and doesn't flop I can very easily see myself next year playing Guild Wars 2 and TSW as my active subbed game.

Here's to hoping, a bright future for MMOs (Oh please god) and for a death to the World of Warcraft template.

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