Ran out of money?

KlaveKlave marseilleMember Posts: 46

Why has this been released unfinished when the proportional cost of completing it would not have been huge?

After being in development for so long why would an extra three months (minimum) of financing been so devastating? The potential profits of a reasonably succesful mmo with a potential 5-6+ years of subscriptions are huge. Why has it been allowed to be released as it has been.I have no axe to grind with SOE (never played SWG) but to not finance such a huge project to completion is bizarre and short-sighted.Instead its been released as is, which could kill it before it has a chance to find itself, which would be a shame.

Why alienate so many players with an unfinished product . Sony and SOE may be financially seperate but the money should have been found. Whoever closed the chequebook has made a big mistake.

 

Comments

  • hundejahrehundejahre Chicago, ILMember Posts: 339
    My, possibly very wrong, understanding is that SOE was never writing checks to start with. They are the publisher, are handling the servers and subscriptions, but it was up to Sigil and they're investors to finish the game with whatever cash they had.
  • FreddyNoNoseFreddyNoNose LosAngeles, CAMember Posts: 1,558
    Originally posted by Klave


    Why has this been released unfinished when the proportional cost of completing it would not have been huge?
    After being in development for so long why would an extra three months (minimum) of financing been so devastating? The potential profits of a reasonably succesful mmo with a potential 5-6+ years of subscriptions are huge. Why has it been allowed to be released as it has been.I have no axe to grind with SOE (never played SWG) but to not finance such a huge project to completion is bizarre and short-sighted.Instead its been released as is, which could kill it before it has a chance to find itself, which would be a shame.
    Why alienate so many players with an unfinished product . Sony and SOE may be financially seperate but the money should have been found. Whoever closed the chequebook has made a big mistake.
     
    What if a few months from now SOE rides in to save the day with some much needed cash?  Perhaps they trade some money for some control?  Perhaps they can purchase all the game rights.  Something which is much easier to do if the game is in trouble than if you give them cash and a few months to get it right.
  • hundejahrehundejahre Chicago, ILMember Posts: 339


    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose
    What if a few months from now SOE rides in to save the day with some much needed cash?  Perhaps they trade some money for some control?  Perhaps they can purchase all the game rights.  Something which is much easier to do if the game is in trouble than if you give them cash and a few months to get it right.


    Are you trying to suggest Brad can be bought out by SOE... again? =p

  • FreddyNoNoseFreddyNoNose LosAngeles, CAMember Posts: 1,558
    Originally posted by hundejahre


     

    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose

    What if a few months from now SOE rides in to save the day with some much needed cash?  Perhaps they trade some money for some control?  Perhaps they can purchase all the game rights.  Something which is much easier to do if the game is in trouble than if you give them cash and a few months to get it right.

     



    Are you trying to suggest Brad can be bought out by SOE... again? =p

     


    When was he bought out before?
  • SpectralHunterSpectralHunter So CalMember UncommonPosts: 419
    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose

    Originally posted by hundejahre


     

    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose

    What if a few months from now SOE rides in to save the day with some much needed cash?  Perhaps they trade some money for some control?  Perhaps they can purchase all the game rights.  Something which is much easier to do if the game is in trouble than if you give them cash and a few months to get it right.

     



    Are you trying to suggest Brad can be bought out by SOE... again? =p

     


    When was he bought out before? Brad and company made EQ1.  Sony owns EQ1 now. 
  • LukainLukain WestmeadMember UncommonPosts: 591
    Originally posted by hundejahre

    My, possibly very wrong, understanding is that SOE was never writing checks to start with. They are the publisher, are handling the servers and subscriptions, but it was up to Sigil and they're investors to finish the game with whatever cash they had.
    Sigil has investers , everyone playing the game , difference is  they get no return on the dollar ...
  • FreddyNoNoseFreddyNoNose LosAngeles, CAMember Posts: 1,558
    Originally posted by SpectralHunt

    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose

    Originally posted by hundejahre


     

    Originally posted by FreddyNoNose

    What if a few months from now SOE rides in to save the day with some much needed cash?  Perhaps they trade some money for some control?  Perhaps they can purchase all the game rights.  Something which is much easier to do if the game is in trouble than if you give them cash and a few months to get it right.

     



    Are you trying to suggest Brad can be bought out by SOE... again? =p

     


    When was he bought out before?Brad and company made EQ1.  Sony owns EQ1 now. That was Brad1, this is Brad2. 
  • MidavegMidaveg Petaling JayaMember Posts: 296

    Its Sigil that push forward the release and using players as beta testers, poking out every bug so they can fix it every week. Only time will tell how long will Sigil last unless SoE swallow up Sigil and fund them 101% ( which might not happen )

    All canceled. Waiting on Warhammer Online : Age of Reckoning.

  • PretaPreta NYC, NYMember Posts: 103
    Originally posted by Klave


    Why has this been released unfinished when the proportional cost of completing it would not have been huge?



    The only answer I can think of is that SOE was deciding to cut thier losses.  They looked at the game and decided it'd either never be ready, or never be profitable enough to be worth finishing.  Yet, better to just release it, and make at least some money from it than to cancel it.

    Either that, or they were just too stupid to do the math.  Which is, of course, a distinct possibility.

  • KlaveKlave marseilleMember Posts: 46
    cutting there losses by releasing the game early and making the situation much, much worse, that has the kind of sound logic i like.
  • The unfinished product is exactly why I did not play this game.  Nor will I ever consider playing it, even if it rose to the be all end all of MMOs, for one very simple reason.  I don't join MMOs in progress.  I join new ones, but not already established ones.  My viewpoint is most likely a minority in the grand scheme of things, but I don't doubt that there are still plenty of others who follow the same line of thought.

    The days of players funding your MMO through their charity are gone.  Either release a rock solid game, or be doomed to chasing menial profit margins for the life of the game.  The genre is too competitive anymore to truly think the game can be successful using this (IMO) unethical method of funding.  I refuse to support companies like this, no matter how sound their vision may be.

  • SorninSornin Richmond, BCMember Posts: 1,133
    The sad thing is that a 'AAA' title like this (in terms of its goals and costs, at least) , and with a development team that large, Vanguard will need a very large number of subscribers in order to fund enhancements for the game while remaining profitable in the long term.



    MMORPGs are indeed notoriously hard to kill, but that is because they are fairly cheap to run IF you only keep the servers on and do not try to improve the game. Things get pricey when you need developers, producers, directors, artists, programmers, etc., to add more content and fix things.



    Love Vanguard or hate Vanguard, I think we can agree that it needs many months of work before it has any hope of becoming a truly premium title. That sort of work will costs millions and millions of dollars. This money has to be generated somehow, and subscriptions are the only way to do it without racking up a mounting debt. Unfortunately, since many players seem to dislike the game, primarily due to its release state, Vanguard may not make enough money to finish the game properly so people want to play it. Sort of a catch 22: they need players to make money to develop the game to get players so they can make money.



    We also cannot ignore how much this title cost just to make, too. This money must be made up at some point, before they even SEE a profit.



    I have no official information, so this is all just speculation, but for a title like this I bet they require at least 100,000 subscriptions to run the game properly and still one day make a profit. I also think I am being conservative, considering Brad was aiming for around 400,000 eventually. Unless things change soon, I really doubt this number will be reached and maintained, especially with anticipated titles like LotRO, AoC, and WAR coming out within the year.



    Summary: Running out of money at release was just the tip of the iceberg. Now they need to worry about running out of money to properly develop the released game

    image

  • LiveZero711LiveZero711 LisburnMember Posts: 17
    SOE just wanted it out on the street so they could make some money on it. Tgey but a lot of money into Vanguard.

    image

  • sataelsatael jklMember Posts: 17
    NY Times had an article with some information considering this : www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/arts/11schi.html
  • AmatheAmathe Miami, FLMember RarePosts: 2,955

    Even though I hate SOE, I'm going to defend them a little on this one.

    Sigil is mismanaged. They have not demonstrated they can set and meet a schedule. That's why they lost Microsoft. If SOE gave Brad another year, he would waste that year and when the time was up, the game would still not be ready for launch.

    They had big financial backers (2 actually). They had an experienced staff. They had a long production period. And they had one of the longest betas on record. And still they could not get their ducks in a row.

    Another factor is the community itself. A lot of people won't play this game period because of design decisions. A lot can't play it even if they wanted to because of the specs. When SOE looked at the expected subscriptions, subtracted out the people who would quit because of bugs, what was left was a small, ravenous bunch of Vanbois who will play it no matter what. I guess they decided go ahead and start an income stream because not that many people are going to play it anyway, and they won't lose that many of the ones that will even if it's screwed up.

    Under the circumstances, it was probably a good decision. Of course, it would have been better not to be in that situation, but you can thank Brad for that.

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • dragonacedragonace Menahga, MNMember Posts: 1,185
    Originally posted by Amathe


    Even though I hate SOE, I'm going to defend them a little on this one.
    Sigil is mismanaged. They have not demonstrated they can set and meet a schedule. That's why they lost Microsoft. If SOE gave Brad another year, he would waste that year and when the time was up, the game would still not be ready for launch.
    They had big financial backers (2 actually). They had an experienced staff. They had a long production period. And they had one of the longest betas on record. And still they could not get their ducks in a row.
    Another factor is the community itself. A lot of people won't play this game period because of design decisions. A lot can't play it even if they wanted to because of the specs. When SOE looked at the expected subscriptions, subtracted out the people who would quit because of bugs, what was left was a small, ravenous bunch of Vanbois who will play it no matter what. I guess they decided go ahead and start an income stream because not that many people are going to play it anyway, and they won't lose that many of the ones that will even if it's screwed up.
    Under the circumstances, it was probably a good decision. Of course, it would have been better not to be in that situation, but you can thank Brad for that.
    I think Amathe is pretty spot on with his analysis there.  None of us can say for sure what went on behind closed doors, but I think Amathe did a fairly accurate job of telling it like it is and was.



    If you can enjoy the game for what it is now - great, play it and have fun.  If not, oh well, there are more MMO's coming out soon; perhaps one of them will be the one for you. 
  • airheadairhead Atlanta, GAMember UncommonPosts: 718
    Originally posted by Klave


    Why has this been released unfinished when the proportional cost of completing it would not have been huge?
    WHY?! This is THE QUESTION that is in the back of my mind.... releasing early, getting bad press, having to fight an uphill battle, could easily result in lost revenue that would have exceeded the interest expense needed to cover financing for another 3 mo of development. Surely they know this...  What if the game is further from finished than any customers realize? In particular, what if the engine problems are of such a low-level nature that almost a total rewrite was needed? IF this was true, and you as Sigil knew this, then what would you do?



    Wouldn't you do something like this:

    - avoid a real open-beta that will let all customers see your product.

    - release early, get as much revenue as you can.

    - close official forums so you could avoid issues you didn't want to respond to.

    - offer double-xp weekends around renewal times to get as much as you can out of the product.

    - don't have a trial where people can see your product run before signing up.



    NOTE: I am NOT saying this is the case. Just that IF the problems were a long way from a solution and required tons more development to fix, then it would make sense to do everything Sigil/SOE has just done. There are of course other explanations for every action listed above (just search the forums). But theory is plausable... and one of the duties of a salesman is to remove believable purchasing objections... so where is the trial? That would show that Sigil has some faith in their product. Right now, I see more faith from some of the people/players here than what I'm seeing from the product's producer....
  • dragonacedragonace Menahga, MNMember Posts: 1,185
    Originally posted by airhead

    Originally posted by Klave


    Why has this been released unfinished when the proportional cost of completing it would not have been huge?
    WHY?! This is THE QUESTION that is in the back of my mind.... releasing early, getting bad press, having to fight an uphill battle, could easily result in lost revenue that would have exceeded the interest expense needed to cover financing for another 3 mo of development. Surely they know this...  What if the game is further from finished than any customers realize? In particular, what if the engine problems are of such a low-level nature that almost a total rewrite was needed? IF this was true, and you as Sigil knew this, then what would you do?



    Wouldn't you do something like this:

    - avoid a real open-beta that will let all customers see your product.

    Anyone that wanted to do the download could have gotten into Beta, there were also a slew of buddy keys given out.



    - release early, get as much revenue as you can.

    No sure if early is the right word, but definitely unfinished.



    - close official forums so you could avoid issues you didn't want to respond to.

    Except that they announced over 1 year before release that they wouldn't have official forums.  FFXI, DAoC, and Guild Wars also do not have official forums.



    - offer double-xp weekends around renewal times to get as much as you can out of the product.

    Well, I suppose you could spin it any way you want, we'll see what next months renewal brings.



    - don't have a trial where people can see your product run before signing up.

    How many other new releases have this?  Trials usually take some time to get up and running, I'm not sure of any MMO's that had them available within 1 month of launch, but perhaps there were a couple.



    NOTE: I am NOT saying this is the case. Just that IF the problems were a long way from a solution and required tons more development to fix, then it would make sense to do everything Sigil/SOE has just done. There are of course other explanations for every action listed above (just search the forums). But theory is plausable... and one of the duties of a salesman is to remove believable purchasing objections... so where is the trial? That would show that Sigil has some faith in their product. Right now, I see more faith from some of the people/players here than what I'm seeing from the product's producer....
  • sephersepher Atlanta, GAMember Posts: 3,561
    Why?



    Depends on which why you mean. Why did they choose to release once they ran out of money, or why did they run out of money? Answer is pretty simple for both, and has been answered already.



    They ran out of money because the project was poorly managed.



    They choose to release once they ran out of money because they had no choice. By that I mean, of course it would've been smarter to figuratively search between the couch cushions and whore ones self out for the extra money the company needed...but I'd 'be willing to believe the choice to release wasn't a comfortable decision made, and that it was indeed the only decision that could've been made.



    It may've been as urgent as if they hadn't released in January, then payroll wouldn't be met in February. Who knows, but as cocky as Brad had been in months prior to the "oh my god, we have to release" urgency, I seriously doubt he was so cocky that he thought Vanguard was above the life-long handicap of an early launch.





    EDIT: And actually I think Brad in beta went on in beta to say things like if he was a millionaire and could fund the project himself, he would, but couldn't. So really, when they were out of money they were REALLY out of money and had no options for more money.
  • PoldanoPoldano Livermore, CAMember Posts: 244
    Originally posted by Midaveg


    Its Sigil that push forward the release and using players as beta testers, poking out every bug so they can fix it every week. Only time will tell how long will Sigil last unless SoE swallow up Sigil and fund them 101% ( which might not happen )



    By commonly-accepted definition, a "beta" test is one that uses actual customers as testers.

    Breakeven for VSoH is probably around 100K-150K subscriptions. More than that will enable higher quality or higher profits. I don't think the amount of new content or the rate of bug fixing can increase very much with more subscribers, simply because of the diminishing returns that happen as more things are developed concurrently.

    For any kind of product release, there is a tradeoff decision between quality and market timing (profitability). After a certain point, increasing quality won't increase profitability. That's clearly a judgment call, and a difficult one. For MMOs, market share depends a great deal more on "fun" factor than bug count, once a minimum threshold of buglessness is reached. This means that from a business perspective, it is often better to get a lower-quality but acceptable product released to gauge it's popularity than to hold it back for quality improvements and increase the risk.

     

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