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General: Massey: Stop The Hype Train

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

MMOs announce too early and it's become a problem. In this week's column, Dana Massey looks at the harm that comes from this and makes an argument that MMOs should only be announced about a year before launch.

Dana Massey

MMOs on the other hand take years. Sometimes they’re announced out of necessity (hiring), sometimes it’s financial (stock prices) and sometimes it’s just bad planning.

While this isn’t something someone at an MMORPG coverage website should be saying: there is no good reason we should know so much about these games so early.

Want an example? Think about Star Wars: The Old Republic, then look at our forums. There are already entrenched opinions on what Bioware should or should not do. Some have decided it's a terrible idea destined to fail, some think it's going to be the ultimate savior of the genre and may even topple World of Warcraft. Both opinions are equally hysterical at this stage. Aside from a limited demo and some info they’ve doled out online, information remains limited. Anyone here played it? I thought not.

Read it all here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

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Comments

  • Death1942Death1942 CanberraPosts: 2,587Member

    this is exactly what i have been thinking for years.  If only the marketing department would just avoid revealing the game or any information more than a year from release we would all be better for it.  If i was incharge you would hear the announcement of a secret project when they normally announce the full thing.  4 Months before releae (or beta) i would reveal the project but keep the marketing low.  Build it up over that 4 months and i bet you it will do a whole lot better than the game that are hyped to death 6 months before release.

     

    Anyway that wont ever happen

    MMO wish list:

    -Changeable worlds
    -Solid non level based game
    -Sharks with lasers attached to their heads

  • Easy to say

    You know what I don't think the game companies have all the blame here either, we are just as to blame as they are. If a games doesn't pour out with tons of detail we flame it, call it vaporware, call it boring, discredit its dev team for being unimagintive, claim it will be a wow clone. Then when they do we complain they over-hype? Of course some do take it too far, and do over hype but when you think about it we really dont do ourselves very many favors in that regard :p

     

     

  • drbaltazardrbaltazar drummondville, QCPosts: 7,987Member
    Originally posted by Death1942


    this is exactly what i have been thinking for years.  If only the marketing department would just avoid revealing the game or any information more than a year from release we would all be better for it.  If i was incharge you would hear the announcement of a secret project when they normally announce the full thing.  4 Months before releae (or beta) i would reveal the project but keep the marketing low.  Build it up over that 4 months and i bet you it will do a whole lot better than the game that are hyped to death 6 months before release.
     
    Anyway that wont ever happen

     

    mm used top be we got hyped during the same month of the release now its hyped too long in advance soon they ll hype the

    futur wow replacement

    blizzard will call it wow 12

    release date 12 of the 12 2012

     

  • HarabeckHarabeck Here, MEPosts: 616Member

    I agree with the article. Anyone who was following War knows that the city change really pissed off a lot of people because Mythic hyped something they couldn't deliver.

  • Bama1267Bama1267 Waterloo, NYPosts: 1,847Member

     I agree, but loose lips and the itnernet make it hard to do. Even Cataclysm  for WoW was leaked before the official anouncement. That is just one example, there are plenty more.

  • YauchyYauchy Tampa, FLPosts: 298Member Uncommon

     I think most dev's would love to wait, but this is the "beast of burden" known as Marketing.  Unfortunately the metrics that the industry uses to measure marketing success are highly circumstantial.  As much as we would all love to hear about a game when its almost complete, instead of pre-alpha..."opportunity" to help the word get out will always be weighted higher :(

    But as with anything else -- Only time will tell :)

  • CaleveiraCaleveira Mexico CityPosts: 556Member

    The thing about financial necessity got me thinking about the business side of game development. Really, i believe there seems to be something of a lack of sotisfication on a number of investors, and it sometimes appears that games get hurt by the choices made in corporate boardrooms. MMOs do undergo a lenghty process and it seems silly that many of the key decissions in their life cycle may hinge on people without a working knowledge of the dynamics of online comunities. Game developers should be better able to comit to better planing and more realistic deadlines, and companies would certainly benefit from depending less on genius designers and more on teams of people whose experience range includes the everyday management of online games... IMO gamers need to step up to the plate and get involved with the legal and financial sides to MMOs and provide a perspective that would help avoid mistakes such as a game being defeated by it's own PR and marketing processes.

    Just to make things clear...
    I speak for myself and no one else, unless i state otherwise mine is just an opinion. A fact is something that can be independently verified, you may challenge such but with proof. You have every right to disagree with me through sound argument, i believe in constructive debate, but baseless aggression will warrant an unkind response.

  • TisiphoneTisiphone Chicago, ILPosts: 486Member

    Also, think about the miserable years of anticipation between finding out a certain genre or IP will become a game, and actual release. I truly think I would be happier if I did not know until a year or so before release that a MMORPG was coming out.

    For example: I've been waiting for World of Darkness since 2004 or so. It has switched dev teams, lost and gained funding, all the while dangling carrots of cool details and potential developers in front of our noses on the White Wolf Games forums.

    I shouldn't not enjoy other games just because I'm miserably hyped about a game that has been in development for years and may or may not ever come out.

    image
    image

  • ghoulieghoulie Atlanta, GAPosts: 17Member

    Tisiphone: Man, you and me both. At this point, I almost wish I'd never heard of World of Darkness Online. Stop playing with my heart strings! And just think; they've been better than some companies about controlling the hype machine.

  • LynxJSALynxJSA Sarasota, FLPosts: 2,601Member
    Originally posted by Bama1267


     I agree, but loose lips and the itnernet make it hard to do. Even Cataclysm  for WoW was leaked before the official anouncement. That is just one example, there are plenty more.

     

    Was that an accidental leak or a strategically timed release of information to steal another game's thunder?

     

     

    EVE Online: 'Dominion' Trailer Now on YouTube
    "...if there is a fair fight happening in new eden, both fcs did something wrong." - batolemaeus

  • ApricothApricoth Mayer, MNPosts: 44Member

     Agreed. And that's one thing I appreciate SE for - they didn't announce anything or hint at anything regarding FFXIV until this year and it's due out next year. Thank you SE for standing up against the urge to say anything too soon!

  • wgc01wgc01 Las Vegas, NVPosts: 209Member
    Originally posted by CyanSword


    Easy to say
    You know what I don't think the game companies have all the blame here either, we are just as to blame as they are. If a games doesn't pour out with tons of detail we flame it, call it vaporware, call it boring, discredit its dev team for being unimagintive, claim it will be a wow clone. Then when they do we complain they over-hype? Of course some do take it too far, and do over hype but when you think about it we really dont do ourselves very many favors in that regard :p
     
     



     

    I agree 100%, so many players hype themselves, that no matter how good the game is it will never live up to what is expected, good example of this will be Star Wars Old Repulic,  this game has no chance of a fresh launch, with all the the old SWG fans that are still bitter over the nge, to the general anticipation of the game,  I expect to see many negative posts because it will be way over hyped at launch.. I have learned the wait and see approach, on games these days, it is just a game..:)

  • nuififunnuififun hxPosts: 123Member

     I think what you are talking about can also be described as a hunger, MMO fans out there myself included want to play great games, we love MMOS! And like most I've come to hate the hype that surrounds MMO's these days.

    A few years ago I was totally out of the MMO 'scene' and games in general when one day I decided to check out this very site and saw a game called Lord Of The Rings Online.. I'd not followed or even heard about the game at all but decided to give it a go, I spent a good 4 months playing it, fantastic - I escaped the hype.

    In contrast to that I knew all about age of conan for years! and well as Dana mentions in the article it didn't go too well.. also in part to unfulfilled features.

    I think maybe the problem isn't with the specific game developers but with the MMO scene itself, and perhaps MMORPG.com has a role to play in this.

  • SoliTearSoliTear Akron, OHPosts: 46Member

    The forum on this site wouldn't have anything else to complain about other than this issue.  I mostly watch this site to see all the idiotic comments that are made about games.  The Darkfall  pre-launch vaporware threads were hysterical.  The AION threads are getting just as good.

    And of course, hype meters are not the best to keep companies quiet.  the longer they can stay on the hype meter, the more free advertisement they get.  It is kind of a self-fulfilling problem.  MMO sites are trying to make money by reporting on games people want to see and watch to get traffic to their site to make $$$.   The game companies want people to take notice of their game so they let the news out to the gaming sites.

    Besides.  There is no game that will ever launch and get positive reviews by the board monkeys on this stie.

     

    Good ideas though.

  • SgtFrogSgtFrog LondonPosts: 5,001Member

    I think the dude from WAR was the best at hyping any game.

    That man could sell anything

    image
    March on! - Lets Invade Pekopon

  • VexeVexe Short Hills, NJPosts: 549Member
    Originally posted by CyanSword


    Easy to say
    You know what I don't think the game companies have all the blame here either, we are just as to blame as they are. If a games doesn't pour out with tons of detail we flame it, call it vaporware, call it boring, discredit its dev team for being unimagintive, claim it will be a wow clone. Then when they do we complain they over-hype? Of course some do take it too far, and do over hype but when you think about it we really dont do ourselves very many favors in that regard :p
     
     

     

    I don't think you read the article thoroughly enough. He was basically saying that the community is the problem the whole time. He also talked about NOT TALKING ABOUT IT UNTIL SOON BEFORE IT CAME OUT, which I think you also missed. Usually things are called vaporware when it doesn't come out for years. Like it evaporates. Vaporware. Get it?

  • VexeVexe Short Hills, NJPosts: 549Member
    Originally posted by SgtFrog


    I think the dude from WAR was the best at hyping any game.

    That man could sell anything


     

    I saw him on TV once. He was SO excited about the game and was hyping every single thing. Unfortunately, half the things he was talking about that I got excited about were taken out, and the stuff that stayed in didn't seem as cool as he said they would be. Or at least as cool as the volume of his voice suggested.

  • JYCowboyJYCowboy Northlake, TXPosts: 660Member

    What I find troublesome is the cycle this industry is heading.  Companies are fereting out the top features that casual players want and expect from a genere or IP without fleshing out its content beyond simply expected features that are common to all of its catagory.  Some examples are:

     

    1) Combat must match the theme and be quick and easy to play,

    2) Character progression needs to be quick and easy to understand,

    3) Reward system needs to reflect the theme and be instant and gratifying,

    4) Game play must be dominately soloable with maxed progression geared towards group play,

    5) In game journel or guide that keeps players focused on a linear path,

    6) Crafting, Player Market, Failing Penelties, Travel Functions and Roleplay Features are all secondary to the former issues. 

     

    This pattern of developement has become formula to this industry when trying to adapt an IP and is used to outline genere games.  Focus of development follows this as now investors know better what the high yeild life of an MMO is coupled with the compition for gamer attention.  Targeting a game for anything outside this emphasis puts it in a niche demographic which will not maximize its earning potential.  Investors become commited to handing out thier money when sold on the broad projected numbers pitch folks suduce them with.  These pitches always speak of casual market target on a specialized IP or genere.

    What is totally ignored now is the niche end of a game.  Those players that would be commited and continue to fill coffers year after year and often promote that same game to new players. Community builders in concept.  Instead building solid games with long term earning potential (Cash Cows) the get it quick "boxes on the shelf" attitude is sinking in with little faith for a lasting life.  A obvious change in the market now, after WOW, is most games released have only average 10 servers instead of 20.  This is mostly because there are many more games via for the same set of players even though higher demographics are targeted.

    WOW toughts 11 mil subs but those are not total active accounts which this giant wants back.  In the current economic down turn this is just not going to happen.  With its established mechanics it has offered little change in its life span beyond really cosmetics in its expansions.  Now its offering a radical departure in its next release to earn back players with something new and drastic.  I just don't know if it will lead to thier goal.  WOW is still the top earner and is still the brand favorite like Coke Cola but even Pepsi has good days.

    So what does all this have to do with Hype?  This is what PR has to wade through to tell you why thier POS in a box is going to change your life for just $60 plus other fees.

    IMHO

  • CymTyrCymTyr Vancouver, WAPosts: 166Member

    Good read, thanks for posting this. I agree.

    image

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Pittsville, VAPosts: 5,213Member Uncommon

    In think companies are missing a crucial aspect to success. 90%+ of an successful MMO's earnings happens well after launch. Concentrating on pre-launch hype and building a game that fades almost immediately after launch is wasted potential.

    "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  • AladyleynaAladyleyna SingaporePosts: 269Member

    I really have to agree with this article. I agree that it is best for developers to actually let the game speak for itself, rather than get everyone all excited about some features that might not actually make it on the day itself, or would only come in at a later date. And true, continuing to discuss and argue on forums about developing games might actually make us sick of the game before the game even launches. That is why I tend not to take part in any of the hype threads, because I know that I'll burn myself out. That's also why I tend not to have any expectations on developing games, other than a 'let's try it when it comes out' attitude. If you remain neutral about a game, there is a higher chance of it surprising, or even surpassing your expectations.

    I personally think that Arenanet did the correct thing when generating hype on Guild Wars, if it actually can be called that. There was barely any advertisment, they chose to let the game actually speak for itself, and it is certainly doing quite well right now. Wish they had decided to stay with that mentality now that Guild Wars 2 is being hyped up to the heavens...

    Secondly, I also agree that one year before release is a good time to start doing PR on the game. After all, at least most of the game is finished, so the features would have already been implimented, or about to be implimented. And, psycologically, it would also make me more excited about a game, especially since most of it is completed, and it seems that it would actually follow it's schedule on launch. And, I would only have to be impatient for a year instead of two or more years until the game finally comes out.

    Main characters:
    Jinn Gone Quiet (Guild Wars)
    Princess Pudding (Guild Wars)

  • ZoltronlaserZoltronlaser Austin, TXPosts: 6Member

    I'm a game developer for a large company. I totally agree with you; however, marketing departments for these large companies like Mythic, BioWare, and Funcom do not seem to agree with you (as is obvious). Now, I'd have to assume that these folks in the marketing departments have actually done their research. I am rather curious to know, if they have done this research, what it shows them. Because it does seem obvious to me as a developer and a gamer that when you announce too early, you can't possibly hope to manage the hype.

    I remember my expectations for Civilization III. I was so excited. Civ2 was so good, I just knew that Civ3 was going to be even bettter. Just like you mentioned, I was glued to various Civilization fan forums before its release. When the game finally came out and I played it, I was so incredibly disappointed.

    But then, I know there were plenty of folks who loved Civ3 (most of which had never played Civ or Civ2, but they loved it none-the-less). I think what it comes down to is that marketing departments want to make sure that their game gets plenty of exposure. They want to make sure that people know about their game BEFORE the pre-order boxes show up on the shelves. Marketing departments probably care a lot less about meeting expectations, and a lot more about just getting the word out.

    So while you, me, and a bunch of other hardcore gamers think that it's a terrible idea to let people know about your game so early, there are probably plenty of casual gamer folks that never would have heard of the game if it weren't announced so early. But now, they did hear about it. And they're going to buy it. Who knows? Only the people that work in marketing departments...and they are pretty tight-lipped.

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,769Member Uncommon

    Would MMORG.com suffer from us not knowing about MMO releases so early? I think not, we would instead be focusing our attention on games due to come out in the next six months rather than the next 2 years.

    The driving force behind the hype is marketing departments. Once these guys are hired you can’t expect them to twiddle their thumbs and wait for the right time to start making releases. Anyone in any job feels a need to prove that it is worthwhile them being there. So the key is to start the marketing department very small and be as sure as you can of the date of the beta launch before you increase it’s size.

  • ghstwolfghstwolf hampstead, NHPosts: 386Member
    Originally posted by Zoltronlaser


    I'm a game developer for a large company. I totally agree with you; however, marketing departments for these large companies like Mythic, BioWare, and Funcom do not seem to agree with you (as is obvious). Now, I'd have to assume that these folks in the marketing departments have actually done their research. I am rather curious to know, if they have done this research, what it shows them. Because it does seem obvious to me as a developer and a gamer that when you announce too early, you can't possibly hope to manage the hype.


     

    The bigger the company the later we need to be told about a game.  The large established studios already have a player group they can quietly tap for a closed beta (with known hardware and network performance).  Since their games tend to rely on "quality" and implementation more than on fully experimental systems/concepts, there is less need for pre-beta forums*.  And finally, they are the companies that will have plenty of shelf space, signage and top result listings for pre-orders and sales.

    These guys don't need 2 years to build steam, a 2 month interview and video blitz leading to a pre-order required "open beta" (or early access) would do just as well.  Yes it is a bit slimy to have an interview that ends with "operators are standing by", but just maybe the near impulse buy nature of it will lead to less frustration.

     

    *- more evolution than genre redefining revolution.

  • cwRiiscwRiis Palmdale, CAPosts: 32Member

    /cough

    Three words:  Funding.  Investors.  Awareness

    Those three things will outweigh your valid concerns every time.  Without awareness you won't get investors.  Without investors, funding becomes difficult.  Without funding, the game will never be.  If the game never gets built, we won't have the chance to play it and love it or hate it.

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