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With the quarterly report released, and indicating 1.7 million active subscribers, I just have to sit here and shake my head. Whether or not the numbers are true, obviously the perception of investors is that they are. This is a terrible sign for the MMORPG industry, because it means that those with the money are going to look at the market and see that the three most profitable games right now are WoW, SWTOR and RIFT.
In any industry, no matter what it is or whom it caters to, as consumers, we should be encouraging CHOICES AND VARIETY. The problem with the 'hater' vs 'fanboy' debacle is that fanboys tend to look at it from a selfish perspective. THEY are having fun, so consequently the game is great, and they wonder why everyone can't, or does not want to see how great the game is. Meanwhile, the haters are looking at it from a broader perspective of what a successful SWTOR means.
This means essentially that the next five years will be the same as the previous five years. The only thing we are going to see is more homogenized, linear themepark games. SWTOR needed to fail to send a message to the industry, and apparently it hasn't. When we needed to speak with our wallets, we did, but we sent the wrong message.
We told the games industry to keep making big budget, linear themepark games. We told the people with money loud and clear that what we all want is another clone of World of Warcraft. We don't want complexity, depth, worldbuilding, social tools, meaningful interactions, group content or any of the staples that SHOULD define the genre, but no longer do. We have told the industry to continue mass producing the exact same thing, over and over again, ad nauseam. We have told them that our words mean nothing, and that, for all the complaining we may do, we really do enjoy being handheld through the entire game.
A failure of a massive title such as SWTOR could only have been good for the industry. WoW is still there as a shining example of what an MMORPG can aspire to be, however, investors would have finally seen that the way to riches as it were, is not through continuing to copy WoW, but by finding a formula that works BETTER than WoW. We have discouraged innovation and choice.
I want all fanboys and lovers of SWTOR to explain something to me in this thread. If you are enjoying SWTOR, and you can understand the concepts I'm expressing, please look at this analogy.
Let's say you have a rather big city. Once upon a time this city had no fast food industry at all. One day someone opened a hot dog stand, and it caught on. Many people began eating hot dogs and enjoying them. One day, someone opened a hamburger stand named McDonalds. People liked the hamburgers from McDonalds even better than the hot dogs. They quit buying hot dogs from the hot dog vendors and gradually all the major hot dog places closed down, or ceased to be nearly as profitable as the hamburger places. The McDonalds became so huge and so profitable that other restauranteers decided to go into the fast food industry to make their own fast food. They look at the market trends and see that everyone LOVES McDonalds, so they keep trying to create hamburgers. They all open their own hamburger place. None of them does as good as McDonalds, but they do far better than the hot dog stands were doing. This repeats for several years.
Meanwhile, you have a sizable group of people who miss eating hot dogs. Their only options for hot dogs are poor, run down places with cockroaches in the kitchen. There is maybe one good hot dog place in the entire city. They tried hamburgers, but they just don't care for them as much as they do hot dogs. They continue to wait for another new place with tasty new hot dogs to open, but it never does, because investors can make so much more money opening hamburger stands.
Now, let me ask you this. As a lover of hamburgers. As a lover of WoW/SWTOR and linear, by the book theme park games, do you believe it is fair that you have dozens of games that suit your playstyle, while the hot dog lovers, the sandbox/social/group content players have only one (that isn't a buggy awful mess)? Do you truly believe that the industry is better served by saturation of one product over another, or do you believe as all consumers SHOULD that choice and variety can only be good for the gaming industry, and we don't have those anymore?
Let me clue you in a little bit. The average 'hater' doesn't hate theme park games. The average hater is SICK AND TIRED of them. We want choice. We want to play something else once in awhile, something different yet still AAA and high quality. That is why we remain vocal on message boards such as these, it's why we insinuate ourselves in the game forums and, as all fanboys say: "complain about a game we don't even play". It's because we have no other options. Our choices have been taken away from us.
A successful SWTOR again destroys any hope on the horizon of seeing something new, because once again, investors will see that the way to money is by continuing to open hamburger stands. Us hot dog fans will continue to be disappointed for years to come.
But you know the worst part?
Investors will continue to fail to realize that they could be making more money with something new. Just like somebody once had the temerity to create a hamburger stand when everyone loved hot dogs, they became successful. Nobody will take that plunge anymore.
Nobody will create tacos, or seafood, or chinese takeout. Only hamburgers. And it is SOLELY because of the selfishness of the fanboys, who cannot concede even for a moment that they DO have options for their playstyle, and that it is high time other people in the city of Progress had a turn at something shiny, tasty and new.
So yes, haters are gonna hate. Because the MMORPG industry has proven to be the only industry where consumers seem to defy logic by choosing to reject the opportuntiy for variety and choices, and instead imbracing the factory-assembled 'checklist of fun' that is being conveyed out the door again and again.