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[Column] General: Commitment is a Strange Word

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,614MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In the Age of Free To Play in the MMO space, commitment is indeed a strange word. In today's Devil's Advocate, we take a look at the notion of commitment and what it means in the gaming community. Read on and then leave your thoughts about commitment in the comments.

In reading through my friend Rowan’s blogposts on I Have Touched the Sky recently, I’ve come to realize something about being an MMO gamer. It’s a simple thought when I put it into a sentence, but expounding on it leads to a complicated maze of meanings that people have trouble finding common ground on.

The thought is this: commitment, as it relates to online games, is a strange word. That’s what today’s Devil’s Advocate will tackle today. Hopefully today’s piece will let you figure out what commitment means to you as a gamer.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: Commitment is a Strange Word.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • ubermutubermut dallas, TXPosts: 188Member
    cant wait for ffxiv open beta!  thanks Yoshi-P
  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member

    >"If you’re committed to something, whether it’s a game, a brand, or the ideal of having good games available for all sorts of people to play, it’s what you put into the commitment that matters."

    It's a like a popular tv series: It's all consuming story to be soaked in until the final episode. That's the promise of a mmorpg along with a community but there is no "last episode".

    That's where most mmorpgs are failing atm imo. Plenty of fun indie games to pick up have a bit of fun and move onto the next interesting experiment - but that's outside mmorpg land! image

    lol at that picture of The Ring.

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member
    Take out MMO and Gaming and replace with relationship...same applies...and you can still have just as much fun in a relationship without it just like gaming.

    “I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  • MondoA2JMondoA2J Henderson, NVPosts: 258Member

    Cool article.

    I have a fear of commitment....so I would write a large reply but I would rather..................

    MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  • drivendawndrivendawn montgomery, ALPosts: 1,242Member Uncommon
    Nice article, so many truths in it.
  • Gallus85Gallus85 Winter Park, FLPosts: 1,092Member

    Well I think it's just up to personal preference.  Many people spend their years playing a small amount of titles, and even worst is that many of the titles don't even branch out from a specific series (Call of Duty and Halo, for example).  I personally think it's much healthier to branch out from your box and see what other game experiences have to offer.

    As is so common in life, we often don't know what we're missing until we branch out and try new things.  Like only eating at one restaurant your whole life, when there's so much out there to be tried.

    I got nothing against putting a lot of hours into a single title, especially when it comes to getting really committed into a MMORPGs with tons of content, but I think a lot of people do themselves a disservice by not branching out and trying new things.

    Legends of Kesmai, UO, EQ, AO, DAoC, AC, SB, RO, SWG, EVE, EQ2, CoH, GW, VG:SOH, WAR, Aion, DF, CO, MO, DN, Tera, SWTOR, RO2, DP, GW2, PS2, BnS, NW, FF:XIV, ESO, EQ:NL

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    Great article Victor. I been pretty critical of your articles lately but this one was reaaly good. Blizz and Yosh realize there is a lack of commitment in f2p models and moreover there is at least a 30 day commitment in sub models.
  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Battlerock
    Great article Victor. I been pretty critical of your articles lately but this one was reaaly good. Blizz and Yosh realize there is a lack of commitment in f2p models and moreover there is at least a 30 day commitment in sub models.

    Hi there Battlerock.

     

    Criticism is fine! I'm a human, and there's no possible way for me to really make an airtight case against anything. I expect people to point out logical flaws or otherwise berate me for my opinion.. or they can simply dislike the topic for the week. :D 

     

    I've learned to read through the criticism and find good insight and inspiration from people's responses. I feel really pleased when people read my work, even if I have to sometimes play the bad guy and say disagreeable things. It's a hazard of being the Devil's Advocate, I guess.

     

    As to your point, however, one thing you have to realize is the context. Blizzard and Square Enix funded their own MMORPGs out of a brand name they had. Logically speaking, they would certainly not want to tarnish their brand by letting a product die a failure. Taking a hit for the long-term gain of maintaining consumer trust is a risky trade-off, but it can be worth it if done properly. :)

     

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,209Member Uncommon

    I don't understand this need to formalize commitment to an entertainment service like it is a living entity.  I've seen many people premise that devotion and commitment are necessary for an mmo, but I've not seen any proof. 

    The problem I see is that people are taking something not so serious very seriously and using that to validate their activity.  In the post you quoted where the disgruntled gamer ranted about commitment, that disgruntled gamer wasn't concerned about commitment, he was concerned about validating himself.  It's the same trope used to try and justify a definitive game design mechanic which supplies that same sort of elitist satisfaction where one is better than the other gamers who don't have or believe in "it".

    There is a level of commitment and investment in anything we spend time and money on.  The depth and value of that is subjective and dependent on the thing we're committing to.  Like the blogger said, "All the personal time and commitment in the world won't stop your favorite MMO from becoming the next Star War Galaxies or City of Heroes. And then where will you be?"  In other words the value and meaning of your commitment to a game is limited.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon

    "Commitment is a Strange Word" sounds like a good title for song... Leann Rimes even has one ( http://www.poemhunter.com/song/commitment/ ) where you could replace a few words here and there to express similar concepts to this article... sort of like:

    "Commitment
    And everything that goes with it
    I need honor in my games from an MMO
    That’s playin’ for keeps"

    And then there's that other old song that reminds me of Bioware and SWTOR... "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" http://www.lyricsty.com/neil-sedaka-breaking-up-is-hard-to-do-lyrics.html

    "I beg of you don't say goodbye.
    Can't you give our game another try.
    Come on let's start a new F2P
    'cause breaking up is hard to do."

     

    image

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by Gallus85
    Well I think it's just up to personal preference.  Many people spend their years playing a small amount of titles, and even worst is that many of the titles don't even branch out from a specific series (Call of Duty and Halo, for example).  I personally think it's much healthier to branch out from your box and see what other game experiences have to offer.As is so common in life, we often don't know what we're missing until we branch out and try new things.  Like only eating at one restaurant your whole life, when there's so much out there to be tried.I got nothing against putting a lot of hours into a single title, especially when it comes to getting really committed into a MMORPGs with tons of content, but I think a lot of people do themselves a disservice by not branching out and trying new things.
    Not everyone is out to experience "everything there is experience." Do you move often? There are many differing living accommodations and areas in which to live, why settle for just one? Have you settled upon one significant other? I bet there are many, many more out there to try.

    For me, a singular home in the form of one MMORPG suits me just fine. If it fits, why wander? If someone doesn't know about it, how can they miss it?

    A great article about what I have been thinking has been missing from players in MMOs for the past few years: Commitment. Thanks, Victor :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • RowanblazeRowanblaze Killeen, TXPosts: 2Member

    Hey thanks for the plug, Victor. I think commitment is a tricky thing for what is a essentially a pastime. By all means, I believe we should support the efforts of the developers of the games we play. If we enjoy the games, then we should put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. Nor should we denigrate other gamers who play differently than we do, especially those who are providing as much or more financial support to the game than we do.

    However, being a pastime, we need only commit as long as we enjoy the game. I committed a little over five years to World of Warcraft. It was fun, mostly. But in the end, all I really have are fond memories to show for my commitment. I also have great memories of several other games. I am committed to my wife and family, and that is a far greater and more important commitment than to any game or even community.

  • Gallus85Gallus85 Winter Park, FLPosts: 1,092Member
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

     


    Originally posted by Gallus85
    Well I think it's just up to personal preference.  Many people spend their years playing a small amount of titles, and even worst is that many of the titles don't even branch out from a specific series (Call of Duty and Halo, for example).  I personally think it's much healthier to branch out from your box and see what other game experiences have to offer.

     

    As is so common in life, we often don't know what we're missing until we branch out and try new things.  Like only eating at one restaurant your whole life, when there's so much out there to be tried.

    I got nothing against putting a lot of hours into a single title, especially when it comes to getting really committed into a MMORPGs with tons of content, but I think a lot of people do themselves a disservice by not branching out and trying new things.


    Not everyone is out to experience "everything there is experience." Do you move often? There are many differing living accommodations and areas in which to live, why settle for just one? Have you settled upon one significant other? I bet there are many, many more out there to try.

     

    For me, a singular home in the form of one MMORPG suits me just fine. If it fits, why wander? If someone doesn't know about it, how can they miss it?

    A great article about what I have been thinking has been missing from players in MMOs for the past few years: Commitment. Thanks, Victor :)

    I do move a lot.  I was in the military for 8 years, and lived in 6 different countries in that time period. I recently moved to Florida a year ago, and now I'm moving again so go to a good college.  From about age 5 to 18 I was constantly traveling.  I never spent a summer in the same zip code.  Seeing the world is a great thing.

    Also, if you failed to read what I said, I didn't say everyone should be like this.  In fact, I mentioned that there's nothing wrong with getting committed to an MMO.  I know I've done that on more than one occasion myself.  (I still have an active Everquest character that I made back in 1999 at launch for example).

    My point is that so many people go through life with blinders on and never experience anything outside of their little box.  Be it their place of residence in real life, the type of food they eat, or playing nothing but Call of Duty and WoW video games.

    I think getting around, experiencing new games, new genres, different styles, can result in finding new joys or at the worst give you a real idea of what you don't like.

    Legends of Kesmai, UO, EQ, AO, DAoC, AC, SB, RO, SWG, EVE, EQ2, CoH, GW, VG:SOH, WAR, Aion, DF, CO, MO, DN, Tera, SWTOR, RO2, DP, GW2, PS2, BnS, NW, FF:XIV, ESO, EQ:NL

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    Reading the linked articles, I was curious about the claim that cash shops are a more volitile revenue source than subscriptions.  Is that really true?  Certainly it's harder to predict what one person will spend month to month, but is it still volitile when averaged over tens of thousands or more of players?  Are there patterns of behaviour that are common across all cash shop games or is each one exploring it's own unique curve of player highs and lows based on where it places the powerups?

    ( as a consumer I have very strong personal opinions on the whole topic, but as an armchair watcher of the industry, I feel starved for data about what's really going on out there in the 4 years since DDO's conversion started a stampede in that direction )

  • Gallus85Gallus85 Winter Park, FLPosts: 1,092Member
    Originally posted by maplestone

    Reading the linked articles, I was curious about the claim that cash shops are a more volitile revenue source than subscriptions.  Is that really true?  Certainly it's harder to predict what one person will spend month to month, but is it still volitile when averaged over tens of thousands or more of players?  Are there patterns of behaviour that are common across all cash shop games or is each one exploring it's own unique curve of player highs and lows based on where it places the powerups?

    ( as a consumer I have very strong personal opinions on the whole topic, but as an armchair watcher of the industry, I feel starved for data about what's really going on out there in the 4 years since DDO's conversion started a stampede in that direction )

    Well all the data I've seen is that F2P + cash shop model always* nets more profits per month (when you look at the data from games that were P2P then went F2P).  F2P works like advertising on crack.  It draws players in well because there is no risk.  You can try the game for free, and if you like it, you can stay, if not, no harm done and zero money lost.  So F2P shows a huge jump in subscribers for every game that went from P2P to F2P.

    Next, once the game has players hooked, humans try to rationalize things even if doing so is irrational.  One person might say "Hey, I really want these extra bag slots and if the game was a subscription, I would have already spent $60 + $15, so what's the harm in $10 for some bag slots to make the game less stressful?"

    But once they get a player's payment information on file, return customers can buy things they want with just a few clicks.  People end up spending more money than they would have if the game had been a subscription, or at the least, they spend about the same (combined with the fact that F2P draws more players than subscriptions, so you got a larget pool of people to work with.)  People also like cash shops on a psychological level and spend more because they're getting actual in game benefits directly from their payments, so it makes the money feel like it was better spent.  If you buy a subscription, but are too busy that month to play a lot, a person may feel like they got robbed of $15.  With F2P cash shop, you spend what you want, when you want it.  There's no obligation to "get your money's worth", and pay as you go.

    In the end, it's a bit of psychology mixed with some smart business practices.  I personally didn't mind subscription games at all.  Hell back when I started playing online RPGs, you had to pay by the hour at astronomical rates of things like $6 to $10 per hour.

    But F2P just works.  We might not like it.  But from a business standpoint it's healthier for the game, and in the end, if you really care about an MMO, you want it to be turning as much as a profit as possible so that it will survive longer and get more attention from developers fixing bugs and adding content.

    The way I approach F2P is that if I really like the game, I spend about $20 per month on it.  That way I'm spending about the same amount of money as I did on subscription games (Box price + 11 months sub vs $20 F2P cash shop per month), I'm supporting the developers who made the game I'm enjoying, and I get enough of the in game benefits/trinkets.

    Legends of Kesmai, UO, EQ, AO, DAoC, AC, SB, RO, SWG, EVE, EQ2, CoH, GW, VG:SOH, WAR, Aion, DF, CO, MO, DN, Tera, SWTOR, RO2, DP, GW2, PS2, BnS, NW, FF:XIV, ESO, EQ:NL

  • MyownGodMyownGod SydneyPosts: 205Member
    Originally posted by MondoA2J

    Cool article.

    I have a fear of commitment....so I would write a large reply but I would rather..................

    Let's have a chat about your fear, a real man should be able to overcome any fear he have.

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    Originally posted by victorbjr
     

     

    As to your point, however, one thing you have to realize is the context. Blizzard and Square Enix funded their own MMORPGs out of a brand name they had. Logically speaking, they would certainly not want to tarnish their brand by letting a product die a failure. Taking a hit for the long-term gain of maintaining consumer trust is a risky trade-off, but it can be worth it if done properly. :)

     

    I wish they would all create their own brand name. Blizz - Square - Eve ..... all have the right business models and I can see f2p being a viable option once a game has crossed its prime, but right out of the gate, producers should be shooting for the stars  and seeing what kind of sustainable income they can acquire rather than launching as f2p, taking the cash grab and calling it a day as far as development goes.

    I just feel like f2p and commitment don't play together well. It's hard for me to spend money knowing that a week later I may not care for the game anymore and move onto the next game. Or knowing there is another f2p title launching right around the corner I will want to check out. Just so many options (f2p options at that) I have not desire to commit when I know I'm going to be skipping around from game to game.

  • RhinotonesRhinotones BenowaPosts: 238Member Uncommon

    Because of the amount of MMO's available today as opposed to 10 years ago, the actual meaning of commitment in the MMO sense has changed from what it once meant.

    I feel that gamers of 10 years ago mostly viewed commitment in terms of years. Today, from reading forums here, I feel I can say with reasonable conviction that many (not all) would classify 1 year or even less as a commitment to a particular game.

    This leads me to ask the question Why is that so? Has the attention span/commitment to one game of the average gamer reduced, or that we've always been like this but didn't have the multitude of options 10 years ago, OR, as my thinking has lead me to believe, gamers are trying to rediscover that feeling they used to get when playing that one game (usually the first one they committed to) that they considered their benchmark.

    With the industry evolving are we gamers asking too much too soon? Do we constantly feel disappointed or let down when a game that's received so much hype doesn't meet our expectations?

    You could ask 1000 people to describe their ideal MMORPG in detail and you will always receive 1000 different answers.

    image
  • MondoA2JMondoA2J Henderson, NVPosts: 258Member
    Originally posted by ucidaitaci
    Originally posted by MondoA2J

    Cool article.

    I have a fear of commitment....so I would write a large reply but I would rather..................

    Let's have a chat about your fear, a real man should be able to overcome any fear he have.

     

    Especially fear of grammar.

    MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rhinotones

    Because of the amount of MMO's available today as opposed to 10 years ago, the actual meaning of commitment in the MMO sense has changed from what it once meant.

    I feel that gamers of 10 years ago mostly viewed commitment in terms of years. Today, from reading forums here, I feel I can say with reasonable conviction that many (not all) would classify 1 year or even less as a commitment to a particular game.

    This leads me to ask the question Why is that so? Has the attention span/commitment to one game of the average gamer reduced, or that we've always been like this but didn't have the multitude of options 10 years ago, OR, as my thinking has lead me to believe, gamers are trying to rediscover that feeling they used to get when playing that one game (usually the first one they committed to) that they considered their benchmark.

    With the industry evolving are we gamers asking too much too soon? Do we constantly feel disappointed or let down when a game that's received so much hype doesn't meet our expectations?

    You could ask 1000 people to describe their ideal MMORPG in detail and you will always receive 1000 different answers.

    This is a great point!

     

    I personally am committed (in a sense) to the game industry as a whole. I support multiple games with my money and time within reason, and then I write about the MMO industry. Hopefully some people think about games more, of course. :)

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • MalcanisMalcanis LondonPosts: 3,191Member

    MMOs are like any otjher hobby: what you get out of them is directly proportional to what you invest into them.

    Give me liberty or give me lasers

  • WereLlamaWereLlama Lubbock, TXPosts: 243Member

    I think when you say commitment, it makes me think of emotional investment to a thing, a person, or an idea.  This subject has always interested me in sales.

     

    Emotional investment typically comes from Time, Money, or Effort, but it only adds emotional stickiness if the consumer did not want to give it up.   So needs to be tailored to each customer.  Some have more time than money or vice versa.  

     

    ex. Car dealership makes you wait after you select the car you want to buy.  You don't want to give them more time but you want the car, so you wait anyway.  The dealership purposely does this to invest you emotionally into the car you are buying.  

     

    Many people, including our own US Government, believes in the opposite of this when dealing with other people. They give tons of money to other people (in our own and other countries) and expect them to commit to us, but all it does is cause resentment... Silly bureaucrats.  It actually de-vests people from your product if you give it for free.

    Interestingly, Ben Franklin was reportedly an expert of this technique(Customer Buy-In).  He used this to convince France's aristocracy to bankrupt their own country to finance America's revolution against Britain. I believe 8 years later the same aristocrats were beheaded during their own revolution.   Even when they were being hunted down by their own people, their take on America was very positive. They helped build it. And no one tears down what they help build.

     

    Google: Ben Franklin Effect

    -WL

     
  • sibs4455sibs4455 manchesterPosts: 357Member

    Commitment to a mmo where the Devs add updates and deal with exploits / hackers etc on a regular basis is what most gamers want, if they do these things then gamers will hand over their money to them. 

     

    But

     

    How do you commit to any game where exploits / hacks are used blatantly, or even worst that the game is just an over hyped pile of crap .

     

    ....

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