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[Column] General: The Problem No One’s Talking About

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,632MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

The MMO market is arguable the most crowded it has ever been with each game clamoring for players' attention. But with the notion that the field is a crowded one, comes the revelation that there are two serious issues with MMOs today. In Bill's latest column, he examines those problems. See what he has to say and then leave your ideas in the comments.

The problem is MMOs by their very nature are dependent upon players sticking around in game for months or years at a time.  The FPS of the week can get away with ten-hours of gameplay and a box sold. Big AAA online games that are services and not finite experiences cannot.  From my vantage point, there is no easy solution to this issue.  But there are two culprits that stand out as barriers to the MMO adjusting for a more crowded marketplace: revenue model and content-based design.  It’s my belief that an MMORPG can still retain lots of players’ attention, but it’s probably best to avoid the “OMGFailure!” hyperbole by looking towards these two solutions.  It’s my belief that a flexible revenue model and non-content reliant design can lead towards a more successful game in the long run; both from a financial standpoint and a community reaction standpoint.

Read more of Bill Murphy's The Problem No One’s Talking About.

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

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Comments

  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon

    Yes!  Systems!  Thank you!  Finally, someone saying what I've been trying to say for a few years now but more so in the last few months after sinking my teeth into GW2 and realizing it is lack of systems that stops me from playing.   The games adding the systems are the ones I'm playing right now.  Like Lotro and Rift, heck even WoW(although it could definitely use more focus in this department, but apparently they get this and 5.1 looks interesting with a new Brawler Arena system).

    The key to those old games everyone talks about like AC, EQ, FFXI are the sheer volume of systems in those games that keep people logging in.  Extra content is awesome and should never stop coming, but MMORPGs are all about adding systems and keeping players in the game.  Somewhere along the way, this core idea has become lost and needs to make a reappearance fast.

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  • Entris38Entris38 Somewhere, OHPosts: 323Member Uncommon

    Thank you........I hadn't even realized how much has been cut out that I enjoyed.......

    Quick,someone forward this to SOE for EQNext!

  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member
    They need to slow down level progression - that will add more time to subs.  Lower experience gain to a minimum so that players have to spend inordinate amounts of time in every area of the world. Offer raids for every ten levels. Limit daily experience gain.  Make it so that rare level 20 armor is worth looking for because you will be able to use it for another month as you work your way to level 30...
  • AkaisAkais Memphis, TNPosts: 274Member Common

    I tend to agree with your points.

    I remember Anarchy Online managing to do something close to these points in its' heyday but still suffered from the stigma of a bad launch.

    The other biggie, to me, which no company really has control over is the quality of the community.  More cohesive and inclusive communities tend to go hand in hand with games that do well.

    One of the things we've moved away from in MMO's is the cause for a need to interact with other players. Because player's interaction amongst each other is so much more limited now that it was in older games, communities seem to have become more sterile.

    So the tie of community that would once bind players to games long term has effectively gone away.

  • SaintPhilipSaintPhilip Bree, MIPosts: 713Member

    An MMORPG.Com article which I fully agree with???

    My God, its snowing in Hell....

  • ThumbtackJThumbtackJ columbus, OHPosts: 539Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Ozivois
    They need to slow down level progression - that will add more time to subs.  Lower experience gain to a minimum so that players have to spend inordinate amounts of time in every area of the world. Offer raids for every ten levels. Limit daily experience gain.  Make it so that rare level 20 armor is worth looking for because you will be able to use it for another month as you work your way to level 30...

    I sort of disagree. I think the time to level should be longer than it is in most games currently, but perhaps not to that extent. I wouldn't mind it taking 3-5+ months to hit a level cap, so long as there is content (player housing, PvP, crafting, exploring, etc) to do along the way, and so long as the leveling process is not a complete borefest. 

  • ZekiahZekiah Aurora, COPosts: 2,499Member

    I've been saying that for a long time. You need SYSTEMS, not one-time content. Perhaps people are finally listening and getting it.

    But will the devs finally get it? I won't hold my breath. Until gamers stop buying boxes, that's exactly what they'll focus on, box sales.

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • OrrinnOrrinn Jenison, MIPosts: 15Member Common

    Great post, Bill. I agree 100%.

     

    IMO, the MMORPG genre needs to spread out again for it to bounce back from the stagnant state it's in currently. Developers need to make quality, original games and stop expecting 5, 10 million subs. That way, people will find their niche games and spread out the revenue, so that companies won't be afraid to step out of the box.

     

    And these companies need to be prepared for a community that's used to game jumping now and isn't interested in paying $15 a month, generally speaking. I'm a WoW player, and I don't mind paying the $15 monthly fee, but I'm excited for the games on the horizon that won't require it (like Planetside 2, for example). That way, I can try what I want without losing anything, stick with what I like, and hand them my money for a game that fits me best. Or play multiple games and hand each a little money here, a little there.

     

    And I loved Galaxies (the NGE aside) because they had story-driven missions that moved me along, but I could also step out of the current to fly my ship, decorate my house, meet up with some people in the cantina... Whatever I wanted to do. Story's great, but it shouldn't be the only thing MMO's let you be involved in.

     

    Game History (the ones that count): Everquest, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, Planetside 2

  • theniffrigtheniffrig DublinPosts: 351Member
    MMO's need to take the next evolutionary step & I think that player made content or as Bill put it: "Systems" that give the players lots of different things to do is definately a huge piece to the puzzle of getting MMO's to the next generation. Ofcourse all these systems arn't worth anything if the actual game "sucks" or isn't appealing. So it's going to take a combination of things for the next big successful MMO to get right before people can say we have arrived at the next generation of MMO's.
  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    The problem is company execs keep seeing the "10 million" playing wow and think if we make a game like wow and only pull 1 in 10 of those people we will make more money. We just have to make a game like wow with a couple of things that are missing from it.

    Hence you get all these wow with a twist games. E.g.

    Lotro - wow with rp features
    Rift - wow with rifts and free spec switching
    Swtor - wow with personal story
    War - wow with rvr and pqs
    Aoc - wow with action combat and boobies
    Tsw - wow with puzzles, story, semi action combat and skill based progression
    Tera - wow with action combat and bams
    TESO - wow with rvr and open dungeons?
    Nw - wow with player made dungeons?
  • strangiato2112strangiato2112 Richmond, VAPosts: 1,538Member Common
    Originally posted by Entris38

    Thank you........I hadn't even realized how much has been cut out that I enjoyed.......

    Quick,someone forward this to SOE for EQNext!

    EQ2 is the game that closest resembles what Bill was getting at.  No other current MMORPG is even in the same ballpark as EQ2 for this stuff.  The most robust housing in MMO history?  check (yes, its not open world like UO or SWG.  but you can do more with it than even UO).  Player made dungeons?  check (albeit they still need some work, the framework is there).

     

    SoE is embracing player made content and systems.  They even tried player created quests in SWG.  However, this is all being done on an existing framework, as opposed to building the game with it.  EQNext is going to be built along side this sort of thing.

  • ThorbrandThorbrand West Palm Beach, FLPosts: 1,198Member
    This is what games are giving us online single player story driven games and calling them MMOs. These games lack the conent and features that makes a MMO not to mention no perssistant worlds any longer. I have said it for 10yrs these new games are not MMOs because they lack the core mechanics to even define them as a MMO. But these new games are not failing because it is cheaper to put out a huge launch and make millions and turn around another 6mos later than a true MMO with a huge launch and get it running for years. This is why in order for developers to make real money on a real MMO the sub fees need to go up. Yes, I said it1 $50/mo sub fee and 500,000 players would be just fine for a  successful MMO but maintaining a $15/mo sub is a fail and doesn't generate enough money unless you have 10s of Millions playing.
  • Ice-QueenIce-Queen USA, GAPosts: 2,451Member Uncommon
    Mmo's have taken giant leaps backwards. Games like Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, had so much more to do than todays mmos.

    image

    What happens when you log off your characters????.....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFQhfhnjYMk
    Dark Age of Camelot

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Yeah tayah. Except eve of course, although I'm not sure that qualifies as today.
  • OrrinnOrrinn Jenison, MIPosts: 15Member Common

     

     

    Originally posted by ThumbtackJ
    Originally posted by Ozivois
    They need to slow down level progression - that will add more time to subs.  Lower experience gain to a minimum so that players have to spend inordinate amounts of time in every area of the world. Offer raids for every ten levels. Limit daily experience gain.  Make it so that rare level 20 armor is worth looking for because you will be able to use it for another month as you work your way to level 30...

    I sort of disagree. I think the time to level should be longer than it is in most games currently, but perhaps not to that extent. I wouldn't mind it taking 3-5+ months to hit a level cap, so long as there is content (player housing, PvP, crafting, exploring, etc) to do along the way, and so long as the leveling process is not a complete borefest. 

     

    Or even a system set up with no levels, but a different type of progression.

     

    I was a big fan of the original professions system in Galaxies because it was different and I wasn't defined by a level. Sure, people still found ways of explaining their "class," but it was really what you wanted to make of yourself.

     

    Any type of system that allows you to unlock new skills, abilities, and content by what you've done, been involved in, and discovered in your journeys would catch my eye for sure.

     
     
     

    Game History (the ones that count): Everquest, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, Planetside 2

  • Mark701Mark701 Fairhaven, MAPosts: 108Member

    I've played things like Star Wars Online (pre patch) Everquest 1&2 Rift, WoW, LOTRO as well as a host of othe ttitles and inevitably end up quitting for several reasons. One is that it becomes boring. As you indicated, you can only do the same quest a certain number of times before it bores you to tears. The second paying for new game content, promising new dungeons new zones and new classes only to realize that it's the same old zone and classes with some new paint. A third thing is nerfing. Most of these games aren't difficult to begin with. Nerfing them is done to appeal to lazy gamers who have a few bucks to spend. The result is that it makes a boring game even more boring. 

    Despite all these things, the one thing guaranteed to drive me away from a game is when it switches from a monthly subscription fee to "free" with in game micro-transactions. Aside from generally destroying the in game economy it's a clearest signto me the game is no longer for gamers but investors demanding a return. At that point there's no more interest in providing new and challanging content, only raking in the bucks. And since the game is "free', and people are stupid most end up paying MORE on a monthly basis for a "free" game then they paid for their subscription.

     

     

  • OzivoisOzivois Phoenix, AZPosts: 598Member
    Originally posted by ThumbtackJ
    Originally posted by Ozivois
    They need to slow down level progression - that will add more time to subs.  Lower experience gain to a minimum so that players have to spend inordinate amounts of time in every area of the world. Offer raids for every ten levels. Limit daily experience gain.  Make it so that rare level 20 armor is worth looking for because you will be able to use it for another month as you work your way to level 30...

    I sort of disagree. I think the time to level should be longer than it is in most games currently, but perhaps not to that extent. I wouldn't mind it taking 3-5+ months to hit a level cap, so long as there is content (player housing, PvP, crafting, exploring, etc) to do along the way, and so long as the leveling process is not a complete borefest. 

    To address your point, yes, the lower level content must be enjoyable to play and plenty of things to do. Exploring, crafting, building, etc. would be more palatable to players if they knew they only had so much experience gain per day.  Look at Rift: they kept alot of busy with faction "experience"; after the dailies were done you would do other things with yourself instead.

    If main "adventuring" experience was treated the same way (via a daily cap, or using one of the many fatigue systems out there but more aggressive) then players would be more encouraged to do other things, like socialize, craft, explore, etc. Then you could create content that allows players to intereact in a way so that those who are capped or fatigued for the day could somehow provide value to other players (in hub areas) who haven't adventured for the day yet; things like performing special buffs, selling food, healing death penalties, etc.

    I can see a complex system set up to make it doable: for example, in a capped system, when you become capped from daily exp. you also become "enlightened"/"resolute"/"inspired" which activates special buff skills you can sell or give away to passers-by. The downside is that when you cast them you suffer a debuff that lasts as long as the buff making you effectively useless in a group or raid. For food items, introduce a system of spoilage: food ingredients must be gathered fresh each day (with the exception of some rare ingredients) because the ingredients spoil within 24 hours and become unusable. The food item you produce is only good for 48 hours before it spoils.  Again, this promotes a whole new economic system and keeps everyone busy. 

  • orbitxoorbitxo fort lauderdale, FLPosts: 1,408Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    The problem is company execs keep seeing the "10 million" playing wow and think if we make a game like wow and only pull 1 in 10 of those people we will make more money. We just have to make a game like wow with a couple of things that are missing from it.

    Hence you get all these wow with a twist games. E.g.

    Lotro - wow with rp features
    Rift - wow with rifts and free spec switching
    Swtor - wow with personal story
    War - wow with rvr and pqs
    Aoc - wow with action combat and boobies
    Tsw - wow with puzzles, story, semi action combat and skill based progression
    Tera - wow with action combat and bams
    TESO - wow with rvr and open dungeons?
    Nw - wow with player made dungeons?

    twist games. E.g. ...with Better wow graphics.

    <.<

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,865Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Bill Murphy

    The problem is MMOs by their very nature are dependent upon players sticking around in game for months or years at a time. 

    And this premise is based on...?

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,215Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Tayah
    Mmo's have taken giant leaps backwards. Games like Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, had so much more to do than todays mmos.

    I don't think DAoC belongs in the same category.  Lineage yes, DAoC not so much.  It's not that DAoC was bad, but it was kind of the first game where pvp was starting to go themepark.  Even though it had a couple sandboxy features the contrived pre-defined only 3 faction thing is a step in the wrong direction with regards to the discussion.  They started removing freedom and defining content.

  • ZekiahZekiah Aurora, COPosts: 2,499Member
    Originally posted by Gdemami

     


    Originally posted by Bill Murphy

    The problem is MMOs by their very nature are dependent upon players sticking around in game for months or years at a time. 


     

    And this premise is based on...?

    Really? C'mon now, think this one through...

    MMO = Massively Multiplayer Online

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,215Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by orbitxo
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    The problem is company execs keep seeing the "10 million" playing wow and think if we make a game like wow and only pull 1 in 10 of those people we will make more money. We just have to make a game like wow with a couple of things that are missing from it.

    Hence you get all these wow with a twist games. E.g.

    Lotro - wow with rp features
    Rift - wow with rifts and free spec switching
    Swtor - wow with personal story
    War - wow with rvr and pqs
    Aoc - wow with action combat and boobies
    Tsw - wow with puzzles, story, semi action combat and skill based progression
    Tera - wow with action combat and bams
    TESO - wow with rvr and open dungeons?
    Nw - wow with player made dungeons?

    twist games. E.g. ...with Better wow graphics.

    <.<

    Except none of those are WoW clones.  They are themepark twists.  They might have been going for the WoW themepark success story, but they're essentially all EQ children trying to solve the same problem WoW did only with very marginal success.  WoW may own the themepark market but it doesn't own the themepark definition.

    And please people let's not be ignorant and put TESO and NWO in that lineage yet because they haven't even released.  We have no idea how the games will play.  There is so much wrong thinking in going with the "if it's not a sandbox it must be a wow-clone mentality".  Just because something is a themepark doesn't mean it's a wow-clone.  TERA and RaiderZ play and feel nothing like WoW and have a much more hybrid approach to their design than WoW or RIFT do.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Torv

    I'm sorry but rift, swtor and lotro are massive wow clones. Aoc not at launch,but it is now.

    The others differ a bit and I wouldn't call them clones.
  • CheriseCherise Cincinnati, OHPosts: 232Member
    Great way of putting it, Bill.  It's definitely been the "systems" that have kept me playing EQ2, LotRO, and SWG for so long.  Developers don't seem to think systems are important, or they add them much later after most have already moved on.
  • GolbezTheLionGolbezTheLion Los Angeles, CAPosts: 332Member Uncommon

    Great article Bill, I agree wholeheartedly.

    The sentiments expressed within are pretty much a dead ringer for the way I've felt for quite some time in regards to what needs to be done to get this industry back to the prosperous state it was once in. The game systems themselves are an exceptionally big deal, and I'd personally love to see the level of complexity that existed a decade ago restablished in the modern day titles that are being released.

    Well put chief, a good read.

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