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Five Assumptions that are Killing the MMO

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  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,611Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by strangiato2112
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Apologies for the confusion:  I really wasn't referring to EQ or FFXI.   I've always thought of those games as Themeparks, though I admit that I've never played either. 

    Of course some people will say that since they arent sandboxes they therefore are theme parks, but the reality is that neither game is remotely a themepark, at least in their primes.  

     Amazing... the first themepark ever, the anti-UO....not a themepark. Gotta love revisionist historical posts.

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by jpnz

    Angry Birds and Farmville are disposable entertainment.  MMOs are meant to last.  At their best, they're hobbies in and of themselves.

    I spent 5 years each in three different games -- and I don't think I'm the exception here.  Furthermore, all of those games are still up and running in some form.  That's not disposable to me.  Maybe the reason your games don't last you more than 4 months is that you're playing the wrong kind of games.

    "meant to last" .. determined by whom? You? I don't think MMO is meant for anything. It is just a genre of games, and i will use it as i see fit. If there is one that is fun for a year ... sure. But if one is fun for a month .. why wouldn't i just play it for a month?

    There is no wrong kind of games to play ... as long as it is fun.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    EQ is a themepark.

    It's not a wow clone obviously but its still a themepark.

    As is daoc, despite having quite a few sandbox elements.

    Stop taking themepark as an insult. It's just a description of a game type. Sure there's been an awful lot of "wow on the cheap but with a twist" themeparks in the past few years, but that doesn't mean all themeparks are bad games.
  • GreyfaceGreyface Detroit, MIPosts: 390Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    The reason is always supply and demand. There is a demand for a Star Trek game, that is why STO is made, and continue to add content. I am not sure whether there is enough demand for what OP wants, but that determines if it got made.

    Not all good ideas come out of market research and focus groups.  In fact, very few come about that way.

  • GreyfaceGreyface Detroit, MIPosts: 390Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    "meant to last" .. determined by whom? You? I don't think MMO is meant for anything. It is just a genre of games, and i will use it as i see fit. If there is one that is fun for a year ... sure. But if one is fun for a month .. why wouldn't i just play it for a month?

    Follow your bliss then.  I'm not saying that game hopping is wrong -- but I would love it if there was a game that could engage me (and others) for longer than a month.  There was a time when retention was important in MMO design.  If that's no longer the case, then it just underlines the point I've been trying to make.

    There is no wrong kind of games to play ... as long as it is fun.

    No arguments here.  But there's more than one way to have fun in an MMO.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,611Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    The reason is always supply and demand. There is a demand for a Star Trek game, that is why STO is made, and continue to add content. I am not sure whether there is enough demand for what OP wants, but that determines if it got made.

    Not all good ideas come outr of market research and focus groups.  In fact, very few come about that way.

    Hey, don't forget those wonderful humped committee horses image

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    The reason is always supply and demand. There is a demand for a Star Trek game, that is why STO is made, and continue to add content. I am not sure whether there is enough demand for what OP wants, but that determines if it got made.

    Not all good ideas come out of market research and focus groups.  In fact, very few come about that way.

    No. But any idea to survive in the market, needs to have the demand. It does not matter how you generate the idea .... an idea no one buys is going to die.

  • usnavynucusnavynuc Northern, NJPosts: 40Member
    Originally posted by Rthuth434
    revamp the first asheron's call.

    Amen

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    "meant to last" .. determined by whom? You? I don't think MMO is meant for anything. It is just a genre of games, and i will use it as i see fit. If there is one that is fun for a year ... sure. But if one is fun for a month .. why wouldn't i just play it for a month?

    Follow your bliss then.  I'm not saying that game hopping is wrong -- but I would love it if there was a game that could engage me (and others) for longer than a month.  There was a time when retention was important in MMO design.  If that's no longer the case, then it just underlines the point I've been trying to make.

    There is no wrong kind of games to play ... as long as it is fun.

    No arguments here.  But there's more than one way to have fun in an MMO.

    Yes, there are many ways to have fun. But the point is that there is no "wrong" way. I am disputing the statement that mmo is meant for anything. It is up to the individual to enjoy it as he/she sees fit.

    Obviously it is your perogative to want a longer term MMO. However, you just admit that "game hopping is not wrong" ... so MMO is really not meant for anything .. just up to the individual. You want it to be long. Others may not.

  • GreyfaceGreyface Detroit, MIPosts: 390Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    No. But any idea to survive in the market, needs to have the demand. It does not matter how you generate the idea .... an idea no one buys is going to die.

    No, it just goes F2P.

  • SyferusSyferus Scottsdale, AZPosts: 3Member
     Thank you for writing this OP, so I didn't have to.  Well written and straight on point with every account.  We have to find a happy medium and every game since WoW has been trying to cater to a constantly expanding, simplified voice of the MMO consumer.  One dictated by the lowest common denominator.  We need to take risks and we need to progress forward.  The subscription model will live alongside innovation.  I think WoW innovated towards an extreme and its success shifted the entire market that direction.  I think someone will come along and shift it back.  When that day comes, I won't be leaving my house for at least two weeks.  Haven't had a game effect my professional life in far too long.
  • MetentsoMetentso BarcelonaPosts: 1,436Member Common
    Originally posted by jpnz
    Originally posted by Metentso

    Let me add another assumption, that is killing MMOs, in my oppinion:

    "MMOS have to be fun"

    Bluntly said, MMOs don't have to be fun, they have to be epic, you have to suffer (but not frustrating, hopefully). At the end you have the feeling of having done something amazing, which doesn't equal to fun exactly.

    We are talking about VIDEO GAMES right?

    I view video games as a disposable entertainment product and I'm pretty sure that's what most people expect.

    It's a video game as Flight Simulator 9 was a video game. If you played it seriously for years, it becomes so different from a disposable entertaniment product that it can be considered another thing. Of course it is a video game, but if you take into account all the experiences, strategies, adventures, that spontaneously  "happened" along the game play thanks to player interaction, it's not only a videogame it's something else, it's an MMORPG with every letter having its full meaning. This lost now.

    Of course you can say it's nerdy. Well it is.

  • NadiaNadia Canonsburg, PAPosts: 11,866Member Common
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    ONE assumption that is killing mmos

    "we can get 10 million subs like wow"

    thats the primary reason Microsoft wont get involved with any mmo

     

    Microsoft wants WOW numbers

  • GreyfaceGreyface Detroit, MIPosts: 390Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    Yes, there are many ways to have fun. But the point is that there is no "wrong" way. I am disputing the statement that mmo is meant for anything. It is up to the individual to enjoy it as he/she sees fit.

    Obviously it is your perogative to want a longer term MMO. However, you just admit that "game hopping is not wrong" ... so MMO is really not meant for anything .. just up to the individual. You want it to be long. Others may not.

    You're taking my words on a little bit of a trip around the block there.  No, game hopping isn't wrong, but catering to it in MMOs is a waste.  As a developer, why would you create an MMO, with all of the associated costs, if people are going to drop it in three months?  These games are envisioned by their creators as services that exist for years -- read the transcripts of the investor calls at EA, Activision, or NCSoft  if you think I'm making this stuff up.

    I'm not going to tell you how you should enjoy yourself, but don't mistake that for any admissions on my part.  The purpose of MMOs, from a business standpoint, is player retention and ongoing revenue.  That's where they've failed.

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    Awesome post, OP. You've obviously given a lot of thought to the situation and I thank you for putting it out there so eloquently.

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    No. But any idea to survive in the market, needs to have the demand. It does not matter how you generate the idea .... an idea no one buys is going to die.

    No, it just goes F2P.

    hmm .. whales are buying in F2P .. otherwise, it will die.

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    OP, in regards #1 you seem to be conflating Developers LISTENING to thier audience with allowing that audience to DICTATE exactly how to build a product. Developers and companies in general absolutely HAVE to listen to the people using thier products. You are pretty much dead without doing so. You are also pretty much dead abdicating responsibility for designing/building a product to that audience.

    As a designer there is absolutely no substitute for hearing from the people actualy using your product. It doesn't mean that you automaticaly do everything that they say, it means that you try to understand thier experience with that product. If 95 percent of your customers say "I don't know how to do this." That's something you need to wake up and pay attention to. It doesn't mean that the product is "too hard"...it could just be that the help system or documentation or tutorial sucks.

    Building a dialogue with your users is also really important for winning loyalty to your brand. Part of Blizzards early success wasn't that they ignored thier fans...it was that they had built a really good relationship with the fans of thier RTS titles.

     

     

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    Yes, there are many ways to have fun. But the point is that there is no "wrong" way. I am disputing the statement that mmo is meant for anything. It is up to the individual to enjoy it as he/she sees fit.

    Obviously it is your perogative to want a longer term MMO. However, you just admit that "game hopping is not wrong" ... so MMO is really not meant for anything .. just up to the individual. You want it to be long. Others may not.

    You're taking my words on a little bit of a trip around the block there.  No, game hopping isn't wrong, but catering to it in MMOs is a waste.  As a developer, why would you create an MMO, with all of the associated costs, if people are going to drop it in three months?  These games are envisioned by their creators as services that exist for years -- read the transcripts of the investor calls at EA, Activision, or NCSoft  if you think I'm making this stuff up.

    I'm not going to tell you how you should enjoy yourself, but don't mistake that for any admissions on my part.  The purpose of MMOs, from a business standpoint, is player retention and ongoing revenue.  That's where they've failed.

    Why wouldn't he, if you can replace all the players in 3 months? 1M of subs for 6 month, is the same as 2M of players, 1M sub for 3 month, and the second M subs for another 3.
     

    And while MMO is probably expensive compared to the average SP game, they are not more expensive than the big AAA games like COD (except may be TOR). Case in point, GW & GW2 are perfectly happy living on box sales.

    And lastly, how devs design their mmo (for long or for short) is irrelevant .. it is up to the players to decide how they play. If everyone decides they are going to play 3 month then move on, there is really nothing the dev can do. In fact, isn't that why TOR is going F2P?

    A dev can only respond to market desire.

  • bunnyhopperbunnyhopper LondonPosts: 2,751Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

     

    Why wouldn't he, if you can replace all the players in 3 months? 1M of subs for 6 month, is the same as 2M of players, 1M sub for 3 month, and the second M subs for another 3.
     

    And while MMO is probably expensive compared to the average SP game, they are not more expensive than the big AAA games like COD (except may be TOR). Case in point, GW & GW2 are perfectly happy living on box sales.

    And lastly, how devs design their mmo (for long or for short) is irrelevant .. it is up to the players to decide how they play. If everyone decides they are going to play 3 month then move on, there is really nothing the dev can do. In fact, isn't that why TOR is going F2P?

    A dev can only respond to market desire.

    Actually there seems to be something of a potential fundamental flaw with some of that.

     

    If a game is purely relying on box sales or even initial sub and then run numbers to turn a profit, then there is zero problem with them making mmos aimed at churning a consumerbase (from a business perspective). The trouble is though, that simply isn't the case for the main part, as cash shops seem to be intended to be a significant part of the revenue generation model.

     

    One would imagine that generating profits via the sale of IG items necessitates attracting a signficant portion of players who are going to be prepared to invest in items for their IG toons. Someone who is going to ram through and then bail on a game in the space of a couple of months is unlikely to drop a significant amount of money in a cash shop in that time (although there will be exceptions ofc). Someone inclined to stay with the game however is going to generate more money via that model.

     

    The likelyhood of replacing the entire playerpool every few months also seems somewhat slim.

    "Come and have a look at what you could have won."

  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLPosts: 867Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Greyface


    [...]

    As players, we need to move beyond seeing sandboxes and theme parks as irreconcilable opposites.  They should be looked at as points along a spectrum.

    [...]

    Being the Chosen One in an MMO is just dumb, because there are 500 other Chosen Ones pouring out of the same instance right behind you.  Context, not story, is what we need.  Make the world and its back-story live, and give the players the tools and freedom to create their own story. 

    [...]

    Just spitballing here, but imagine a game without a level cap.  As you progress, the cost to level up increases and the benefits shrink.  

       

    OP: I didn't read through this entire thread, but I read the first post.  For someone who is Not A Game Designer(tm), I have to say you pretty much nailed it.  I wanted to respond to a few of the points you made (by the way, have you considered joining VO's PCC?)  I think you said what a lot of people have been thinking; however, it's good to see it laid out in a clear, logical manner like this.

    As players, we need to move beyond seeing sandboxes and theme parks as irreconcilable opposites.  They should be looked at as points along a spectrum.

    I think this is self-evident.  You nailed it.  It is a spectrum:

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/5318127#5318127

    Context, not story, is what we need.

    If I could I would change this to context and story, otherwise I think this is an important mantra as a content designer.  Each player should have a story, but that story may not be how s/he saves the universe from the End Of Life as We Know It.  This could also possibly be a spectrum, where each player fills a role somewhere between "commoner" and "hero", and perhaps where each player oscillates over the course of his/her playing career.

    imagine a game without a level cap

    Vendetta Online has no level cap.  Actually, it has a level cap, it's just so high that you could not possibly reach it unless you handed down your account through several generations, possibly skipping a generation here/there, and each person that held the account played religiously until the end of his/her natural life.  Most of the upper levels are devoid of content, presently, but they are there just waiting to be filled with content by the playerbase.  I recently finished a 39-mission design project, co-authored by another player and browsed / reviewed / edited by the community, drawing inspiration from authors like William Gibson and Philip K. Dick.  It's that kind of content I want to see percolate through all levels of Vendetta Online.

    "To be what you are not, experience what you are not." -Saint John of the Cross
    Authored 110 missions in Vendetta Online
    Check it out on Steam

  • TanemundTanemund Orange, CTPosts: 102Member Uncommon

    Kudos to the OP for a well thought out and intelligent post.

     

    I especially agree with #1.  Listening to the playerbase is a sure fire way to get a game into trouble.  Instead developers should WATCH what the playerbase is doing.  For example if everyone is playing class X, then it's a sure fire indicator that class X is somehow advantageous.  If none of the player base are doing public quests, then it's a sure fire indicator that public quests aren't what the playerbase wants.

     

    In truth what most of the player base wants is easily defined.  For themselves they want the most reward for the minimum commitment of time and effort.  For their fellow gamers, which are now automatically viewed as opponents instead of comrades, they want the least reward for the maximum commitment of time and effort.  Why?  Because you "win" in a community game if you "pwn" everyone else in the community.  Given that as a starting point it's futile to listen to the players.

     

    Which leads to another thing that is killing MMOs.  There has been a fundamental shift in the playerbase.  The first generation of MMO players were former pencil and paper gamers with access to a computer modem.  The recent generation of MMO players grew up playing video games and are used to a game having a story with a beginning, middle and end and then some kind of PvP attached to it.  The first group was about community while the second group is used to being able to finish the game on their own.  That's not right or wrong or good or bad.  It just is a fact.  People playing online games now have different expectations of a game than the people who first played MMORPGs.

     

    Finally the game developers keep looking for one ring to rule them all.  Even WoW doesn't do that and it's the closest anyone's ever gotten to that Holy Grail.  WoW is like vanilla ice cream.  Lots of people like vanilla ice cream.  However instead of trying to copy vanilla gaming companies (and gamers) might be better served to adopt the Baskin Robbins approach, meaning there are 31 flavors so find the one that you like.

    Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

  • RajCajRajCaj Lafayette, LAPosts: 706Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Greyface
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    Yes, there are many ways to have fun. But the point is that there is no "wrong" way. I am disputing the statement that mmo is meant for anything. It is up to the individual to enjoy it as he/she sees fit.

    Obviously it is your perogative to want a longer term MMO. However, you just admit that "game hopping is not wrong" ... so MMO is really not meant for anything .. just up to the individual. You want it to be long. Others may not.

    You're taking my words on a little bit of a trip around the block there.  No, game hopping isn't wrong, but catering to it in MMOs is a waste.  As a developer, why would you create an MMO, with all of the associated costs, if people are going to drop it in three months?  These games are envisioned by their creators as services that exist for years -- read the transcripts of the investor calls at EA, Activision, or NCSoft  if you think I'm making this stuff up.

    I'm not going to tell you how you should enjoy yourself, but don't mistake that for any admissions on my part.  The purpose of MMOs, from a business standpoint, is player retention and ongoing revenue.  That's where they've failed.

    Why wouldn't he, if you can replace all the players in 3 months? 1M of subs for 6 month, is the same as 2M of players, 1M sub for 3 month, and the second M subs for another 3.
     

    And while MMO is probably expensive compared to the average SP game, they are not more expensive than the big AAA games like COD (except may be TOR). Case in point, GW & GW2 are perfectly happy living on box sales.

    And lastly, how devs design their mmo (for long or for short) is irrelevant .. it is up to the players to decide how they play. If everyone decides they are going to play 3 month then move on, there is really nothing the dev can do. In fact, isn't that why TOR is going F2P?

    A dev can only respond to market desire.

    How do you suppose a game recoups an equal number of gamers if something within the game prompted an exodus like that?

    Given how competitive MMO gaming is today (partially due to it moving into mainstream entertainment, and partially due to all the other MMO games available), word of mouth & reviews from gaming sites like MMORPG.com are HUGE.  If a million gamers leave in 3 months of it's release...its highly likely that they will not recoup those same numbers....let alone be able to continously cycle players like that (unless drastic changes are made that would prompt others to give it another look)

     

    HOW a game is designed has everything to do with player retention.  If the game is designed to appeal to casual gamers (who by definition will play casually), you will have a more fickle player base....due to having to compete with other casual entertainment (TV, SP games, social media games, mobile platform games) and due to time limitations that many mainstream casual gamers have.

    If you create a game that has the same formula as another game that has been in existance for 5-7 years, but just with another skin & gimmick....players will take their previous experience (and burnout) in similar type games with them and will grow bored very quick. (See SW:TOR, Rift, GW2, Warhammer, Aion, etc)

    However, if you create a MMO game that is unique in the market, a quality product, and built on a model that rewards a player with experiences & relationships within the community...not cheap tangible items....then you might experience longer player retention.

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by bunnyhopper
     

    Actually there seems to be something of a potential fundamental flaw with some of that.

     The proof is of course in the existence of such endeavors.

    If a game is purely relying on box sales or even initial sub and then run numbers to turn a profit, then there is zero problem with them making mmos aimed at churning a consumerbase (from a business perspective). The trouble is though, that simply isn't the case for the main part, as cash shops seem to be intended to be a significant part of the revenue generation model.

    It works for GW & GW2. And no one says you cannot put out more content to attact old players to come back. The point is you don't need a player continue to sub ... you only need him to drop money on boxes (and what-not in cash shop from time to time).

    In fact, the whole cash shop model is based on most players are transcient (the free players), and only a few whales will stay and spend money. For the 90%+ non-paying players, they are just content for the whales, why would the dev cares if they are the same group, or churn like crazy?

     One would imagine that generating profits via the sale of IG items necessitates attracting a signficant portion of players who are going to be prepared to invest in items for their IG toons. Someone who is going to ram through and then bail on a game in the space of a couple of months is unlikely to drop a significant amount of money in a cash shop in that time (although there will be exceptions ofc). Someone inclined to stay with the game however is going to generate more money via that model.

     No. You are only selling IG items to whales .. which is a very small portion of the customer. You can have 90% of the player base churning with little impact on that.

    The likelyhood of replacing the entire playerpool every few months also seems somewhat slim.

    You must be joking. The whole population of MMO players are in the 10s of millions (just in the US). Even wow, 70% of the players never make pass level 10. Churning is huge in these games. I am surprised if the churning is not even higher. After, switching game is just a click away.

    Plus, no one says one cannot come back to a game after a while. I don't play STO religisous month after month. I play it whenever i feel like some star trek .. and it can be months between play session.

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by RajCaj
     

    How do you suppose a game recoups an equal number of gamers if something within the game prompted an exodus like that?

     

    BTW having really fun but short content? Think about a single player game. I love Dishonored, and it sold millions, but i don't play it for more than a month.

    If you look at story missions in a MMO like STO, you can play it like a SP or MP online game, and exhaust that content in a few month. And there are plenty of other trekkies (there are tens of, if not hundreds of, millions of those), and if you churn a few hundred thousand a month, you are not running out of them anytime soon.

  • bunnyhopperbunnyhopper LondonPosts: 2,751Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by bunnyhopper
     
    The proof is of course in the existence of such endeavors.

    What?

    It works for GW & GW2. And no one says you cannot put out more content to attact old players to come back. The point is you don't need a player continue to sub ... you only need him to drop money on boxes (and what-not in cash shop from time to time).

    It remains to be seen whether it "works" for GW2.  Attracting old players back is retention and not churn of new/unique customers. Getting a pre existing customer to repeatedly drop money on boxes is retention.

    In fact, the whole cash shop model is based on most players are transcient (the free players), and only a few whales will stay and spend money. For the 90%+ non-paying players, they are just content for the whales, why would the dev cares if they are the same group, or churn like crazy?

    So the cash shop model is based on retaining whales. i.e. retention.

    No. You are only selling IG items to whales .. which is a very small portion of the customer. You can have 90% of the player base churning with little impact on that.

    Fair enough.

    You must be joking. The whole population of MMO players are in the 10s of millions (just in the US). Even wow, 70% of the players never make pass level 10. Churning is huge in these games. I am surprised if the churning is not even higher. After, switching game is just a click away.

    Plus, no one says one cannot come back to a game after a while. I don't play STO religisous month after month. I play it whenever i feel like some star trek .. and it can be months between play session.

    No i'm not joking, a typical mmorpg is not going to go on replacing it's entire paying playerbase every few months. 

     

    I'm not questioning whether B2P/cash shop is viable or not. I have doubts as to the long term success of mmorpg/community centric games in particular if they have exceptionally low retention rates.

    "Come and have a look at what you could have won."

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