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[Column] General: Getting the Stars to Realign

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,622MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

One of the things that profoundly affects any community is the closure of a game to which its been devoted. In Christina's second installment of "The Social Hub", we take a look at what "losing" a game means in the bigger picture. Check it out before leaving your thoughts in the comments.

These days, I’ve been noticing a trend in the gaming press as mobile and free to play games shut down. When Rock Band mobile was shut down, some criticized the fact that people’s DLC purchases were rendered worthless. This is common when games are no longer purchases and instead “licenses”. Yet this is nothing new for MMORPG players.  The recent death of the free to play publisher Outspark brought several games to a sudden end, leaving only Fiesta Online, its most successful game, in the hands of Gamigo. Players that purchased real-money currency from Outspark for any of the other games saw their purchases not refunded, but converted into Gamigo’s currency. If players didn’t like Gamigo’s games, they were plain out of luck. There’s a belief among some that we’re potentially losing works of art due to the rise of online games, but for many gamers, the loss more often amounts more to experiences and opportunities.

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's The Social Hub: Getting the Stars to Realign.

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

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Comments

  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,036Member Uncommon

    If lawmakers really understood gaming and how mmos work instead of being old stuffbags, they'd probably pass a law to force release of server code X years after cancellation.   Just like copyrights can expire for dead artists.

     

     

  • birdycephonbirdycephon Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 1,314Member
    People need to realize, that when they spend money on a game, they are not buying a product, they are buying the entrtainment the game brings. Once they realize that they dont actally own anything, they might actually think twice about spending their money they cant afford to lose in the future.
  • apocolusterapocoluster newport news, VAPosts: 1,321Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by birdycephon
    People need to realize, that when they spend money on a game, they are not buying a product, they are buying the entrtainment the game brings. Once they realize that they dont actally own anything, they might actually think twice about spending their money they cant afford to lose in the future.

    I think you think to highly of people   lol

    No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  • JaggaSpikesJaggaSpikes LabinPosts: 421Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by apocoluster
    Originally posted by birdycephon
    People need to realize, that when they spend money on a game, they are not buying a product, they are buying the entrtainment the game brings. Once they realize that they dont actally own anything, they might actually think twice about spending their money they cant afford to lose in the future.

    I think you think to highly of people   lol

    educating people is never a lost cause. even if everything says otherwise.

  • TalinTalin West Babylon, NYPosts: 824Member

    For people who have purchased lifetime subscriptions in the past, it would have been nice if that had come in the form of a perpetual license. In addition, the agreement of that purchase should include access to the source code through an escrow account in the case of service termination or studio closure. This way if the game went under, people who had paid for lifetime access would be able to "launch" the game themselves.

    Of course, providing source code doesn't mean it is easy to compile/host a game, but that's part of the challenge. At least it becomes possible.

  • uidCausticuidCaustic acworth, GAPosts: 128Member
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    If lawmakers really understood gaming and how mmos work instead of being old stuffbags, they'd probably pass a law to force release of server code X years after cancellation.   Just like copyrights can expire for dead artists.

     

     

     

    I agree, I'm going to go demand the rights for every television show that was cancelled that I enjoyed now... surely they won't laugh at my asinine request, after all, I paid my monthly subscription to my cable provider.  I am ENTITLED to be given ownership!

  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Chicago, ILPosts: 2,235Member Uncommon

    It took a few closures for me to realize that MMO 'communities' aren't real communities, they are the illusion of communities.  And MMO ownership of virtual goods isn't real ownership, it's the illusion of ownership.  And "persistence" isn't real persistence, it's the illusion of persistence.

    The sad truth about this genre is that it uses extortion to get what it wants: deliver more bodies and wallets to us, or everything good you play and pay for will be taken away from you.

    And it would be fine if you knew your own body and your own wallet was enough...but it isn't.  It would be nice to know if the game was on an sound footing, an unsound footing, or "sound but not good enough" footing, but you won't get that either.  For even if you deliver more bodies and wallets, it's still no guarantee they won't take away everything you buy and enjoy, if their plans change and you aren't a part of them.

    The CoH closure taught me that everything I know about the truth of this business: it's based on addiction, exploitation and deception.  It is not a fully legitimate industry to me any more.  It is, sad to say, one small step removed from the pornography and casino business.  And it can get away with it only because we, who immerse ourselves in the illusions, allow them to exploit us.

    Everything can appear, from external signs, like things are okay...but things aren't.  We can no longer trust what we see or what the publishers tell us.  As a result, we are left to wonder "what's the point of doing anything that requires extra time," like help strangers out, build complicated things or engage in complicated plots.  As a result, isn't it any wonder why we are all at each other's throats all the time?  We're jaded, and rightly so.  We've been sold a bill of goods about these "virtual worlds" as a utopia in the first few years of the 21st century, but we are now realizing they are about as utopic as a Las Vegas casino.  They look like a paradise on the outside, as long as the money is flowing.  But it hides the savage, cold and unforgiving nature of a business based around exploitation and ruthlessness.

    Community in this kind of business is like a community of dope smokers, meth addicts, compulsive gamblers or prostitutes and johns.  When all you have in common is the vice of habitual gaming, how can we not show our own vices in return?

    But I blame the business for making us this way.  Nothing innocent escapes this business with its innocence intact.

    __________________________
    "Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."
    --Arcken

    "...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
    --Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

    "It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
    --Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

  • RefMinorRefMinor MyTownPosts: 3,452Member
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    If lawmakers really understood gaming and how mmos work instead of being old stuffbags, they'd probably pass a law to force release of server code X years after cancellation.   Just like copyrights can expire for dead artists.

     

     

    It is called abandonware, it is part of the reason, to quote the article "If you have a set of SWG discs, you can’t do anything with them outside of incomplete copyright-flaunting servers." which two of the most litigious companies in the world have left alone for years.

  • tiefighter25tiefighter25 Winchester, MAPosts: 937Member
    The clown is pretty smart.
  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 4,476Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Talin

    For people who have purchased lifetime subscriptions in the past, it would have been nice if that had come in the form of a perpetual license. In addition, the agreement of that purchase should include access to the source code through an escrow account in the case of service termination or studio closure. This way if the game went under, people who had paid for lifetime access would be able to "launch" the game themselves.

    Of course, providing source code doesn't mean it is easy to compile/host a game, but that's part of the challenge. At least it becomes possible.

     If I am the guy supplying a third party library, I would not allow the transfer of my product to another group without some serious cash.

  • prognarprognar hamiltonPosts: 12Member

    If people actually read any mmorpg EULA, they all pretty much state directly that you are paying for a service and all digital content belongs to the service provider, the user owns nothing just an acknowledged right to use data they will never ever own, while the service is active and usualy has a small extra bla saying the provder can give up to 30 days notice on cancellation of the service.  (effectivly you pay $x to ACCESS content not OWN content) You may not see it that way, but that is what it is.

     

    And too the person complaining about lifetime subs (its the lifetime of the game not the person who payed to use the content)  Doesn't matter how much any "user" spends on an MMO you own nothing, all digital content belongs to the provider and you accept that when you hit agree on the EULA that you don't bother to read. 

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,191Member Uncommon

    For those that put money into many of these f2p games or an NCSoft game, it is like throwing money down a well.  It is forever gone and any value you extract from it, is extremely nebulous.  If you expect that your investment will be around for awhile you are naive.  These games come and go like a revolving door.

    While I have played many of the f2p games, I am very careful of investing in them.  You should be too.

    Anyone expecting compensation for their investment is living in a very unrealistic world.  Just will not happen.  When I see people spending large amounts of money in a game you have to wonder about their ability to rationalize their purchases.

    So if you lose a large investment in a game, you only have yourself to blame when if folds.  

  • SysFailSysFail LondonPosts: 375Member

    It's players not games that have led to the loss of communities at the end of the day.

     

    Yes designers have made critical errors that have led to the downfall of communities, but it's really the disposable lifestyles people lead these days, fast food, fast downloads, etc and of course the "next big thing" that lures victims from one product to the next like good little lemmings.

     

    Older gamers like myself(mid-30's) tend to be more loyal to a community we've gotten involved with, where as kids tend to flock to anything shiney like a magpie.

     

    In other words, advertisers have won as people flock from shiney product to shiney product without even given it a second thought... the zombie apocalypse has begun. ;)

     
     
     
  • GishgeronGishgeron Princeton, KYPosts: 1,287Member

    The medium we are in is just complicated really.  The budgets are high, the return is a crapshoot.  Its hard to release code freely simply because doing so also relinquishes your rights, in a way, to that property.  No one wants to spend millions upon millions of dollars and years upon years of time devoted to a property just to hand it away.  More games should at least consider the skeleton route, tearing away development and leaving only a single server open.  But holding on to a project that isn't providing good capital for future investments is a bad buisness call.  Small teams can do this, as the demands on their finances are different.  Its not fair to look at the heavy funded MMO developers and expect the rules in their world to be exactly the same as what single players ones have.

    There is no good answer, not really.  For all of our concern, we aren't really looking at the industry in fairness at all.  Its not like a work of art, not really.  Its entertainment, and what each generation of player wants from that changes.  WE change, our desires and joy change.  The demands on our time change.  A work of art like the Mona Lisa doesn't have to change because its not an interactive medium designed around a constant and changing pool of consumers.  Its a picture you look at.  The stimuli it creates is based on its stability and form.  A game is consumed for different reasons.  Most of which get lost once the audience has consumed it.  Only the very best games, usually with the most engaging story, tend to survive in our fond memories.  I will never play Legend of Zelda (the first) again.  I will Chrono Trigger, because the story was great.  You'll notice that this game HAS survived quite well. 

    By design, MMO's really can't.  Their core of engagement (large groups of players) is something that changes, and fast.  Its not story we play them for, we have single player games for story.  We play em to do something fun with tons of people at once, and its an experience that changes with great frequency.

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  • allendale5allendale5 kansas city, MOPosts: 124Member
    We need a Players Union.  I would gladly pay dues to an organized citizenry of computer game players, through which we could voice our concerns, bring collective weight into the marketplace and courts, and exercise our concerted freedoms in unison, whether that be the freedom to push for fair treatment or compensate for unfulfilled promises made by game promoters, or altogether boycotting certain games.
  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    If lawmakers really understood gaming and how mmos work instead of being old stuffbags, they'd probably pass a law to force release of server code X years after cancellation.   Just like copyrights can expire for dead artists.

    Sure....Your game and virtual lewt will be available again in 120 years. Carry on until then.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • CalerxesCalerxes LondonPosts: 1,630Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    For those that put money into many of these f2p games or an NCSoft game, it is like throwing money down a well.  It is forever gone and any value you extract from it, is extremely nebulous.  If you expect that your investment will be around for awhile you are naive.  These games come and go like a revolving door.

    While I have played many of the f2p games, I am very careful of investing in them.  You should be too.

    Anyone expecting compensation for their investment is living in a very unrealistic world.  Just will not happen.  When I see people spending large amounts of money in a game you have to wonder about their ability to rationalize their purchases.

    So if you lose a large investment in a game, you only have yourself to blame when if folds.  

     

    What the hell are you going on about? You pay for the experience just like you pay for a meal you crap out 24hrs later or a beer you piss out 1 hr later, your clothes wear out, you car wears out, you can recoup some moeny but is it really any more an investment that buying a fancy hat in an MMO? You don't own the movie in the movie theatre, or the play. You go to Disenyland do you take the rides home with you? do you own your favorite sports team? there are so many entertainment products we will never own physically but we will always have the memories and thats what its all about. Life is finite, enjoy it as much as you can and accept that things don't last for ever and if you what you lay out gives you pleasure and memories then thats money well spent. There is too much entitlement in the world of gaming you are paying for the experience not ownership.

    This doom and gloom thread was brought to you by Chin Up™ the new ultra high caffeine soft drink for gamers who just need that boost of happiness after a long forum session.

  • RefMinorRefMinor MyTownPosts: 3,452Member
    Originally posted by prognar

    If people actually read any mmorpg EULA, they all pretty much state directly that you are paying for a service and all digital content belongs to the service provider, the user owns nothing just an acknowledged right to use data they will never ever own, while the service is active and usualy has a small extra bla saying the provder can give up to 30 days notice on cancellation of the service.  (effectivly you pay $x to ACCESS content not OWN content) You may not see it that way, but that is what it is.

     

    And too the person complaining about lifetime subs (its the lifetime of the game not the person who payed to use the content)  Doesn't matter how much any "user" spends on an MMO you own nothing, all digital content belongs to the provider and you accept that when you hit agree on the EULA that you don't bother to read. 

    The EULAs of older MMOs are not always quite so comprehensive, thus allowing private servers, such as the original UO version in Garrets article a few weeks ago and the SWG one mentioned in this article to be run as the EULAs of the original box versions do not prohibit it.

  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Chicago, ILPosts: 2,235Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Calerxes
    There is too much entitlement in the world of gaming you are paying for the experience not ownership.

    Except for the fact that we don't "pay for experiences" anymore, and haven't in this industry for some time.

    We pay for "exclusive use" these days.  It's too shallow to even call it "an experience," because the notion that it is taken from us at a time of the seller's choosing, and not of our choosing, is fundamentally at odds with any legit entertainment I know.

    I think a reasonable person would consider the purchase of virtual "experiences" to be rather suspect.  Because it's one thing to pay for the exclusive use of a virtual costume, or the service for $60, if you know you'll experience it for ten years.  It's another thing if you have it for less than a month or two, or you never get to experience the things that were promised.  But such things have been known to happen.  Games which seem to be healthy are suddenly cancelled.

    This industry lies to us.  It tells us things are fine one day, and the next day, tells us "the party's over."  If you don't believe me, see how NCSoft told the people of Tabula Rasa that they were committed to the game long term, only to announce not two months later that it was cancelled.  Or look at CoH.  They release content additions, promise an expansion in a matter of weeks, offer costumes and a plethora of new things to buy in the item store days before it announces shutdown.  It then withdraws all ability to make a transaction the day it was announced.

    Fully legitimate industries don't do things like this.  Only scummy industries like porn, gambling, get rich quick schemes and drugs do business like that.  And they get away with it because they exploit the naiive, the good-natured and the vice-addled, who trust that this industry is going to look out for their interests, when it is clearly out to exploit them. 

    __________________________
    "Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."
    --Arcken

    "...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
    --Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

    "It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
    --Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

  • JorendoJorendo EdePosts: 263Member
    Originally posted by SysFail

    It's players not games that have led to the loss of communities at the end of the day.

     

    Yes designers have made critical errors that have led to the downfall of communities, but it's really the disposable lifestyles people lead these days, fast food, fast downloads, etc and of course the "next big thing" that lures victims from one product to the next like good little lemmings.

     

    Older gamers like myself(mid-30's) tend to be more loyal to a community we've gotten involved with, where as kids tend to flock to anything shiney like a magpie.

     

    In other words, advertisers have won as people flock from shiney product to shiney product without even given it a second thought... the zombie apocalypse has begun. ;)

     
     
     

    Agreed. 10 years ago you didn't had 100 new MMO's each month too choose from and fast internet was in its early shoes. So you sticked with what you had, cause it was either your home or there wasn't much of a alternative.

     

    I myself only got onboard the MMORPG train since the Ragnarok Online beta (my first MMORPG *sniff*) and my first pay to play was WoW. Ever since WoW i became a RPer and much involved with the communities. Two years or so after WoW something like that i believe LotrO came out. Many of the WoW community left for that game. Atleast for a month cause after that most returned to WoW again. So the WoW community (on my server atleast) had a dip for a month where LotrO had a massive community and a month later it was the other way around.

     

    WoW goes on with the community for a few years and suddenly Age of Conan comes knocking at the door. And in this year i noticed for the first time how fast a community switches cause more MMO's came out that year. Myself included. I left WoW for AoC, and again i ended up with mostly the same players as in WoW. I played AoC for a few months, then Warhammer online came out and the community made a massive switch again. Two months later Wrath of the Lich king came out and everyone returned to WoW again. In 7 months or so the communities hoped from one to another just like that. After that it seemed to be stable for a while, atleast for two years or so.

     

    These days its normal to see a bunch of big MMO titles to be released. Its not even only MMORPG's anymore. It's much harder to find a nice community these days. I play SWToR since the start and loving it. First two or three months where great, after that the community crashed down. Lucky for me was that the RP servers merged and a nice solid guild from another server joined ours. I became a member 10 months ago and that made SWToR my home to stay. I play a bit of GW2 on the side and it seems to have a solid community as well but my loyaltees lay in SWToR's community for now.

     

    Sadly most MMO's these days are only great and fun in the first 3 months when there are enough people around to make it alive. Cause everyone keeps mirrowing their play experience with another MMO they loved. Bugs and server issues are pretty much a killer now. Hearing people say how WoW is much better where they forget (or probably didn't play from the start) that WoW had insane server issues. Where maintaince days meant you couldn't play that day and often a great part of the day after either. And that it took WoW a year before they even included battlegrounds for PvP, that WoW slowly evolved. But people exspect from MMO's these days that they have atleast the ammount of content WoW has and that its bug free...where WoW after 8 or 9 years isn't even bug free.

  • DamienRayDamienRay HALTOM CITY, TXPosts: 1Member
    Ever since a few of my favortie games have closed, I've learned a lesson.  Sure I try out an F2P or Beta game here and there, but the minute they reach for my wallet, I hit the uninstall button. To draw upon some of the comments before, I'd much rather enjoy that meal, drink that beer, go to a theme park, or watch that movie. The game companies have gotten too greedy for me personally.
  • booboofingerbooboofinger Tampa, FLPosts: 94Member
    Originally posted by Calerxes

    What the hell are you going on about? You pay for the experience just like you pay for a meal you crap out 24hrs later or a beer you piss out 1 hr later, your clothes wear out, you car wears out, you can recoup some moeny but is it really any more an investment that buying a fancy hat in an MMO? You don't own the movie in the movie theatre, or the play. You go to Disenyland do you take the rides home with you? do you own your favorite sports team? there are so many entertainment products we will never own physically but we will always have the memories and thats what its all about. Life is finite, enjoy it as much as you can and accept that things don't last for ever and if you what you lay out gives you pleasure and memories then thats money well spent. There is too much entitlement in the world of gaming you are paying for the experience not ownership.

    I  have to agree with you there. Anyone who thinks they are paying to own the game is in for a heartbreak.

    I played COH/COV for years myself, but by the time it closed down, I had also moved away to other games and probably would not have returned, even if it was around. Same goes for Dungeon Runners.

    I have been playing MMOs for nearly 2 decades. And I can say with a straight face I never went back to a game I left (and there have been many). Sure, it's sad and nostalgic when a game you onced loved dies, but such is life. It would be nice to think they are still going, but once again, the chance of at least me going back to them is extremely remote.

    Come think of it, all the single player games I used to play and love cannot be played either, even though I still have the disks and CDs because the operating system my computer uses nowdays in incompatible with them.

     

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  • AnirethAnireth Posts: 599Member Uncommon

    Almost all games either still run straight away, or can be run with the use of something like compability mode, DosBox etc. Or run the old OS as virtual OS, and run the game inside. Or physically install the old OS on your hard drive.

    There are dozen if not hundreds of options to run old games.

    With MMOs, because they require a server which people usually don't have the options are quite limited.

    I'll wait to the day's end when the moon is high
    And then I'll rise with the tide with a lust for life, I'll
    Amass an army, and we'll harness a horde
    And then we'll limp across the land until we stand at the shore

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