One thing that got me curious last night, after reading the big DDO Unlimited (DDOU? DDOEU? When do acronyms just get silly-stupid?) announcement, was the reaction of current subscribers to the news. Imagine if the MMO you’re currently subscribing to suddenly announced this shift. After all, this is their game, their turf, and it’s just been turned upside-down. Perhaps for the better, perhaps not — I went to their forums to take their temperature.
The general reactions to this announcement tended to land in one of five responses:
- Upset because this also represents a delay of a promised content patch (module 9), which the community was eagerly awaiting.
- Excited for the huge marketing push, potential influx of lots of new players, cheaper cost and (hopefully) more content than had been rolling out recently. As a dev said, “It’s kind of dumb to have a store if you’re not selling new content all the time.”
- Worried that the community will split into the VIP subscribers and the “others” (freeloading moochers, in other words).
- Concern about what happens to their characters and accounts if they downshift from subscriber to free player (which prompted Turbine to release a special FAQ that dealt with those questions).
- Unease because of a number of unknown factors — such as how their past accomplishments might be cheapened by rich folks with credit cards who pay for the same benefits.
Four out of five of those reactions are negative, mostly because it boils down to “nobody likes change”. This is a very radical move on the part of Turbine, perhaps akin to Sony’s disasterous expedition into NGE in terms of changing the face of the game. But if these fears are addressed and soothed, and if DDO grows in both player numbers and revenue, then it’ll be a gamble well worth taking. I guess, in Turbine’s eyes, they don’t really have a lot to lose here.