Avoiding the Titanic

Here’s a question that might not get asked as often as “Why do you pick the MMOs to play that you do?” is “Why do you choose not to play a MMO that you might otherwise enjoy?”  By that I mean that you recognize that this is a game you probably would like, it’s right up your alley in many ways, but for one reason or another, you don’t take the plunge.

Maybe it’s because you’re overextended at the moment  — you don’t want to play more than one MMO (or more than whatever you are enjoying), or that it would constitute too much out of your monthly budget, or that you’re not spending enough time with your primary game/guild as it  is.

But sometimes it’s that the other game, as tempting as though it may be, exhibits some pretty serious red flags that makes you hesitate.  For me, whenever I consider a new MMO, I’m always evaluating its potential future — does it have a solid playerbase (which is at  least holding somewhat steady, if not growing)?  If it’s shrinking, if you hear of company layoffs, if people are fleeing it as though the ship was about to sink and they don’t want to experience the final moments of the Titanic, these are red flags that keep me from plunging in, no matter how good the game is/might have been.

Take Vanguard, for instance.  Yeah, at launch, it was an unmitigated disaster, a burden for computers to run, and saddled with scandal and heavy player criticism.  By all accounts, the game’s improved substantially, and I’ve heard several people even praise how the new dev team has performed superhuman efforts in fixing bugs and adding new content, to make it a rather enjoyable game.  And yet, when I hear reports like this, there’s just no way I’d ever want to set foot in the game.  Yeah, no MMO will last forever, but when the writing’s on the wall where the best possible future is maintaining the status quo and there are dark stormclouds on the horizons, I don’t get that “long term” feeling of commitment from their end, and so I don’t even want to begin, because what if I end up really, really liking it?

What if my fragile gaming heart will end up crushed as I fall in love at the end of its life?

Better to not have subscribed and not have lost, than to subscribe and experience an epic fail.

Or maybe that’s just the Charlie Brown in me talking.


13 thoughts on “Avoiding the Titanic

  1. Petter December 23, 2009 / 8:55 am

    I agree 100%, I do the same – especially considering the monetary, emotional and financial investments we make when dedicating ourselves to a new MMO. I am not currently subbed to Vanguard, but since I’m already considering a Station Pass…well, might as well spend a few more hours in the game. After all, it’s a lot of fun these days – I really miss diplomacy, for example.

    But you have a good point and I understand why new people stay away from Vanguard these days. Sadly.

  2. Slurms December 23, 2009 / 9:37 am

    For me it’s lately been more about playing with friends. I know I’ll be more into Fallen Earth once I start playing it (25 bucks on impulse this week!!!). But I’m with a great bunch of people in LotRO and the game is damn good to. So to me, playing with an ideal group makes up for the fact that I might not be playing my ideal game.

    Now I get to figure out if I can possibly play 2 MMO’s at once. I’ve always stated that I can’t, but maybe LotRO’s great PvE content and the new skirmishes will suppliment the fantastic crafting and purely awesome setting of Fallen Earth.

  3. spinks December 23, 2009 / 9:56 am

    Fallen Earth because the combat doesn’t fit for me, I’m the person who couldn’t even get through the tutorial because the end boss actually camped my corpse. It’s a shame because apart from that it sounds quite cool.

  4. tarisai December 23, 2009 / 10:07 am

    Avoid all MMOs that are not World of Warcraft. They will PHAIL. Fact.

    At least that’s what most new MMO upstart forums would have you believe. It eventually becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as people leave because the bugs of a new start show signs that “this game will never be polished” – cause WoW doesn’t have bugs.
    Those that do leave and are spiteful with the fact they are enslaved by WoW will stick around in the forums proclaiming how fail this new MMO is…even though they don’t play it.
    This puts many prospective subscribers off.

    And so begins the cycle of devs striving to meet the ill informed demands of MMO tourists, which kills their established game plan and ushers rushed and panic induced “fixes”.
    New subs don’t come in ’cause the forums turn into a strobing “Enter at own risk” neon.
    Players who were with the game from launch eventually leave due to lack of direction as the devs are struggling to identify who they are to please.

    I try to avoid the games the nay sayers are grilling – they always get their way which makes them…happy? Not a clue.

  5. SynCaine December 23, 2009 / 10:48 am

    It’s a very valid point (and a PR nightmare for a game like VG), after all we play MMOs because they are in theory limitless, with no ‘game over’ screen at the end. Even if you feel that there is a chance you might actually see that ‘game over’ screen, it’s hard to mentally ignore it and settle into something for the long haul.

  6. Graktar December 23, 2009 / 1:21 pm

    I’m avoiding WAR for reasons sort of like that. WAR is only fun if there are lots of players, and my higher level characters are currently stuck on a low pop realm (even in primetime) with no transfers available. I transfered them to that server earlier in the year because it was bustling. Now it’s dead. There are other servers that are bustling, but why should I invest time and money in the game if a few months down the line the population will to too low for it to be enjoyable? Thus WAR’s doom is self-fulfilling . . .

    I also avoid WoW. Even though it has a lot of things going for it it’s a massive timesink and I just don’t have much time. WoW is not a game where you can log on for 30 minutes and expect to make much progress. I managed to hit level 72 on my druid after Wrath came out and then quit. It was abundantly apparent that I was going to spend vast amounts of time and effort just to “rebuild” my character to reach the same relative level of effectiveness as before the expansion, and then sooner or later they’d raise the cap and start the whole thing over again. Now, my character is level 72 most everyone else is level 80 in full epics. I’d have to solo for months before I’d be able to play with my friends again, and what’s the point in that? So, I avoid WoW as a pointless timesink of a game.

  7. Blue Kae December 23, 2009 / 3:54 pm

    I don’t consider the possible lifespan of the game. If I’m interested in the setting, graphics, and gameplay of an MMO then I’m happy.

    With the number of games out now, though, time is the major limiting factor for me. With two primary and one occasional game, if I start playing any new games then I’ll have to drop one of the ones I’m already playing.

  8. Mesar December 23, 2009 / 4:14 pm


    WoW is a very different experience with the introduction of 3.3’s Looking For Dungeon tool.

    I re-subbed to WoW a week before 3.3, expecting a long solo content to end level. Now I can camp the AH in SW and queue for a Dungeon and within 5 minutes I’m teleported to SFK for a 30 minute dungeon run with a reasonable chance of success. You even get a random blue in your gearbag as a “reward” for downing the boss (and putting up with the PUG).

    With all the boss nerfs, healer and tank buffs, it seems that any PUG can get through content if they’re not goofing off.

    For me, WoW 3.3 feels like a 3D Diablo with the capital cities as lobbies. I can do instanced PvP, instanced PvE, or a little world exploration when I feel like relaxing or leveling my gathering skills.

    There’s not a lot of challenge left in WoW, but I just play it on an “arcade fun” and economy PvP level, and it fills that niche rather well.

  9. Buhallin December 23, 2009 / 4:41 pm

    At the moment, I’m pretty much avoiding all of them.

    Was pretty heavy into Fallen Earth until Dragon Age hit, and the origin story pointed a very large, very bright spotlight on the completely weak nature of MMO stories. After that, I just couldn’t run another 10 minutes to kill another 10 (wait, who was I killing that time again?).

    Tried to get back into WAR with the reinvite. Reactivated, patched, loaded up, and stared at the red splotches on my map. Even with the quest titles and tooltips, I couldn’t find a point to any of it. And, again, a single player game showed how dull and lifeless it really was, as my second playthrough of Force Unleashed was calling to me.

    So right now I’m holding out hope that TOR will live up to its promise of deeper stories and interesting interaction, because at the moment the horrible, shallow repetitiveness of MMO design crushes my soul if I get within 20 feet of them. So at least for now I seem to not be playing the MMOs I might enjoy because they’re MMOs.

  10. Brian 'Psychochild' Green December 24, 2009 / 6:49 am

    The problem is that failure often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A game doesn’t look like it’ll be a big success, so people hold off, so it’s not a big success and falters. Very interesting that people hold this type of attitude, when a decade ago everyone swore MMOs were undying.

    I strongly encourage people to check out a new game that sounds interesting. You can give the latest WoW clone a skip, but do support people who are trying to offer something even partially original. We need more encouragement to do that.

  11. sente December 25, 2009 / 7:40 pm

    Sorry, I do not get the attitude to avoid a game because it might not be doing all that well, even if it actually look fun and interesting.

    Why not enjoy the games for what they are with the people that play them, instead of worrying if there is a death in the future for the game? It is your time and your enjoyment, it should not be decided by what others appear to think.

  12. Jeromai December 26, 2009 / 2:51 am

    Conversely, a report like that for a game I’m interested in makes me want to at least give it a try before it sinks forever and is no longer playable except in nostalgic memories. The key is to not set up long term goals in those types of games and just enjoy the present ride.

    I do evaluate future potential for an MMO that I’m considering sticking around for the long-term. If I find there’s probably not much hope down that road, then goals have to be re-evaluated towards short term give-it-a-shot ones. The good news is that I can write them off as a short 1-3 month dent in the wallet, versus a 3-4 year installment commitment plan.

  13. MewmewGirl December 26, 2009 / 4:27 pm

    No game is forever. It’s all the same – time spent having fun or not. If I have a lot of fun during a time a game is up, that is a great thing. It’s not like it’s real work, with real value, it’s just entertainment.

    It’s like TV. FLCL was one of the shortest anime runs in history, on purpose even, but I loved it and enjoyed my time with it. A long drawn out series that continues on forever, yeah those can be fun to (but I can also get bored with them, depending on the series).

    No game is leaving you “high and dry” as long as you have enjoyed yourself while playing. Am I going to miss out on some excellent title because I’m scared it may not be around forever? No way!

    Tabula Rasa was a great experience that I will always remember and it was definitely a different game than what was out there. I am super happy that I got to play it while it was here. I loved my time with the game, that it was short was too bad, but it was great and I forever have that great experience in my mind. If I hadn’t signed up for it and missed it totally, that’s when I would have felt cheated and upset.

    If a game looks fun for you, buy it, don’t avoid it being scared that it won’t be around forever. You’ll miss a good time, no matter how long it is, and maybe miss one of the best memories you ever would have kept for your gaming experiences.

    If you really end up liking it, you will have that wonderful memory of time in the game forever. You will experience something new and different than other games have had, and while the time may be shorter, it can be great quality time that stays with you forever.

    Get what feels right and fun for you, don’t listen to this article and avoid a game worried that it may not keep going. Heck, if enough people did that, they may kill off a game that would have kept going, but they all were so scared to buy it, that it never got to take off.

    Thanks for this article tho, it gives me an excuse to write a blog that says the complete opposite thing that you have 😀

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