Go Home, New MMOs! You’re Not Wanted Here!

Sometimes I get so incredibly bone-tired of the leadup to new MMORPGs, not because of the hype, but because of the anti-hype that follows in its wake.  Listen, I know that the odds aren’t good for a new MMO to make it big, to be all things for all people, or even to survive in an increasingly-crowded market.  I know that there have been promises in the past that were broken by the end of Day One post-launch.  I know that if you want to play the odds, then slamming any and all upcoming MMOs will work in your favor more often than not.

But it just saddens me that as supposed “fans” of this genre, we’re becoming so cynical, so unwilling to give anything a chance, and so quick to judge before the product is even here.  It’s great to analyze and speculate, sure, but more and more you read these heavy-handed judgments that have the air of certainty (“this game WILL fail”) and finality (“that’s it, we might as well forget it”) swirling about.

And this happens with every new piece of info that a game company releases.  The more well-known the game, the more savage the attacks (which then prompts defenders to go off the deep end in the other direction as well).  It’s said with the voice of an expert in the way things will happen, even though nobody — myself unfortunately included — can predict diddly-squat when it comes to the future in MMOs.

Don’t believe me?  Travel back a couple years and see if you can find anybody that would’ve predicted DDO’s rise from the ashes, Free Realms’ insane popularity (over other kiddy MMOs like FusionFall), the lightning-quick acceptance of RMT and item shops, the $25 sparkle pony, WAR’s great fall, Hellgate London’s failure, or Fallen Earth’s cult success.  We like to pretend that everything’s going about more or less like it’s always been, but that’s just not true.  The MMO industry is unpredictable as it is fascinating, which is what keeps me glued to the RSS feeds.

My greatest wish is that more people could come to peace with new games trying new things.  We rant about how MMOs are all alike in one breath, and then spew venom about a developer who dares to make the claim that they’re trying something different with their title.  Because it will fail, dontcha know.  It doesn’t have the right stuff.  We’re too ingrained in our ways.

Guild Wars 2 trying a dynamic event system in place of the much-hated quest/grind model?  It’ll fail!  The Secret World being more instanced and developed by FunCom?  Fail!  The Old Republic hanging its hat on story?  Fail, dude!  Never mind that, at least to me, these are three titles that I’m actually excited to see come out.  They’re breaking a cardinal rule of MMOs: they’re daring to be different.

Seriously, can’t I look forward to a new game without either being accused of falling into the hype or becoming depressed after reading loads of people frothing about how it might as well pack up and go home because fancy dancing has no place in backwater Utah?  Without checking our brains at the door, can’t we at least reserve final judgment until it comes out?

I cheered when Zubon posted this over at KTR:

“Darren senses that Bioware is missing the point of MMOs. Good for them. Our niche market is a horror of trying to stretch out the fun instead of making it more fun. Portal did not become a huge hit because it made you execute the same maneuver 50 times before moving to the next level.”

Just a frustrated little rant for this Wednesday morning.  This afternoon: puppy pictures!

14 thoughts on “Go Home, New MMOs! You’re Not Wanted Here!

  1. Scopique June 2, 2010 / 8:17 am

    Hear hear! MMO trolls are the worst, because they need to wave their e-peen around because they want someone to pay attention to them, and think of them as “visionary” and knowledgable on the subject.

    Scholars don’t get scholarly by pissing and moaning in public; they get that way by listening and studying. If these people would just STFU and give these games the benefit of the doubt, they might be surprised.

    Unfortunately, trolls like these are easy to offend, and how they can be shocked — SHOCKED! — that every MMO launches with some problems is beyond me. Really, I blame the min-max culture: people get so focused on minutae of each and every facet of the game that they don’t see the forest for the trees.

  2. pitrelli June 2, 2010 / 8:43 am

    Hmm I can see your point however I can also see from the other side of things.

    Lets face it we have all stood on the side lines and seen things like failed launches again and again and AGAIN. How long will it take for dev teams to figure out how to just launch an MMO with minimal stress to consumers? even this is enough to have people unsubscribing or unwilling to give a game a fair run.

    Then you also have to look at how many people have been burned in the past. I for one dont trust either Funcom or Cryptic to release anything complete and indeed worth the money they ask you to pay. Im sorry but I’ve paid for products from both companies and I felt extremely let down and ripped off.

    With regards to SW:ToR I’ll reserve judgement purely because I’ve not read up on a lot of the released stuff, from what I have it sounds very much a single player game *shrug* but again I will wait and see.

    I think until devs start producing products which are worthy to the hype and start delivering on the things they promise then we as a consumer have the right to question and indeed be cynical about their plans.

    It is however down to the individual themselves if they want to buy into the hype or not, noone is right or wrong here I think.

  3. Utakata June 2, 2010 / 9:38 am

    I tend to base my opinions on new MMO’s before their release on 3 things:

    1) Who is making the game. For examples, because BioWare and ArenaNet have had both very successful products that many players enjoy, my expectations are hopeful for the new games they are producing. However, because of my overall disappointment with Champions, I tend to be weary of any products put out by Cryptic.

    2) If the new games are following potential “bad habit” trends of other games released before them. Such as TERA looking like a beautiful game aesthetically, but is it following the same trend as Aion…a souless grind fest is has become to many?

    3) Player feedback in beta, NDA or otherwise. Enough partakers complaining…usually means something is up. See also: other Cryptic games.

    …but none of these are reall good inicators if the game is going to be ulitmately good for me or not. I tend to wait till the product has been out for a few months now before I reserve full judgement. Thus I keep my criticism in the meantime moderate and devoid hopefully of cynicism. But I can’t say the same for others.

  4. Stabs June 2, 2010 / 9:59 am

    Word.

    Interestingly enough Clone Wars Free Realms seems to have avoided this. Even the bitter old vets at F13 are generally optimistic about this one.

    Short hype cycle too.

  5. Erbse June 2, 2010 / 10:24 am

    Well, you can’t really blame people too much dependent on what experiences they had in their past when it comes to MMO’s – that excludes people that started and stuck with WoW to this point though, as Blizzard as a matter of fact it fairly solid.

    Now, I’ve been playing my little D2 Online (aka PristonTale) for years. In fact wasted my youth grinding away Diablo style. The game was great, and still is. The developer was Triglow Pictures at that time who later were swallowed up by Yedang Entertainment. That didn’t change much however, a lot of games on the western markets whose origins are from Asia (or Korea to be precisely) do not get the support they should. The developers usually don’t care and the games’ publisher takes the blame, while they can not and aren’t allowed to modify the games themselves. This whole situation creates a very bitter environment on the official forums on said games. Games that come to mind immediately would be ArchLord, Lineage II (to a degree) and above mentioned PristonTale. I’m certain Cabal Online and Florensia suffer(ed) from the same problem as well as many other titles.

    This leaves Korean grinders to appear in bad shape in the western world, and we all know that western MMO’s are quite different as far as the grind goes. No more endless monster army slaying, but instead disguise the grind with stupid and possible repeatable quests. This is what made WoW as successful as it is, simply because it’s so easy every moron can do it and won’t see through the scheme. If your choice of game is a Korean grinder you’re fully conscious in your choice of a playing a grinder and they won’t wrap up the grind in a shiny box with a purple ribbon for you, but straight in your face.

    The big MMO split for me happened in back in 2002 with the release of EQ2 and World of Warcraft, as those were games defying what MMOs to that day meant for many people. It worked flawlessly, obviously, hence there is not a reason new ideas won’t be working as great in the future. With a MMO fetching as many players as WoW had at some point it’s only naturally the broad mass of western players get tunnel vision and/or very narrow sighted.

    Lastly, how often did it happen that a MMO that launched wasn’t ready to be started? Warhammer is the perfect example. Even today I’d say the game is a beta rather than a finished MMO by my standards, I find it partially astounding what some companies try to charge people for these days, at least however RTM’s aren’t as widely spread yet. I’m afraid P2P + Cash Shops will become a future concept for companies.

    Guild Wars 2 according to it’s FAQ wants to heavily stick to what they did with Guild Wars 1. Granted, chances are I won’t consider both true MMO’s in the original sense, as I’m no friend of heavy instancing, but that Guild Wars was a success can in no way be denied.

    SWTOR is a game I personally are unlikely to touch due to it simply being not my style, the idea and concept is rather intriguing regardless. While I won’t sitting here and scream fail over the field I can say that they have one big task ahead of them, because most MMO’s live long due to their endgame, which I just have no idea what it’d look like in story heavy instanced MMO.

    The question of real importance however is “Will game X be the WoW Killer?!” – you must not let that discussion pass by, not if you’re a troll yourself anyway ;D

  6. Dickie June 2, 2010 / 11:02 am

    Cheers!

    I like dissecting news and talking over announced features, but predicting exactly what they’ll be and if that ONE feature means FAIL is just a bit silly.

    Personally I’ve gone so far as to remove a few blogs of late that only bother posting “shocking” posts because there’s just no reason for it. Obviously there are people that enjoy those kinds of blogs… I’m just not really sure why?

    Anyway, great post!

  7. Tarisai June 2, 2010 / 11:56 am

    I see a point well raised. We do see a lot of MMOs launch and not performing as well as hoped, not living up to the hype of the publishers and our inner ADD kids that are super pumped to play the greatest game in the cosmos.

    There are a few reasons that explain this phenomenon but the one that seems to connect, shin to groin, every time for me is lack of focus and not sticking true to the vision.

    Why do developers choose to do this? To do lots of things half assed instead of choice things extremely well; change game mechanics half way through beta to its detriment etc etc? It’s because we tell them to. Every Time.

    People complain about new features that are too far removed from established mechanics. A mass tide of negativity and doom reaches the ears of those trusted with the combination to the safe. In turn they bring the axe down on everything the trolls say will cause the humiliation and ultimate failure of the game.

    Then everyone complains that they are missing features which are simply “essential” to an MMO. So, the developers are told to botch together some second rate crafting mechanic (or whatever) to attract subscribers.

    People then log in and see everything is just exactly the same as the last game they played. This time however, everything is rough around the edges, broken and soulless.

    Cue mass evacuation. Prophecy fulfilled. Great job.

    In short:

    Dev: “Hey guys, check out the new and innovative MMO we are developing!”

    Troll: “It won’t work. Remove this and add this or it will fail”

    Dev: “We love our community! Your wish is our command!”

    Troll: “Wait, you’ve turned this into a WoW clone! WoW is way more polished than this, I’m out. You FAIL!”

    Dev: “…but. Isn’t this exactly what you asked for?”

    I’d never tell a baker how to bake my bread. I don’t even care how he/she does it but I sure appreciate the work that went into it and how good it tastes.

    If the baker took any of my input – I’d probably get a yeast infection…

  8. boatorious June 2, 2010 / 2:39 pm

    Maybe I inhabit Bizarro Blog world then, because all I ever read is how awesome incomplete MMO’s made by untested developers will be whenever they are finally ready. If the game is released this is then followed by blog posts of disappointment and grief.

  9. Hunter June 2, 2010 / 7:31 pm

    I agree. I can understand criticism and looking for flaws, but unrelenting negativity towards ideas we haven’t even seen in action yet is just plain delusional.

    Bioware has a pretty excellent track record for the most part. I enjoy their games, I doubt that’s going to change much with TOR.

  10. Yeebo June 2, 2010 / 9:46 pm

    I think GW II and ToR are getting negative backlash in certain circles because they are threatening to move the genre even further away from contentless sandboxes and forced grouping grinders than WoW did.

  11. Sinborn June 3, 2010 / 11:44 am

    I wish players would be more responsible with their evaluations, given that it is far more likely for a community to ruin a game than a game ruining a community.

  12. Dblade June 3, 2010 / 4:33 pm

    The only way we will ever be at peace with games trying new things is when we see them. You can’t say you will be innovative anymore because we’ve..well i don’t want to say we’ve been lied to, but we’ve had broken dev promise after broken dev exaggeration in just about every game.

    The problem is you say they dare to be different. I think the worry is that they say they will, but when we get them, we’ll see they aren’t. And as they hype it without actually showing, people are going to be negative.

    I think the negativity comes from these two things. Developers often promise a lot but are unable to deliver, and we don’t have concrete information that they can deliver. A lot of us wont give Bioware a pass for being Bioware any more than we would EA for being EA.

  13. Leala June 3, 2010 / 8:26 pm

    Amen. =)

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