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Reader Comments (23)

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:04PM Anatidae said

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Good article.

Of course, the fact that MMOs can live on after a lousy release has the unfortunately side effect of creating more competition in the marketplace.

At least when a console game sucks, it sucks and sort of dies away. An MMO can suddenly come alive again - you never know.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:53PM (Unverified) said

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I think the missing features, bugs, broken promises for release items are basically a scapegoat for the game just plain not being all that much fun in the first place. What makes a game fun and addictive (or not) is a hard thing to put your finger on sometimes, so it's much easier to just point out the obvious flaws. "OMG I clip on staircases this game blows!"

Anyone around for WoW's launch remembers it being quite buggy and lacking content in certain areas... yet it was an assload of fun despite those things. That's why people kept playing and subscribing while they continuously whined about the problems.

That's why games hardly ever get a second chance from most gamers. It's not that they can't be forgiven for the game not being 100% ready and bug-free, it's that they weren't that engaging to begin with.
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Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:21PM Rihahn said

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I think it boils down to the hype machine.

Developers and publishers spend so much money creating and maintaining fanboys for years prior to release that when the game fails to deliver the backlash is crippling.

Forums are also a point of failure in that the vocal minority are given far to big of a presence and that sways the fence-sitters.

Then there's the psychological reality of humanity in that no one likes to be wrong alone... Which is similar to the reasons why smokers congregate. So when the game irks enough people, you get a snowballing effect that takes people who aren't rabid 'pro' or 'anti' and sways them to either polarity.

Ultimately though I think it hinges on first impressions. My first few weeks in Vanguard were horrible; mobs falling through the world, bad leashing mechanics, doors that could cause CTDs... And ever since then I can't look at the Vanguard box on my shelf without grumbling - even though the logical part of my brain says they've probably fixed those things - and as such I'm a permanent loss to the game.

Posted: Aug 29th 2008 1:54AM breezer said

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Exactly. It's all about the hype. Vanguard was so ridiculously over-hyped (and under-marketed, funny how that happened), that they set it up to be epic-ly disappointing.

A lot of people (like myself) who tried really hard to like the game, ultimately felt really betrayed. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to even say that now, but... it's true.

That's why I've been very, VERY wary of WAR, what with that obnoxious Paul guy who is clearly being paid to say anything and everything to hype the game beyond anything that even sexy-Jesus himself could create. I hope it's a good game, but let me tell you how surprised I'd be if it's just an average game: not very.
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Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:23PM (Unverified) said

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Pretty much hit the nail on the head with the whiners thing, but missed out on part of the problem as well.

How often have you actually heard the "No MMO ever goes live fully functional" before a launch to cover defects because people are so psyched about a game, only to have them do a 180 if the game doesn't instantly gratify them afterwards, blaming it for the missing features that were defended earlier?

It's not just being feckle and whiny, overall I think a lot of people really aren't very good at managing their expectations. And what games gain with launch hype, they lose due to this, to the point where further bashing is populair because, as you say, the whiners are the loudest so they can all pat each other on the backs.

We as a market are our own worst enemy really and while we can partially blame developers for playing on our too high expectations, we should certainly look at ourselves as well. When will we learn?

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:29PM (Unverified) said

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I'm typically willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

However, I've been playing mmo's for years and have become less tolerant of buggy gameplay as time passes.

I think it is a function of getting older and having less time for video games in general. I have a limited number of gaming hours in a week and I am not going to spend them playing a buggy, unfinished or unfun game.

As for why I don't come back to try a game. If a developer has already treated me like a chump by wasting my time once, why do I think they have suddenly changed?

A perfect example would be funcom. They had an awful launch with AO with many flaws. I played that game for two years because I like the concept and had made many good friends. In the end however, I was still fighting the same flaws and bugs at two years as I was when I first started playing. They say they have a good game now but I can't get past their previous behavior.

Then take their AoC launch. They should know the premium players place on playability. They should know how to write and run a stable game. Unfortunately, Funcom had the same rocky start as AO. A company should not be repeating those types of mistakes.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 4:34PM Mystal said

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To many people, getting the full experience from an MMO means being there almost from the start.

It's often possible to have a somewhat sane play schedule and still take part in most of a game's activities, because a smart designer will tune the game to allow the "average" player to play.

When you show up a year later, however, you have a lot of ground to cover. New content is generally not targeted at new players, but at existing players, so the longer you wait to enter a game, the harder it is to ever "catch up" without playing an excessive number of hours.

Even in a game like WoW, I had gotten to the point of telling friends who were on the fence "now is probably the last sane moment to get into the game, because soon there's going to be another level cap raise, and it could take you a full expansion cycle (1-2 years) to actually catch up to established players.

WoW is an incredibly friendly game for casual players. Something like EQ2 or FFXI is not nearly as forgiving. A friend of mine made the "mistake" of starting FFXI when it was first released in NA on the PS-2 (several years after the launch in Japan and at least a year after the PC launch in NA). It took him literally 3+ years to get caught up to the "top" players in the game despite often playing 30 hours in a week.

If your goal is to actually be a part of the large social group of max/high level players, joining late is a great disadvantage. THAT's why.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 5:59PM Nadril said

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Sorry but I don't agree with this article. Yes, some points are quite correct -- gamers are often fickle people and a game really only has one chance to "get" them. However your actual article is just full of problems.


For one many players (including I) don't want to reward a company who lies, cheats and hypes up their game beyond proportions with subscription money. Age of Conan was not just a game with missing features, broken promises, buggy content but a game that had all of that AND was hyped (and still is, by Funcom) as the next big thing. They hang this carrot on a stick in front of players (PvP patch, DX10) and just keep "delaying" it so that players keep up subscribing and just waiting.


Also your number of 400,000 is horribly inaccurate and, as a writer for a fairly popular blog, I'm amazed you're getting away with it. For one those numbers add in all of the trial accounts, any account that still has time paid (so the people who got 3 and 6 month cards because they expected the game to be incredible are lumped in) and the number does nothing to address the actual PLAYER BASE in the game currently.

Most servers are fairly dead. Over a month and a half ago Tyranny only would have a couple of instances in Khesh, and maybe 1 or 2 in other zones. Compared to launch they had tons and tons of instances.

On off peak times some of the dead servers (pve mostly) have had 200 players online at once. These are off peak times, but still.


Anyways the point is is that other games, such as Vanguard, Everquest II, ect. (Not sure if I'd lump in TR) had honest problems that were fixed. For Vanguard not only was it picked up by a much larger company (SoE) but the company that had done it at first ran out of money (Sigel).

Everquest II just had some poor design decisions at launch and a graphics engine that was too advanced for the time. They knew this, acknowledged it, and fixed it.


So sorry but I disagree with what you have said. Age of Conan is in a bad state right now, and Funcom is not looking good even from a monetary stance.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 8:42PM Ayenn said

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Wow, not to flame... but

I turned you off at "lies, cheats and hypes". It's pretty obvious to me the reason you disagree is because you are the type of player pointed out in the article. Thanks for the succinct example.
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Posted: Aug 28th 2008 8:48PM Nadril said

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So, this is the part where you explain to me how they did not lie, scam (cheat) and hype.


Lies: They said that the PvP system would be in launch. They said that there would be DX10 at launch. They actually said that A LOT OF STUFF would be at launch which wasn't, and they kept a tight NDA up so that no one could say anything.

Scams: acording to the game box it is "DX10 enabled" when it actually isn't. *hint hint* that is false advertisement.

Hype: Earlington, that is all. Even now he says that they had "a really really good launch" and that "a few things could be better" when it couldn't be any further away from the truth.



I've brought my facts, where are yours? Also I love how you did not read the majority of my post and simply dismissed it because I said something you did not want to hear. If any other kind of company (other than a game company) did what Funcom did they would be in serious trouble.
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Posted: Aug 29th 2008 9:32AM Ayenn said

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actually all of the things you pointed out are not true as you have stated them.

the PVP system was in at launch. you could PVP and that is what they promised you could do.

now where in my SE box does it say it it DX10 enabled. before the actual boxes went out FC stated that DX10 was not going to be enabled until some time within the first year after launch.


wishing something to be true cannot make it true... example, i am wishing you will leave this alone now... reality, you won't.

thanks, love you, bye bye
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Posted: Aug 29th 2008 9:53AM Nadril said

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Quick post here, but they did intend for PvP levels to be in at launch. Or at least, thats what they said. Elsewise they wouldn't have had the damned things on their GUI.


Also DX10 is on the back of the box, are you fucking blind?
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Posted: Aug 29th 2008 2:29PM (Unverified) said

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Man, Nadril they burned you hard didn't they? I remember when you were all about AoC on here. I'll agree with the bulk of that, Funcom has done a very poor job of admitting to the games short comings. Regardless of what anyone says they have been extremely misleading in regards to what they intend to do with the game, and in what kind of a time frame.

Funcom is definitly not in a happy place right now, I mean how could you be when your own CEO doesn't even have enough faith to keep his shares?
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Posted: Aug 28th 2008 6:24PM Severius said

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For myself if a game promises one thing and delivers something far less they do not deserve another shot. So, they come out with the stuff promised 6 months later? All that means is that instead of actually progressing the game forward they are spending their time working on what was initially promised setting back timetables for everything else.

To come back to a game like that is, in essence, rewarding the management, developers, company and prublisher for their lies, ineptitude and piss poor job overall.

Screw me once shame on you, screw me twice shame on me. I do not ever intend to set myself up for a double screw over.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 8:26PM (Unverified) said

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Trust.

How do you trust someone when they lied/misled you?

How do you trust them to deliver quality, after failing to live up to their own launch promises?

How do you know that if you DO give them a second chance, they wont let you down after you grind your way to max level?

Once bitten, twice shy.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 9:10PM J Brad Hicks said

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What your analysis leaves out is the industry-standard practice of laying off 40% to 70% of the coders, no later than the 3-month mark, usually in an attempt to fund yet another attempt at competing with WoW. What your analysis gets right is that it is pretty common for games to get better over the first three months. But what your analysis leaves out is that, at about the three month mark, what you see is what you get.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 10:05PM (Unverified) said

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Competition is why. People that play these games, at least the majority, play them to be competitive with others. That said when I decide to play a game I am in the group that powers through the game from day 1 to be the best or among the best the fastest on the server. That reason alone is why people don't come back to those games. This ties into almost all aspects of MMORPGS.

You also have to consider that this is not 10 years ago when MMORPGS were in their birth stage. This day and age you can't throw out a MMORPG like AOC did and give the excuse that "it just got released all mmorpgs have a billion bugs when they just get released". That just doesn't cut it in todays standards and is the reason you see 50 percent of that games initial box sales drop as subscribers, myself included.

All in all the initial launch is vital to MMORPGS success in todays standard as far as I'm concerned and the group of hardcore gamers leaving your game due to bugs in the initial days of it's release will make or break the game, period.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 10:31PM Jeromai said

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Hang on just a minute there, "having a chance" and "making it big" are two entirely different things.

MMO games will always have their niche community. All the games you mention are surviving and will continue to survive until the company running them decides to pull the plug.

It's just a question of where the population stabilizes out, in the 10k or 50k or the 100k or 200k range. And how much they can offset the cost of keeping the game running. The balance of those two implies whether a game is healthy, thriving, getting by, or keeping its head afloat. That's "having a chance" to stay alive.

"Making it big" implies a general positive view of the game by the majority, MMO players switching loyalties to the new game and standing by it, and certainly somewhere in the range of 150k subscribers and higher. Not all games can reach this standard.

Especially if they have made promises or hype that set expectations too high and then broken the trust of their players with zero/little/deceptive communication and incompetent/not fast enough fixes.

Those are the ones that get flamed across message boards by disgruntled customers. No one really bothers to go after things like DDO or EQ2 , they’re decent enough games, for their time. Just aged and yet another fantasy MMO-ish enough that few care to go back to them.

A subscription fee sets a timer clock ticking in many people's heads. They want to feel like the money spent is worth it. The psychology of pricing dictates they're going to spend a lot of time consuming the product. If the product gets used up too quickly or breaks on them or takes too long to get fixed with bad customer service, well, that's it, they're not likely to return to it.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 10:53PM (Unverified) said

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Buing a MMORPG is a matter of TRUST. Anytime the devs can screw your game expirience and screw your "investment" of regular payed subscription fee, and break apart long time social relations.

If a developer fail once, they loose this trust. Failing is very relative. AoC in example is a good game compared with others but it was so overhyped, devs promised so mutch and keep so little that it is perceived as failure. At least I will never ever trust FC again.

Posted: Aug 28th 2008 11:03PM (Unverified) said

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Oh and in addition - single player games really only get one chance: you buy it depending on the reputation of the devs and/or game magazins - and play it. Its good or its bad but you already paied for it.

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