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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:10AM Scopique said

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I'd like to know the percentages of people who DO stick with a new game over those who leave. There do seem to be those who will find a game and stay with it, even if others move on.

I'm guilty of this "tourism", but it's never something I felt bad about. A lot of times I'll actually stick with a game through launch, and then maybe another month or two...I usually lose interest in that period between the end of the honeymoon phase and the start of higher level content. You know, when all you do is quest, quest, quest?

If one game is 90% like the game that came before it, how CAN a player be expected to find what they want in a game when the ones that came before it didn't fit the bill either?

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:14AM Darkdust said

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What Scopique said.

I have stuck with two games (SWG, including post-NGE, and EVE Online) for years, though SWG finally fell by the wayside over the last year. They offer(ed) something different and kept me there.

If a game has something new and interesting and does it well, it can succeed. If it just presents a derivative, hackneyed experience full of bugs and problems, it can fail.

Nobody ever said this would be EASY, you know...

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:20AM Cendres said

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Sure but I think it may have to do with people not getting what it is they really want. By that I mean people are more likely to stick to an IP they care about no matter the bugs of the first month and frustrations of early release. It's when people aren't sure and try out and game it's far more likely they will abandon it because the game did not sway them and the IP wasn't doing that either on it's own.

I cared about LotrO as a game and so I stuck with it the first year when a lot of people moved on (and came back later...) I did not care that much about Conan though I liked a lot of things about it, so I left. Eq2 keeps me coming back no matter what new game releases.... Looks like it's the same for WoW players. Aion I really love so I'll play until something I love more comes along. The thing to blame isn't just on the players moving on too quickly, we have too much to choose from and devs have to try harder, it sucks not all games can succeed but that's how our commercial system works, you succeed you profit, you fail you disappear.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:32AM Aganazer said

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"Retention" is going to be a hot topic over the next few years. What causes player retention or abandonment? What types of features increase retention?

It seems like the last couple years have been full of "What does the player want?" instead of "What makes the player stay?". No downtime, instant travel, fast combat, quick leveling, no grind, map markers, and solo content may sound great. Those kinds of features may make a game easier to jump into, but it also makes them easier to jump out of. I enjoy those types of features, but I rarely stick with the games that use them.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 12:22PM (Unverified) said

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I just have to say that this is an *excellent* point.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 1:28PM Nadril said

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Right, lets make a game people DON'T like to play instead by sticking in arbitrary and needless time wasters. Funny enough WoW has had a lot of players stick with it for a long while, yet it is the epitome of this mindset. (ease of leveling, easy to get into)

The problem I see is that many of these games are trying to be like WoW, but they are trying to be like WoW without the content, polish or overall feel that WoW has. In the end they just get a boring gimped MMO. I'm not saying following the WoW model is a bad thing (although stepping out the box would be a welcome change) but at least get it right. Too many times developers sort of half-ass it and we end up with a game that just sucks.

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Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:34AM (Unverified) said

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The problem is that most games don't offer anything significant in gameplay or content in contrast to each other. For example, I was playing Aion for about the whole first month that I bought it, but since then I felt no real attraction to it not because it was a badly designed game, rather, I simply felt it wasn't markedly different from other existing titles. This has to be a principle cause of MMO tourism and why companies seem to be venturing off into methods that will more or less promote it (such as microtransactions and such). I'm not about to claim that it's a bad thing either, but it's becoming harder to find ways to stick with an MMO and actually form social ties within one that is at stake more so than not (as opposed to how I've made some social ties in TF2 and other FPSes by comparison...).

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:47AM myr said

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I stuck with FFXI for years. We went through some rough times together, but she really hurt me earlier this year, so I filed for divorce.

She really was good to me, though. Let me have fun with other MMOs and didn't care at all. Didn't even complain when I went away with this playful, but dumb MMO named WoW for months at a time. She was getting a little too old for my tastes though. The spark just wasn't there anymore, if you know what I mean.

Now I've met Aion. She brings me to my knees every time I lay my eyes on her. With her, I know everything will be all right.

;)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 10:47AM (Unverified) said

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We also expect more from every other game genre and games in general than we did Everquest and Ultima Online came out let alone WoW.Why should the MMO market be immune to raised expectations from it's developers?

We are and should be a lot more tolerant when a new concept and genre is being pioneered .But a decade later why should we extend this to developers who are basically giving us more of the same with minor variations or the semblance of change through smoke and mirrors?

We do accept minor bugs with every game release but any game that comes out a mess of bugs and broken mechanics in any other genre gets blasted and fails.Whilst it is accepted that MMORPG's in particular are larger than most games this should be reflected in longer development cycles and testing phases now,not in release and the months after.

MMOs are not special needs kids to be afforded different considerations and advantages than the other kids.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:00AM Mr Angry said

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Interesting, a term I used last Friday...

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:00AM Dranaerys said

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The biggest issue here is the issue of monthly subscriptions. I keep hoping and expecting the industry to adopt the freerealms/guild wars model, but each new MMO seems oblivious and intent on "stealing" loyal players from wow/EQ2/whatever, and inevitably losing msot of the people who sign up for the first month in the process.

I would even love to see some kind of model based on the asian market, wehre you pay for the hours you play - I still play wow a lot so I cant afford Aion the time Id like to, and while its he game I enjoy, I didnt renew my first month becasue I do not feel my money well spent on a game I only casually dabble in. If I were given the option to buy, say a day of gameplay, as in in-game /played time, I would lvoe to do that isntead of forking out 14 euro and feeling pressured to make the msot of my months playtime.

That system doesnt work anymore, it only works for WoW becasue it is an anomaly in the MMO market.. its time other devs find ways to keep people playing their games, that dont involve the traditional subscription models.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:06AM Wisdomandlore said

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A lot of recent games seem to be driving forward this kind of MMO tourism, mainly by over-hyping the game, then requiring pre-orders or Fileplanet subs to get into the beta ( a paid "open" beta). Lots of people jump on the bandwagon, play for the first month, then quit. This leads to strong box sales but horrible retention. WAR, AoC, and CO are guilty of this. The verdict is still out on Aion.

Honestly, the problem is that the industry hasn't evolved in any meaningful way since WoW. I recently tried about every MMO trial I could get my hands on, because I'm tired of my current game, LOTRO. Do you know where I landed up? WoW. That's because WoW is more or less the same as every other MMO out there (gameplay wise), but it has 10x the content. Developers can't expect to compete with a WoW-clone unless they can provide the same level of content (which they can't). So unless there's something original to differentiate the game, players will go elsewhere.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:12AM LaughingTarget said

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For me, it's an obvious thing. If I can't enjoy the experince in the first hour, I go elsewhere.

MMOs need a hook up front, not the idea of working for better content. Without that hook, the game won't make it. The hook could be solid gameplay, great tutorial experience or just an attractive world (not just graphics). This is where most MMOs lose my business. I don't spend my time or money to be bored.

It may also indicate the developer's lack of confidence in delivering a varied experience to hold players. Something built on a narrow or flimsy concept, like the PvP focus of WAR or superheroes like Champions. Those concepts are incredibly difficult to maintain long term content.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 1:25PM (Unverified) said

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PVP isn't a flimsy or narrow concept!
Playing against other players is more interesting than playing against computer AI.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 1:52PM LaughingTarget said

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For a pay to play game it is. I paid $20 for Team Fortress 2. If WAR was $20 and no extra fee, I'd be playing it now. The "persistence" just wasn't all that important.

As an element of a game, PvP is important. However, if I'm going to pay a subscription, I expect some kind of premium content. If PvP is all there is, that's not a good deal. WAR is an excellent online game, but it's a terrible MMO. If I could just log into Steam and jump into a fortress siege, that would be great.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:13AM (Unverified) said

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Just a general fatigue from having been there, done that. Only now I get a game with less content, less polish, and I have to grind back to endgame to see the 'real game.' I don't care how forgiving MMO hardcores are, if a game doesn't grab me in the first few hours I'm not going to slog it out to see if it grabs me a month later.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 12:01PM Cinnamoon said

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I take issue with the article's claim that it was WoW that convinced everyone to start making MMOs. I remember the first couple of years of EQ, and even ran a website devoted to tracking upcoming MMOs for my guild. There were so many, it was too exhausting to keep up. WoW may have raised the bar, but they were years behind the craze. In fact, they were the result of the craze.

I admit to being an MMO tourist, especially in the last few years, and I am not at all sad about it. I routinely go back to older games, many of which I abandoned after a month -- after a year or two, they often blossom into pretty decent games, which I might have invested money in from the start had the launched in a matured form. UO, GW, CoH, and even SWG are all examples of this (although SWG's problem wasn't its launch but its midsection). Even WoW has gotten significantly better over the years -- I can't be the only one who remembers PvP servers before honor and battlegrounds.

I don't need a "hook" from level one, since some games need a bit of age before their potential is visible, especially the persistent worlds / economy games I favor. But if the game is a boring grindfest at any level, well, there are tons of other games competing for my time. Why would I stay when I can go elsewhere? Those early games had no competition. Our standards are higher now. And right now, old games with years of content and lots of incentive to retain players, are winning over the new flashy piles of crap.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:18AM Thac0 said

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MMORPGs will retain players when the players needs are met. The MMO industry has been asking players to do almost nothing but grind leveling tread mills by killing re-skinned monsters over and over again in order to prolong subscription times. This is backfiring on them, because people aren't lemmings and wont jump off that cliff over and over again. SO, they simply vote with their dollars and leave. Developers need to give players engaging and mentally and emotionally stimulating content the way single player games do. How they do that is their job to figure out. But if they do they will have a large player base.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:40AM Belmondo said

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I wasn't impressed by the blog much. The blogger seems indifferent to the economics behind the decision to subscribe to a game. I think there are a lot of players like me who can't afford to buy every MMO that is released and so we have to decide carefully which one to go with, and when we do decide to buy one, we then have another budget-minded decision to make, is this MMO something we can afford to subscribe to? Or, to put it another way, is it worth it? I don't think it's tourism to give the game a solid month of play and then decide to say no to it. This blogger sounds like a member of the leisure class, someone who doesn't need to worry about money or how he spends his time, so that he can "tour" MMOs as they come out, and then worry if tourism is a bad thing.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2009 11:41AM SkuzBukit said

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My personal opinion is that it is not the games which are the major problem, it is the fact that the MMO audience is changed irrevocably from what it was in it's infancy.

The MMO audience, I'd refer to them as veterans, of old was a different breed, they still had expectations but they grew up, got jobs, had kids, & their available amount of free time rapidly declined.

"The ever-changing audience" was a topic title over at Moorguards site & I believe it hits upon a very real phenomenon that games developers are going to need to take into account.


MMO tourism therefore is in my view due to the "new breed" a few of the "old breed" have adopted this behaviour too but the audience in the MMO space right now is now mostly made up of players that are used to games with 1-month lifespans, I am talking console esque games with limited life-spans, this audience is in fact the real bulk of gamesplaying people, MMO players were a small subset of that & with the move into the MMO space of these players it is being shown for what it is, a mass population has moved into what was a niche activity & made it their own.

Niche games will cater to the flavours the veterans prefer while the mainstream will float around much like it did in it's prior market, buying a game each month for a new thrill each month.

Players who stick with a title are the minority now, so the market is trying to use old methodology with a new audience & plainly, it isn't working out for most.

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