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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 8:45AM (Unverified) said

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Unfortunately, I fear that the game industry is following in the footsteps of the movie industry... they have the "Titanic" mindset, that bigger budget titles will draw larger crowds. Unfortunately, with bigger budgets comes less desire to try anything new, and huge aversion to risk. Fortunately, in both games and movies we have the small independent creators that are happy to jump in where the big boys fear to tread and show them how its done.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 2:08PM (Unverified) said

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I agree with your point of view on this. The only thing I can say about big budget companies is that they'll see something innovative that the smaller companies do right and either make a variation of their own or buy out the companies idea and implement it themselves. So...sadly, I must say that the smaller MMO companies need to keep being adventurous with their game design in hopes that they either pick up a huge following or get offered a handsome sum for their creation.

- S5
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 8:55AM (Unverified) said

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valid points there, Satn. it doesn't matter which industry you're talking about, however; they're all funded by marketing and driven by the bottom line.

there have been a few smaller companies which only wanted to create a quality game for a smaller niche of players instead of announcing an intention to develop the next "WoW-killer" (i know, i know... i'm tired of that phrase too, but here it's appropriate). as far as i'm concerned, the future of the industry for many of us will be made with these private companies. there are over 350 games listed on MMORPG.com already (http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/gameId/0), but most of them play exactly like the others (or close enough that the differences are negligible). instead of another big budget release to try and rival those games which are already successful, i'd much rather see a game with innovative gameplay and mechanics.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:00AM Gaugamela said

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IMO big budgets for MMOs have just been destroying the genre.
It adds an imense pressure over the developers to meet launch deadlines without the investors worrying with the quality of the game, it creates extra pressure to bring in a lot of revenue (since WoW became a cash cow it seems that every investor that puts money in a MMO expects equivalent levels of profit) and that has forced developers to introduce cash shops in games where players paid subscriptions to get away from cash shop games!

Tell me a really successfull MMO that achieved more than niche sub numbers after WoW and the huge influx of cash into MMOs?
None. Maybe Aion managed to get good subscription numbers (above 500k subscribers) and retain them. AoC, WAR, CO, STO... All those games failed to meet expectations that wwere raised by their big budgets.

The most successfull MMOs are older games like LotRO, DDO, EQ2, EVE...

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:19AM Warrior said

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"Or is it choking out smaller studios that have to compete with games that can afford a much larger staff and development team?"

No, of course not. Imagine a spectrum with large productions at one end and small productions at the other end. The farther bigger companies go toward one end, the more opportunities there are for smaller companies at the other end, and vice versa. Can small businesses compete? Yes, but not in the same categories as the larger firms. This dynamic indicates maturation and evolves in all industries.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:19AM (Unverified) said

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Wasn't CCP considered a small studio with a small budget before it brought us EVE Online?

And what about "Love" (the MMOG)?

Like Hollywood and the movie industry, the bigger the studios and the budgets the more opportunities for the "little guy" to be successful as the market expands. "Briar Witch Project", "Slumdog Millionaire" and "District 9" come immediately to mind. We can thank WoW for expanding the market -- even if we do not play it.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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er, make that "Blair Witch Project."

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:29AM Crsh said

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Blizzard raised the bar for what kind of development budget should be put in a MMO; the original game benefited from having somewhere between 50 and 70 millions allocated to creating it. Many, if not most, developers doesn't have that kind of money and publishers would prefer not to sink in that much money either.

Either the initial release will be made with a more limited scope in hope it will catch on (see: Eve, LotRO), or greater funding will be made available at the cost of building up unrealistic expectations for the game (see: AoC, WAR, etc).

I think it's perfectly realistic to make a great MMO without having 50-70 millions to back you up, as long as you don't lose sight of what the project is about and have an ungodly drive to see it happen.

Resorting to using over-the-top marketing to hype up a game you know is doomed from the start isn't going to save it, that's probably the most obvious sign that someone, somewhere lost focus and let down the project.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:36AM whateveryousay said

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I think the bigger problem small studios face is advertising. It costs too much to do it on a level that will ensure your audience knows your game is out there, and most of the time there just isn't room in the budget for it; but if no one knows your game exists it doesn't matter how good it is. When it comes to advertising, big studios have the real advantage.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:41AM (Unverified) said

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I've gotta agree with Satn. The problem isn't the size of the budget or the studio, these are things that should conceivably lead to more and better content and better customer service.

The problem is that MMOs, more than any other type of game, are geared towards social engineering of the players. Quests in so many games are not designed with "Is this fun?" in mind, but rather, "How many additional hours of activity will this create for the player?".

Case in point, games with high level limits suggest developers are shooting for lots of play time when instead they need to be making the play time as enjoyable as possible. If your game was fun to play, nobody would notice or care if they didn't have lots of XP to collect to win.

-SirNiko

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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Its yes sort of. The trouble with the big budgets is they go for looks rather than substance. Some of these games looked great but had little content or decent writing. Its sad to see MMOs going the way of FPS... like the travesty that was MW2. They need to realise that storyline and engaging game-play is what draws people to MMOs. I really hope that MMOs-in-name-only like Global Agenda are not the trend.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 9:56AM (Unverified) said

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More resources flowing into the genre has to be ultimately good, but at the same time the increased pressures for instant success are giving us whacky side-schemes to make money just in case the game is crap. The "sparkling pony effect" is worrying to me because I can see these big companies simply focusing on that minority of players willing and able to throw money away on whatever sparkles brightest at the moment.

It's like a major record company that can choose to back a band of serious musicians that might not make you instantly horny, or they can find some teenage girl/boy that will flop around on stage in a thong and almost sing.

The first MMO that sells an in-game sparkling thong will win the internet.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 11:46AM (Unverified) said

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"The first MMO that sells an in-game sparkling thong will win the internet."

Isn't Final Fantasy XIV introducing intimate apparel and do they have (or have plans for) a cash shop?
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:07AM Valdur said

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Unfortunately,the big budget MMO tends to get more and more shiny.And the shinier they are,the dumber it gets.

MMO is only a cash cow nothing more and year after year MMO players simply feed the beast with pre-ordering CE or buying lifetime subs to later find out that it was not as they believe it was.

Marketing should know when to shut the f*&^* up if they have nothing to show or play,instead of hyping their product two or three years in advance to then release beta versions as retail versions.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:36AM Rialle said

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At this point I want to see advances to aspects of MMOs outside of pure combat and adding whatever bling they can to the mounts and gear. The size of the budget is not the problem, per-say. What is done with the budget is important.

If the entire budget is blown on making a WoW clone, except with prettier graphics, then I'm really not interested anymore.

If the budget is spent on fleshing out areas of gameplay where most fall short (Such as crafting, exploration, or advancement of your character outside of just getting better gear...) then I'll take notice.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 2:21PM (Unverified) said

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Totally. If every other MMO comes out a wow-clone with the same crap metagame, then... why not play WoW? Or just quit altogether, which is what I did.
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Posted: Apr 25th 2010 10:57AM Wisdomandlore said

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If anything MMOs suffer from budgets that aren't big enough. So many games in the last generation have been close to good, but then rushed out the door because investors want to see a return. If they had given a little more time and money instead, those games might have been something special instead of the disappointments they became.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 1:38PM Lateris said

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Yes they are. I am afraid that the bubble will burst

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 3:00PM Stormwaltz said

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It's not just MMORPGs. The "blockbuster" mentality has poisoned the entire industry as publishers began to believe their own hype about being as big as films. I hear "go big or go home" and awful lot.

Look at the Mass Effect games. In development for years, with a budgets in the tens of millions, and requiring sales in the millions to merely break even with their development costs.

It's not sustainable.

Posted: Apr 25th 2010 3:56PM Cendres said

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Rawwr! :P Yes I agree very much, which is why I'm starting to feel better subbing to smaller companies then bigger ones, I'd rather help out something smaller with a closer connection to what their players are saying to them, then the bigger companies who have to worry more about sustaining quantity over quality.

Was playing Fallout 3 yesterday the Broken Steel DLC and was staggered to find obvious bugs with it. If you're not going to even bother polishing something and still charge your customers for the product why even bother publishing it? This is the kind of thing I'll forgive smaller studios, who will then patch things as fast as they can, but not bigger ones who should know better.

Like anything it's a balance game.
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