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Reader Comments (57)

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:16AM Critical Mass said

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I have to say I am annoyed to hear of how success is dependent on how costly a project is. Because I have now been hearing from Funcom a couple of time how costly it is to develop an MMO, and I have to assume that they mean high development costs is both a necessity and a deciding factor, for making a successful MMO game.

Please concider that making a successful MMO game can probably be achieved with effort and more importantly a good game design. I believe I understand that making an MMO game is hard and difficult work, still I really think that the particular game design in every case is a deciding factor, unless one aim for simply a MMO's staying power, which I guess could mean anything from a steady trickle of new subscribers from 10 y.olds each year OR keeping current players hooked, playes that (presumably) know what they want to spend their time on

Posted: Sep 28th 2010 1:44AM anduz said

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I agree, if it was just about pouring a ton of money into something a lot of MMOs wouldn't be in a battle to lose their subscriberbase as slow as possible from their release date.

I'd say the success of a MMO has everything to do with your ability to continuously reinvest the money you earn into bettering your product. Blizzard have been extremely good at constantly adding features and gameplay their playerbase wanted and as a result they've been able to attract a lot of new customers over the years, probably still today.

Blizzard is obviously big bucks but CCP and a few other niche developers have frankly shown it works on much smaller budgets as well.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:13AM Pingles said

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Sure, what he says makes sense. And I don't particularly care for the trollish attacks on his first post.

However, very few AAA games seem to be thriving to the point of being called a success. Have ANY had to open new servers to accommodate their growing customer base. Most seem to be consolidating, if anything.

I think anyone who releases a finished product has a lot to be "proud" of (certainly more than the majority of commenters on blog posts) but I doubt that any Game Producers start up an MMO with the goal of just keeping the game size stable and not growing.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:26AM xyna031 said

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You wanna see a succefull AAA mmo from the beggining not like incomplete "garbage" that we have been used to since 2005? Rift is everyones answear it hink

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:54AM phobic99 said

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I sure haven't heard anything like this before!
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:07PM Dril said

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Agreed, just this week I was doing the crossword and looking for some good answears.

All I found was the agony aunt column :/
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:38AM benfolds said

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I think this is going to be even more true with the crazy number of MMO launches coming out next year. Supply will start to outstrip demand. With that said, Sub numbers will be less than desired. The gaming crowd will be stretched. But this is not any different than any other business. People see how much a title like WOW
has made and jump on the bandwagon. Eventually the business settles down into a sustainable model. How many MMO's can the market support? I think we will have our answer soon.

I can see games like Tera, SWTOR not meeting their internal numbers. Not that I wish these games bad, I certainly don't. Just a couple of examples. But with the glut of games coming out next year, it's going to be tough.

Posted: Sep 28th 2010 9:36AM FritzFricia said

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The mmo market is like a well armed blunderbuss filled with spaghetti. Some of it will stick to the crowed and they will like it. The rest of it will be wasted on the ground, waiting for a carrion to pick up its pieces and use it for something else.

Don't forget people constantly ask for better and newer things. Someday a game will outstrip WoW on impact. Just look at how Farmville hit the big times.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:39AM DarthDan said

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Interesting conversation. Loved the graphic.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 11:51AM Sunlover said

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+1 For the image used.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:14PM Meagen said

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I think it's very interesting that he talks about purposefully taking advantage of the "high population at launch, then quick decline" trend for new MMOs. Say what you like about Cryptic (and I definitely won't contradict you), but they wouldn't be launching one mediocre overhyped MMO after another if it wasn't profitable to do so. Pissing off Star Trek fans is certainly a fringe benefit, but I doubt it's the core of their business model.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:20PM Greyhame said

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Interesting topic. I do think that there's a all to eager group of people out there who want to label any MMO that they don't think meets their standard as a failure. I also think that there's a group of people who think that the only way an MMO can be successful is if it's a second WoW (which I do have doubts about ever happening again).

I do agree that Warhammer and AoC can be labelled failures because they failed to meet their original goals. But they are also successes in the fact that they did not close down, adapted and are now running profitably.

There will also be a new market of more niche type MMOs coming out where they try to be really good at one thing to attract a certain audience and keep them. They will not try to compete with the likes of games like WoW, but try to make themselves be the best they can be in the area they want to be in.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:43PM (Unverified) said

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I agree with the bolded phrase at the end of the post: It's very dangerous to assume that lower than expected subscription numbers means the game has failed.

I think we need to remember the days back before WoW, when EQ was the king of the hill for subscriptions with around 200k. Think about that for a minute: the leading MMO before WoW didn't even have 1/10th of the subscriptions WoW now has and yet it was considered a huge success in its time and really is still considered a success. Games like UO and EQ have been successful because they have lasted a long time.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:41PM Seffrid said

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I think the point is that any game that launches and is profitable is a commercial success. If it doesn't meet internal projected levels then it is not as successful as originally hoped. If it doesn't suit a particular player for whatever reason then it is not a personal success for that player but it remains a commercial success nonetheless.

Commercial profitabilty has nothing to do with whether more servers have been opened/additional staff employed, or existing servers closed/staff laid off, it has to do with the simple question of revenue exceeding costs.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 12:44PM pcgneurotic said

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The mmog discussions I dislike most are the business/financial ones, simply because it means dozens of loud know-it-alls (who actually know nothing) spouting ill-informed opinion as though it was gospel (what the Americans call 'armchair quarter-backing'). So it's great to see CM tossing glasses of cold water in everyone's faces. More please!

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 1:24PM Verus said

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While games like Warhammer, AoC and so on might make money there is another thing to consider also. One of the key components to an mmo is having a well respected game company. Thus companies like Blizzard and Bioware can sell millions of games on the name alone. That combined with making good games means they are already ahead of most other companies.

Every single time Cryptic for instance releases a new game there will be fewer people interested in signing up and trying it because they have erroded their good name.

Difficult to call an mmo a success also when they end up forced to fire tons of people and closing down most servers.

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 1:30PM Beau Hindman said

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It should be noted that it is very common for ANY subscription title to lose subs right from the very beginning. This is also common knowledge. Even WoW has admitted to possibly hitting a wall, and they were generally the exception to every rule.

You would be hard pressed to name an MMO that has constantly maintained and added large numbers of players. EVE and other titles has done well enough over the years, but it could be debated that many of those accounts are simply double, triple or even more (I know a few people that maintain even 4 accounts in some titles, EVE being the most common) of the same player.

That's why it all comes down to how the developer defines success. No matter what comments on any site say, no one dictates it but the developer. I imagine that longevity (5 years plus?) pays off in this world, much more than even several years sub numbers. When it comes down to it, a game that held hundreds of thousand of players means nothing when it just doesn't exist anymore.
Beau

Posted: Sep 27th 2010 1:43PM Deadalon said

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Hmmm I didn't know WOW started with 11 million subs on the first day....

Good games grow -- bad games don't. Its that simple in the world of MMO gaming. Both AOC and WAR are big time failures. That is ofc in the eyes of the ppl that were cheated out of a real product at launch. Those are the only ppl that matter and their opinion is the final world. Not only did alot of ppl unsub after first month.. ALOT of ppl tried to get their money back but these companies have a clear polisy of not allowing refunds...

I wonder why... ? Next time they can fool twice as many to buy something that is unfinished ?

Nope - thats EXACTLY why the ppl that were cheated need to be heard for the rest of the days that these games are up. Nothing will change the fact that the goal of the games was to cheat ppl - instead of delivering a real product. They are welcome to try to fix things for 5-10 years... but they will not "fix" that fact.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 1:45PM NeverDeath said

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"possibly hitting a wall" is not the right term. They're stagnating, they haven't had an increase in player population in a few years, because although they get new players joining, old players are quitting at an equal rate, because they've homogenized and watered down the game to try and appeal to everyone to the point that players who are looking for a challenge cannot find one, and so they grow bored and quit.

They've been stuck at 12.5 million I think for a couple years now, and I think most people know that stagnation is what usually happens before decline. Cataclysm might draw some people back for a short time, but it isn't likely to change enough about the game to keep old players who already quit interested for long, at which point they will be right back to stagnation.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2010 1:58PM Beau Hindman said

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I did not say that WoW was not successful, or is not currently successful, or that they started off with 11 million players. I said that they have not grown, essentially "hitting a wall" -- meaning that they are not adding significant numbers of new players. They have "plateaued," according to them.

This could mean many different things to a company that employs so many thousands of people.

As far as "good games grow, bad games don't" -- I am not sure what you are saying here, but I have a feeling you are saying that only good games have added significant numbers of players to their populations over the years. Or is it profits? You have to take into account that profit can come from any number of things, perhaps by adding a cash shop, a new boxed expansion/download, etc -- things that have nothing to do with numbers of players.

If you would like to list games that have significantly grown over the years, held onto those numbers, and stayed within your "good" list, I would be happy to see it. I'll bet that the list would be quite small, however. Even then, it all depends on many different factors: how many years? How many players? How much profit? What is the goal of the company? What is the long-term development cost? How much did the game cost initially? Has the game maintained similar populations, while still losing team members? How many team members equal a balance? What is that balance for that company?

It goes on and on and on. WURM Online does pretty good, for their parameters. They have added on players, and continued to pump out patches and content. One man runs it along with several volunteers. His definition of success might have absolutely nothing to do with numbers of players. Profit? Possibly. But he also has real-money currency, so again his success could have nothing to do with population. It could be argued that he could LOSE many, many players and still be very "successful" financially, spiritually, artistically....

Darkfall, as far as I know, has not stepped outside of 2 servers. What if they never do, and always maintain 2 servers? What if they run it for 15 years? They never "grew," so how would you classify that?

Again, if you want to make it into a black and white rule, go for it. I can guarantee you that the developers do not, however.

Beau
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