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Reader Comments (29)

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:14PM Darkkhorse said

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umm... Eastern games run better because they are smaller maps and less customization on character models. So the client only has to load a few models. While "Western" games, as you put it, have to load a number of model's and have much larger maps that usually don't involve zoning. although, we have been moving in that direction as of late.

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:55PM Beau Hindman said

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@Darkkhorse That might have something to do with it, especially 6 or 7 years ago, but as you point out Western games have been doing the opposite for quite some time.

I can name as many ftp games that might feature larger zones as there are Western games. Forsaken World is amazingly detailed and pretty, and features massive zones (I am blanking out how deep instancing goes.)

Interesting comments, guys. The subject is a little hard to get on "paper" mainly because there are so many games that skirt all edges. Also, there are many MMOs that come from different areas and have styles of their own. So, yeh, I'm using pretty general talk here.

Beau
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Posted: Jan 27th 2011 8:01PM Fakeassname said

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@Tempes Magus

eastern game usually run more stable than their western counterparts because eastern computers tend to have a more stable hardware base.

it is a fact that most of the eastern attitude towards gaming is that consoles are for games / PC's are for work. the exception to this being MMO's, yet since most eastern users still consider the PC a tool for work (that they also play a game on, as opposed to the western mentality of a PC being a gaming platform that you can also do work on) they tend to only upgrade them when they stop being efficient for technical purposes.

as a result most PC's in Asia are still running windows XP, with a single core processor, a GFX card that is two generations behind the western market, and ~1.5 gig of ram. since eastern PC's have a more stable hardware base, game developers have got a steadier target to develop for: resulting in a more stable code.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:16PM Vestas said

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While I'll agree that games like Aion and Vindictus have brought my opinion of Eastern MMO graphics up quite a bit, it's a bit of a falacy to say that Eastern games beat Westerns on graphics when most of the eastern market consists of imports that are old and dated. Many recent western MMO's have tried to capture the "WoW" graphical style (in the ill-fated belief that it's looks that made WoW popular). But many have also pumped out some shockingly powerful graphics engines, like Age of Conan and Rift. I'd argue the density of high powered engines is about the same when narrowing the field to the quality titles. If you open the field to all eastern imports, the bar goes down for many eastern titles significantly.

In terms of the markets coming together, I'd also disagree that East has not met West. Free to play is merging with subscription certainly but to state that those two things are synonomous with East/West is a bit of a stretch. The western market is experimenting with F2P models because investors like to see really big sub numbers and F2P makes that happen. And if monetized right, can in turn increase the cash flow a bit. But they are trying very hard to stay away from things that make asian games, asian games (beyond the "grind" debate, which modern Asian games retain, i.e. look at Aion before some recent changes, it's about style, art, world setting etc). That and in the US the push to go F2P wasn't to compete or take good ideas from the western market, it's more from the "Oooh look at all the money Farmville made..."

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:48PM Gildas said

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@Vestas
I think what he's getting at is that Eastern games tend to be more outgoing with their style and the attention that is given to style. Western games tend to play safe when it comes to art direction, if not being a bit uninspired. A game can have all of the latest graphical technology and still not look as pleasing or interesting as a game with original designs and inspired art direction.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:16PM TheJackman said

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Eastern free-to-play give mmos a bad name I am sorry there may me some good games out there! But really most Eastern free-to-play mmos are just bad games!

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:52PM Revrent said

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@TheJackman Seriously how many good western moms have come out in the last 3 years?
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:53PM Revrent said

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@Revrent Mom = MMO ..
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:25PM Mistafish said

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FlyFF was my first mmo ever, let alone free or otherwise. I had some good times (still have many gPotatos to spend) but moved on to bigger and better things.

Latest obsession if RIFT, soon to be TERA!

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 6:57PM Jade Effect said

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I laugh when people call Eastern MMO games "grindy". Western MMO games have simply hid the grind:

(a) Traditional mob grind - Lord of the Ring Online slayer deeds
(b) Gear grind by gated dungeon content
(c) Reputation points grind
(d) PvP points grind - Warhammer Online renown rank grind
(e) Vanity grind - grinding for the sake of a cool-sounding title, or a different color mount, etc

Anyway, I expect MMO companies (whether East or West) will copy best practices from each other and adapt these practices to their market. No doubt Western MMO companies have learnt a lot from their Eastern counterpart's f2p model.

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:48PM Justpotatoes said

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@Jade Effect

I think you've hit the proverbial nail on the head here. Western games have gotten very good at hiding their grind, or at least deferring it until end game. We're still killing things, interspersed with the occasional "use this item" quests.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 8:36PM DiscoJer said

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@Jade Effect

Indeed. LOTRO has pretty much all of those types of grind, resulting in probably the grindiest game I've ever played.

Not to mention the grind for crafting (and crafting rep) and the huge grind involved in Legendary Items. Not just leveling them, but also having to grind relics

While it might not have the brutal amounts of XP required to level that some games from the East have, I don't think there is a game in existance that has more grinding built into the game at almost every level.
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Posted: Jan 27th 2011 3:29AM Delita said

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@DiscoJer I find it precious that you seem to detest the game so much yet never miss a chance to comment about it.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:43PM Luk said

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@Tempes Magus
I think you answered your own posts pretty well.

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 7:49PM Dblade said

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@Tempes Magus because a mount isn't power, but buying random gear, xp boosting potions, and other things is. Vanity items versus power multiplying items.

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 8:21PM markt50 said

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Well, I gotta say I don't agree with most of this article, don't mean it in a bad way, it was an interesting read and a valid point of view, but definately one I don't agree with.

There is something that I find impossible to define but that I will label as 'Quality', when I play western games they each attain a certain feeling of 'Quality' that for me is just missing in Eastern MMO's whether they are F2P or even the subscription based games such as AION. There is still a difference, a vast difference in the way the games play and feel imho. There is something different about the way the Grind feels in an Eastern MMO that I can't quite put my finger on.

And on the subject of the acceptance if ingame shops, I'm not so sure if the acceptance is as willing as the games companies would like, I mean it's not like we've had much choice as most games in the West have ended up putting in cash shops and I've seen the population of said games plummet and know first hand the impact it has had on Guild membership levels etc (EQ2 I'm looking at you), I'm only gratefull that for the most part they've limited it to 'fluff' items with some notable exceptions, but there is still a line for many Western players imho.

For example, I will accept a game that has a subscription and a ingame store if it only sells cosmetic 'fluff' if you will, the second they sell any items that give an ingame advantage then I'm done. The problem is that what is cosmetic 'fluff' to one person is maybe not to another. I just go off my own gut feeling, for example I played Fallen Earth from launch and it was a great game, they day they put up the goggles and the dog on the ingame store was the day I cancelled, they crossed that line, my line, and were selling stuff beyond fluff.

The worst thing that I could ever think possibly happening in the future for MMO's would be the acceptance of ingame store for %100 revenue. If I cannot sub to a game then I don't really want to play, and I still much prefer a sub over not paying a sub. Heck, I would prefer to pay a higher sub if it meant not having to deal with an ingame store. There is just something about the 'Principle' of the ingame store and the impact on gameplay that really bothers me.

I tend to over compensate if a game goes F2P then it is usually the last they see of money from me, for example LOTRO, I had a lifetime subscription plus an additional monthly sub. I dislike some of the things they've put on the store so I just know I will never spend a dime or use the store as a result, heck, I still have over 7000 points sat on my lifetime sub that will never get touched because I find the store so distateful :( and I cancelled my monthly sub. I also find I rarely log on these days as it has just spoilt the game pretty much for me.

Maybe I'm just turning into a grumpy old git, but I really do not like the way MMO's are heading and this acceptance of F2P and cash shops. I just think that the traditional subscription model is so much better for gameplay, but meh, what do I know. Finally, sorry I've waffled so much already, but I think there is a balance out there for a F2P model that I'd find acceptable but it just hasn't been perfected yet, I think turbine were almost there by the fact you could earn TP ingame for use in the store, but then ruined it with some of the stuff they decided to put up for sale, so maybe oneday someone will get it right, but I'd still rather just pay my monthly sub and have that be the end of it :)

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 5:37AM markt50 said

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@Tempes Magus

I'm afraid I completely disagree, it is F2P games and their ingame cash stores that are bad for gameplay imho.

I've mentioned it before but I'll mention it again, it has a very negative impact on gameplay and it's future development. When a game is relying for 100% of it's revenue via Microtransactions then the game has to be 'tweaked' to encourage sales, whether thats through dialing down XP in order to flog XP pots, putting in a raid boss that does uber fire damage in order to flog fire resistance tomes, or even directly selling gear that gives an advantage (This is especially bad in PvP games).

I'm not saying that Subscription only is perfect, but it is a heck of a lot better than any of the F2P with Cash Shops games I've tried. At the end of the day I'm not stupid, there is a reason why I have prefered to play subscription based games since I started with Ultima Online, that reason is that the games I have played for the last 10 years have offered me more enjoyment and a better experience for the cost of the subscription. I try many F2P games, both East and West, and not a single one has managed to get me to play for any length of time or convince me that the finance model is better for me than a subscription based game.

I'll put it this way, the day I play a F2P game where you can NOT buy anything from the ingame store that gives even a 0.0001% advantage, that requires me to make no purchases from it at all to compete on a level playing field with those who spend hundreds of $ a month, that is day I'll admit I've found a F2P game that has the balance right, the game would also go brankrupt in months I suspect though.

All just my opinion obviously, I get the feeling were at opposite ends of the discussion here and unlikely to ever change each others opinion, I'm just simply saying that I know from family, friends and former guildies that there are many many people out there with a similar attitude as myself and who much prefer a subscription based game.
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Posted: Jan 28th 2011 8:51AM markt50 said

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@Tempes Magus

I'm going to ignore the somewhat insulting tone of your posts and chalk it up as not translating well in text, unless you meant to be insulting in which case, fair enough ;)

I can once again only try to explain my point of view, and I am not trying to change yours, you are obviously a fan of F2P and that is fair enough.

The thing to remember about my objection to F2P is that it is entirelly based around gameplay, I have no objection to any company making bucket loads of money whether that is through F2P, B2P, Fremium, Subscription whatever. I'm am not coming at this from an angle of an angry person with no money who feels cheated that someone with more money and do better in a F2P game. No, I'm lucky enough to have plenty of disposable income and I could afford to spent a lot via ingame stores if I wanted to, but I won't because it is bad for the game imho.

Let me put it hyperthetically, an MMO launches as F2P with an ingame store that sells top end weapons and stat boosters and to get the best of the best you are looking at spending $100 a month on the store. I would not play this game, not because I can't afford to spend the money, but because I know many others wouldn't be able to and it makes the game unbalanced, it is this impact on gameplay that is the reason for my dislike of the F2P model in almost every F2P game I've tried.

Oh, and just to add, I've tried many F2P games and have not found a single one that I would play long term, I am not basing my dislike of them on 'one' bad experience, I've tried many thankyou very much. interestingly about the closest I came to enjoying a F2P game was Archlord, I know it got some quite bad reviews but I found it a fun little game, but of course the items on sale in the store, especially for a PvP game, meant that I would never waste my time playing it long term sadly.

With a subscription based game everybody is asked to pay a nominal amount a month and that is the entry to the game, everything is level from that point onwards and down to player skill.

I'll put the challenge out there, if I'm so wrong, if my view on these games is so out of whack then somebody tell me of a F2P game that has the same quality as WoW/WAR/EQ2 (Before EQ2X) etc that I can play without spending a penny on the store and come away feeling the game is fair and balanced, because despite trying many F2P games over the years I've yet to find one that meets that criteria.
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Posted: Jan 26th 2011 9:00PM Plastic said

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Good read, Beau. Couple of things that came to mind:

Regardless of what game you're playing, aren’t you ultimately just mashing buttons? The important part is how you disguise this behavior into something that’s actually enjoyable. Hiding the grind may not eliminate the grind, but it sure does make it more enjoyable. Western MMOs, until recently, have been much better at masking the grind, and for that reason I think the reputation of Eastern MMOs as being “grind-fests” is less a myth and more of an earned generalization. Like you mentioned, this may be just a difference in cultural taste, but it doesn’t negate the fact that many early Eastern MMOs were just too grindy for your typical Western WoW player.

Regarding the ability to purchase power in the cash shop, I’m not familiar with enough Western cash shops to make a solid comparison, but I don't think LOTRO's in-store mount is a good example of "selling power.” The mount offers nothing that would make you more powerful than another player. The stat tomes would be a better example, but even they are so minor that they can't seriously be compared to the types of power and advantage you can buy in many Eastern MMOs. The only games where I knew of people soloing end-game 6-man dungeons due to cash shop power were Eastern. So, again, I think the criticism here is better deserved than you’d have us believe.

Anyway, I agree with the overall theme of your article, and I’m really happy Eastern and Western MMOs are starting to rub-off on each other in a good way. I’m often surprised at how well many Easter MMOs perform on my 3-year-old PC, given their graphics, and I’ve definitely been happy to see more story-drive content show up in Eastern MMOs. I think the future looks bright for MMOs.

Posted: Jan 26th 2011 9:40PM Norvak said

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Love the Anarchy Online graphic! AO2 now plz!!!

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