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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 9:13AM fallwind said

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"Making a game that starts with 4,500 players and grows to 16,500 players [after seven months] is much, much easier and vastly less expensive than making a game designed to accommodate a million players on day one,"

And how, as a player, am I going to feel waiting month after month to get the lucky numbers in the lotto to get into your game? There is only so long I will sit around waiting to get into a game that has already been released before I just say "screw this" and go on to something that will, ya know, let me play.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 9:32AM bobfish said

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@fallwind

Agreed, it isn't consumer friendly and EVE didn't set out to work like this, it just wasn't popular to start with.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 9:49AM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified) Well it worked for Cartman when he got his amusement park.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 10:30AM Ehra said

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@deluxe2000 You might want to reread the part that specifically mentions hard capping the amount of new players per month before insulting anyone else.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 10:35AM Ehra said

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@deluxe2000 Just so you don't claim bad reporting on Massively's part:

"We believe that we've solved that equation in a surprising way, which led us to what we think is a revolutionary plan.

At launch, and for the first seven months following, we will cap new paying players at 4,500 per month. Four thousand five hundred new paying players monthly. We expect to keep only about 25% of those players on a long-term basis, so after we factor in attrition of each month's signups, we end up with 16,500 paying players at the end of that seven-month period."
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 10:50AM deluxe2000 said

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@Ehra

I stand corrected.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 11:08AM SnarlingWolf said

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@Ehra

It still makes sense. Most MMOs do in fact lose 75-80% of their initial players within 2-3 months. They spend tons of money making sure there are tons of servers to hold them on for a short time. Those servers then go unused for the rest of the life of the project and is money wasted.

They could simply be doing this with login queues which isn't something MMO players are inexperienced with. So they make a game for a limited audience, do a login queue with an in-game pop cap and then as long as demand is continuous they upgrade from there.

I've always said more companies should follow the EvE model (even though I don't care for the game itself). Most MMOs do a massive advertising campaign and hit their highest numbers they will ever see on month 1. EvE started small and in limited scope and grew over the years. It is a much more financially secure way to run a game if you properly limit your spending on the game until it is bigger.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 11:17AM Duulin said

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@deluxe2000 You stand corrected on all points except the "Public school system is truly failing us" You proved that point yourself.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 12:14PM fallwind said

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@SnarlingWolf there is a HUGE difference between losing paying players, and those players never being allowed to join in the first place. There is also no evidence to show that those who do make it in this lotto will be any more likely to stay.

I would rather have 20% of one million, than 30% of 16.5k
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 12:58PM Space Cobra said

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@fallwind

"there is a HUGE difference between losing paying players, and those players never being allowed to join in the first place. There is also no evidence to show that those who do make it in this lotto will be any more likely to stay.

I would rather have 20% of one million, than 30% of 16.5k "

See, I think he is trying something different (well, relatively different or taking advantage of a phenomena I'll get into).

Pathfinder has been pretty small/Niche from my humble opnion, compared to other PnP systems. It has a following. Or, you could say, a "cult following".

I think he may be trying to replicate that in an "artificial way" which, it turns out, benefits dev production and content.

Look at movies like...well, "Rocky Horror". It initially started out small, grew into a cult following and was a bigger hit as time went on. It's very niche, but it still has more people in it.

Also, consider "exclusivity". Certain items or services are sold in Limited quantities. Either Limited Editions or for Limited times or they cost alot and only the rich or well-off can afford such ostentatiousness. (Consider the full size-replica of an X-Wing prop sold in Neiman-Marcus' Christmas catalog 10+ years ago and other items).

Some people like that "gated-rope feeling" in exclusiveness, be it RL or online. Of course, if such things grow big, it stops being so exclusive, but people still "join the club", even though its bigger. Of course, the game would have to be fun and engaging to these "new fans" to grow, too.

I see a mixture of psychology and common-sense of starting small here. It may not work. It may. It sure is an interesting take, given that it is very hard to replicate the accidents of "cult favorite", even among Hollywood.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 12:59PM SnarlingWolf said

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@fallwind

That's not how the math works. If you setup a company aiming at a million players your costs of development, customer service, hardware/data transfer, and advertisment are astronomical. Most of that is wasted because you sell 1-1.5 million boxes out the game but 3 months in have 250-300k players.

By targetting at a start of only 4k players, your costs are setup perfectly because you know you will have that many people and that the number will actually increase as the months go by and you raise the cap.

It is easy as a player to say "gimmie gimmie gimmie, I don't want to wait", but the reason so many companies are saying the MMO market is dead is that they are all trying to do just that. They are trying to give a million people what they want and give it instantly. The costs of that kind of business are ridiculous and over the last several years most MMOs launched have simply lost money. Gaming is a business and companies need to make a profit for that business to keep making what you want.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:45PM fallwind said

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@SnarlingWolf I think you are VASTLY over-estimating the costs of operation vs the cost of development.

A $100m mmo may have $99m in development an $1m in initial hardware startup costs. Even if you save the vast majority of the hardware startup costs, you are still a drop in the bucket compared to the content development costs. All this at the cost of potential players.

If I'm a player, and I know your game was only ever built to handle say 20k players, and you already have 20k players, I know your hardware is not built to handle much more and will either give a crappy play experience due to hardware problems, or you will require MASSIVE upgrades to continue to grow.

It is a horrid idea.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:59PM mrwakka said

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@Space Cobra

Except Pathfinder isn't niche, it outsold D&D last year, making it the worlds number one table top role playing game. It may not yet carry the name recognition that D&D has outside the table top role players, but it isn't as niche as say, Vampire: the Requiem.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 12:32AM Dblade said

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@fallwind The bigger problem is that 4,500 players is nowhere near enough to populate a game at launch. If that is total subs, you are looking at probably 800-1000k concurrent players, and unless they are doing a champions online micro-sharded model, its gonna make one empty world as people level.

even 16k people after 7 months is gonna be maybe 4k concurrent, and by then your playerbase will skew higher to the level cap, making early levels feel empty. I don't think they have thought this through.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 10:49AM Dracones said

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@SnarlingWolf

You actually can scale infrastructure up and down quite easily. You can lease hardware, use 3rd party call centers, and even use cloud clusters.

I've done this for companies myself and I wouldn't at all have a problem designing this type of setup for a MMO... provided it was built to handle the structure from day 1.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 9:30AM Superman0X said

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Do you know what is funny... What they have described is the business model of most F2P Games.

The goal of a F2P developer is to make a low cost game, using players as the content (sandbox) then launch it to monetize quickly. If the game takes off, the continue to add content to sustain and grow it... if not, they move on to the next game.

This is why many F2P games are perceived as being low quality... because they launch with low content, and use generic tools.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 11:06AM Jef Reahard said

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@Superman0X

I'd have to disagree with that. The vast majority of the F2P titles I've played use quest and/or level-grinding as the "content," not players. Few of them have actual player-driven economies and even fewer are sandbox games. The vast majority are themepark clones.

Pathfinder's limited access doesn't appeal to me, but I applaud these guys for realizing that MMOs don't have to pander to the largest possible WOWTOR demographic.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 9:30AM Scotland Tom said

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The limited access approach is the only thing that gives me any trepidation, but that's only because the game itself has the potential to be friggin' amazing. After reading the FAQ about this sandbox MMO and learning that they plan to have player-driven economies, player-built and controlled kingdoms and skill based rather than level based advancement I have to say I'm pretty stoked.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 10:18AM deluxe2000 said

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@Scotland Tom

He wasn't implying "limited access" like everyone else on this thread seems to think. More of a design philosophy, as in SWTOR is being designed to appeal to the WoW crowd and so needs 1mil subs to be profitable, whereas these guys seem to be happy to appeal to a slowly growing player base.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 10:51AM deluxe2000 said

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@deluxe2000

You sir are wrong!!
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