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The Think Tank

The Think Tank: What was the best MMO launch of all time?

Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

Atlantis - Thomas Fawls
After any year of bad MMO launches -- so, you know, pretty much every year -- we pause for a moment of reflection and comparison. Was this launch really the worst ever? Or is it just the freshest?

We're going to turn that question on its head for today's Think Tank. I didn't ask our writers about the worst MMO launch ever; I asked them to name the best. Plus, everyone knows Anarchy Online was the worst. Everyone!

So which high-profile MMO launch was so great that future MMOs should be aspiring to match and exceed it?

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The Think Tank: Digging out of MMO doom

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

This year, we've been watching multiple MMO companies dig themselves into deep holes with mistake after mistake, some seemingly preventable. Do you think there's a hole so deep that an MMO studio can never dig out? Do you think that serial goof-ups like WildStar and ArcheAge can pull a SWTOR and actually be making trucktons of money three years from now? Or is everything DOOM, etc.?

That's precisely what I asked the Massively writers in this week's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: Giving thanks for MMOs

Culture, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
Indulge us a little today, won't you? In our Think Tank today, we the Massively writers gather 'round the virtual feasting table on our virtual golden yacht to express thanks for those MMO-related things we're grateful for. Won't you share yours down in the comments also? We can get back to arguing over raidmills and gankboxes tomorrow -- I promise.

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The Think Tank: Assessing Draenor's launch

World of Warcraft, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor launch has come and gone, driven by the chaos we've come to expect from this year's MMO launches. Was it a bad launch... or the baddest launch ever?! In today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers, as players or industry watchers, how the launch and Blizzard's response stacked up next to those of 2014's other offerings.

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The Think Tank: Keeping in touch with the friends in the magic box

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

Earlier this week in the comments of the article about MMO social network ZergID, readers went off on a tear about how MMO players keep in touch and communicate with guildies and friends beyond the game -- as my mom used to say, the people in the magic box. What quickly became obvious is that there's no one accepted method. Social media, forums, chats, IMs, Steam, and this crazy invention called a telephone were all mentioned. I thought we could use a more formal discussion, so in today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers how they keep in touch with guildies and MMO friends when they're not playing or when they're between games... if they keep in touch at all.

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The Think Tank: Did Star Wars Galaxies' NGE poison the MMO development well?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

Sad Stormtrooper
The MMO community's favorite hyperbole must surely be "that's such-and-such-a-game's NGE." Star Wars: The Old Republic redoes talent trees? SWTOR's NGE! Guild Wars 2 revamps its noob game? GW2's NGE! World of Warcraft adds a panda race? WoW's NGE!

This bugs me for several reasons. It distorts and devalues the very real impact the NGE had on Star Wars Galaxies, which if nothing else is annoying from a historical perspective. The NGE was a lot more than a talent tree revamp or goofy race, and it also changed over time. But more importantly, lazy use of the term might make MMO developers change-averse, even when changes are desperately needed.

Do people overuse the term? Has there ever been an MMO trainwreck as big as the NGE? And above all else, did NGE poison the well -- are developers afraid of making sweeping changes, however much they are needed, lest they be unfavorably compared to one of the worst disasters in MMO history? These are the questions I asked the Massively team in today's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: Fixing the Landmark-EQ Next perception problem

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, The Think Tank, Landmark

Not a Landmark post on Massively goes by without at least one commenter essentially telling SOE to talk about EverQuest Next or shut up. Massively's MJ Guthrie, who writes our EverQuest franchise column, has herself explained until she's blue in the face that Landmark is EQ Next's foundation, and SOE has talked plenty about EQ Next independently too, but for some reason, the explanations aren't sticking with the MMO populace, so the same complaints are voiced in every thread.

So what gives? Has SOE been too confusing with the Landmark/EQ Next co-branding? How can SOE dig itself out of this persistent perception problem? That's what I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: What will MMOs look like a decade from now?

World of Warcraft, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
A reader in my Working As Intended column last week penned this thought-provoking gem:
"I have no idea what games will look like say in 10 years time. I am sure some of these current games will still be going and doing well because of the investment of those playing them now. What new stuff will be coming out then, I have no idea, especially as the 'Minecraft generation' gets older."
What will the Minecraft generation make of World of Warcraft? What will MMOs look like in 10 years? These are the questions I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Think Tank: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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The Think Tank: Autumn is the season of MMO expansions

Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

SWTOR
Happy autumn! It's a season of MMO expansions. World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online, and bunches more are all getting major updates or expansions in the next few months. Presumably, expansions aren't meant only to give existing players something to do; they're also meant to give old players reasons to come back. But do they work?

That's the question I asked Massively's writers in this week's Think Tank. Do we return for expansions? Do we avoid them? Do we even like them? Let's talk expansions.

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The Think Tank: How to save WildStar (if WildStar needs saving)

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Massively Meta, WildStar, The Think Tank, Subscription

WildStar
When I posed this week's Think Tank question -- what would you do to save WildStar -- to the Massively team, it sparked a heated discussion over whether the game even needs saving in the first place. Fair enough. It's possible to have a long run of bad news and not be in trouble. It's possible that players are just overreacting to Carbine's canceling Christmas. But justified or not, there's growing perception that the game isn't doing so well. I'll address that perception more tomorrow, but for this Think Tank, let's talk about what Carbine can do to fix it.

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The Think Tank: Remembering our first MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Hands-On, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

UO
This week, my very first MMO, Ultima Online, turns 17 years old in what can only be an intentional effort to make classic MMO gamers feel very, very old indeed. I've been thinking a lot about the game and returned to it recently to scope it out, so for today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their own "first MMOs," their first memories of the genre, and whether their firsts have survived the test of time.

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The Think Tank: Surveiling ArcheAge's launch

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Sandbox, The Think Tank

ArcheAge
Some of the Massively staff have been playing ArcheAge during its head start and launch week, and some haven't, but all of us have been watching to see how the first major sandbox launch in recent memory fares. For today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their impressions of the game whether they are playing it personally or examining the launch from an industry perspective.

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The Think Tank: Consoles and the future of MMOs

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Consoles, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank, Destiny

Destiny might not be a pure MMO, but its huge launch on the fringes of the MMO space this week has prompted us to ponder whether the future of core MMOs lies in the console market. In this week's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about just that.

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The Think Tank: The best of PAX Prime 2014

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

ArcheAge
This year's PAX Prime has drawn to a close, as has our coverage, but how did it fare, on the whole, for MMO players?

I polled the Massively writers for their favorite announcements and showings from the con. Here's what we think was the best and most interesting MMO news to come out of PAX Prime.

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