Sep 27, 2010

[Keep it Classy, TeamLiquid!]

Color me completely un-shocked about this story.

Yeah, it's SUCH a mystery why many gaming communities have almost no women in them. It's SUCH a mystery as to why many female gamers still try to hide their gender in an attempt to avoid being harassed while playing online games. SUCH a mystery as to why Blizzard's attempt to force everyone into using RealID was met with such an uproar.

It couldn't possibly be because a lot of women (and gay) gamers get fed up of dealing with this kind of derogatory, irritating B.S. almost constantly while trying to have any kind of fun playing online games. Yeah, it's a real mystery as to why someone might want to make a girl-only (or GLBT) clan and be able to play and hang out once in a while with people who are like themselves; something that's a basic, normal desire and which is the 'default' situation guy gamers get to enjoy pretty much 24/7.

[What Defines a 'Failed' MMO?]

 What do all these games have in common?

1. Horizons
2. Warhammer Online
3. Age of Conan
4. Aion
5. Allods Online

...they were all highly hyped before their release, and then loudly proclaimed 'failures' and 'dead' by large numbers of their (former) playerbase soon after (often via lengthy tirades on various message boards).

Yet, they're all still online. Which, I assume, means they're still making money and being played, sometimes years later. What does that say about the definition of 'failure' as it's often used by so many MMO gamers? Does it simply mean a game is a big disappointment? That it 'failed' to fulfill its ambitious concept promises? That there's only a few(!) hundred thousand people playing it instead of millions? Or because it's gone F2P?

I think many times, people toss around the accusation that a game is a 'failure' too easily, and often because they're feeling personally let down by the game. A lot of MMO gamers get very emotionally invested in their games (often years before they are even released!) so it's only expected that there can be a lot of bitterness when that investment ends up not paying off. Sometimes that bitterness becomes an active attempt to smear and tear down a game, hoping to drive people away (I've seen this with many former Allods players most recently).

In some ways I think the rise of WoW has skewed people's perceptions of what makes a game a failure population-wise. For example, nowadays MMOs are assumed to need a few million players in order to have a viable population (as a comparison, when WoW was first released Blizzard was expecting around 300,000!). The definition of success was different 5 years ago, that's for sure.

I think that the MMO community needs to be less eager to throw around the term 'failure'. I also think the biggest barrier to a  new game's success now is the box price+monthly fee model, which I hope is soon replaced by the free download/trial model (I still think it's baffling why most new MMOs treat trials as something that should only be offered later in a game's life rather than right at the start) or any of the various F2P+micropayment models. I honestly believe that could allow smaller games, niche games, to succeed in a way that is nearly impossible in the current MMORPG market. The more options for different game sizes, types, and payment models that there are, the more chances for success for a modern MMORPG.

Sep 18, 2010

[APB's Crash and Burn Explained]

I will admit, I'm always fascinated reading breakdowns of dysfunctional game development companies and how they eventually imploded. Vanguard and Horizons, for example, both had very drama-filled environments and amazingly arrogant/clueless people at the helm, and some of the stuff that went on in the backrooms of those games is frankly mind boggling.

At any rate, even though I never played APB, this series of posts from one of the devs is an interesting read: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3.

It's really shocking how unprofessional and inept some game companies are.