[Betas] Am I Missing the Boat?

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Misc, Web

Edit: I missed APB.  Holy smokes.

What’s up with the MMO Community and Beta Amnesia?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, odds are you have it too.  It seems that every time a new game is up for Beta, the world takes notice.  People start sipping the Kool-Aid of concept art and testifying and re-preaching the developers’ posts as gospel while the rest of us sit in a stupor of wonder and amazement.  “Is this really going to be the next best MMO???”  “My friend Drizztdj is in the beta and he loves the game.” “Oh man, I need to get in that beta, it sounds awesome.”

Why do people continue to get so excited without taking into consideration the string of MMO failures over the past three years?  It’s not an auspicious trend, people.  Hey, let’s shake the dust off the past three years and see where we’ve come from:

Age of Conan – May 08

Age of Conan was ALL the rage in 2007 and 2008.  Holy shit folks, a beautiful game that shows boobies.  This MUST be the game that ends all games.  It has a unique combat system that’s sure to entice and absolutely no content beyond level 50.  Walk. Don’t run through this one, Drizz.

Warhammer Online – Sept 08

From the makers of DAoC….a game that is nothing like DAoC.  A hybrid between DAoC and WoW that picks up the shiny interface of WoW, the Gear-drive progression of WoW and the raids of WoW.  I’m not sure why it’s called a hybrid, if it didn’t pick up anything from DAoC.  At any rate, you can get to level 40 faster than you can get a server transfer.  Something about losing 68 of your 100 servers within six months, and 23 more over the next eight months.  If the server population scales appropriately, with the 750,000 subscribers touted at launch spread across 100 servers, that’s 7,500 players per server.  With that same player to server ratio, you’re looking at about 67,500 subs.  Not sure anyone would agree there’s 7,500 people on the servers, save maybe Badlands.

Champions Online

Champions did some really neat things.  Cell-shading for the graphics is probably the best look in an MMO I’ve seen.  I just love the feel of it.  It felt like this game was a bit of a rip from City of Heroes, which is still going strong.  I’m not sure what Cryptic was thinking though, with only releasing five areas for the entire game.  By comparison, WAR has 16 (including Land of the Dead).  It shouldn’t have been a shocker that after two years in the wild, CO went Free 2 Play.  That’s not necessarily a kiss of death by any means, but anytime you have to rearrange your business model, things likely aren’t going how you planned.

Fallen Earth

I’m glad someone did a post-apocalyptic MMO.  There’s a metric crap-ton you can do with the premise that life is changed as we know it.  It’s a pity that Icarus did a crap job developing it.  From the get-go bugs were rampant and the overall experience was lack-luster.  Hell, I couldn’t even stomach the beta, and I have a HUGE tolerance for buggy games.  I managed to live through Shadowbane before it got the axe.

Aion

This game was released in Korea long before it was released in the US.  Touted as not being “overly grindish” in order to cater to the grind-intolerant North American audience, it took about four hours of actually playing the game in order to realize that “overly grindish” statement was horseshit.  Sure, it wasn’t Lineage 2, but then again…most games aren’t (thank God).  Once you managed to swallow that load of crap, you had to deal with bots and farmers.  Oh were these bad.  They were SO bad, NCsoft was considering putting in a resource-farming debuff that could only be removed by validating againt a CAPTCHA.  Really.  I’m not sure if it went in, since I booked it out of there.  Something about not being able to log in for hours due to players setting up the ever-lasting Private Store and going to bed.

Star Trek Online

I actually didn’t read anything about STO.  I hate the ST universe as a whole and wish it would just go away.  If that doesn’t please you, you can go beam a fist into you…nevermind.

All Points Bulletin

This writeup is likely longer than the life of this game.  It sounded neat on paper, but was offline faster than Mastercard.com. There aint’ much that hasn’t been said about this game.  Poof, there it went.

Final Fantasy XIV

Trying to play off the success (if you’ll call it that) of FFXI, FFXIV released just earlier this year.  FF14 did for the MMO world what FF13 did for the Console RPG world.  It punched it in the nuts and took its money.  That’s the feeling you get from FF14.  With a Metacritic score lower than Mary Kate and Ashley, it isn’t a shocker that Square Enix apologized multiple times for the rubbish people paid for.  The shocker is that they feel so bad, they won’t be charging people to play it.  That’s some deep pockets, Square.  Your game is in the tank, so you might as well squeeze customers where you can.  I mean, that’s what all the others above are doing.

This all sounds a lot more bitter than I intended.  Maybe I’m bitter.  I don’t think I am, though.  If anything, a burden has been lifted off my chest and I’m playing a game now that I’m having fun with.

But the question remains…with all the craptacular MMO releases in the past, why do people still get so overly excited about a new MMO?  Do they really think it is going to “win” the internet and the MMO genre and redefine life as we know it?  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

I for one am off this boat.

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Comments
  1. Well, you answered your own question.
    The reason we are excited is simple…because of so many failures from the past.

    We want one new MMO that is worth a darn. All the others are getting long in the tooth, and it is time for some shake up.

    Rift luckily does something the others have not…release a beta with a fair amount of NO BUGS to be seen.

    That alone has been mind-blowing.

    Also, use something from almost every MMO that is currently out, and it makes it easy to let those MMO’s go and join a new shiny.

    Try not to be so bitter is the best solution.

    • Rancid says:

      Honestly, I wish it was that easy. I’ve been burned by so many MMOs in the past, I just can’t take it. How many times will someone come along and say “This is better than the past!”? How many times will we believe it and jump in head-first? How many times will we walk away disappointed.

      I’m just trying to be frank here. Rift might not have bugs right now. That’s not to say it won’t have a buggy or incomplete endgame.

      When you drill down to the fundamental issue in new MMOs, you come to see it’s really WoW you have to blame. Any game that has a decent amount of venture capital (which is needed to release a AAA title) you see investors wanting to come out and snag just 2%-3% of WoW’s population. Two or three million subscribers is a huge chunk of change each month. This causes games to get out too early, or without polish, or without an endgame. It happens and will likely continue to happen; I don’t know what we can do as an MMO community to solve it.

  2. Grimnir says:

    Levelcapped.com had a post today about the difference between apathy and anger when it comes to MMO’s. It hit home pretty hard that I’ve been really angry about WAR lately because I still care a lot for the game. When it comes to Rift however, it’s all apathy since it’s just a beta. Sure, there’s not a lot of noticeable bugs in the first 15 levels or so, but the performance has been ragged at best, and I can’t imagine what the game will be like 6 months from release when no one is playing the starter areas anymore. Invasions galore most likely.

    Apathy is nice when it comes to betas. Last night after they did some hotfix I could hardly log onto a character with crashing out of the game. Shrug it off, go play something else. It’s just a beta. Can’t hardly be worth my time, as history has taught us all.

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