In the MMO industry, dead men DO tell tales! What new MMOs should avoid.
2. If you’re going for a theme, either love it or leave it
This topic is a good jump from the last example (LEGO Universe): they took the theme of creation limited only by imagination, and squashed it into an MMORPG that severely hamstrung what made the theme fun in the first place. And LEGO Universe is hardly the only game to do this: let’s look at the difference between Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars: The Old Republic. One of the major criticisms even before the ill-fated “CU” patch was that the game didn’t “feel” like Star Wars; even Ralph Koster, ones of the lead designers behind SWG said “immersion does not make a lot of sense in a mobile, interruptible world." SWTOR, for all its other faults, lends itself to a much deeper feeling; the entire game is about immersing the player into his or her role as a member of the Republic or the Empire.
I see this being an issue in the future as well. One of my favorite single-player series is the Elder Scrolls. The greatest part of the games is the giant sandbox of a world and permanent result of your actions. If you slaughter an entire town, they stay dead; you might get their loot, but you miss out on the quests. Any true son of Skyrim knows that you do the quests then murder the town! Oh, but look what’s looming in our future: the Elder Scrolls MMO. Call me cynical, but if you take out the sandbox, actions have lasting consequences feel of the series… what is there left?
3. Know your buyers and plan ahead
Pay schemes for MMOs seem to be heading in a single direction, and that direction is “free-to-play.” Sure, some of the big boys like WoW can still get away with a subscription… except that over half of their players are in China, and do not pay monthly subscriptions. Huh. Ok, well, games like Star Wars: The Old Republic can… oh, nuts; they’re free to play now too? Well, what about new games like End of Nations? Oh, free to play from the get-go. Some games will be dragged to F2P kicking and screaming (SWTOR)… others will be forced to do so to keep their players (FFXIV). But the ones that succeed? They saw this coming for a long time and have prepared. Turbine, the studio behind Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online has stepped up to embrace the F2P mechanic, and it’s chugging right along with its players happy. It’s common sense: with a huge selection of games and limited time and money, players are going to choose the game that best fits their budget and preferences. Subscription games are becoming a thing of the past. And thank goodness for that, because it makes my job easier when it comes to reviewing new selections; most games with a subscription are likely out of line with the times.
Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below?