Monday, May 2, 2011

The Big Four

Right now there are four big MMOs:
1) WoW, 2) Rift, 3) SWTOR, 4)GW2.

The former two have been released. Rift took the scene by surprise, but most people agree that it is not the grand future of MMORPGs.

SWTOR gets amazingly bad press lately. The good previews by the professional magazines don't help.

And GW2 somehow managed to aquire a place in the sun. Most people believe it to be different and new. Of course, GW2 also has its problems, but looking at the copy/pasting that Rift and SWTOR (seem to) do, GW2 has quite a chance.

The AAA-sandbox MMORPG, however, is still not on the horizon.


  1. GW2 won't have a monthly fee which gives them the opportunity to focus on being fun. They won't be forced to invent stuff, like daily quests, just to keep you paying.

    On the other side they'll charge you full price for the game and won't have to depend on an item store which doesn't force them to implement unfun things that can be removed by money.

    The business model alone is enough to make GW2 very interesting.

  2. Then again, no monthly fee means no monthly revenue, and devs can't work for free. How does that impact post-launch development? The need to keep me p(L)aying isn't only bad, because playing (and having fun with what I play) is ultimately my goal as a player. If "focus on being fun" means "done after 100 hours /played, because that's what my 40 Euro actually paid for", that would be a shame, wouldn't it?

    Also, honest question: was it officially announced that GW2 won't have a subscription fee? Because I'm not sure we should assume everything we know about GW to also be true in GW2.

  3. "The AAA-sandbox MMORPG, however, is still not on the horizon."

    Archage is pretty sandboxy. I hear UO will possibly get a follow-up as well. Not sure I'd invest my hope in either of them though.

  4. Archeage looks good. In fact too good. being asian and such I somehow foresee a fail :/. All sandboxy stuff being turned into " plant 1000 trees to advance %1 in tree planting!"

  5. @Rem

    The official GW2 Faq says that there will not be a subscription fee:

  6. The current German PC Games contains a short interview with Eric Flannum, Arenanet lead designer. He mentions a few interesting things.

    - He said that they won't have a classic endgame.
    - They do not want that GW2 changes only because you've reached level 80.
    - GW2 won't have an item arms race, new items will only differ in look. Then he mentions that this is because they will not charge a monthly fee and therefore they don't have to force you to play forever.
    - But there will be add-ons which won't be free.
    - They won't have raids, only 5 man groups.
    - And the 5 man groups will be partially random designed to always feel different but familiar at the same time.


    I know that devs can't work for free. But, let's face it, the monthly subscription model is a rip off. Take a look at Cataclysm. Cataclysm will probably last for 2 years like all WoW add-ons. That's Euro 40 for the add-on and 24 month times 13 Euro monthly fee. That's a total of Euro 352!

    Do you really think that Cataclysm plus the negligible server load is worth Euro 352? I don't.

    Do you really think that the majority of that money is used to improve WoW? I don't.

    I would assume the majority of this money either goes into other projects, bonuses or to the Activision shareholders. Don't get me wrong. That's capitalism and that's ok. But if Arenanet thinks they can do that with less money, more power to them. And I don't think they've lost money with GW1. :)

  7. I also am disappointed that your imaginary game does not exist.

  8. The cost argument interests me. Starcraft 2 works absolutely fine with no subscription fee and Blizzard maintains the servers for that, presumably with box-cost money that has been allocated to that purpose. Diablo 2 was the same, and I expect Diablo 3 will be as well.

    Both of those, though, have either PvP as their core (perpetually self-generating content, as long as there is an opponent), or randomised tilesets with fun-and-easy dungeon crawling. Repetition as fun, and also perpetually self-generating.

    So there is no obstacle to a premium box-cost that pays for servers afterwards, and stead expansion packs, provided that you have the alchemy of self-generated content afterwards, with either PvP or random generation or whatever you like. It sounds like GW2 will aim to have some random tileset dungeon crawling as well as the GW PvP brand, and maybe that will work. I look forward to finding out!

  9. @Kevin: Thanks! Good to know.

    @Kring: Regardless of what I think about Cataclysm in particular, yes, I would absolutely say that 352 Euro for two years of entertainment is an incredibly good deal. Short of .. you know .. free porn there's hardly any way to get so much fun out of so little money.

    Arena.Net is a for-profit organisation as well. They too have their investors, shareholders, management bonuses and project funding. I'm sure they made good profit with GW. I'm super-curious about GW2 myself. I doubt the lack of a subscription fee is going to be what makes it a better or worse game. I'm not averse to paying for a good service - when the service turns bad, I unsubscribe (yeah, that's kind of important).

  10. I'm probably going to be bashed for saying this, but I think FFXIV is going to be interesting in the near future (when?, ermm I don't know), little by little they've been adding interesting elements, like companies, etc though I don't know if it will become "your sandbox" mmorpg, time will tell.

    Also, you have a great blog. Would you be interested in a link exchange? Let me know to send you info on my site.


  11. Subscription fees make no sense from a maintenance cost point of view.

    However, some 350€ for 12 month of fun is incredibly cheap. If I try to watch movies for the same amount of hours that I have played WoW in my life, I'd really have to struggle to pay for that. Let's say cinema costs 5€ an hour and let'S assume I have played about 500 days WoW over the last six years. That makes 60.000 Euro!

    Also, I'd love to pay more money to get better MMOs. There's just no MMORPG supplier who respond to my demand.

    So, I really don't like GW2's business model. If it is successful, they will push competitors out of the market. While this is usually desireable in a market economy, in this case, it would severely hamper future innovation and risk taking.

  12. Cathy, please contact me at the email at the bottom of the blog.

  13. Nils, in regard to the 350 for 12 months, I could buy a few movies for that much and watch them over and over again. Or mix in some games and play those over and over again. Comparing new (by new I mean something you've not done before, not necessarily recently created) content with WoW is an apples and oranges comparison. Now if you want to compare only the purely new content then I think you'll find that WoW doesn't stack up quite as well. Then if we got into the actual quality of that content, then it gets even worse.

    I'm not saying WoW doesn't give some impressive value, it's just not as much as your numbers would suggest.

  14. Rem, now you're looking at it from the other side. Yes, 352 Euro for 2 years of entertainment is an incredible good deal. And if you enjoy it for 2 years there's nothing wrong with that.

    But you're statement was "devs can't work for free" and here I think Blizzard is not investing a relevant part of the 352 Euro into WoW. They probably take the majority as profit. I still think that it would be possible to create a game as good as WoW without a monthly fee and only financed by a yearly add-on if they can get 7 million players, which GW apparently got.

    In my opinion there is a lot of crap in WoW which is only there to keep you hooked and which reduced the fun FOR ME.
    - daily heroic lockout
    - daily random (new 7 weekly randoms)
    - daily transmutes
    - daily JC

    I love to grind out stuff when I feel to grind it out. But then not log for 2 days if I don't feel like logging for 2 days. I would love to run heroic Sethekk 10 times in a row instead of doing it once per day, but only once... and login every day and fly there every day...

    And what exactly do we get for our monthly fee besides new raid tiers?

    - Magisters' Terrace
    - Ogri'la daily
    - Netherwing daily
    - IoQ

    Anything else?

    That's not worth 312 Euro. :)

    You could probably sell this content in a cash store. 10 Euro per item, that would be 40 Euro for all 4 things.

    - 3 ICC 5 man
    - ToC daily

    Anything else?

    That's not worth 312 Euro. :)

    Again, 4 items (3 dungeons, 1 quest hub)... Euro 40?

    There were new raids but I don't like raiding and I appreciate that Arenanet doesn't spend my monthly fee on content I won't see. :)

    > Also, I'd love to pay more money to get better MMOs.
    > There's just no MMORPG supplier who respond to my demand.

    I think that customer base is a small minority.

    But money is not my point. They could charge me a lot more than 13 Euro per month and I wouldn't care. What I do care is if they change the game in a way that's less fun to me only to keep me subscribed.

  15. If I remember correctly, WoW has does some 1200 mio revenure and 900mio profit.

    So you are right, obviously. Therefore, we need competition. But I would like competition in a way that Blizzard starts to spend the money on the game, not lower the costs of playing it.