Are MMO expectations being mismanaged? That’s a question I’ve been going over a lot as I learn more about consumer behavior. I believe the answer is yes — by both developers and players.
Consider the following graphic I made which reflects some of the things I’ve been reading up on with MMO application.
We all have our own expectations going into an MMO. These can be preconceived based on a previous game, completely made up, or influenced heavily by the developers/publishers.
When we actually try the game for the first time, we have our own opinion of how the game performed. This is different for everyone, but there will be a general consensus and average agreement among the majority of players.
The difference between the perceived performance and expectations is the level of disconfirmation that a player experiences. That disconfirmation level feeds back into Game Expectations for the next product, patch, or update released by that dev (not illustrated in the graphic). Once disconfirmation has been calculated, we can get a general assessment of the customer, or player’s, satisfaction.
If a developer aims for 100% enjoyment or innovation, then players will come to expect that level of enjoyment and innovation. That means next time you’re going to have to meet that same level of enjoyment and innovation or else you will fail to meet expectations, and a high level of disconfirmation will result and players will be unhappy. This is clearly represented by SWTOR. Players expected one thing because the game was so hyped — because it was Star Wars — but the game performed differently and enormous dissatisfaction ensued. Now if Bioware launched another MMO we wouldn’t expect a dang thing from them. The scales tip.
One might immediately come to the conclusion that developers always shoot for mediocrity to keep the scale balanced. That makes sense since it would manage customer satisfaction, but altering how developers communicate with players about upcoming games, or changes to their games like GW2, makes a lot more sense to me. A simple “We want you to know that we can’t always do this” or “We want you to really understand that this is how we’re going to proceed” helps eliminate the transference of disconfirmation back to Game Expectations.
Ever hear the saying about under-promise over-deliver? Over-delivering might be a huge reason why the MMO industry is in shambles. In a way, WoW over-delivered and now it has become impossible to delight customers. The same idea is present throughout various aspects of MMO’s.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. I don’t claim to know what I’m talking about here, and I don’t know if this is even accurate at all, but it was some food for thought that I wanted to share with you all.