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Another Developer with MMO Price Myopia

Scott Hartsman, former Executive Producer at Trion Worlds, expounded today in a Forbes article on where he believes the MMO industry is going.  Yeah, it’s another one of those interview — you know, the kind where someone who should know what he or she is talking about, but instead appears to be appealing to some ulterior motive.  I’m going to break down what Scott says in the interview, and tell you why I believe he’s twisting reality in favor of what is likely his future in some F2P endeavor.

“There are huge cost barriers that go into making a MMORPG and the market is crowded”

He’s right, the market is crowded with plenty of games made by developers operating under the impression that it takes 100+ million to make a good game.

“Can companies keep up with the expectations and each generation of MMOs costing more and more? It’s an arms race that no one can win, it’s not sustainable in its current direction.”

These expectations do not come from the players.  I don’t believe there’s ANY proof out there that says players are demanding these games to cost more and more.  Why would there be?  Every huge budget McMMO releases and each one is one big disappointment after the other.  If there’s an arms race then it’s a race to the bottom.

“The subscription model was a great way to keep everything paid when MMOs were a lifestyle choice, a hobby.  MMORPGS had more in common then with a game like golf.[…] “Now players simply aren’t willing to commit to the subscription model as large audiences.   Subscription models aren’t going away, but the fact is we’ve hit the cap on players looking to embrace the subscription model and free-to-play models have really opened up doors to a new audience.  Users don’t stay as long as they used to.”

The 10,000,000 people subscribing to World of WarCraft every month disagree.  Add in the number of people paying subscriptions in freemium games + the random games that require subs, and that number is easily 11M or more.  Then add in people like me who currently aren’t subscribed to any MMO at all but would happily subscribe to a game worth our money, and you suddenly have a number I can’t even begin to estimate, but I know it’s a substantial number.  And let’s not forget that a game doesn’t need a million subscribers to be a success.

The only cap we’ve hit are the number of people who want to play WoW, and the number of people willing to pay for the current offerings.  If you keep making more of the same, then sure we’ve reached the cap of people willing to pay for this service.

“Think about how easy it is to create a League of Legends account.  Look how friction-free that is. Look at these different factors coming together and it’s not difficult to see where the industry is going and how things are changing.”

LoL is not a MMO.  Different industry, Scott.  Mobas are inherently more shallow than a MMO, less costly, and attract a very different audience for very different reasons.  I have a feeling about what kinds of games Scott will be involved with next.

Scott also blames cell phone bills and the economy.  Bunch of nonsense.  Fact: MMOs cost $15 a month 10 years ago.  Fact: MMOs still cost the same.  Fact: $15 today is cheaper than it was 10 years ago, not more expensive.  Buying power on that $15 has gone down.

Yet another developer who tunnel visions on price.  Throughout this entire interview I saw nothing about design, nothing about targeting the right players, nothing about introducing new players to the industry by creating something new or innovative.  All I see from Scott is price, price price.  No wonder the market is crowded with a bunch of developers locked in an arms race that no one can win.

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Comments

  1. “These expectations do not come from the players. I don’t believe there’s ANY proof out there that says players are demanding these games to cost more and more.”

    I wouldn’t say that this is entirely accurate. You’re right, gamers are not requesting that all MMOs should have budgets in the $100M, but gamers always expect games to be of high quality, and high quality costs money.

    The fact is that MMOs are without argument the most complex gaming experiences that exist today, from an artistic and technical point of view, and it is my opinion that lack of polish is the main driving reason why most of the MMOs released fail to reach their developer’s expectations. As more MMOs improve their visual fidelity, more it costs to produce quality visuals and gameplay.

    Of course, games don’t need to be photorealistic to be good, it is after all how World of Warcraft managed to have “better” graphics than its predecessors while still requiring less computer resources to run, but there’s only so much you can simplify the visuals before the game looks just plain outdated.

  2. I’m not sure it’s that simple. Quality is transcendent, thus hard to define. I can say for certain that I’ve never met a player who values voiced dialog at millions of dollars over other mechanics. I’ve never met a player wanting high fidelity graphics at the cost of performance.

    The cost of this perceived quality is too high, and I believe its value is being way overestimated.

    From my experience in the trenches, and witnessing what happens to these McMMOs, the bigger the budget gets the more they lose focus of the core design that will make their game fun and keep people playing.

    In my opinion the developers who are saying “Oh the players just keep demanding so much from us!” are missing the fact that they have stopped delivering what the players actually already had years ago, and continue to want today. The wrong definition of quality is being chased right off a cliff.

  3. I agree that F2P isn’t the grand future many people claimed it would be, but you can’t deny that in the current climate, players expectations are high of subscription games. They want sprawling worlds, beautiful graphics, tons of leveling content, innovative systems that push the boundaries of our expectations of both what we know those systems to be and a evel of polish that negates the baby steps any real innovation stems from. Then they expect rapid content production towards a repeatable (or at least indefinite) endgame. Are these unreasonable expectations? No! But the minute you go subscription you enter into a Keep Up With the Jones’ competition in every respect against games with years more development time. Scott’s biggest point, as I understood it, was that the market is evolving to lower the barriers to entry ala LoL, not emulating LoL’s gameplay philosophies. This is wise. Niche games can get away with having a subscription because they’re very specific. And to that, I think you’re spot on. The major, big budget games lose their focus because their investment requires they target every audience. There’s very little room for risk with 100m+ on the line and that is precisely why I don’t see the future of MMOs coming from the AAA corner. Scott doesn’t say anything to disagree with that point, simply that subscriptions aren’t as catch-all of an option anymore. The main takeaway you agree with: big budget games aren’t sustainable like they used to be.

    Also, your sub count factors in WoW’s Chinese base which do not pay subscriptions. The vast majority of WoW players fall in this category. When WoW was at its peak if 12m, I remember reading a quote stating that roughly 4m players were from NA and Europe. I don’t have it now, but I’m sure some digging will pull it up easy enough. Though I agree that there are many people willing to pay a sub for the right game, how many of those 4m (very likely less now since the game is under 10m worldwide) are willing to sub to WoW AND another game when the history of failed MMOs also proves that they only tour other titles?

    I think the conclusion is this: if you’re making a low-risk designed massive budget MMO, you’d better go F2P because you’re in a crowded market. If you’re targeting a specific audience, catering to it well and not bloating your budget by casting an overly wide net, then keep the sub and show you’re worth it to the people paying the bills.

    It’s also worth noting that this characterization of Scott isn’t exactly fair. It was an article in a financial magazine. Talking about business models for the massive investment games — the ones that influence the stock of publically traded companies — is what that readership cares about. Scott’s work and sentiments from former interviews presents a much stronger affinity for old school concepts and designs than many other big developers care to acknowledge.

    Sorry if this is butchered. iPhone’s autocorrect can be terrible.

  4. ” big budget games aren’t sustainable like they used to be” *with subscriptions. Because of the lack of risk to reinvigorate consumers and increase the long-term attach rate. The games we want are now too risky for investors to sign off on. Probably because the people who started playing MMOs with WoW now greatly outnumber we older players. We are by definition niche. It’s just too bad they can’t see the wisdom of designing towards what made this genre popular in the first place.

  5. Gankatron says:

    Just something to think about, something I especially appreciated in the last election cycle, is that it may be difficult to appreciate what sub-populations of people expect outside of one’s own reality bubble.

    While I agree with you about priorities such performance over graphics wholeheartedly, I do think that most people who read and comment in gaming blogs are no longer representative of large developer’s target market.

    It might just be that today’s average gamer does expect everything with no compromise?

  6. Even if they do exist, one would be an absolute fool to even attempt to cater to the “give me everything with no compromise” crowd. Just smile and nod your head at them, then release a solid product. That same ignorant crowd will forget all about what they think they want if you put something working and fun in front of them, but if you launch something that lags or doesn’t work they’ll draw and quarter you.

    Bottom line, if the average gamer expects everything with no compromise — they can’t have it, and it’s time to stop spending money as though it were possible.

  7. Sorry Keen but Scott is right. There is zero growth in the sub-based mmorpg market. Which from a business model perspective, means sub-based mmorpg’s are dead.

  8. Players have been demanding more from MMOs with every release. The list of ‘basic’ systems a MMO is expected to ship with is much more than a decade ago – customisable UIs, auction houses, guild banks and guild-specific functionality, in-game VOIP, cross-server chat, etc. Not having some of the ‘basics’ sees your MMO draw criticism.

    Plus there was a lot of excitement about fully voiced dialogue before DCUO, SWOR and TSW included it. It became an expected feature for a title to have and that having only partly voiced or unvoiced content made your MMO seem less accomplished by comparison. It turned out to not mean much to gameplay, but it has become a new standard for AAA MMOs.

    And then there’s the content requirements – players are no longer happy to sit and wait for new content to arrive. If the content isn’t there, they leave and probably don’t come back if it requires a sub fee to access.

    MMOs don’t cost $15 a month any more – a lot are free to play, so they cost only what you put into them. Those 10m playing WoW aren’t all looking for another MMO to pay a sub fee into when the MMO market is full of F2P titles.

    Hartsman is focusing on price because that’s a major barrier to MMO development. It takes years and millions of dollars to create these titles and then players abandon them in an increasingly rapid fashion. TSW was according to all reports a solid MMO that did things mostly right. It bombed and Funcom quickly dropped the sub fee in an attempt to attract / retain players. That’s probably the nadir for the sub-fee model right there.

  9. Unfortunately Keen we seem to be on the same page that not that many people seem to be :P

    Although you need to stop demanding “something new or innovative” since that is entirely a subjective demand. I personally have found many ideas interesting but they failed to keep me in the end. Take GW2 for example, it really has some truly nice ideas (mob competition, Gathering competition, Events as an idea) but it failed to keep my interest in the long run as i am not just the type to be entertained by exploration and achievements. I like grinding for hours so that i can gather mats for a truly nice craft. I am all for character progression and i am not biased towards gear progression. Plus i never ever liked pvp and preferred co-op activities.

    I recently followed my old school friends to Tera online and it seems to be rather good. Although i feel bad without addons/macros and i am still struggling to get a hand on the targeting combat system. All of them are most probably going to sub to tera club if they stick with it ( i am not so certain atm ). Plus they did use the sub option on any single f2p game they tried as well. So your comment on people wanting subscription is not that far fetched imho.

  10. wufiavelli says:

    He is a good bullshitter and businessman. Very good at talking to actually break down what he said and realize he did not say much at all. One thing he has mentioned in the past is about administrative overhead for MMOs. He finds it wierd large companies like EA will have insane admin costs when he was running trion with just him and a secretary.

  11. “I’ve never met a player wanting high fidelity graphics at the cost of performance.”

    I will disagree on this. I have met plenty of people who value a lot the graphic quality. Just because wow has 10 million subs doesn’t mean that the majority of people value “something else” over graphic quality.

    First of all I also disagree that wow subs has anything to do with the current state of the game…friends, memories, feeling comfortable, unwilling to learn something new, and more..are all adding to wow subscriptions. A gamer in a forum said “wow is what left from my childhood and I refuse to let it go..” and I kept this phrase cause it says a lot…Also I do not understand why good graphics on a game must have a penalty to the rest of the game.

    also, about “introducing new players to the industry”..have you ever thought that maybe this can also be done by good graphics?I am an old school gamer and still like a lot new shiny graphics..but what defines the new generation of gamers is shiny graphics..the children/adults now have grown in games with playstation 3 and titles like crysis and skyrim and call of duty and generaly with games of high graphic quality. My nephew see me when I play wow and it laughs with the graphics. He does not playing this game just because of the graphics quality…

    I believe that new shiny graphics in 2013 must considered a “basic” feature of any new game if they want to appeal to anyone except the old school players..

  12. and sorry for my bad english :) i hope you don’t get a headache by trying to read my post..

  13. Unfortunately, the industry has found itself in an “arms race,” it’s just not the one that Scott is implying. The Gaming industry has fallen down a rabbit hole that, itself, dug. We have completely specialized fields for the gaming industry that should not be specialized. Although Jack Black (and other various super-stars) were “great” additions to the game: Brutal Legend, they were unnecessary, and most likely cost a great deal in order to obtain.

    What needs to happen is that the industry needs to tone it down. Sure, we *do* need the top-notch, 100+ million dollar games, just like we need a fantastic adaptation of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but that doesn’t happen every single day. Instead, we should embrace studios that do their best in giving us quality entertainment, while also innovating on ideas instead of thinking that adding more developers, more artists, and more big-explosions to their game is going to improve it’s value.

    I still play World of Warcraft, to this day, because of the atrocities these developers seek to deliver us on a daily basis. Guild Wars 2, for example, was an ultimate disappoint and was nothing more than a hype train. However, according to many “experts” in the journalistic and popular-periodical peer groups, I should embrace these multi-million dollar investments simply because they “tried.”

    Until developers realize that the age of the “booming gamer” is long behind we will continue to be spouted sidewinder non-sense like this. It’s an excuse that the author, Scott, is limiting the fallout Trion Worlds will receive when their new, innovative iOS addition releases that is nothing more than a time-farm. Maybe they will sink so low as to reduce their IP to an endless runner.

    In the end I believe there is a place, and time, for big-budget releases. However, with the increasing flood and popularity of sparingly cheap indie-projects consuming the majority of consumers time, Scott, and developers that are like-minded, are simply giving up on the true reason that games exist, and that is entertainment. Not trying to make more money than the other guy.

  14. Why stick to just 1 payment model? If you can implement some sort of free to try —> unlock content as you go for a fixed price.
    As well as a sub for access to everything from the get go?
    (This way there is a fair playing ground, just like as if it where sub only)

    The only model I do not like is those kind of f2p games that sell power in “any” way.

    I have to agree Keen. If your product is good enough people will pay.
    But people still like the choice to buy content as they go and not pay a subscription.

    Hey best of both worlds if you can please both kind of people at the same time no?

  15. Scott is warming up investors – by sounding “smart and on-message”. a.k.a. repeating out loud what they’ve seen in the press over the last few years.

  16. There’s just not much point making a subscription game when you can make more money from “free to play”. Obviously developers and marketeers are going to talk euphemistically about player choice and flexibility and all that, but the bottom line is that F2P will make them more money.

    The irony is that while the marketing speak is all about attracting new audiences of casual gamers the real money in F2P is still being made from the hardcore whales who would have paid for a sub anyway, but now instead of $15 a month they are being milked for hundreds.

  17. @Jim: I have to correct your statement a bit. There is zero growth in THIS TYPE of subscription MMO market. Like I said, we’ve reached the cap of people willing to sub to games like WoW and SWTOR. There’s no room to grow there. If these types of games are made, then of course we won’t see growth.

  18. ^ that, very much.

    Although EvE gets dragged into these discussions more often than it should be, I think here and now it is worth mentioning that their player/sub numbers are growing.

    Completely unrelated, but mulling it all over, I did wonder if Hartsman was fishing for an EQNEXT job.

  19. Argorius says:

    The current trend towards F2P and the argumentation that the subscription model is out of date and doesn’t work anymore is an example of the tail wagging the dog.

    We started with MMOs that had subscription models and that did just fine (UO, EQ, AC, DAOC, WOW, EVE). Then we saw a number of mediocre MMO releases that started with a subscription model and IF these games would have been quality games, they would have stuck with the subscription model and they would have been more than fine. However, these MMOs were sub par which lead to a change to F2P in order to salvage it. We also saw releases of poor quality MMOs that went to F2P at the start because they knew they couldnt attract enough subscribers.

    Quality is directly related to an MMOs ability to survive under a subscription model. To now ignore the fact that quality of MMOs is decreasing (even though Developers and many people believe that quality is increasing) and to attribute the emergence of F2P to a change in the market is certainly the tail wagging the dog…a previous minor adjustment in order to salvage low quality MMOs is made out to be the driving force of the market.

    People claim subscription models are dead and totally ignore the little juicy nugget that the most successful MMO of all time still has a healthy subscription model in place. It might be true that WOW subscribers arent willing to subscribe to a 2nd MMO and that is why F2P works for these MMOs. However, that is related to the lower quality of said 2nd MMO.

  20. @Argorius: Very, very well said. I completely agree.

  21. @Argorius: Is not about quality but about time management. MMOs require a big chunk of time investment in order the player stay competitive. How many MMOs a player can play at the same time and also be competitive?I am talking about the regular player that have ~3 hours per day to invest in his hobby and usualy not 7 days a week.

    My answer is only 1 MMO. He can also invest one day of the week to play a second MMO casualy probably but does this worth to pay a sub for? In conclusion, I believe that even if we had 20 MMOs of top quality, without any of them be better than other, players still would have to chose one MMO to sub, not because the others MMO does not worth their money, but because they don’t have the time to invest or the time they have to invest in the second MMO does not justify a second subscription.

  22. Someone remind me what’s wrong with players only subscribing to one MMO at a time?

  23. Argorius says:

    @John: Let’s say that your hypothesis is correct and it is all about time management. Let’s also assume your conclusion that players only have time for 1 MMO is also correct. What does that have to do with F2P? If it is all about time management and the players only have time for one MMO, they wouldn’t play the other MMOs anyway regardless of whether they are F2P or subscription based. Plus the one MMO that they DO play may be the one that has the highest quality (to them) and that is also regardless of whether it is subscription based or F2P.

    I had to go back and read your previous post too because I couldn’t tell what you are actually advocating…whether or not you believe that subscription based games are a part of the past and F2P is the new thang…however, I still cannot tell…

    Lets’s say there are 20 top quality MMOs…and according to your argument, players will choose only one…and they will not “subscribe” to the other 19 because they do not have time…if it really is about time…they wouldn’t play the other 19 MMOs even if they were F2P…just because the games would be free…it doesnt magically conjure up extra time to play these free games (assuming your premise is correct that this is all about time management)

  24. Howdy Doody says:

    I also like Argorius’ point.

    I hate that the industry seems to think that their quality will rise proportionately with their development cost.

  25. I didn’t say they have no time at all to play other MMOs, but the time they have is not worth for a second subscription. For example, I play MMO x 6 days a week and 1 day a week I can play another one. If I have to pay for the other one, I will not play it as it is not worth to pay a sub just for 1 day a week.

    Now since I play the other MMO once a week, I saty in touch with that MMO. I can login and see my characters, make a very small progress but still a progress and sometime, when I get bored of my x MMO, I will maybe sub to the other one that is free to play and play it for the month I pay it. If the other MMO was not f2p, chances were a) Not even play it, b) Cannot stay in touch or cannot make a slight progress so there is no reason to pay for a month because a month or 2 in a year doesn’t make sense in an MMO.

    I was playing lotro as free for long time, one day a week and one time I felt I like to play it more regular and I subed for 3 months. If it wasn’t free to make a progress , chances are that I would never sub to it. This month I am playing Tera and I have added a subscription, while I stil lstay in touch with lotro and Aion and GW2. My 80% of time goes to Tera while 20% or less goes to the other f2p games.

    The important thing is that, if I could not login and check my characters or play for 1-2 hours per week, I wouldn’t ever sub to these games. So you either have the best game around and you go with sub model or you offer f2p game so people can try your game, stay in touch with your game and eventually give money to your game when they feel they have to.

    Many games have reported a significant increase in their incomes after they went f2p, I don’t think they are lying. You ask what is wrong with subscribing in only one MMO at time and I hope my answer will cover you, at least my opinion. But I will reverse the question also. Let say I buy a game 50+ euro and I play it and keep a sub to it for some months and one time I decide to stop my subscription because for some reason I have very little time to invest in the game and is not worth the sub. What is wrong to be able to login and have some limited gameplay to a game I have already payed so much until I decide I need full access again?

  26. Gentle Nova says:

    “Quality is directly related to an MMOs ability to survive under a subscription model.”

    Agree with Keen and Argorius. That said though, define “quality”. To many a developer and publisher, a triple-A game is considered quality. I think this is part of the problem.

    For me, quality is how everything comes together, all of the form and functional details complimenting each other. So the inside and outside working as one.

    Right now though, it seems like we have too much flash and not enough substance below the surface. People are just repackaging things without really changing much.

  27. Argorius says:

    @Gentle Nova: Yes, quality is likely a subjective characteristic. That is why I made the comment that quality is going down even though developers and some players belief it is going up. Let’s say – introducing many cutscenes and voice acting might lead some people to believe there is more quality. Others traditionally think of quality as the entire package of presentation, how the game handles, is it bug free – more of a it comes altogether smoothly type deal – often WOW is cited as a quality product.

    For me, quality is quite different. Besides necessary elements of originality and creativity, what I define as a quality MMO is a game that sets out to implement a certain aspect of MMOs that I enjoy (e.g. PVP, RVR) and does this in the best and most logical way. Does the MMO achieve what it sets out to achieve? Often it doesn’t because of silly design decision that make no sense whatsoever.

  28. solarbear says:

    What really needs to be made is a flexible and well performing engine. So that these games can be made cheaper. Atm they all start from near scratch and the costs just escalate from there.

  29. People have become far too accustomed to the same crap, they’ve forgotten what innovation is. Take this quote by qyte above:

    “Although you need to stop demanding “something new or innovative” since that is entirely a subjective demand. I personally have found many ideas interesting but they failed to keep me in the end. Take GW2 for example, it really has some truly nice ideas (mob competition, Gathering competition, Events as an idea)”

    When WoW came out, people called it an Everquest clone. They called it Everquest with Blizzard polish. Go back and play Everquest, and then play WoW. The differences are staggering, they are barely in the same genre.

    Back to qyte, who’s attitude is completely typical of the ~2007+ MMO community. There was a time after WoW that people were tired of WoW clones. That was a long time ago. Now, we look for the tiniest new ideas to declare a game innovative. There are no quantum leaps. No one is trying anything new. No one is designing from the ground up. Everyone is taking the base foundation of WoW and then building their own house on it.

    You can call it subjective, but we will all know real innovation when we play it. Stop slapping paint jobs on that old house and selling it as new.

    Side note, I just fell in love with the term McMMO.

  30. Gankatron says:

    I would be curious to hear if you feel your opinion towards non-subscription models has changed over the years.

    My perception is that you have gone from an older POV that F2P/B2P models are inherently flawed to defending that subscription models are still viable; I could see that you might hold both POV’s, but the latter subject has become more topical as the former has become more entrenched.

    I have always thought that F2P/B2P models would evolve to better match the Western mindset, and I do feel that we have seen this occur, transitioning from parasitic models such as Allods to symbiotic representations found in games such as GW2.

  31. @Gankatron: I’ve never had a problem with buy-to-play, as long as they can keep providing content one way or another.

    My PoV hasn’t changed much. F2P is inherently flawed at providing the same scope, depth, and overall quality (see some of what Argorius said about quality) as the subscription model. It certainly fails at providing a game I personally like as much.

    However, I believe there is a huge market for F2P and those games -should- exist. They need to exist. After all, what is light without darkness? ;) All kidding aside, there needs to be a type of game to satisfy the F2P market so that the subscription market can continue untouched.

    The problem is, few developers are seeing it that way. They see it as getting rid of subscriptions and transitioning entirely to F2P. Both should coexist without trying to get rid of the other. My quest these days is to highlight the validity of the subscription model. I have already proven the shortcomings of the F2P model many times before.

  32. Gankatron says:

    Cool, thanks.

  33. Keen, the problem is you separate the two markets..the f2p market and the subscription market. The f2p market is not free at all..people who like f2p market is not because they are not willing to pay or because they don’t pay for their games..f2p market still pay subs. The difference is, that if I want to have a limited access to the game when I don’t feel ok to spend much time to it then I can. I have payed subscription to every game I played. Last year I payed sub 3 months on swtor, 3 months on lotro, 1 month in Aion, 1 month to rift.

    So where do you categorize me?on the f2p market or to the sub market? Just because the game I am subed in is f2p, I belong to f2p market? I explained few posts above. What makes different to me is that, now that I am subed to Tera and spent 80-90% of my time to Tera, I can still login to Lotro/Aion/swtor and have a small play session with limited access(well in Lotro I have full access now, cause after so many years I have bought all quest packs,expansions, unlocks..)

    So your view on it: “However, I believe there is a huge market for F2P and those games -should- exist. They need to exist. After all, what is light without darkness?” is false…even if it was “funny” is far from truth…Business model does not automatically decides upon quality..just because wow is sub game doesn’t mean is better than Tera/Aion/Lotro. We also cannot judge quality by taking into account the number of subscriptions…

    Justin bieber may have sold more cd dics this year that Mozart, do I need to speak about quality?

  34. @John: I think we disagree fundamentally on too many things for me to directly address your comment. I will say that you’re blurring the lines between F2P and what you think is a subscription a bit too much.

    Any game that starts out or transitions to F2P is drastically different from a game built for a subscription. I prefer subscriptions, and I want to play subscription games. I have no problem if other people prefer F2P and can’t afford (in time or money) to play a subscription game. That’s not the subscription games fault. That’s life, and if someone doesn’t have the time to play every game on the market, guess what? You have to do what you do in almost every other market: Make a choice and live with it.

  35. Junglizm says:

    One of the core things I see people neglecting on the design level is innovation on how you allocate your population. The WoW model is basically a copy and paste of the UO/EQ/DAOC shard/server model. Most companies seem to think this is the standard and there is no point in fixing something that isn’t broken, but it is broken. WoW is able to maintain its critical mass of subs because people pay to see new content released in a game they are familiar with. The players know how often new content will come along and the company knows from experience and income what they can afford to produce.

    But even WoW is beginning to experience the problems with this model and has resorted to band-aid design fixes in an effort to shore oup the negative effects of depopulation over time. Every other “McMMO” as you called them, seems oblivious to this problem and it effect is much more pronounced as interest wanes and their player bases shrink. This model is almost impossible to stabilize once depopulation begins.

    Only recently have developers begun to explore alternative models such an the super-server like EvE or the rotating matches between servers as in GW2 WvW. In addition to the problem of releasing games with shoddy control mechanics and power-hungry engines, the community of an MMO has been a non-factor for a long time. Before WoW, all MMO’s existed because of their communities. WoW has existed for years despite its lack of community and developers have continually failed to evolve this model until recently.

  36. Solarion says:

    Blah, blah, blah…..spin, spin, spin…..and this is the same guy who until not too long ago would have told us that subs were good for the genre. These guys talk out of their asses to support whatever angle they need to support at that given moment.

  37. Shadanwolf says:

    I think game producers don’t understand TODAY’S market.They bring to their decision making their understanding of yesterdays customer and that customers gaming likes/dislikes and experience base. I think today’s gamer …in general if far far more experienced that producers understand. Today’s gamer has seen and experienced a lot and won’t accept the warmed up dog food producers like the one referenced in this article have served up.Producers like Hartsman simply don’t know what they don’t know.