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Quit Wall

I coined the phrase ‘Quit Wall’ in a WildStar post I wrote the other day, and thought I would elaborate a bit on what they are and maybe how they can be avoided.

What is a Quit Wall?

A Quit Wall can be any of the following. I’ve added a quick example in parenthesis after each.

  • A point where players feel like they are halted and unable to progress (Don’t have a large enough group to participate)
  • When the game radically changes from one style of play to another (Questing from 1-50 then having to raid in end-game)
  • A natural breaking point in the game where players feel like they have nothing to do (Ran out of quests and content)
  • Drastic changes in difficulty (This one seems obvious)

Recent Examples of Quit Walls

Destiny – Graev wrote yesterday about Destiny and included a very clear explanation of the quit wall. When players reach level 20 the only way to progress is to grind tokens to purchase gear. This has to be done in the form of dailies in order to get to level 26 and participate in the “end-game” content. This isn’t how 1-19 was played, and radically changes the game. If you don’t want to grind, you can quit.

WildStar – This Quit Wall was so obvious it caused me to stop playing before I reached level 30. The end-game of WildStar is all about “hardcore” raiding. When you level from 1-50 you do nothing but quest grind solo. When you reach level 50 you have to form large groups of players and do raids. If you don’t have the numbers, or (before it changed) didn’t want to work your butt off you get attuned, you had to quit.

World of Warcraft – The huge gap in content before WoD releases can easily be looked at as a Quit Wall. It’s like a huge wall in front of players and unless you want to climb that wall and overcome the lack of things to do you can quit or … I guess you’re a masochist at that point.

How to Avoid Quit Walls 

Themeparks are more prone to Quit Walls than sandboxes, but even a sandbox can have a point where you have to climb some wall the devs have put up or quit. The point for developers here is that players do not want to feel like something has suddenly popped up in front of them halting their ability to continue enjoying your game.

Create a consistent experience designed from the beginning. The very idea of ‘end-game’ lends itself to creating Quit Walls. Avoid having an ‘end-game’ and have the entire game circle around itself and create a virtual world wherein players are constantly progressing and the world is constantly fueling their ability to play the way in which they have always played.

Sometimes certain Quit Walls are unavoidable. Even some of my favorite games have had them. When you reach a point where you feel like you’ve done everything… that’s a Quit Wall — albeit a less intrusive one.  Combat those Quit Walls with constant development. That’s why I’m okay with paying a subscription to a game that continues to expand and grow. I can’t perceive that wall — I don’t want to.

And finally, avoid designing a 3 monther. 3 Monthers are 3 Monthers because of Quit Walls.

Vote with your wallet

I suck at the whole voting with my wallet concept. It’s the idea that you show your opposition or inability to tolerate something about a game by abstaining from purchasing said game. The adage started becoming relevant to games, especially MMOs in this sphere, because of the fact that gamers (like me) tend to just buy everything new regardless of the games questionable development. A few weeks later we quit, probably have buyer’s remorse, then complain about the game until we repeat the process again.

I knew WildStar would tank. I pushed myself into it anyway. I knew ESO was going to be ‘meh’ but I pushed myself into it anyway. I do rationalize some of it by saying to myself, “Hey self, you can play and write about the game so it’s not a total loss.” It’s just an excuse.

ArcheAge started today for those willing to spend money. I didn’t pull the trigger. I’m willing to try the game as a F2P game, but can’t see myself putting money into a game that I know deep down won’t make it past the 3 month mark for 90% of the initial players.  Still… to see all those live streams and think, “Maybe there will be grand adventures on the high seas with players pillaging villages and sinking ships and pirating trade routes! It’ll be a marvelous adventure!” (That’s my imagination getting away from me).

It’s the whole idea of missing out. I hate missing out on things, and sometimes I would rather grumble about $60 wasted than having not picked up the next best thing. A huge part of the problem is my inability to trust my instincts. I have amazing instincts — a golden gut — that tell me exactly how something will turn out.  I need to learn to have confidence in those instincts and allow them to serve me well.

Yes, if we could all vote with our wallets maybe crap would stop making it to the shelves with AAA budgets. I do believe in and agree with the sentiment. If only it was easy.

WildStar’s Core Softens as they shrink the ‘Quit Wall’

Remember the “WildStar is super hardcore bringing back the old school attunement and they won’t back down!” mentality? Remember when I called B.S. on that one? Turns out I was completely right that within a matter of months WildStar would begin the process of casualization and reducing the barriers to entry into their end-game. [Patch Notes]

The first steps they are taking are to reduce the requirements for attunement. Now all it takes is simply doing the bosses instead of having to achieve a certain rank on them or do it in a certain amount of time. The previous requirements were ridiculous, and just thinking about them was the easiest way for most people to just quit. I did.

I’m coining another phrase guys: Quit Walls. Carbine built a massive quit wall. People reach the wall and they quit. It’s a natural breaking point where Carbine essentially gave players permission to quit their game if they couldn’t climb over and reach the other side of the content. The quit wall was a really nice way of saying, “Remember what you did from 1-50? None of that matters. Climb our quit wall or GTFO.” I’ll write an entire blog post on this soon.

I’ll say it again: You CAN NOT build a game around “hardcore” raiding anymore! Not even World of WarCraft was designed to be that way when it launched in 2004. Even today, the “hardcore” raiders are a very, very small percent of WoW’s overall player population. The themepark model started with WoW, evolved into a raiding model, then devolved back into an accessible themepark model. If you’re going to release a generic themepark MMO, at least do so following the template that won’t lead you to closing servers.

WildStar will go F2P. There’s nothing Carbine can do to recover from the players they lost. All they can do now is slow the bleeding and one day go F2P to entice an entirely different group of people to spend money when no one else finds the game fun enough to pay monthly for it.

 

Dear SOE: EverQuest Next and Landmark

Dear SOE,

I’m one of your original players back from the EverQuest days. I played the original EverQuest for many years, and I have continued to follow and play just about everything you’ve released. I am a true fan of the EverQuest series and have been eagerly awaiting and watching for all things EverQuest Next. I’m writing you to express my concerns regarding the direction I see you taking this beloved franchise.

My confidence in EverQuest Next is faltering. Development for Landmark has come to a weird crawl, and when something new is announced or implemented it’s taken in a bizarre direction that none of us really expected. I started playing Landmark back when it was all about the adventure of exploring a world, finding resources, and building things. Now the Landmark name is becoming associated with awkward live streams, building contests, and …. battle arenas?

I feel like you do not truly know what Landmark is supposed to be anymore, and as a result neither do your fans. Players like me, the original core fans, saw what we wanted to see months ago and stopped playing and testing because of the lack of communication aimed at keeping us interested in your progress. The focus was lost and shifted more towards this amalgamation of appealing to a different demographic and testing marketing tactics.

I’m not sure what has happened to the EverQuest brand over the past year. I feel like the brand is truly being mismanaged. What used to be a highly-regarded fantasy MMORPG brand portraying a very dignified and mature approach to building virtual worlds is now feeling like a ‘hey look at me, I’m the class clown who will dance and tell fart jokes to get attention!’  I have to be honest… I’ve stopped watching the live streams unless it’s just Dave Georgeson or Terry Michaels or Steve Danuser on the screen, taking themselves seriously, talking about real game-related things.

I have a question for the older crowd at SOE — the men and women who love(d) the older EverQuest games — Do you guys believe in the game(s) you are making? Are these the games YOU want to play? I’m starting to question that… and it concerns me.

Hope is not lost. I’m not jumping ship. I’m still a megafan. I just need to see more from you guys showing me that EverQuest Next has substance and isn’t just another game being made for the MOBA or minecraft generation of kiddies — heck, at this point I just need to see that the game is still going to release; Some out in the blogosphere think EQNext is going to be vaporware if Landmark can’t get its act together and H1Z1 takes off.

Gaining back the confidence of the core crowd of EverQuest fans is going to take a big change in the way you convey information. Utilize your website more and release written material with well-made pages, images and clear descriptions of features — things we can get excited about. Pull back on the reins a bit with the silliness in your live streams and ways you interact with the public. Get us excited about being in Norrath again. Leverage the nostalgia factor! No one from the generation and market you’re currently targeting knows or cares about the name EverQuest, so you’re going to have to either make people care by doing something huge or get the true fans of the name to start doing it for you — you won’t get that without convincing us that you’re still making EverQuest.

EverQuest Next needs to feel like it has a clear direction and vision behind the game. It has to feel like an EverQuest game. Landmark lacks that entirely right now, and as a result the general consensus among fans like me is that it’s floundering.

Thank you for creating worlds I have loved to live in. I respect and admire many of you. I want to be in your world again, just show me that you’re creating something I can care about.

What Kind of Gamer Am I?

What kind of gamer am I? I’m reflecting on this question and my gaming habits more and more lately. I know the kind of gamer I used to be when I was younger. I used to play games all day every day at what many would consider hardcore or even unhealthy levels. I scaled it back significantly to what I would classify as a “serious” gamer while in college, and somewhat serious after that.  Now, things are starting to change.

I’m a picky gamer. I’m a particular gamer. I might even be a gaming snob. I know what I like, and I no longer need to play games just for the sake of having games to play. Games are my greatest passion, my beloved hobby and pastime. I would absolutely return to the days of playing games for hours on end and loving every second… if there were games to be played that I could enjoy for that long.

I can consume games like Assassin’s Creed. I can casually play games like Minecraft and Civilization on and off. If I could pick one style of game I love the most it would be MMORPGs. I love the immersion, the world, the social dynamics, and the progression over an extended period of time. I can play MMOs for years. What I can’t do anymore is justify being the tourist bouncing around MMO to MMO. That’s why I stopped playing WildStar and I’m skipping games like ArcheAge.

Settling for and buying every new MMO just isn’t in me anymore. Why bother? I can think of plenty of other activities I’d rather do than act desperate and throw myself at every promise. I’d rather be extremely picky and overly critical.

I think the best way I can describe myself as a gamer now is ‘unemployed’, ‘unoccupied’, or ‘idle’. The part of me capable of devouring games is hibernating and waiting for something to change. The only game I play now is the waiting game. Something will eventually come along. Something always does.

Has your way of gaming changed over the years? What kind of gamer are you?