What Happens if WoW Goes F2P?

What happens if WoW goes F2P?

Cute pets and cool looking mounts won’t be the only thing you see here.

Wow isn’t going F2P, but if Blizzard decides to be un-Blizzard-like then you can expect a few changes. WoW would still be the exact same game, only way, way more annoying to get into and far less accessible.

Subscriptions Would Stay

Yep, that’s right. The subscription wouldn’t go anywhere. Players would still be given the option to pay the same they always have and have the exact same experience they have always had in-game. This subscription would be Blizzard’s VIP pass and players would use this to gain access to locked parts of the game. Oh yes, there will be locked parts.

Gated Content Behind Paywalls 

Of course Blizzard would make their raids restricted to paying players. Want to raid? You’ll need to be a VIP. Even the newbie raid finder or whatever the heck they’re calling it these days would require you pay the subscription. Dungeons would be restricted. They’d limit the number of dungeons you can run in a week or cycle in “Dungeons of the Week” that are free for players. Want access to them all? Pay to unlock or become a VIP.

No Epics for Free People

Epic gear or maybe raid level gear (they would probably add a new color to signify “paid gear) would undoubtedly be restricted in some fashion, probably for VIPs or some cash shop validation only. You’re welcome to wear the blues you find in the Dungeons of the Week, though! [Read more…]

Why Wow Won’t (or Shouldn’t) Go F2P

WoW Gamescom Announcement

Tomorrow will bring some form of big announcement for Blizzard’s (and the industry’s) flagship title, World of Warcraft. We’re most likely to get news of some new expansion loaded with lots of new and rehashed features, but rampant speculation points toward the possibility of some F2P announcement. I’m pretty sure that one is still many years away.

Why World of Warcraft Won’t Go F2P

The Change is Too Radical
Blizzard has made a business of keeping WoW’s course steady as she goes. WoW has been about raiding since 2005. They could have changed that model to try and attract more people, but they don’t. There’s no need to change a sure thing, even if your numbers are only making you 100M a month. The cash flow is still fantastic, and WoW’s subscription numbers will skyrocket once again. Even if the numbers grow to HALF of what they were in Q1, that represents ENORMOUS growth. When your product bounces back that well in the next iteration, you don’t change. You wait until it stops bouncing back — at least Blizzard can afford to wait when it still generates that much cash. Change of this magnitude is far too radical to make simply for the sake of change.

The changes to the game itself to accommodate F2P would alter the very essence of WoW, and that itself would ignite a loss in players. Players, especially WoW players, do not want change. They don’t. Again, that’s why WoW has stayed the same game and simply become easier over the years. You have the same game providing the same experience, and doing everything it can to continue to provide that same experience with the least amount of friction possible. [Read more…]

The MMO Genre Needs to Shrink

MMO Population Shrinking

Piggybacking on yesterday’s post about classifying games correctly as MMOs or not, the MMO genre exploded around the time on World of Warcraft. MMOs grew so big and so fast that the industry simply was/is unable to support the growth. Contributing in a large way to this perceived growth was the illegitimate use of the term “MMO” being thrown onto any game that happened to be multiplayer. This continued for nearly a decade leaving us with a huge ill-defined mess.

Now things are starting to settle down, realization is setting in, and developers are realizing they can not only make different types of games again (dare I say innovate?) and not have to attach (wrong) labels to sell.

The MMO genre is once again shrinking back down — slowly — to its proper size. MMOs were never meant to be an all-inclusive phenomenon. By their very nature, MMOs are exclusive to a smaller/focused interest group, and we have all witnessed what happens when they mutate to become something that tries to accommodate everyone. Putting this bluntly, there aren’t enough talented developers to go around to support the number of players wanting this many diverse types of impossible designs. Occasionally we see breakthroughs in design, but those moments are rare. Tech advances have been made, but those I attribute to games in general and not exclusively to MMO design.

We’ve ended up with me-too products from second-rate designers and business people driving the ship. Success has shifted away from providing a unique world capturing the hearts and minds of the players into forecasting business models and trying to figure out how to harvest the most fat possible from the fewest number of whales. Plans to keep people playing as long as possible have been swapped out with exit strategies and converting business models to scrap the bottom of the barrel.

This genre needs to shrink and regain just a little bit of its obscurity and niche status again. The greatest advances ever made were done by small teams on niche games with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Would I love it if the genre could still produce games like Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Dark Age of Camelot, The Realm, etc., and still be the size it is today? Of course, but that isn’t possible. People have to stop wanting the “AAA” (I use quotes because the term AAA has become a joke) bloat, and to do that we have to shrink down to the point where we stop being inundated with them. The sentiment is often thrown around that back in the day people had fewer choices, so each game did well. There’s an element of truth to that, but at the same time each game was unique and provided something entirely new; We can’t even come close to that today.

I think I can speak for everyone by saying that we just want fun games to play. As the MMO genre continues to shrink (and it is — slowly), different types of games will be made (and they are). A more focused MMO genre means the opportunity for better MMOs and a more diverse overall gaming industry. That means more fun for everyone.


Call a spade a spade

Destiny is not a MMO

I completely disagree with Rob Pardo’s recent statements to Develop.

“If anything, I think people are even avoiding the term MMO. A really good example is Destiny. It clearly is an MMO. But they’re really trying to avoid calling it that, and obviously it is a very different type of game. But I think that’s a good example of how with MMOs, the term has been eliminated. But you kind of continue to see the influence in games that are persistent world games that have spawned out of that. It’s just people seem to avoid the term MMO now.”

I haven’t seen a decrease in the misuse of MMO terminology. In fact, Pardo proves my point right here. Destiny is not an MMO. I’m playing Destiny right now with Graev. This is a multiplayer co-op game — a well-built one at that. Max “group” size is three players, dungeons are auto-matched, and you can’t communicate with anyone other than the other 2 people in your group via voice comms. Destiny plays no different from Borderlands other than creating an easier online interface for people to join up. There is no “MMO” here. This is a fun multiplayer shooter.

Player expectations matter. Yes, calling your game a MMO will set expectations. Yes, the label will draw comparisons to previous MMOs. That is how it works universally, not just with MMOs. Want to avoid the comparison? Not making an MMO? Then don’t call it one! That’s why Activision didn’t call Destiny a MMO — not because the term is “poison,” but because Destiny simply isn’t one!

Insinuating that SWTOR and WildStar flopped because they were called MMOs and thus were forced to draw comparisons to World of Warcraft shows a complete lack of understanding. The bigger picture matters: Those games were not fun. Their fate was sure to be the same regardless of their genre or their label.

Flip this around for a second. What if someone releases an MMO and doesn’t call it one? Let’s actually take WildStar as an example. If NCSoft/Carbine called WildStar a “Cooperative online universe” and never once alluded to it being an MMO what do you think would happen? They would never have heard the end of, “WTF! This is just a WoW clone themepark! Evil marketing people!”

This entire discussion can and should be distilled down to setting and tempering customer expectations. Say you’re making the game you’re making, and make the game you’re saying you’ll make.

Having Fun on EverQuest 2’s Progression Server

EverQuest 2 Time-locked Expansion Server

Continuing the ride the wave, Daybreak opened up two more progression servers last week, but this time the servers are for EverQuest 2. I chose to play on the PvE version rather than subject myself to PvP, and rolled up a Gnome Necromancer.

A little bit of my EQ2 Background…

I played briefly when the game launched. Graev was much more into it, but even he only lasted a few months. About 6-8 months after launch I went back and played EQ2 for roughly a year. Fast forward a couple years later and I dabbled in Echoes of Faywder but didn’t stick. I came back for Kunark and ended up playing for about 6 months. Ultimately I ended up with a 50 Monk, 55 Shadowknight, and 50 Brigand. Back then, that wasn’t bad.

Newb again

Logging back in for the first time two days ago, you’d think I never played the game. Everything was either different or my memory is getting horrible. Eventually I figured out the UI, found the dozens of settings windows to tweak the game to be just how I want it, and set out once again into Norrath (albeit a fragmented version).

You’ve probably seen me in-game (guess my name) asking dozens of questions. Last night I was trying to figure out crafting which has radically changed from back in the day, and is still quite different from other crafting systems despite being (I think?) dumbed down from what it was in 2005 when I last crafted. I think the system now just required me to match the symbols when they pop up? Is that right?

Feels good to return to a game that I literally played more than any other MMO released in the past 10 years and feel like a newb again.  [Read more…]