Shedding zero tears over the news about Cryptic

Cryptic Studios is hopefully standing on its last leg.  My opinion of the company is extraordinarily low.  I think they’re responsible for creating two major flops released in the past few years. They’re also responsible for proliferating the copy/paste model known as the ‘Cryptic Model’, thus promoting stagnation, and completely neglecting very fundamental MMO concepts.   I cringed when I heard they were touching Neverwinter and I honestly hope that this whole thing ends with them closing shop.  Know that I am speaking mostly to the company identity more than individuals, aside from a few top executives (Jack Emmert) at Cryptic who are likely responsible for their company’s image.

It’s long past due for some of these companies pumping out mediocre products to close.  It’s terrible when people lose jobs, which should go without saying, but I find it equally terrible to see what has happened over the last decade to MMO’s.  I just hope that when Cryptic inevitably one day actually closes (instead of being sold) that its methodology and philosophy die along with it.   Harsh, but I prefer quality.

Bets on who buys them?  I’m thinking SoE, but it’s a long shot.

  • I think SOE needs to die as well. They’re the last company that should be getting their hands on more user accounts.

  • For all they did wrong, Cryptic did do a decent job with their identity management. Being able to add an account as a friend so you can keep up with your friend’s alts and vice-versa. It’s a simple thing, but does wonders for socialization while gaming. I thought their character customization, character advancement, and combat mechanics were fun as well. Their auction house, crafting, and mail system sucked out loud though. They may not have been good games overall, but I’m glad I played them.

  • @Lumin: SoE is right there with them in many ways. The only reason I don’t want to see SoE shut its doors is EverQuest… maybe Planetside.

  • Sooo what games are we talking about here? And SoE?
    I don’t really follow every byte of news about the mmo scene apart from This site and mmo-champion, wich totally needs a name change <_<.

  • Wishing for a company to close and folks to lose their jobs because you’re not happy with how mmorpg’s have trended over the last 5 years is way over the top and frankly shocking coming from a blogger who I respected for strong opinions but a moral compass as well.

  • I can’t see how picking up a division that Atari is ditching because it isn’t making money fits with SOE’s stated pre-crisis plan of focusing on their core properties and dropping the less profitable side projects.

  • @Jim

    A business is a business, end of story.

    There is no half way about it. If a business fails, it deserves to go under. People will lose their jobs when this happens. That is life.

    If they are actually decent at their part of said company, they will get another job.

    There is no reason anyone should nurture failure. This is capitalism, after all.

  • Good lord. This is a little filthy, Keen – have you even dipped a toe into STO recently? have you see the Foundry? played any of the weekly updates? STO is anything but a failure, at this point, and it looks like you’re just allowing irrational hatred of cryptic to taint your view of their games.

    LOL @ the “Cryptic Model promoting stagnation.” you really are clueless about at least one of their games.

  • It’s harsh but Cryptic has been dragging people into their web of failure for far too long. I seriously believe that we would all be better off had they never made a single game. That’s my opinion. That’s what you get when you read blog entries from me. I’m not going to pull any punches even if it means I come across venomous, if that’s how I truly feel. Without my opinion there’s little point writing a blog aimed directly at displaying opinions.
    @Insomnium: Cryptic made Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and City of Heroes to name the big ones. 2/3 were serious failures and the other quite mediocre but under NCSoft (I think).

  • As a gamer, I am so glad that the triple dip for money gaming model has failed in STO and Champions Online. Too hell with it!

  • You didn’t answer my question: you’re calling STO a serious failure, yet haven’t touched it, or apparently read the numerous positive things people have said about the game since the weekly episodes started.

    I mean, I don’t care about you calling Champions a failure, but I think you’re incredibly shortsighted to dismiss STO because it had a bad launch. It’s now a proper, good game, with some excellent group content being released every week – and they’re planning on ramping weekly episodes up to 3+ seasons a year. that’s 18 weeks of NEW content at least. sounds like a game in death throes, right?

  • I played STO. I didn’t like it and the vast majority of the players in the industry did not like it. They copied the Pirates of the Burning Sea model almost exactly.

    Episodes may have improved the game, but they could not have possibly improved it enough.

    It’s like when the people who love Age of Conan or Darkfall try and tell me things have changed. I go back and try it to find out it’s exactly the same game with a little more polish and a few annoying bugs no longer there. It’s almost impossible for them to have made STO different enough.

  • Oh right, I see what you’re saying – what you believe was the core audience didn’t like it, so it’s a failure forever.

    Man, cryptic must hate all the people like me, who WILL stay subscribed as long as the weekly episodes keep coming, because we treat them as basically news seasons of Star Trek. it’s like, a game can never change its’ intended audience, right?
    and heck I’ve spent money in their shop once, for a specific ship model (just a model change, nothing actually gamechanging). would I do so again? of course.

    but hey, i mean, you players ‘in the industry’ (I thought you were at university?) clearly know what’s best for all of us. niche games just can’t exist, it must appeal to you, or die.

    wait, hang on, that last bit just sounds like arrogance to me.

  • You’re not wrong for liking the game. I can’t tell you that you shouldn’t. I also won’t try and persuade you not to or tell you that you’re not justified in paying a subscription. If I did, that would be arrogance.

    None of that changes the reality that STO and Champions were not truly successful. The company is hemorrhaging money. That’s not because their games were wonderful. It’s not arrogance when it’s a harsh reality you don’t want to hear.

  • Atari has been losing money for several years – they’re also known for changing strategies too often. Two years ago, Cryptic was given the job of creating multiplayer titles – one of which, yes, was a failure compared to CoX, and another which has dramatically improved since release – but I’m not seeing evidence that cryptic as a whole is on the way out.

    I’m mainly disagreeing with you almost gloating over a company that has had many terrible flaws, Roper and Emmert among them, but has produced a game now getting more well-written, short and regular content updates than any mmo since…was it AC1 that got fortnightly updates?
    And, that’s not counting the Foundry mission creator, which has (in the three weeks it’s been out) already led to some very well-written player-created stories.

    It just seems a little distasteful that you’re not wondering about other opinions, just claiming the whole studio should go.

  • One bad apple spoils the bunch and Cryptic has many bad apples in the form of games and people. STO just wasn’t a very good game. Maybe it has changed. I have not played it recently. Assuming it really, truly, has improved to the point of really being worth looking at, this is an industry not unlike many others where you get only one chance. Few MMO’s recover from being mediocre at best.

    This isn’t about STO, though. I get that you like it. That’s awesome (and unfortunate if it gets shut down any time soon).

  • I would not put cox as mediocre. It did a lot of things first in the genre and is still extremely lively, it also has one of the best mission creator out there.

    I would put the game up there with DAOC, everquest and uo.

  • @wufiavelli – definitely, but some of the better patches have come in the last few years, after Cryptic sold the game to…Paragon Studios – who run it great, and if they need any extra help they’ve got NCSoft backing them up.

    I agree that Cryptic has problems, and possibly needs to work on fewer projects at a time (Champions is still VERY mediocre) but I don’t think the company should close. sadly, I think they’ve got that corporate outlook – they feel the company needs to be owned by someone, as opposed to going it alone, which takes a very enthusiastic, driven CEO (and a lot of goodwill) to pull off. eg: most niche, digital-distribution-only titles.

  • Good post. This is why I like reading your blog. It’s a pity about NWN. The original as a total package was fantastic.

    Both Champions and STO might be considered notable and respectable as niche lore achievements. These losses are unfortunate from that perspective. Investors might consider: if Star Trek lost money, then it would be suicide to try with Firefly.

  • It is never good for employees to lose their jobs in any situation. That being said if a company deserves it, its Cryptic. How Cryptic got so many amazing IP’s and managed to neuter them is beyond me. All in all my sympathies are for the employees, but for all the pitch men, and all the broken promises, and all the wasted funds. Good Riddance, Adapt or Die.

  • Count me in the “sub when featured episodes release” camp for STO.

    From that point of view, I’d rather the game had more time to become fully realized. The updates they are making to ground combat sound fun. There is so much potential for the game and I was hoping to keep coming back every so often for a bit of Trek fix.

    However, I have to admit that the game at launch was buggy and incomplete. Even now, I wouldn’t consider it a great game, just good enough.

  • I have a feeling Cryptic Studios will go down the same way Chronicles of Spellborn did. The studio will hemorrhage money, get passed around a couple of owners, bankrupt or almost bankrupt each one in turn, and eventually die a quiet death when the final company tries to pass it on and no one is there willing to take the torch.

  • As it stands, the MMO market in general is to bloated of ‘get rich quick’ MMOs, and not enough truly high quality games.

    Look at the general playstyle of then Gen1 MMOs (UO, DAoC, EQ) and people happily have played those for 10+ years and each had a very distinct personality compared to each other. With the Gen2 MMOs, and the coming of WoW, more and more companies are just making flashy games that come out the gate with a lot of burst, and then fizzle within a couple years (WAR is a great example) due to shallow game play, broken gameplay, weak lore, or a multitude of other reasons.

    Companies should not be rewarded in any way for not actually trying to bring out a quality product. You can’t just say ‘we copied all the good things from other MMOs’ and call it good. That line has been used far to many times already, and usually end up becoming boring real quick (Rift).

  • I remember the day I heard about STO. I was thinking about all the possibilities that STO had. This game should be a huge hit I thought. I found a web site but there was not much on it, not even a forums. I returned to the web site every so often over the next year or so and the site was the same. I was praying for some three way action in space and on the various planets. Man this was going to be huge game.

    I then beta tested Champions. I did my part as a tester but I did not care for the game very much. Way to many instances for my liking.

    Then I read where Cryptic had purchased the rights to STO. I had that gut feeling that Cryptic would screw it up. Always trust your gut!!!

    If you recall they said you could beta test STO if you purchased Champions. I had to laugh. What balls!!! I did not purchase Champions but I received a STO beta test invite non the less.

    Once again like the good old beta tester that I am, I tested the game. I felt like I was playing Champions in Star Trek clothing. It could have been huge. On second thought it was huge, a huge flop.

    Let Cryptic die a painful death for screwing up a game that had all that potential.

  • They are responsible for ruining our chances of seeing a good Star Trek MMO for a long while (with the browser-based one as an exception).

    If a business fails because it makes bad games, then it deserves to go under. Best of luck to the employees of course, as many of them are very talented.

  • Cryptic’s strategy seemed to be: find a license, throw generic WoW-clone mechanics at it, rush it out the door, and… hope that it somehow works?

    I played the CO character creator, when it was free to do so. That was pretty cool. I can’t say the same for the actual game.

    I have a general sense that there were some talented people in the mix, but the design goals were always more about speed than about quality. Weren’t these guys bragging about how fast they were able to churn out STO? How’d that work out for them?

    And re: SOE, I seriously doubt they’re in a position to buy anybody. Sony made a pretty huge vote of no confidence by laying off so many in the wake of DCUO’s failure, and that was even before the entire service crashed and burned a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if SOE itself shows up on the auction block…

  • Yeah, it’s a long shot but at this point they seem to be one of the few publishers that picks up sinking ships. They could buy Cryptic, station pass all their games, fire everyone, and put it into Vanguard skeleton crew mode.

  • Aren’t we all glad Atari owns the license to Neverwinter/D&D and dropping Cryptic implies that we probably will still some NWN/DnD games from Atari, but not developed by Cryptic 😉 .

  • I find the vitriol unwarranted. Even though I never played any of their games (superheroes are thing I have 0 interest in, it like baseball and comics -some part of american culture I will never get) .I also know they hate pvp so that didnt score any points in my book either

    But I know they made enough innovations. And they didnt go wow clone path. They also made products which were not complete steaming piles of buggy dung (Shadowbane, DF). I will be sad if they dissapear into oblivion.

  • A word in defense of DCUO. It’s a good game. Just not a good MMO.

    That first month or two you play will be fun. Sadly that won’t balance the books for them, but is worth pointing out, as a lot of these failed MMOs don’t manage the three months thing.

    As for Cryptic. The only game of theirs I played was Champions, which was… humph, just bad. It does, though, have two of favourite recent gaming memories.

    “Howdy Pardner, welcome to snake gulch.” The whole robot cowboy thing was a lot of fun (and right next to ghost cowboys, which was also good).

    And right there, over the right, is an atomic bomb that goes off every now and then (probably just timed). But I was jumping along up the ridge that had all these “warning: radioactive” signs on it, and the BOOM. The screen flashes, shakes, rumbles, and this mushroom cloud starts curling up over the horizon. Twas cool.

    Pity about everything else.

  • They rush products that are not nearly finished then rush to get them up to standard while people have already left after the first horrible impression.

    Still this is people working at Cryptic so let us not take too much pleasure in them possibly being out on the streets.

  • @bathoz: I agree about DCUO. Good game. Lasted me a month and was lots of fun. Not a very good MMO, though. I have a feeling we’ll be saying similar things about SWTOR (hopefully it lasts longer than a month!)

  • That seems like an unwarranted extrapolation to SWTOR; who can really say at this point?

  • MMOs are like restaurants. If you stop going there to eat, some of them have to shut down.

    I went in for some of the fast food known as STO and DCUO but I can only eat that for so long (and it made me gassy).

  • […] doing the most for innovation at the moment is Star Trek Online. I know others think that they “promote stagnation” (to pick the obvious persons view about Cryptic) but having watched Trek Online go from it’s […]