I wish they had that feature back when I played!

Have you ever played a game (mostly MMORPGs), quit for a while, then later found out a few feature was added that you wish was there all along? I experience this all the time. I’ll see someone announce that “guilds can now build cities!” or “X feature that totally sucked is gone and this new Y feature has taken its place and things are amazing now!” The catch is I’ve already quit.

It’s that “Ugh, why wasn’t it perfect when it launched?!” feeling. Games change over time — hopefully for their betterment. I’m okay with that. I always wish they’d change before they launch, or while I’m still playing, though.

That segues nicely into a little discussion about development. I subscribe to the “launch your game when it is ready/finished” philosophy. Don’t rush the game out the door; I don’t want to play it that badly that I’m willing to have a subpar initial experience and find out six months later you’ve fixed the game after everyone already moved on.

Although we often hear the (legitimate) sob stories about running out of money and launching now or never, from my perspective you end up in the same place either way. Your game is either good enough and ready, or it’s not. If it’s not, that will kill you prior to launch or after launch.

I’d like to do away with the “we’ll implement that after launch” mentality completely. Implement it now. If it’s a feature you know people want, put it in before you launch. If guilds building cities is something crucial to your game feeling ‘complete’ or ‘fun’ or ‘ready’ and you launch without it, you’re making a huge mistake.

So there’s really two sides to this discussion:

  1. Developers knowingly didn’t finish the game before they launched leaving a huge feature out and had to try and get it in later
  2. Developers realized X feature is something players really want(ed) or their game really needs and release it after launch

Both are leading causes of MMORPG failure.

Thoughts? Are you okay waiting for big features to be implemented later? Are you like me and often feel that it’s too late to go back and play the game now that it’s fixed or better because that ship has sailed? Personally, I’ll go back and play great games all the time. I’ll resub to MMORPGs decades after their release… if they were fun before. If the game was womp womp and I quit, chances are I won’t be going back.

  • Given that I’ve been playing EverQuest for seventeen years, EQ2 for twelve and even GW2 for four, and given that many of the best innovations and additions arrived at points all along those timelines, it would be one heck of a long wait! It might be desirable for finite, single-release games to be “finished” on release but for MMOs it makes no sense at all. Firstly it would be impossible, secondly many of the best innovations arise out of responses to player choices that weren’t and maybe couldn’t have been anticipated, and thirdly, if developers were able to anticipate everything and provide it all upfront at launch the game would live the entirety of its existence in stasis.

    No, I’d rather have something playable at the beginning and then enjoy watching as it changes around me.

  • Small things I can understand. I think he means like when Warhammer Online was supposed to have three sides but released with only two. It was hyped and then left out. Even if they eventually put it in, a lot of us probably wouldn’t go back after quitting.

  • Yeah, absolutely talking big features.

    Things like devs talking about player housing or guilds building cities but launch without it saying “it will come soon!” Or even launching a game without realizing they SHOULD have had X feature.