Ask Mo: If Star Wars Galaxies is so smart, why ain’t it rich?

Star Wars Galaxies would have been 12 years old this week, had it lived a day past Star Wars: The Old Republic. That makes this the perfect time to dig up and try to answer an old email from longtime Massively OP reader Hagu the Pally in this week’s Ask Mo.

Why did SWG have so little influence on games and developers? A recent comment was, “There is not a lot of evidence that SWG had significant impact on anything in MMOs. Is it even hyperbole to say Meridian 59 influenced MMOs more than SWG?”

As a crafter, I read so many people who loved the crafting. It’s famous. Yet “all” the subsequent developers and games have not even tried; not pale imitations, they just didn’t seem to go that way at all. Same for entertainers. etc.

One can say WoW does raiding and SWTOR does story better than other MMOs, but the other games do attempt them. If people listed their top SWG features, how many were copied by other games? I can think of the EQ, EQ2, WoW, GW2, RIFT, EVE (PLEX-like is an adjective for reviewers) features that seemed to have influenced other games.

Am I just ignorant of a lot of ways SWG changed the world? Why did such a seminal game that resonated so passionately with some people not have more downstream impact?

In the time since Hagu’s question landed in our inbox many moons ago, Raph Koster, the original lead designer on the game, posted a series of blog articles discussing the game’s design decisions, errors, and triumphs. The series makes for handy background reading:

So let’s tackle the question on our table. I don’t agree with the assertion that Star Wars Galaxies has had little influence on the genre. We see remnants of its flagging system in World of Warcraft, its housing systems in EverQuest II, its non-combat systems in The Repopulation, its space systems in Star Citizen, its city systems in Anarchy Online, its music system in Lord of the Rings Online, its trading systems in every MMO with an auction hall, and its crafting systems in every MMO that rises above insert-resource-and-click. The only MMO I turn to more than SWG when I have a “Simpsons did it” moment is Ultima Online, which is no coincidence. Those games had everything.

What we haven’t seen yet is a one-to-one cloning of the entire game on a massive scale the way we’ve seen WoW cloned repeatedly such that we consider it practically its own subgenre. You could argue that The Repopulation is having a go at it, but it’s not been done dozens of times to the point that it’s practically a meme.

That’s partly because World of Warcraft released hot on its heels with the perfect timing to capitalize on a globally recognizable IP and the skyrocketing popularity of online gaming, ensuring that the sandbox/sandpark trajectory of the genre shifted dramatically toward WoW-style themeparks — and away from more interesting and creative games like SWG, Dark Age of Camelot, and City of Heroes. As my colleague Jef put it, “this genre stopped being about virtual worlds some time ago.”

The demographics of online gaming have shifted too; the kids who grew up in the virtual worlds of the late ’90s and early aughts now have families and careers to contend with. While I would argue that SWG itself was the sort of sandbox that scaled extremely well whether you were an ultra-casual who played a few hours a week or a hardcore who logged in all day long on five accounts, most sandboxes are unkind to those without extreme amounts of playtime. Developers are chasing both the under-20 and the over-30 market with jump-in-jump-out, mobile-friendly titles and have been for years. You can’t clone a game as rich as SWG to mobile, so it isn’t being done.

And that brings me to monetization. Look, making games has always been about making money, but MMOs were just getting started when SWG was born. Virtual worlds were new, heady stuff, attracting and encouraging sharp-thinking designers and theorists rather than marketers. I’ll quote Jef again: Back then, the genre was “focused on pushing the limits of gameplay potential rather than pushing the limits of monetization design.” Studios were building whole games for a whole price, and they weren’t wasting time worrying about how they’d break down and monetize bits of the game. No game released in the last few years can escape that now, something frustrating the founders and academics of the genre.

The fundamental reason, though, is one Koster himself echoes in every blog post: Making a game as deep and detailed as SWG is extremely difficult and relatively expensive, then and now. An economy-driven, player-controlled, free-form game requires careful planning from day one. You can’t just take a favorite system from SWG and toss it into another game and expect it to work. SWG’s vast resource system and experiment-oriented crafting, for example, would make no sense in a PvE-driven themepark where gear is dropped from boss mobs. Entertainers likewise make no sense in a game bent on forcing everyone into a raiding endgame and shedding class interdependencies. Open-world housing and player vendors would be impossible in a tiny, railroaded, instanced setting. Here’s Koster:

“It’s not unusual for a company to come to me and say, ‘Can you put in crafting like SWG? Our players say it was the best ever!’ Usually, they have actually, you know, designed their game already, or even built it. And I have to tell them, ‘No. You build your game around it, not the other way around.'”

You can’t just rip off SWG piecemeal, and no one’s going to clone the entirety of a package deal like SWG when it could clone WoW for far less money and work and probably make more short-term money from the genre’s grind-and-cash-shop junkies. And it’s hard to blame them. The MMORPG genre is being squished on two fronts by MOBAs and online shooters. Major studios aren’t taking risks on virtual worlds in that environment. Would you?

That isn’t to say sandboxes aren’t being made, but most of those announced in the last few years borrow more from Ultima Online (new-wave “sandboxes” that are basically isometric gankboxes with few other systems or mandates beyond “go be a murderhobo,” which isn’t what UO was) or Minecraft (voxel-based building platforms with PvE tacked on, not virtual world simulations) than from Star Wars Galaxies. They can be fun, but they aren’t at all the same, and to call them sandboxes is to dilute the term.

Veterans still praise SWG, but not from blind nostalgia; serious fans know exactly where the game’s flaws lay and would be happy to tell you all about them ad nauseam (ahem). No, we praise it precisely because SWG has no single, concentrated successor to praise in its stead. We’re all still waiting for it. It was an epic design for an epic community in an epic period of gaming history. The fact that its official version was buried to make way for SWTOR is no black mark on its quality because survival in this genre isn’t a simple matter of “bad games fail, good games survive,” any more than it is in real life. Amazing, quality, brilliant things die every single day, and some of them leave no legacy at all. When you log into your favorite MMO this week, take a moment to reflect on SWG‘s birthday and remember that nothing gold can stay.

Are video games doomed? What do MMORPGs look like from space? Did free-to-play ruin everything? Will people ever stop talking about Star Wars Galaxies? Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and mascot Mo every month as they answer your letters to the editor right here in Ask Mo.
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133 Comments on "Ask Mo: If Star Wars Galaxies is so smart, why ain’t it rich?"

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Frostington
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Frostington

So the wall text about how fantastic SWG was ends with a statement about how it’s not praised due to nostalgia.
That is just fantastic. No this is not irony.

hults2
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hults2

“”Studios were building whole games for a whole price, and they weren’t
wasting time worrying about how they’d break down and monetize bits of
the game. No game released in the last few years can escape that
now, something http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/30/richard-bartle-frustrated-with-modern-mmo-development/ and http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2014/09/making-it-official-rip-terra-nova.html.””
This right here… I only ever played a few online games. City of Heroes was the big one. Why? because my very stomach turns at the thought of being “marketed at” by the current generation of flat, boring, bog stupid cash-grabs that fail to excite me.  I’d rather replay Mass Effect or City of Heroes in a static mode a dozen times than make one run through a WOW clone that constantly drives me to either grind like a pepper mill or go drop real hard-won cash on virtual crapware just to progress because that insults e as a human being as well as a player. I get that ever day in reality, why would I want it in my leisure space as well?

JasonPersoff
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JasonPersoff

Caec I played it and still pine for it.  I ran a bioengineering shop before the combat upgrade.  It was the most enjoyable “careers” I’ve ever had in online gaming.  Ever.  It came at a time where no other third person 3D MMO ventured and it had an IP that appealed to me greatly.  And even though it was “Uncle Owen”, it was relaxing and fun.  

The time the game began to fall apart was the combat upgrade and then the jedi grind.  Bad calls both.  The NGE was okay, but a lot of the core game that I enjoyed had slipped a bit away (God, I hated the Restuss grind and how it zapped the player base away).

I miss the things Bree mentions and more…

Caec
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Caec

Because it’s not as seminal as people claim it is. That’s all. 
I enjoyed SWG, but there weren’t many people who did, so when you hear people extolling its virtues, it’s like listening to the opinions of….Mormon libertarians, and assuming that opinion encompasses all of America, or something. 
You’ll especially hear about it a lot here, because Bree loved SWG. ;D
In the big picture, very few people loved it. Which, almost ironically-if it wasn’t so predictable-has made SWG the poster child for being the cool kid who has all those vinyls or something. 
I’m 99% certain the majority of people talking SWG up didn’t even play it, if only due to simple math. As anyone who actually played through the earlier days of MMOs should hopefully know, the audience has increased exponentially since then. And, to be fair, this observation isn’t SWG-specific. Quite a few internet conversations that start going into Ultimat Online (or, even semi-ironically, Vanilla WoW), have a far higher “participation” rate than you could really expect if you have any head for numbers, as the people around back then playing these games are a drop in the bucket of today’s MMO gaming population.

Bonnenuit
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Bonnenuit

Smiggins Check out The Repopulation if you haven’t. And if you’re serious, back it. The reason WoW clones are so prevalent, as @Breetoplay alludes to in her article (or was it explicitly stated?), are because people pay for them.

I don’t particularly care for The Repopulation myself, but I like the idea of it, and thus I supported it and hop in from time to time. Here’s to hoping that these kind of games continue to improve AND attract a larger following. 

Who knows, it could all start with you…

milosanx
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milosanx

Oh dear god, another SWG post.
I don’t see it really as a great example of a virtual world. I see a virtual world as something that resembles a living and dynamic world. A place where things grow, Live and die. This is the essence of a true virtual sandbox.
Tbh, apart from life is feudal giving some middle ground on this concept, but lacking a true persistent world at this stage, which they are working on a Mmo angle, nothing touches……
Yes I’ll say it……Wurm Online.

NemuiByakko
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NemuiByakko

Guys, guys! Well, I’d also wouold like to see SWG here now alive and with a lot of players, but let’s not go too far in ascribing it non-existing achievements. Housing in EQ2 because of SWG? Auction houses everywhere because of SWG??? Really??? In fact, everything mentioned in the post of Bree was NOT because of SWG. And even influence of SWG is very, very doubtful. SWG has really interesting innovations that were not followed. TS named very good: entertainers (shame! shame!); craft; housing where you can place anything from your inventory. Other really innovative things. Please don’t bury them under other commonplace things that were NOT copied from SWG. Because it will prevent remembering and continuing REAL SWG innovations.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay jefreahard Peregrine_Falcon To be clear, I pretty much agree with Jef.  

I think SWG was an artistic success, I am glad it was made and I understand why people would want something similar to return. (I have a different view than many about the viability of that expectation.) In particular, I give him lots of credit that there is a salient point that Jef makes more often than most: it is the customers.   Whether it is the decline of the deep sandbox or themeparks or shallow or f2p, it is the customers. Fundamentally, the codeword “F2P” issues are not caused by Zynga or Trion or Blizzard or PWI or Nexxon.  They happen because the customers prefer them. It is not artistic integrity that is keeping Zynga from making SWG II, it is the fact that customers prefer to spend money on different things.

Re $, I would describe it as a profitable game that did not make enough money to stay in business. Which brings us to Brea’s admonition to not liscense IP for your MMO.

If you see it as an artistic endeavour, it was clearly a success. If you see it as a for-profit product from a for-profit company, not so much.

How did Raph address this

So, was it a failure? Well yes, of course. And also, no.

Chuki792
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Chuki792

Oh I agree with you, jef to a degree too, but this is the gaming industry now, it’s now run by businesses and this is how businesses, and to a larger extent capitalism works… and it’s the only way we can have ‘AAA games’ these days, who else is going to stump up the millions required?
The point about swtor is great, and it’s what I was alluding to earlier, they’d make a he’ll of a lot more money and gain the sort of prestige LA feel their IP should be getting by jumping in bed with ea, and probably made themselves more attractive to Disney in the process. I can assure you all, fans’ feelings were never a part of the decision making process.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

breetoplay Chuki792 I was in no way criticising CoH; I was trying to gently chide the people who posted on its closing and if I went too far I apologize. People certainly have the right to be sad, and there is considerable justification that NCSoft was at least tacky if not mean to not do a better job of trying to sell it.

If CoH were the only product NCSoft made, it would still be running.  But for public multinationals, revenue exceeding expenses is rarely enough.  Profitable products are shut down every day because they were not profitable enough.  When the time comes and NCSoft is making the decision when to euthanize their other MMOs, I doubt revenue exceeding expenses will save them for long. It is a common comment theme, the real expense of showing at E3 is not the direct $ costs, but the distraction of your people.  I assume the CoH decision was made due to distraction issues, not direct profit and loss. And yes, those distraction issues also go away if you sell the game to a separate company.

P.S.: shutdown is not required for tax breaks; over the last couple of years CCP wrote down tens of millions of DUST assets without closing DUST

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

jefreahard Peregrine_Falcon Example of “Economic Profits” and “Opportunity Costs”:  say LA gave SOE the rights to all toys for Episode VII and then SOE sold them to Jef for a million dollars a year for eight years. That is quite profitable, probably more than most MMOs.  And every business person would think these multi-million dollar profits were a horrible business failure. Certainly LA would not renew SOE’s license.

IMO, SWG was a huge artistic success. If it wasn’t due to financial shortcomings, then why did SOE not invest more in it? Why did SOE/LA not renew the license?

breetoplay
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breetoplay

jefreahard Peregrine_Falcon I pretty much agree with Jef. I don’t like to nuke posts unless they are grossly disruptive or intentionally abusive. I prefer gentler modding first for people who aren’t serial offenders with stacks of moderated comments in their histories.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Chuki792 CoH players (few of them still “kids,” to be sure) weren’t shocked, though; they were angry. They weren’t surprised a company treated them like disposable garbage over a tax writeoff; they were pissed off about it.
Likewise, nothing about the way Lucasarts handled SWG — and let’s be clear here, they nuked SWG explicitly to boost SWTOR — was surprising to anyone who saw what Lucasarts had forced SOE to do with the NGE. SWG would have had to be topping WoW to have survived the SWTOR-or-bust plan. No game is or expects to be doing that eight years in. It’s absurd to justify sunsets that way.

haggus71
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haggus71

I dunno.  I don’t want my escape from reality to be too much LIKE reality.  I have a job that takes up 45-50 hours a week of my time.  I don’t want to go home, sit in front of a computer, and do more time-consuming, regular jobs to earn imaginary gold/credits/ISK/whatever.  I just want enough of a virtual world that I can escape into for a few hours, maybe more on the weekend, meet up with like-minded friends, and go on an adventure.  I don’t want to open up a friggin’ business, or start a corporation.  I’d have gotten a damn MBA if I wanted to do that.  Just enough crafting to keep most of the players happy is fine by me.

Guild Wars 2 fits all those things.  It offers a living story every so often.  The world does change, and NPC’s dialogues are relevant to their region and time(some of the best attention to detail can be found just sitting and listening to some of these dialogues).  It gives me enough of a challenge to feel heroic, without making it so cray it feels like a grind.  It will never be a hard-core game, and that’s the point.  If you are complaining about there not being enough options, maybe you should look at why you are so stuck with a game needing to have this, this, that, that other thing, the other, and that, and maybe quit being so anal about things.  Who knows?  If they lightened up, people might even enjoy a game they never would have tried!

Chuki792
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Chuki792

To be clear, I didn’t call it a failure, and it really doesn’t matter how I or anyone in this thread defines failure, the only definition that matters is that of the guy who’s stumping up the cash. And to be honest, this is the environment games are developed in these days and we all see the effect! I don’t doubt it had a large and loyal following, but to an investor, does that matter? If an investor puts down £/$100 and expects 150 by the end of the 1st year and 200 after year 2, that’s what the game has to deliver… If he gets 130 in y1 and 180 in y2, it’s a failure in the eyes of the guy paying for it. How long he can continue taking those hits to his expected revenue is anyone’s guess, but eventually he will call time on his latest venture and goes off lookin for the next big thing. It’s the reason ea and Disney are he perfect fit, they speak the same language and as we know, EA puts profit before anything else so will aim to deliver the expected numbers as a priority, as they are legally obliged to do.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Chuki792 It boils down to how you define “failure” in the MMO space, as well as whether or not your thinking is limited to balance sheets.  I know many an MMO developer who would kill to have an 8-year “failure” like SWG that continues to inspire passionate discussion in every corner of this hobby nearly half a decade after it supposedly failed, lol.

But sure, people who insist on seeing the world in black and white are free to label SWG a failure. And those of us who played the game for a decade (counting the betas) and who have spoken to the principles involved at length are free to counteract that label with the truth.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Peregrine_Falcon I can’t speak for Bree, but I don’t like to just nuke posts, no matter how silly or uninformed they may be, particularly when they’re active members of the community instead of new accounts or one-post wonders. To me it’s better to just have a discussion, call things what they are, and leave it all out there for posterity, future reference, or whatever. Unless it’s something so blatantly offensive or factually incorrect that it distorts rational understanding of a given subject.

And despite the fact that I personally find the “SWG failed” stuff provably illogical, there’s nothing really offensive about it unless you’re offended by dumb.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

breetoplay jefreahard SallyBowls1 
You guys seem to be totally ok with allowing the same people to troll the **** out of every GW2 article, so what’s wrong with someone trolling an SWG and/or COH article?
Remember, they will continue to troll only for as long as YOU allow them to.

Chuki792
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Chuki792

I actually think she has a very good point there, people were shocked that coh was closed because it was profitable (or appeared to be) but in the business world, that’s not enough to be merely profitable.
Every year businesses who are beholden to shareholders, investors or anyone with a vested interest in obtaining a return on investment will have to produce a forecast for that year. That forecast becomes your target , and if you don’t meet your target, or even if you beat it by an unsatisfactory margin shareholders start to ask questions, CEO’s get ‘moved on’ etc.
SWG may have been making money, but was it making enough? Specifically, did it meet the revenue figures that lucasarts expect from their IP? Same with CoH.
If LA thought they could get a higher return for their IP by moving it to another dev, they would do, (and did) just that.

jsmooth1
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jsmooth1

CrowingOne jsmooth1 Archebius Theryl
It’s been a while since a post has actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

StClair Greymantle CrowingOne I know it’s tempting to think that, and it might be true on reddit, but I can say with some confidence that it’s not true of the MMO market that hangs out on MMO websites and forums, at least if our analytics are any guide. MMO players skew older every year, which has been part of the genre’s problem.

Brochim
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Brochim

Rebel Engie Yeah, the Pre-CU EMU has been in development for years. I might be wrong but I think even some ex SOE employees have worked on it from time to time

breetoplay
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breetoplay

jefreahard SallyBowls1 Come on Sally, you’re just trolling here with wild swings at multiple games. “in spite of how puzzled the kids are with the demise of CoH” – honestly.

jsmooth1
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jsmooth1

CrowingOne Archebius Theryl

You may not agree with me. But, I recommend checking out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

I honestly believe in anarchy we’d be stuck in the bottom layers of Maslow’s model, unable to reach toward self-actualization.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Estranged I definitely didn’t say that the public doesn’t like quality. :D

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Smiggins Hackholm I think that to call WoW a virtual world just skims the surface of what the term means in game design. It’s virtual, and it’s a world, but when academics are talking about virtual worlds, they are talking about feature-rich simulation-scapes, not just the limited slice of vagabond PvE life a trad themepark offers. A world that is made up just of people wandering around, killing rats, and looting corpses would be pretty bizarre to boot. :D

Fred1z1
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Fred1z1

breetoplay Fred1z1 i got a comment from bree. *squee*

jefreahard
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jefreahard

SallyBowls1 The #1 MMO publisher? Dramatically underperforms? The #1 IP? Citations please? 

I get it, you lack experience with SWG and you enjoy needling those of us who miss it, but you also fail to bring any actual information to the discussion and instead offer nebulous MBA-speak about financial analysts and business schools while ignoring the fact that the title ran for eight years in an overcrowded market and despite significant barriers to casual adoption. 

Koster flat out stated in his recent SWG-centric blogplosion that the game was very profitable given what it cost to make. We can sit here and argue our subjective definitions of “success” all day long, but ultimately the discussion about SWG and its various merits will continue here and elsewhere for as long as MMOs are a thing. When you combine that with the fact that the title made money throughout its lifespan, cries of failure come off as willful ignorance.

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

Hackholm
WoW is more like a “snapshot of a virtual world”.
Frozen in time so we can stroll through it at our own leisure.

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

“It was an epic design for an epic community in an epic period of gaming history.”

That’s such a wonderful epitaph for SWG!
“I don’t agree with the assertion that Star Wars Galaxies has had little influence on the genre.”
My immediate thoughts too.
Heck there is even a “remake” in the works (as well as …*cough*emus*cough*). 
How many closed-down MMOs can say that?

Estranged
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Estranged

A niche product with an expensive IP doesnt seem to be very sound economically.
Actually, that is like swimming upstream with a lead boots.

Estranged
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Estranged

LOL
Capitalism = video gaming. Period. Otherwise, board and card games.
Love to see people complaining about Capitalism as they sit in a cushy chair and use a high end computer.
If folks want chaos with an agrarian economy, I’m sure some country would allow it.
Oh, that would be a what results in a dictatorship.

JZX
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JZX

BalsBigBrother dorn2 Trion decided what the business model is gonna be.
That choice was …. well, you see – it was ArcheAge’s undoing.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Peregrine_Falcon jefreahard SallyBowls1  I disagree with the “only.”  Regardless of how much SOE was willing to live with, what I read was that LA was not going to be happy with their IP from a leading publisher doing a tenth of the revenue of some new game.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

jefreahard SallyBowls1

SWG did not make enough money to be able to afford to renew the license.  They knew from the beginning that LA would want to be paid and paid commensurate with what the most valuable IP was worth. They failed to produce a game profitable and competitive enough to stay in business. If you owe Lucas Arts, Tony Soprano, or the Iron Bank, you need to be able to afford to make the payments not opine about artistic niches.

Profitability has very little to do with the success, in spite of how puzzled the kids are with the demise of CoH.  If Apple sells 4 billion dollars of the new iPhone in the launch weekend, that will be a failure.  If Blizzard sells less than a hundred fifty million dollars of boxes of the next expansion, that will be a failure.  When the #1 MMO publisher, the publisher of EQ, takes the #1 IP, and makes a games that dramatically underperforms the competition and that can’t stay in business, I just don’t see many financial analysts or business schools who would not consider the product a failure.

Archebius
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Archebius

captainzor Wratts jefreahard He was plenty diplomatic. He was very successful at getting people to do things for him.

Archebius
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Archebius

dorn2 Archebius Oh, sure. I’m not saying that the devs are always ahead of the curve. But SWG was mid-2003, dying by mid-2005, and aside from EVE (which hasn’t grown in a long time, and wasn’t really a sandbox in the same sense), there haven’t been any successors. People aren’t writing to their congressman to demand one, either.
I also should have said that differently. Developers are going to make the things that the market is willing to PAY for. The lack of RPGs didn’t really hurt the overall video game market. And as much as no one really likes to see another MMO go F2P, they’ve turned several games from failures into successes.
A small number of the total gamers out there would like a solid sandbox with a monthly fee and active developers and a sweet community. But they’re a drop in the bucket compared to the 67 million monthly LoL players generating over $1 billion in revenue. 
Most gamers don’t “want” more DLC, either, but that continues to be a staggering success, as well.
And as much as everyone complains about Call of Duty always being the same, Advanced Warfare was still the top selling retail 2014 game.
So sure, there may be segments of the gaming population that want a specific genre, but we’re all voting with our wallets, and the final tally is – we keep buying games regardless.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

jefreahard SallyBowls1 
SWG “failed” only in that it didn’t make as much money as WoW, which is what SOE clearly wanted.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

purewitz breetoplay CastagereShaikura I’m not speaking for myself. I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan, so it was definitely what got me into the game, hands-down. I’m speaking for the general populace that appeared to jump into SWG and not really care all that much about canon lore, from the PvPers to the RPers to SOE itself. :D

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Lateris I’m not sure that makes much sense… the crafter-type economy died with WoW and the games that came out around WoW (even original CoH). That was many years before F2P.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

SallyBowls1 Yeah, except an MMO that runs profitably for eight years isn’t a financial failure, lol. Troll harder?

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

jefreahard “While that may be true in the realm of for-profit business,” and since SWG was a for-profit product by a for-profit company, its financial failings make it a failure.  If you goal is to make art, then profitability is scant defense. Similarly, if your goal is to make profits, then the number of avant-garde who liked it is similarly pretty irrelevant.

Chayse
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Chayse

“City of Heroes” was basically my entry point into this kind of online gaming, and it had a lot to offer. “Warcraft” was my next step, and it’s still my main game. It felt more like a virtual world to me than “City”, though. I think that much of what made the superhero game feel like that in the hearts of its fans probably came from that community instead of the core design.

Smiggins
Guest
Smiggins

Hackholm I agree with the author, WoW isnt a virtual world. But this is a vague issue with opinions, not facts.

To me a virtual world is more like, well, a world. WoW doesnt have all the little things that make life what it is and neither does any other game but others come closer to WoW and the rest of the themeparks. Archeage is more a virtual world than WoW imo, because you see people doing everyday tasks, you dont see that in WoW. WoW is about running that linear script just like you said. WoW is a lot like a console game.

purewitz
Guest
purewitz

breetoplay CastagereShaikura Speak for yourself. I played SWG from 2004 until the very end in 2011, because it was Star Wars. Also because I got to play as a Wookiee, a Smuggler, a Bounty Hunter, etc. For me it was definitely more about it being Star Wars than the game being a sandbox. For example a week after SWG went down, I was playing SWTOR’s launch and I’ve been playing SWTOR for over 3 years now.
As much as I like SWTOR, if there was another Star Wars MMO set during the Original Trilogy Galactic Civil War era again. I would play that. Heck it would even be cool if we had a new MMO coming based on the new upcoming movie trilogy. With all that said though, TOR is still the only Star Wars MMO we have and the best MMO in the industry when it come to storytelling and delivery of story.
To me IP is very important. With a favorite IP its almost a sure thing, whereas with an original IP you have to take a gamble. I don’t mind taking a gamble on free to play games (Because they’re free.), but when the game is 60 bucks. I don’t want to waste that kind of money on a gamble.

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf

PurpleCopper

Hackholm
Guest
Hackholm

As my colleague Jef put it, “this genre stopped being about virtual worlds some time ago.”

I have to take a moment to discuss this (I stopped reading the article when I saw this, but will continue once done).

I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. I assume this statement is directed toward WoW so I will discuss it from that angle.

WoW is a virtual world by every stretch of the imagination. It is a carefully crafted, vertically deep virtual world. Carefully crafted because the experience is the same for every character. Quests tell the same story, you fight the same bosses you essentially live the same lives. You have the same experience for the more part, in the long winding journey from killing bandits/wolves in Elwynn Forest to killing the freaking Lich King. As much as you can make fun of the WoW lore, no one can argue it isn’t deep.

I think it’s the carefully crafted, meticulously similar experience that Jef may have the issue with. In a sandbox, you, not the devs, decide how your ‘life’ is played out in an MMORPG. That can indeed be frustrating and believe me, I played UO since release for years and understand the pain. But I also understand the experience the devs are trying to create with WoW and understand I essentially have no say in that experience. We can complain about mechanics, but as far as the ‘role’ you play in WoW and similar games, it is that of ‘hero’ and nothing else. That is why it is vertically deep, not horizontally. You are constantly fighting your way to the top, hence the gear treadmill. But make no mistake, there is a world around you, growing, evolving and driven by a (read: the devs, not yours) story. Heck they even managed to fix the bridge in Redridge Mountains. 

That world may not be horizontally deep for some, since they can’t fill the role of bakers, miners or swordcrafters (as I did in UO) and have just as compelling a game experience as those out slaying internet dragons. That is of course where sandboxes shine and players fill out the roles more broadly than they do in a themepark.

It is difficult to play a game that does not allow you to define your role outside that of ‘hero’ in a virtual world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a virtual world. Perhaps this is why more and more players are leaving WoW (like myself). But then again, they are the richest devs in the MMORPG scene, so I guess that makes them the smartest too :P.

Now back to my regularly scheduled internet gaming article reading.

Smiggins
Guest
Smiggins

SWG is exactly how I want MMOs, instead we get more WoW clones.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

dorn2 “Trion could be sailing yachts made of money if they had put any effort into making the game a quality AAA western release.”
Remember Trion are not the developers of ArcheAge that would be XL Games.  Trion only published the game in the west and they still made a hash out of just that part.

TierlessTime
Guest
TierlessTime

Well said Bree. Neva forget!

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