The Daily Grind: What’s the best way to boost MMO populations?

    
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An anonymous Kickstarter donor pinged us with this question for this morning’s Daily Grind:

With the breadth of niche MMOs available, how will companies resort to increasing players?

I presume our donor refers to the absolute deluge of smaller indie titles that we’ve seen crop up in development over the last few years thanks to Kickstarter. While some folks praise the creativity that these niche titles promise in a field of higher-budget WoW-style themeparks, others see only a future of flopped games and communities spread far too thin to sustain themselves. “Niche” can bring dilution as much as diversity.

So studios, big and small, are constantly struggling with how to make their games sticky and how to keep their player numbers increasing in a genre where traditionally the trend is the opposite. We’ve seen MMO studios try everything from model shifts to expansions to new player bonuses and recruit-a-friend deals. But this is a genre where even World of Warcraft is losing subs in alarmingly huge chunks — will indies fare better?

What’s the best way to boost MMO populations in 2015?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

wjowski Cosmic Cleric dorn2 You sure about that?  I’ll bet I’ve been a professional/paid programmer longer than you’ve been alive.  ;)

Joseph C
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Joseph C

melissamcdon Veldan There’s a flaw with that though: It’s seen as rehashing content, forcing you to go back to old content. Furthermore, what happens if you’re on a PvP server? You’ve got 20s brushing elbows with 40s. That doesn’t seem very fair.

I like how it was done in Guild Wars 2: Sets your level down to whatever you’re doing, and you can EXP in the same zone all you want, if you like. Or you can explore, see other places, do other missions, with dynamic events keeping people running around and playing.

Now if they’d just fix their LFG tool to teleport parties into dungeons together. Running to dungeons is so stupid…

wjowski
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wjowski

Stop being shit.

wjowski
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wjowski

Cosmic Cleric dorn2 
“Hire more devs”
And you both immediately show that you know nothing about how programming works.

muneravenmn
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muneravenmn

I  think that MMOs will not prosper until they can have encounters that are random and ever-changing.  In the beginning of MMOs we each adventured on our own and had to use our wits to deal with what we found in the virtual world.  Help was mostly individual-to-individual.  The proliferation of how-to websites and Youtube videos for every game has effectively killed that.
Players are always going to sabotage their own fun by looking for the most efficient way to do content because it is part of human nature to want to maximize efficiency and do something as easily as possible.  MMos need  to counter that in order to bring back the fun of a game being a fresh experience.  

When no dungeon or raid can be learned ahead of time . . .when quests are not the same for every player . . .then MMOs will be a huge hit again.

camelotcrusade
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camelotcrusade

I don’t think there’s any one answer, but for me an essential component is the ability to play with my friends whenever I want.  Cross-faction chat, mentoring, cross-faction grouping, etc.  Nothing is more of a killjoy to me than starting a game only to find my pals are on different factions, servers, progressions, etc., and we may as well not even be on the same game.  Or by the time we are we have very little shared experience to keep us together.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

dorn2 It really is “Penny wise and Pound foolish” for companies, when they don’t hire more devs and work the problems right.  There’s an ethereal nature of customer perception on a companies product that company management doesn’t seeem to usually get, to their downfall.  Bugginess of their product is one of those perceptions.

Companies/managers don’t want to spend on devs, as its (probably) their most expensive line item cost, but that’s exactly what they should invest more in, and get better rewards on the back-end.

dorn2
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dorn2

This is the line that destroys MMOs: “We can’t do that with our current tech”.
These companies need to hire more programmers and less of everything else.  Fixing actual flaws in the game is more profitable than adding another zone.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

omedon666 Yep. Player communities are now hitting their limits, even with the Internet. The things that may change this is a growing Internet and global culture over the next decades, but for now, we’re retreating and looking for more local communities again (even if with Internet technologies, and even if its more subjective and welcome-to-global-friends than before). Companies should realize that we’re not at the point of ‘the Internet can reach everyone, but it doesn’t mean we want to talk with everyone’.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Siphaed Missing the event isn’t so terrible to me (but it is still a black mark that may make me avoid your game), but missing the story of it nags at me forever.

I really really liked when RIFT had its War of the Wanton Maw world event, with its own dailies and such, a hub, and a questline, then 1-2ish patches later brought it back as the Wanton Maw Saga questline. Players can miss exclusive content and general rewards (I don’t like missing unique rewards, but I’m fine with missing higher EXP/currency/etc rates), but still get the gist of what happened and get a relatively similar experience.

But honestly, the more exclusive rewards there are, the less I want to jump in. More and more, it’ll seem like I’m too late to the party.