The Daily Grind: Is early access creating gated MMO communities?

    
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I’m not generally interested in early access programs these days. For one thing, there are so many fully fleshed-out MMOs on the market that I don’t need to be adding a half-baked one on my plate. For another thing, I feel like getting in that early will ruin my appreciation of the final product.

As I’ve been avoiding them, I’ve become worried that whenever the game launches, it will be too late to join the community. After all, if the really interested party of players have been in a game for years at that point, I’ll be some upstart who’s part of a second, lesser caste of the community.

My question today is, do you think that early access is creating gated communities? Are people paying a ton of money just to get in on the “real” community now while keeping the unwashed rabble out? Does early access create territorialism and elitism among the community that will hurt it later on?

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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ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

Gylnne ZenDadaist I like to hope that it overall helps form a community. Do it form the get-go and it gets established as part of the the unwritten rules of that community. Older players offer advice to newer players, as opposed to hoarding all the info and laughing at the newbies for the unforgivable crime of being new. Then hopefully it maintains itself through each successive round of players as the newbies become the veterans.

(That’s actually a beef I have with chunks of AO’s current community: the bored vets that crap all over the newer players for their own amusement, then later on complain there’s no one to play with.)

Tezencatli
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Tezencatli

melissaheather Yeah pretty much. If you look at Steam reviews for games that had early access/beta there’s all these bitter veterans of the game. With the usual theme of “I played this game in beta.. and then the devs ruined it!”.

Remianen
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Remianen

melissaheather Tsiya I was trying to figure out what the bloody heck you were talking about until I re-read and saw ‘original EQ’. Plane of Fear, Sol B, and Permafrost. But that’s a bad example because it was a very different situation. Those low level zones maintained their populations because it took so darn long to actually get within striking distance of ‘endgame’ at that time (for most people). For example, sure Butcherblock always had people in it but a good number of those people were camping guards, not killing snakes and aviak chicks. The same could be said for Qeynos Hills (the Millers and Surefall guards), and Freeport (militia).

In this day and age, that strategy would fail outright because people only tend to spend an hour or two in a zone before moving on. And newbie zones take 30 mins (tops!) to level past. Much different than say Everfrost, where you knew you’d be there for a week (or more). Looking back, I’m amazed at how the “Kunark Express” seemed to give a glimpse at things to come, across the entire genre.

Xijit
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Xijit

melissaheather Tsiya 
Back before common sense was considered heresy in the eyes of marketing.

Xijit
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Xijit

melissaheather 
Is why I stopped going all hard core in betas a while ago (back before betas were not up for sale)

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

squidgod2000 ManastuUtakata Archebius 
….

melissaheather
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melissaheather

Tsiya Original EQ handled this “server aging” problem well – you put pockets of high-level, desirable content near newbie zones.  This guarantees some mingling and keeps the starter zones from becoming ghost towns as the server population ages.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

Rozyn yup. in the case of Landmark particularly, people were actually defending EQN by proxy.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

What I think it does is burn out the games staunchest apostles by the time it actually launches.    By launch day if you’ve been all through an alpha, closed beta, open beta, etc., you’re already half-tired of the game.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

TimothyTierless Mr. Tierless! Nice to see you.:)