Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMO developer quotes of 2018


It’s become a tradition on Massively OP to include among our end-of-the-year roundups and editorials and retrospectives a run-down of our favorite – and least favorite – MMO dev quotes of the year, be they obscure, poignant, or just plain dumb. So once again, for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to offer up those quotes and then reflect on just what we’ve learned from them.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): It’s a bit out of our field, especially after hearing that Miyamto Shigeru himself wouldn’t be involved with making an MMO, but this quote from Nintendo exec Reggie Fils-Aime still scares me:

“Loot boxes, broadly speaking, have gotten a bit of a bad rap.”

Around this time last year, I penned a piece about all the different monetization strategies Nintendo was playing with in the mobile sphere. While we’re not a mobile gaming site, mobile gaming does feel like it’s a thing, and not just in Asia. I really liked that Nintendo was experimenting, but it was looking like gamble boxes were winning the day. That doesn’t mean they’re “better” or “OK,” it’s just what people buy the most. Almost 11 months earlier, I’d done a piece on how loot boxes legally resemble gambling, and world governments have shown that we at MOP really were doing our homework on this one. As gambling has long been seen as addictive (having an actual diagnosis while playing video games is only recently becoming a “real” psychological problem), it’s obvious why it works as a monetization strategy: people literally get hooked.

Nintendo is usually a fairly conservative company when it comes to adopting mainstream tech and strategies. They’re more innovators than followers. When a company like this publicly says lootboxes aren’t that bad, it’s a real cause for concern to me. Again, while Nintendo does this for their mobile games, they are getting better at making engaging, constantly updating games with social features. We haven’t discussed it but Nintendo’s co-op ARG, Dragalia Lost, is the latest online Nintendo game featuring synchronous online multiplayer. Remember, Splatoon 1 a few years ago really was their first IP to get into our field.

When a mainstream, family-friendly game company feels comfortable with a monetization system that world governments and gamers can agree is abusive, it probably means we’re going to see more legislature tackling this issue. Asia started it, Belgium continued it, but someone is going to really come down on it, and if game developers aren’t prepared, a lot of current games may find themselves in hot water when it happens.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I always have several; I collect these little nuggets. Here’s PWE on sunsetting Gigantic:

“Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find an impactful solution that would help Gigantic break through in a crowded market.”

I wish more developers could figure this out before the expenditures and layoffs pile up. But in this case, it was a gorgeous and fun game that I wish could’ve “broken through.” It doesn’t really matter how creative and pretty the game is; that isn’t what success is actually about.

How about Chris Roberts on Star Citizen:

“No one is attempting to do what we are doing, in the manner we are doing it, nor being as open about as we are.”

I mean, he’s not wrong that nobody is attempting to build something quite as bold and ground-breaking as Star Citizen right now, but the “open” part is definitely worth challenging. Nobody’s charging those absurd prices for e-ships either. Sometimes other people aren’t doing things for a reason. That wasn’t the only whopper Roberts put out this year, either. Consider this snippet, where he effectively shrugged off pay-to-win accusations with the old “what is the meaning of win” thing.

“You win by having fun, and fun is different things to different people.”

Ugggg, no, stoppit. That kind of equivocation has no place in a good faith discussion about whether people who pour thousands of dollars into a game before it launches will have a fundamental advantage over everyone else when it does.

Let’s switch gears. Here’s Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto on MMOs:

“A few years ago, when MMORPGs were coming into fashion, I didn’t want to make one. […] Since I get tired of things easily, I don’t want to keep making one game.”

Ow, that one hurt. But damn, it would sure explain one of the problems with keeping MMOs creatively fresh, if half the devs are bored of them by the time they launch – and the other half aren’t bored enough.

Finally, I give you two quotes from one of the fathers of the genre, Raph Koster. The first was his reaction to proposed AI that manipulates the gameplay experience and employs real-world harvested info about players to drive them toward more microtransactions.

“JFC, this is horrendous. FWIW, I have *NEVER* heard of a game doing anything even remotely like this. Let’s keep it that way.”

My reaction had more cursing. The second was issued in support of a petition at the time before Library of Congress asking for DMCA exemptions that would allow the preservation of online games:

“Speaking as a designer, I’d rather my game be played for free than never be able to be played ever again. Much of my work is basically gone and what survives is all altered. Preservation matters.”

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Worlds Adrift back in October:

“We realized how WRONG we were to hold back PVE and PVP for so long!”

This quote amuses me particularly since the devs were so sure their PvP sandbox was going to work differently than every single rules-free one before. They even urged you to “git gud” in video form. At one point until they finally came to their senses, which by all accounts has been to the game’s benefit as far as I can tell.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Justin laid claim to the quote of the year, courtesy of Diablo Immortal’s Wyatt Cheng.

“Do you guys not have phones?”

I felt so bad for Cheng during BlizzCon because this poor guy was sent out to deliver disappointing news to a quickly hostile crowd, and he had to bear the brunt of that nerdrage. He took it in good humor and tried to put a brave face on, but you can actually see how hard all of this hit him as the fans pushed back during the Q&A session. So I can understand why he would blurt out this quote when the crowd booed him about saying that this would be a mobile-only title. I can understand it. I might have said the same thing. But it was like throwing a match on extremely tender tinder and watching the internet erupt in flames. When fans are upset, they’re looking for a target. And that quote confirmed for them that Blizzard didn’t care what they wanted (a PC Diablo title) and was being flippant about their feelings.

I suppose it's cheaper than actually hiring someone to design these spaces?

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Smedley stating that he’ll make an EverQuest Next someday is just too good a one to pass up!

“I did more than imagine.. That was a big part of Hero’s Song which was really baby EQ Next. Which will be another thing someday. I will make that game.”

As one who believed in and looked forward to that project, I hope he does. I’d love to see it. Do I think it will happen? Not really, but I never say never.

My runner-up might also be cheating a bit. It’s from Novaquark, given at the end of my alpha preview interview and demo. I say it is cheating because I actually cut the quote from the finished article, but I loved it just the same – loved the sentiment. Olivier Derache, marketing & PR manager, was talking about why the NDA was staying for the alpha even though players were a bit frustrated with that and very much want to share what they are doing with others. He said,

“Our motto is, ‘We deliver, and then we talk about it,’ rather than the other way around.”

Why is this important? Derache hit the nail on the head in his very next sentence: “I think a lot of people are fed up with promises and we are very, very careful with that.” In the industry, we’ve had way too much talking much ado about (what turns out to be) nothing. Just refer to the first game I mentioned!

Your turn!

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