The Daily Grind: When does an in-development MMO become real to you?

    
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It can later become unreal, of course.

Call me a cranky old person if you wish, but a game goes from “nice idea and/or tech demo” to “actual MMO” when it’s letting people play for extended periods on a regular basis and not before. There are so many MMOs we’ve seen over the years that post promising development blogs, early previews, and so forth… and then get cancelled. Or they run out of money, or they just never materialize beyond an ambitious feature list that was never realistic. (Remember Embers of Caerus? I do.)

Even then, there’s some amount of wiggle room; it remains an act of individual discrimination if TUG ever counts as a “real” game instead of just the earliest demonstrations of one. There’s so much space to get apprehensive about the future of a title’s development and so many ways that things can go wrong that banking on “not real until proven otherwise” feels like a solid survival strategy. This was even the case with titles like WildStar, which looked gorgeous from the start and didn’t really get my anticipation past a certain point until it was, well, playable. So what about you, dear readers? When does an in-development MMO become real to you instead of a collection of promises and ideas?

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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Dantos
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Dantos

No wipes and any paid content, cash shop or otherwise.

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Robert Mann

When I can play far enough that it doesn’t feel like a demo version with just one or two areas, then it’s a ‘real’ MMO. How good of one, how much depth to any aspect, and so on… is another matter.

As to longevity and fulfilling promises, that’s something that helps determine if I’ll actually spend any money on the game, assuming the game design interests me enough to possibly spend on it to begin with.

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Ben Stone

No more wipes? Accepting money for services? You’ve launched, don’t bother calling it ‘open beta’ or ‘early access’. You aren’t fooling anyone.

I only really get invested once a game has launched and is in a playable state.

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Dean Greenhoe

For me, after a game launches and I play through the “new player” tutorials and eventually start in the games main world. It is only then do I have enough information about a games mechanics and playability to decide if this game is a real playable mmo to me.

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Roger Melly

When I get to give the game a try which usually is either open beta or release in my case . Project Gorgon is the exception to the rule because I have brought that in early access something I have never done with any other game prior to this .

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

2nd scheduled patch after release.

That’s enough time to determine if the studio has the operational discipline and release management skills needed for the long haul. It should also be apparent if the game launched too soon. MMO’s no longer have the luxury of a demographic willing to put up with “wait and see”

Failing to stabilize after launch or worse pushing out obvious regressions is a fantastic way to fall into the “lost 80% of their players” statistic, something which I believe is avoidable. Of course you’re going to lose some but in my (anecdotal) experience there’s always one and often several studio mis-steps which cause an exodus.

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NeoWolf

Release

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Bruno Brito

When it has a fully functional cashshop. Or Early Access.

If your product is being sold, it’s a complete product, open to criticism. Hence why for me, Star Citizen is a complete game, and as such, i can criticize it for being barebones with a “FIFTY HUNDRED DEVELOPER TEAM 111!!!!ONE11”

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Fervor Bliss

Dwarf-Orc is right. Never thought about it before. but when you lift NDA. You are wanting your game to be talked about, but a cash shop is also a good standard.
Being in alpha should not lead to a one-sided conversation.

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zoward

Once they soft launch, i.e., they stop wiping the servers and open the cash shop.

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Schmidt.Capela

For me, a combination of:

– All the monetization mechanisms expected for launch are in place; taking money from people means opening themselves for refund demands if the game fails to materialize, which will end costlier than not taking the money in the first place.

– No more wipes expected, which means (or should mean) the devs are confident in the viability and quality of the core gameplay.

– Access open to all paying customers without any kind of NDA involved.

Even then this isn’t an implicit trust in the game; it’s just that with all those things in place walking back on the game would cause a huge damage to the devs’ and publisher’s reputation and financials, so cancelling shortly after those things are in place is the kind of blunder that should cost the jobs of everyone who contributed to the debacle.