The Daily Grind: Are there MMOs that don’t deserve second chances?

    
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MOP reader Steve recently posed us an interesting question: Is it time for gamers to stop giving second chances to bungled MMOs and live service games? We’ll paraphrase a bit here:

“We keep seeing this happening over and over again, largely because gamers do keep giving second chances, which means that publishers have no incentive to fix the flawed development processes that lead to this happening repeatedly. It’s true that without second chances redeemed games like No Man’s Sky or FFXIV wouldn’t have happened. But if gamers rejected revamps and do-overs, companies would go out of business, and we wouldn’t be continuously pelted with stuff like Anthem, Fallout 76, SW Battlefront 2, Artifact, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, etc. Is the loss of potentially good games after fixing botched launches worth the aggravation and frustration of games continuously taking our money in exchange for the vague promise of eventually being good?”

I’m generally on the side of second chances, if the first error is properly corrected, but I rarely give a third. Are you with Steve on this one – are there MMOs that don’t deserve second chances?

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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mechakisc

Jim Sterling would be immensely disappointed that you’re only having this conversation now. Is he a joke to you?

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Crowe

ESO and SWTOR are both in my “don’t give a second chance to” list. Unfortunately, I gave second chances to both and was again disappointed. (mainly in myself) SWTOR had some neat gimmicks but ultimately just didn’t have the feel of a MMO unless you were raiding… and that just wasn’t particularly fun for me in SWTOR. For ESO, it was the delay in combat that killed it for me. It could have been a decent game without that but it really just didn’t feel like a MMO either. When I went back a couple of years after launch, the combat lag was still noticeable and I was uninstalling it a couple of hours later.

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Sorenthaz

Of course, but I think it’s pretty subjective at this point. ESO for example is a game that was able to be quite successful and turn itself around after a bad launch/first year, BUT you still will have the “mainstream” audience hate on it and dismiss it for subjective reasons.

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Fenrir Wolf

Plenty.

I feel anything that exploits my good will and doesn’t respect my agency and free time doesn’t really merit another look-in. If a game keeps setting me back just because they believe their profitability is in guilds (good luck with that), for example, then I’m out.

There’s nothing more crushing than to realise you’ll never have a functional build before the next patch comes in to crush you because the balancing focus is entirely around keeping guilds in check at the expense of the majority of players who don’t join guilds. That’s why I left The Elder Scrolls Online behind, didn’t bother looking back.

I don’t like that kind of exploitation.

Guild Wars 2 has, thus far, been pretty good about not doing that since Path of Fire. There are some grating choices but they’re easier to adapt to and they don’t completely crush me and reset my progress, they’re much, much more minor and cleverly thought out. I can usually adapt and figure something out within a week or two at most, even in more dire circumstances.

If Guild Wars 2 started to do the same, though, I’d just leave it behind and I’d not bother looking back. That kind of behaviour is unacceptable and it’s almost always the first thing that has me abandon an MMORPG without feeling willing to give it another chance. An MMORPG is an investment and if you don’t respect the majority of the people investing in you then how can you expect them to respect you?

That’s why ESO is in a bit of a place, currently. It’s struggling. They’ve gained a huge number of fair-weather players but their profitable, loayal players have left. So they’ve seen a huge jump in people parasitically enjoying a free game and leeching their server resources and a big old drop in profitability.

That’s why it’s been all over the shop lately.

They’ve been jumping the shark left and right. I mean, you can’t have missed that. They’re almost making an olympic sport out of it.

“Elsweyr but with DRAGONS, yu like DRAGONS right? And Elsweyr, RIGHT? God, please tell me you like these things! And necromancers! And SKYRIM! You kids LOVE Skyrim right? Right??? Oh God, old Gill’s done it again. He’ll be out on the street again.”

There were things that they could’ve done to keep us but they kept stabbing us in the back. They didn’t know where their profits were coming from and everything since has felt like a mad scramble to become profitable again.

I hope that stands as awarning to other MMORPG developers that balancing around resetting the progress of guilds to keep them subscribed isn’t how you ensure sustainable profitability. It probably won’t, but I can hope.

I mean, if I were them, I would’ve done this:

1.) Cut back on the excessive, ham-fisted balancing and choose to buff than nerf as “power creep” is a PR nonsense excuse that’s only believable to people who’re bad at maths;

2.) Listen to your paying customers, and focus on improving areas of the game that need it (like fixing bugs, improving performance, and improving outdated player visuals like those of werewolf/vampire);

3.) Do Elsweyr, sure, but actually make it about Elsweyr and focus on the deep and actually interesting lore the khajiit have rather than tossing in whatever you think will sell (but actually won’t sell).

That’s what I would’ve done.

The thing is? The people with money aren’t stupid, they aren’t going to appreciate being exploited so they won’t stick around for it. The only game that’s achieved a critical mass with that is WoW. It’s a black hole of all of those people and their subscriptions are profit enough, and they’re not going to choose another game over WoW no matter how much sociopathic, suit-encrusted board room homunculi would love to believe otherwise.

Profitability in MMORPGs is just a good product for a good price, offering something that’s actually really entertaining and trusting in the good will of the players to support them with cash shop purchases. Focus on making it fun and accessible for alts and new players, don’t focus on grind, social engineering, or what-have-you or you’ll just end up being another Wildstar.

Which, once ZeniMax gets tired of pouring money into a failed project, is what ESO is going to be revealed to be. You can mark my words on that.

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Grim? Darhk

Yes, they do. And hopefully they don’t squander it like Secret world Legends……/sigh Funcom, how did you manage to fuck up a damned near perfect game.

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Witches

No, sometimes you start out liking one thing and go to game x, and then over time you shift to liking some other thing and you move to game y.

Also a good MMO is always changing, hopefully evolving, so it may change into something you no longer enjoy or go from being something you dislike to something you like.

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kgrey38

Second chances should always be had. You never know.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I totally got into NMS on it’s second chance, a game I thought I’d never play.

It wouldn’t matter how many chances FO76 got, I’m unlikely to play it ever.

That’s pretty much the whole ball of wax. Either a game’s worth playing or it’s not. Doesn’t matter how many “chances” it gets or is given. And ‘deserving’ is a completely subjective adjective.

About Live Service games, however, they should all die. The obvious cash grab of publishing a barely playable game as finished and then putting up a detestable “road map” to prove the studio didn’t just publish this garbage to suck bucks out of you but it really, really means to make it the greatest game possible, if you’ll only be patient enough and believe. Just believe.

Oh, and if you would, buy some MTX to show how much you just love our game, we’ll work really really hard! Promise!

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Robert Andle

I’m all in favour of second chances as quite often games, especially MMOs, constantly evolve over time. Quite a few games I’ve played I didn’t enjoy at all when they first came out, but I’ve returned to them over the years and enjoyed them a great deal.

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traja

One major downside to not offering second chances is that it motivates the suits worried about money alone to invest more into false marketing as that will capitalize best on the first chance. Get the initial sales and then abandon the game to die while working on the next over hyped project.

Basically it wouldn’t lead to the outcome that people wish that it would, that being the developers spending more time really polishing the game. Because that just isn’t where the money would be as people are easily duped into buying before seeing. At least with second chances there is some financial motivation to produce a good game eventually.