The Daily Grind: Is there a specific point in an MMO’s development when you know it’s doomed?

    
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There was something beautiful and wonderful and it destroyed itself.

I was tabbing back through one of my favorite Old Massively columns when I bumped into this quote and had to go look up the whole thing.

“There are several ways to set fire to a hundred-million dollars and lose it. Probably the best way is not spending time developing your endgame. Leveling is awesome, but it goes by quickly and then people leave. It’s even worse if your hardcore players report back to the general public that there is nothing to do and that the game sucks. It’s about what you get to as much as it is about getting there. Right now, 50 to 70% of our team is dedicated to elder content. We need a lot of it, and it has to be replayable. A huge chunk of the coolest stuff is happening in the elder content because that’s when it has to pay off. That’s why we have things like War Plots, 40v40 destructible fortress PvP with captured raid bosses that you can use to fight the enemy.”

That quote was from a top producer on WildStar, which at the time was about a year away from launch. And we all know how that ended.

That interview was probably my first big clue that the WildStar being developed in its last year before launch wasn’t really going to be much like the WildStar I had previewed or that had been talked up before that. I can’t say I knew it was doomed, but it was definitely a giant warning sign for me – that they had identified the problem with endgame rushing but hadn’t come up with a sustainable solution, in my mind anyway.

What are the big warning signs for you with troubled MMOs? Is there a specific point in an MMO’s development when you know it’s doomed?

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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Armsman

Yeah – when the Devs announce said MMO is sunsetting.

People LOVE to predict DOOOOM for anything they don’t like. You name ANY MMO (including WoW, FFXIV AFTER the revamp, etc.) – and you’ll find a legion of disgruntled players claiming ‘decision X has DOOMED the game and it’s shutting down in a few months…I KNOW IT!’

Reginald Bottomsworth
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Reginald Bottomsworth

Usually at the beginning, when the makers are trying to sell it by appealing to players’ sense of nostalgia.

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Ken from Chicago

Launching “sub only”. It’s not so common these days but within the past decade, when mmos mentioned it, I knew it was doomed–or if not doomed, then 6-12 months before they “suddenly realized” players prefer more options like a F2P option, at least to try out the game.

Also, a lack of communication. Silence is deadly–especially if there is little or no new content coming out. With silence from the devs, the worst ideas are free to take root and grow.

Covynant001
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Covynant001

When it is getting ready to launch in the West after failing to gain any real traction during its previous launches in other regions.

Often come with promises of big changes to appeal more to western audiences which won’t be fully finished until sometime after release.

Made in Korea is usually another red flag for me.

Anyone promising to deliver the most amazing MMO ever made with no experience in the genre nor $50M plus in the bank to make it.

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Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

The point they say its old-school grouping encouraged/required or its PVP only/focused. Then I step back and have some popcorn.

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Bruno Brito

Yes. When developers keep hyping development cycles and roadmaps for games that are 8 years in development and have absolutely no launch date in sight. And then they need money and then the hyping cycle begins all over again.

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Does not check email

when i hear kickstarter was a funding source.

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Witches

If i can fill out my dev promise bingo card the game is doomed.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

“OUR GAME IS NOT FOR ADD ENTITLED HIPSTER GENERATION, WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING OLD SCHOOL WHERE PEOPLE HAD TO PUT SOME WORK TO FIND GROUPS FOR DUNGEONS!!11111” is one such clear example that the game is doomed, unless it has something else to compensate this unnecessary mechanics with such as attractive enough art style, interesting story, various PvP styles or ability to level up solo to max level without need to visit any dungeon.

Another one is lack of text chat in MULTIPLAYER game, especially game where you spend most of the time far away from other players.

And another one is where you log in into game, spend few minutes trying out various stuff to realize the fact that it does nothing better than many existing games do and does many things worse. This is the feeling I got when trying out New World and since I know developers do not have enough time to do any significant changes before official release – I know this game is doomed even though it is not yet released.

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Sorenthaz

Wouldn’t really say doomed, but it becomes clear when things aren’t going very well if they suddenly announce a change in direction or that patch cadence will be slowing down and becoming less frequent.

As for an MMO in its development before launch, I guess it’d be when they change course last minute or are taking too long to launch with a lot of ???’s still in the air. From my experience, if an online game lacks information on what to do in the long-term at launch, it’s because there really isn’t much to do at launch. It’s sad to say this but I’ve seen enough games where devs will skirt around information and intentionally try to hide stuff so folks buy into preorders/etc. only to then get surprised by whatever BS was hidden (or just how lacking in content the game is). Sea of Thieves is a great example – the head guy for that (not Neate) was pretty much acting like he was Peter Molyneux’s protege or something.

So I guess with MMOs in particular, you really gotta try and gather up as much information as you can. If the game lacks information and it’s coming up towards launch, then it definitely should be a “wait and see” game. Usually they love to add preorder incentives to games like those to lure you into buying early, so that’s another red flag.

While online games can make turnarounds, most don’t end up like FFXIV, ESO, and No Man’s Sky. Many just die out and get forgotten about.