The Daily Grind: How much do MMOs succeed on faith vs. mechanics and fanbases?

    
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The Daily Grind: How much do MMOs succeed on faith vs. mechanics and fanbases?

A while back, MOP’s Eliot, Chris, and I were discussing Last Oasis and why it didn’t take off. Collectively, I think we determined it was a bunch of factors, including the fact that it was a bit of an emptybox asking players to, as Chris put it, “establish a freakin’ kingdom from nothing” – but “without that mechanic all you have is Conan Exiles but crappier and with wood spiders.” Harsh, maybe, but true. MMO players have seen these kinds of mechanics a thousand times.

I think there’s another layer to it too: I think it’s also an issue of faith. An MMO holds together as long as there’s a critical mass of people who have faith that it will hold together, and when that fails, it’s over.

And Eliot pointed out that a lot of early access and Kickstarter MMOs also attract the types of players who will fight hard over what the game is and whom it should be for; they don’t want to see the game shift to suit the “masses,” but the masses are the fans most likely to stay long-term and bolster the game’s success. In other words, the early-adopter superfans solve one problem but create new ones.

I thought it was worth some further discussion, not really for Last Oasis specifically but for any MMO. How much do you think MMOs succeed on faith vs. mechanics and fanbases?

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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Nim

There are a lot of really cool ideas in Last Oasis, for things like eliminating Offline-Raiding with the cloud, and wiping old structures and walkers with the burn. But it also has a lot of issues with server stability, servers getting population capped (lol you can’t win PVP if you’re sitting in a queue), and really (really) toxic players. Honestly, having proximity voice chat on by default is such a shit idea.;Soundboards and Rickrolls and screamed obscenities oh my!

kjempff
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kjempff

And Eliot pointed out that a lot of early access and Kickstarter MMOs also attract the types of players who will fight hard over what the game is and whom it should be for; they don’t want to see the game shift to suit the “masses,” but the masses are the fans most likely to stay long-term and bolster the game’s success. In other words, the early-adopter superfans solve one problem but create new ones.

I see this happening in a bunch of crowdfunded mmos. The problem is the developer gets bound in the restrictions of their early adopters opinions and lack of imagination. Obviously this can and will influence that game – How much is very much up for discussion.
The developer balances with risk of losing their early backers vs not connecting with enough new players. Angering their early backers is very damaging, since they will take it personally, and forever write about the betrayal on any future articles, news, forums. So the developers are kind of stuck, making half solutions and parts of ideas they want but do not dare.

This is in my opinion a real problem with crowdfunding. You can get a project going that would otherwise be very hard to impossible to succeed with, but that funding actually comes with more expectation and binding as you would get from investors and publishers.
Also that with crowdfunding you have to be much more transparent from an early stage, with less options to rethink bigger decisions. As the mantra in game development goes “adapt early” and “kill your darlings”, but if the community already adopter those darlings as their own, then we have the problem.

Covynant001
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Covynant001

You are “massively over thinking” this.

Poorly made, open world, forced PVP…a recipe for failure in almost every case.

As pointed out, Conan Exiles already well covers these bases and then some.

😁

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Schmidt.Capela

It’s not just MMOs that rely on faith; the same happens with basically every game where other people are needed for the experience to be worthwhile or, worse, for the game to be actually playable.

To make things more complicated, wavering faith often means even players who haven’t completely left the game yet will adopt an “wait and see” posture, making the game’s population issues even worse.

It’s why my approach to selecting an MMO involves making sure I will still be able to have fun even if I’m never able to join groups; this means the game will still be playable and enjoyable for players like me even if the playerbase starts losing faith in it, which in turn makes a recovery far easier.

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Anstalt

Before Release – hope
Normal Play – mechanics
Once it gets boring – faith

The PR and the IP have to be good enough to generate hope.

Then, the mechanics have to be good enough to keep you playing long enough to develop a love for the game. Its only then that faith in the future kicks in. If the mechanics aren’t good enough, you’ll quit before you can develop faith in the future.

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Ironwu

Reference: See above article on ‘Craftopia’. What is it without the whole ‘Island/Age hopping’ mechanic?

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Zero_1_Zerum

I used to have “faith” in Star Citizen. First year or two, I was really excited about the game. I told people about it. I even upgraded my starter ship to a slightly better version. But, after they kept missing the deadlines they said they’d hit, promises they just didn’t keep, kept on feature creeping, making more and more promises, and somehow still taking in millions of dollars, and many years, without much to show for it, still being Alpha, I lost all my “faith” that the game was anything more than a “pipe dream” at best, a scam at worst.

I got out of the SC cult and stopped drinking their kool aid.

I still keep the card I got to remind me not to fall for that kind of crap again. I only get early access and Kickstarter games after they officially come out. I lost “faith” in that whole game crowdfunding scene. Won’t get fooled again!

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Jim Bergevin Jr

And that’s what the SC fanbois keep overlooking as they blindly keep repeating their mantra. The utter mismanagement of development under Roberts leadership stains crowdfunding for everyone else.

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Jokerchyld

MMOs take close to FIVE years to develop.. FIVE. At a HUGE cost with the hope that what you created FIVE years ago is relevant today. Due to this MMOs succeed on profit which means catering to the widest audience possible.

Faith will start you off. Mechanics can flesh out the style and the fanbase can promote it up to a point. But without massive numbers to offset the cost and maintenance they won’t succeed.

Ironically MMO started off Niche where catering to sub one million customers was acceptable, but at the same time the games were of lesser quality (but surprisingly more freedom). This all changed with the catalyst being WoW and its ability to appeal to a broad consumer base which became the standard. Add in technology advances which actually stopped the social interations (instead of improving on it) and you have the state we are in now.

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Oleg Chebeneev

How big the faith factor can be shows Star Citizen. $300 mil collected from backers that are droven by faith in team behind the project and in Chris himself. But faith cant last for a long time without results and progress being shown.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

And Eliot pointed out that a lot of early access and Kickstarter MMOs also attract the types of players who will fight hard over what the game is and whom it should be for; they don’t want to see the game shift to suit the “masses,” but the masses are the fans most likely to stay long-term and bolster the game’s success.

Such an underrated comment. This pretty much sums up /r/MMORPG and not a few other game specific subreddits, blogs, and forums.

Having a niche focus is going to attract a niche sized audience. So many people refuse to admit their preferences are niche (Spoiler alert: Everybody’s preferred content is niche). So many people refuse to admit their preferences cannot sustain continued maintenance much less continued content and feature development.

Perhaps MMO’s are too big. Maybe the next big thing will be a platform that allows tiny teams to produce niche content without being screwed on service fees.