The Daily Grind: Which MMO ‘reboot’ was the worst idea?

    
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I’ve talked before about how a lot of fans have seemingly taken the wrong lessons away from Final Fantasy XIV’s successful relaunch, clamoring for a lot of games to reboot when most reboots turn out… well, underwhelming. Case in point: Secret World Legends, which basically tried to solve one real problem to mixed result and solved a lot of problems no one thought were problems to result in a game fans accepted chiefly for the promise of actually getting more story content.

Spoiler warning: That didn’t happen! Beyond, like… one update, total.

So we’ve already got a strong candidate for a reboot launch that didn’t really justify its existence. But between relaunches, rebranding, major overhauls, business model shifts, and the like, there are a lot of MMOs that have tried to “reboot” themselves in some way to varying degrees of non-success. So which MMO “reboot” was the worst idea, and why? (And yes, you can still pick SWL here.)

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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Saxon Myers

It’s not a contest. Secret World Legends

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Castagere Shaikura

SWL gets my vote. I have tried many times to get into it and just couldn’t I had a really sweet character in the original game. And a lot of items I paid for didn’t cross over like they said they would.

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Calien McCarthy

I’m going with RIFT. The F2P conversion and subsequent handing the reigns to Hartsman was a disaster. He blatantly ignored everything about the game that made it good, and monetized the ever-living shoot out of every single aspect of the game. Further updates sucked any open world engagement away in favour of Instant Adventures, and suddenly RIFT was less an MMO and more a half-baked lobby-based quest game.

Accuse WoW of that all you want, at least there is some reason to go into the world. IA’s literally removed any need of that in RIFT.

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Greaterdivinity

I know SWL is a popular one but honestly…while the execution was not great at all, I think it was still a solid idea. The game needed some serious love/reworking, and with the direction they were taking it seemed like they were prepping the rework for new releases on console. I “got” it, even if I didn’t have much faith (though plenty of hope) that they’d execute it well (spoilers: they didn’t).

I’m throwing a big ‘ol honkin vote for Defiance 2050. Like, there was literally no reason for that at all. It added nothing and set up nothing new (at least SWL set up possible console releases), and at least based on the time I spent in there was a demonstrable downgrade in almost every regard from Defiance, with the much touted lighting/graphical improvements barely being noticeable on PC.

Like, 100% there was absolutely no point for it beyond trying to wring more money out of the game. There wasn’t even a real chance of new content if memory serves.

Everything about Defiance was such a disappointment, which is especially lame because much of the foundation of the game (gunplay and the basic gameplay loops) were solid…it was just that everything else was kinda meh. Still had some bloody great bosses and fights. Shame it launched with a world the size of a handful of zones in another MMO.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Yeah. Defiance is an interesting mirror to Secret World.
Largely insignificant changes. Similar changes to monetization. A certain level of disapproval from the existing player base.
Both OG Defiance and TSW servers left on.
I think the only real difference is how effectively Funcom managed to move everyone to SWL. Defiance 2050 didn’t have nearly the same adoption.

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Bruno Brito

I agree that TSW needed love. I think it didn’t get none, thought. The entire rework revamped things it didn’t need revamping, added features that made the game worse, and clunkier.

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nomadmorlock9

Star Wars Galaxies NGE anyone? They could have added more content without the NGE. Talk about driving away fans and current customers.

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nomadmorlock9

Really, no one else for the NGE? Feels like the greatest example of this is becoming lost to history. I dwell. Can’t let it go even after all these years, lol.

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PhoenixDfire

I would have thought that the NGE was a no Brainer until you realise it’s sixteen years ago!

These young whippersnappers are probably to young to remember! ;-)

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Hikari Kenzaki

So, here’s the problem with SWL.

Funcom has proven time and time again that they can make some truly great MMORPGs.

They just don’t know what to do with them after they’ve launched.

They build great communities around these games (credit to staff and players alike), but then they just sorta sputter out. The ironic part is The Secret World was probably the one instance they were finally going to get it right. They had engaged players, they had regular content updates… but Funcom was out of money right as TSW launched.

Massive restructuring and 1.5 years of attempting to recover later, their moment had passed. So they spend 2 more years piecemealing stuff out in relative silence (to the point that they utterly flub Halloween, their signature event) and announce SWL to an intense uproar. There was a catch 22 that this change would infuriate their existing player base, but most of their existing player base was coasting along on the lifetime subs they had bought 3-4 years prior.

SWL is a good game. It is arguably a better game mechanically. Yes, the power/skill system changes were largely bad and unnecessary, but everything else is generally better and easier to understand. Even things like changing to action combat, while controversial for that existing player base, were better to the average player that SWL needed to bring in.

But then Funcom happened to itself yet again and it just didn’t know what to do with a live game. They have a large chunk of the story already written. Season 2 and 3. They have said this multiple times. They even have quests finished that just need to be placed in-game.

They just… didn’t. Don’t. Won’t. Cause that’s Funcom. I love them. Love them as a company and love all the people I know personally and professionally who work there. They just don’t know how to run a game once it’s ‘finished’.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Did I mention they STILL don’t have a storefront for selling the literal 100s of new cosmetics they added to SWL since launch? Four years later, you still have to poke around the wardrobe aimlessly hoping you run into a new outfits they didn’t bother to tell you were there.

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Minimalistway

That’s weird, i haven’t played it for a long time now, but i thought there is an in-game shop.

Clearly the company is focusing too much on other games … and i’m still waiting for Chop Chop.

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Hikari Kenzaki

The thing is, they’re not. Or maybe they are, but it’s not really relevant. This is more a pattern of behavior over the last twenty years and not really a case of ‘what they are doing wrong right now’.

As I say, I love all the individual people at Funcom. Andy Benditt is hands down the best community manager in the industry. Sorry to all the famous rockstar CMs out there, but it’s true. Funcom itself just doesn’t seem to understand the business of MMORPGs. Maybe Tencent will fix that (they *seem* to be), but it’s too late for SWL.

They have a cash shop for selling all the various gearing bits and bobs and agent systems. Not a thing for cosmetics. And they have a LOT of new cosmetics. Highly requested cosmetics like improved t-shirts, dresses, shoes, etc. They simply have no systems in place to tell you to go buy them.
You have to look for them in the wardrobe.

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Greaterdivinity

And having reinstalled recently, apparently DX11 is still broken as all hell and just randomly crashes all the time. I was kinda looking forward to replaying through some of the story after a LONG break but lost interest realizing that it was still totally abandoned : /

Man, I had such higher hopes for SWL, even with some of the…downgrades (especially for lifers) in the re-release. At least we got a little bit of new content, even if it’s still missing stuff from TSW.

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Phubarrh

I love Funcom too, but the other general downside (from one angle) to their MMOs is that they can be pretty rough to solo, combat-wise. But they’re also a little unique in that sense, these days.

I heartily miss Ragnar Tornquist, too. I’ve been devotedly buying every Red Thread Game that comes along, but they have yet to truly grab me by the throat in terms of play.

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Tridus

The lesson there seems to be “lifetime subs are a terrible idea when you need ongoing revenue”.

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wratts

Defiance, for sure. An unimpressively different reboot of an unimpressive game, without even sunsetting the original game. How could it fail?

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Phubarrh

Thumbs up for every response on the page.

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Does not check email

Another post for secret world. Why do companies insist on throwing away their fervent loyal customers?

At this point I think the fans should be allowed to add more content. What a waste. Not that I can even logon or get a response from support.

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styopa

SWL.
They had a dedicated if small fanbase of people that liked to stand around in Agartha in horse-heads, and an UTTERLY unique and frankly interesting IP that begged for a) more content, b) player housing, and had no END of potential stories (hint: just sit there watching and cribbing 15 seasons of Supernatural or read American Gods) they could have applied.

Seriously the resources that went into SWL, developing trivial changes and large monetization schemes was NOT WORTH shattering the playerbase.

So stupid.