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Comment Overly literal (Score 1) 138

This is a case of people interpreting the term "Friend" as used on Facebook too literally. I have hundreds of "friends" on Facebook. I don't have hundreds of real friends. What I have is hundreds of people whom I have met, perhaps quite briefly, through work, socialization, hobbies and happenstance.

Comment From the article (Score 4, Insightful) 144

"In my opinion, this is way too early to give up on any MMORPG title since these kinds of games usually take a bit to get going, WoW didn't start off as the juggernaut it is today either."

Sure WoW has been building for a long time, but its launch was so strong that their biggest issue was underestimating how quickly they'd have to expand their server base. There were tremendous complaints about the lag early on as servers were absolutely swamped.

If you don't have a strong opening, it's going to take something remarkable to build the base required to justify the expense of a major MMO. From what I've seen major commercial MMOs that have weak releases rarely reverse that condition. Most simply limp along. A weak release can be the kiss of death for several reasons, including low player density driving off the few players you do have, and lack of a sufficient mass of customers to generate positive buzz and drive long term growth.

Basically, you don't throw good money after bad.

"After the SOE buyout of the game the LESIG team was reduced to playing minor characters before eventually being phased out and replaced with a Live Event Team (LET) comprised purely of volunteers."

When your game isn't bringing in enough money to justify a paid team of in-game actors, of course there are going to be cuts. This is a business. How much sooner would doors have had to close if the budget had not been scaled back? Of course this costs customers, but it very much seems that there were already not enough customers to justify this level of cost. It's no secret that most MMOs already have incredibly lead customer service departments. This is, I epxect, basically like employing a second CS department.

"You could never be an equal to a storyline character."

Welcome to MMOs.

Comment Re:An interesting choice (Score 1) 82

The interesting thing about MMO pricing is how well your profits scale as you add players. While some additional expenses are incurred with each new player development costs largely remain the same at 100k players and 10,000k players. This means that a company like Blizzard can invest enormous resources into ongoing development compared to a company like Turbine, and still be making vastly more money on a per subscription basis.

This makes it difficult to determine a fair rate, since a game like WoW is basically printing money while a smaller company may be scraping by on the same monthly fee. Further, as a customer the companies profit isn't really a concern, so the company pulling in 50 times the money but spending only 5 times what the smaller company does on continuing development is still likely to be a better proposition.

It is interesting that you mention raiding in WoW, because Blizzard has come to the same conclusion you have in that their raids were not reaching enough of their audience. Wrath of the Lich King has shown a different philosophy from Blizzard in raid design, where they have tried to make raiding more accessible to players by offering raid options for smaller groups, lowering the difficulty of standard raid encounters and making the gear onramp easier. The end game is still clearly focused on raid rather than small group instances, but raids are being run by a greater percentage of the players than in the past. I do however have friends who have canceled recently because they are not presently able to devote the amount of contiguous time required for raiding. I personally have stopped playing for the time being simply because I am weary of having my evenings scheduled for raiding week after week.

Comment An interesting choice (Score 1) 82

I always see incredibly negative feedback to micro transactions in subscription games. While forum polls are obviously very biased by the vocal minority, they tend to also have an overwhelmingly negative response to questions about integrating micro payments into subscription MMOs. My impression is that a non-trivial percent of MMO players will not subscribe to a game that also integrates micro payments in a substantial way. Perhaps marketing research has shown that the revenue from micro payments will more than offset the cost of lost subscriptions, but I personally consider it to be a bold gamble. There's a certain value proposition in the MMO market, and if you're saying your game is worth both a subscription fee and micro payments you're really going to have to deliver something that other companies aren't.

Even in WoW, where the micro transactions are hidden behind the card game there is often a general sentiment of contempt for those players who show off their card game items. Ride your Goblin Rocket around and while some players will ooh and aah others will be laughing at you.

The comparison to Rock Band, or to paid character transfers are entirely ridiculous when talking about access to items and content in an MMO.

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