[MUD-Dev] MMO Launch issues ruining potential segments of the market.

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Thu Jun 19 17:05:02 CEST 2003

On Tue, 3 Jun 2003, Derek Licciardi wrote:

> As I thought about the coming year, investors, publishers, and
> user expectations it occurred to me that the uphill battle I face
> in getting funding could be getting steeper due to related
> products failing to launch properly.  Is it possible that the
> various launch failures of MMOs puts a sour taste in the mouths of
> developers and publishers for that type of MMO?

It's not just possible, unfortunately, it's happened.

>   - UO had a closed economy and unfortunately a gold duplication
>   bug caused the whole experiment to be unable to live up to its
>   original design.  Now, there isn't a MMO on the planet
>   contemplating anything remotely similar to UO's system because
>   of the albatross UO created.

Well, that and it's a poor idea unless you're certain you can
prevent duping bugs or the numerous other problems that come with a
closed economy. I'm not sure how you can be certain you can prevent
those problems. I know I wouldn't attempt it, and it's got nothing
to do with UO's failure.

>   - EQ and DaoC seem to be the only long term extremely profitable
>   MMOs out there this side of UO.  (UO is really an anomaly in a
>   sea of cloned MMOs) Does this mean that publishers and
>   developers have discounted ideas that do not build from the EQ
>   and DAoC foundation?

SW:G seems like it's going to be a lot more interesting than EQ or
DAoC from a designer's perspective, at least.

>   - Is the fact that Shadowbane has had a miserable launch going
>   to put a bad taste in the mouths of investors/publishers when
>   considering other PvP centric MMO designs?  Are we doomed to
>   more carebear games?

Not at all. Are we doomed to see only super large scale "carebear" games?
Maybe, but no big deal really. There are plenty of smaller MMOs, both
graphical and text, that diverge significantly from the MMO "mass market"

>   - If City of Heros botches their launch will investors view the
>   lack of users they achieve as a sign that the sub-genre is not
>   viable?

Maybe, but I doubt you'll see Marvel cancelling their game if City
of Heroes fails (and my guess is it will. The game sounds like a
lower-budget Everquest done by novice game developers, but with
superhero skins.)

>   - Did TSO's failure to meet expectations sour the idea that a
>   non-combat social MMO is commercially viable?

See Second Life, and There.com.

> Will SWG send a signal to investors/publishers/players that MMOs
> can only be accomplished with massive budgets and high profile
> licenses if it is the only successful launch of the year?  God
> forbid if even SWG fails to launch smoothly.  I hate to see the
> opinion of the investors/publishers if the MMO flagship product
> doesn't go off with a bang. (i.e. the one with the experienced
> team, the big budget, and the great license)

Well, I sure wouldn't want to fund a new fantasy or sci-based MMO
that's going after 100k+ players without a license. In fact, I don't
think I'd fund one without both a license and an experienced team.

> If any of this is the case, it is bad for users that want a
> different MMO experience.

Naah, that's like saying it's bad for consumers that Hollywood
releases silly popcorn blockbusters in the summer all the time
ignoring all the fantastic smaller movies that come out. There are
LOTS of different MMO experiences available. If all you want is the
top-level eyecandy then yeah, you're screwed, but I don't have any
sympathy for that point of view anyway.

> It's worse for developers without a high profile license to lure
> players in with/convince investors that the product will float.
> How do you convince someone that your game will work when the vast
> majority of your colleagues can't seem to get it right is my
> thinking.

Do a smaller project first that proves you are competent.

> My feeling is that creativity will be crushed to some degree by
> the selectivity of investment dollars because the genre is shaping
> up to look like EQ clones are the only thing that is commercially
> viable.  All in all it's been a pretty bad year for MMOs so far.
> Subscription numbers are dwindling and products are failing left
> and right.  It definitely makes one ponder the viability of the
> market in the immediate and long term future.

Naah, there will be plenty of smaller projects.


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