(fwd) Re: Popularity of text-based MUDS
clawrenc at cup.hp.com
clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Wed Jul 2 17:26:33 New Zealand Standard Time 1997
A typical Bartle-spout, but I think worth noting (even if I don't
From: Richard Bartle <76703.3042 at CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Re: Popularity of text-based MUDS
Date: 24 Jun 1997 18:35:52 GMT
> people are not making a career, much less getting rich, out
> of making text muds.
You are mistaken. There are people out there making BIG money from
text adventure games. Look at the games on AOL, for example, and
you'll see 200+ paying customers in them all day long. Simutronics was
taking over a million dollars a MONTH in royalties from AOL earlier
this year, despite the switch to flat-rate charging. Smaller companies
who have games like Federation 2 and Terris still make a substantial
amount - enough to employ several programmers and then some. My own
MUD1 has been on CompuServe for 10 years, during which time it must
have made close to $5,000,000 (unfortunately, CompuServe pay
Text adventures are the big secret of the on-line gaming industry.
People who make boxed games are used to having products which are
state of the art that push the boundaries of hardware and software
capabilities. They reject text games out of hand, because they're
"dated". Those of us who do make a living from text adventures are
quite happy for this to remain the case, and people who put up
ill-conceived "graphical" MUDs are privately praised, because that
means other companies with only short-term experience in the area will
be put off from joining in.
What is holding the industry back is, if anything, the proliferation
of free MUDs out there. Many are free "and worth every penny", but
there are some which are very, very good indeed. Companies like AOL
and CompuServe LOVE these, because instead of taking only 80-90% of
the income that an exclusive game would generate, they get to take
100%. The result is that they are increasingly reluctant to take on
new games. No matter how good your text adventure is, you would have a
very hard time getting it on AOL at the moment. It's not impossible,
just nearly impossible.
It's vaguely ironic that people are bemoaning the fact that MUDs
don't have the same clout as books or movies, and therefore don't pay
as well. The reason they don't pay well is because so many good ones
are free. If you could walk to the local store and take out any video
you wanted and view it for free, you would, right? If anyone could do
the same thing, then that would rather undermine the video industry,
wouldn't it? If wandering to a library and taking out a book wasn't
such a chore, and you could keep books once you took them out, that
would reduce the book industry to a bunch of people who published out
of charitable feelings rather than for business and profit.
If MUDs are to become a proper industry, generating real amounts of
money, then the best ones have to charge. However, they won't charge.
MUDs are free, by tradition (a tradition which I, personally, started;
I put the concept into the public domain in 1985 precisely so that
other people could exploit it without fear of legal sanctions). People
who are faced with the prospect of paying for the MUD they have spent
the last 3 or 4 years playing for free will be very unhappy. I do not
expect large numbers of the big-hitting MUDs to go commercial. I do
not, in fact, expect any of them to unless they are already, although
it's in the long-term interests of the genre for this to happen.
People can and do make money from MUDs. They don't care a great deal
if other people who run MUDs criticise them, because that means there
are fewer people wanting a share of their pie. The "it's immoral to
charge for MUDs" argument passes them by: OK, so it's immoral, so
what? You be moral and poor, we'll be immoral and rich.
This has been a public service broadcast.
J C Lawrence Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor) Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------------(*) Internet: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
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