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

Derek Licciardi kressilac at insightbb.com
Tue Jun 3 17:52:43 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


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?

Examples:

  - 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.

  - 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?

  - 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?

  - 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?

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

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)

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

Derek
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