[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev Digest, Vol 4, Issue 30

Lee Sheldon lsheldo2 at tampabay.rr.com
Fri Oct 10 15:57:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


>From Rayzam:

> The games that are currently successes, owe part of that success
> to the ability to see advancement on a treadmill. And that ability
> is based on giving them access to the meta-game numbers.

Agreed, although "successes" is of course relative.

> If you went back in time and removed all those numbers, I'm
> basically predicting that we would still only have small niche
> commercial games, instead of UO, EQ, SWG, etc...

UO, EQ and SWG -are- small niche games on entertainment's grand
stage, and that's why pointing at them as a successful model can be
counter-productive to put it kindly. What else do we have now or in
the predictable future? More niche games or design-limited subsets
of our already over-crowded niche like Shadowbane and Horizons.

Not to put Rich Vogel on the spot - crystal balls seem notoriously
cloudy when used on MMOs - but here are two quotes from Rich, SWG
Executive Producer, in an interview about eighteen months ago (right
before SWG went into beta):

  1. "The present games will be regarded as boutique games - games
  that go after a very hardcore, niche market segment." (Not sure if
  he was including SWG in that or not, but I am.)

  2. "I am hoping that [SWG] will become the first game in the US to
  break the million subscriber mark."

Full interview at:

  http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/359/359413p1.html.

For me it's hard to reconcile the first statement (which I agree
with) with the second (which will never happen in this decade). Yet
it is this very dichotomy that this discussion waltzes around, and
that we sidestep in thread after thread. We see limited successes in
a handful of products cannibalizing each other's player base as they
release and that somehow translates into Success with a capital "S."
If we set our commercial sights this low (around the level of my
uncle John's air-conditioner manufacturing company that gained him a
smaller-sized yacht and a nice house... outside of Cleveland...), it
skews our perceptions, and makes it all that much harder to actually
broaden the market.

Oh, as an addendum: SWG had a poll on their official boards asking
players why they started playing SWG. Fully 56% said "Because I am a
Star Wars fan... And it's Star Wars." That was 34% more than the
second place, "I am an MMO fan, and SWG was the newest one." So SWG
clearly -is- relying on players new to MMOs, but it should also be
clear that the millions upon millions of people who loved the movies
(at least the original 3!) did not translate into anything near the
number necessary to reach 1 million players. Given current figures
that 56% translates into 168,000 warm bodies.

And you know I -do- agree with you on most of your general points,
so sorry for a diatribe that is not aimed specifically at you! Like
I said, I'm a radical about this. AND PROUD OF IT!

Lee
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