Almost every MMO company would like to fend off the 800 pound gorilla that is World of Warcraft.
What’s astounding is that it’s a subscription based game in a
renaissance world of free or item-based business models. It can’t be denied, WoW has gone from being big to being a part of pop culture. We’ve seen the brilliance of their TV commercials and how they seamlessly even integrated a Toyota truck into an advergaming coup. Genius!
Michael Zenke of Gamasutra said that 2007 was “not a great year for the industry, but it still wasn’t bad.”
What follows are my “Lessons Learned” notes for the MMORPG industry in general in 2007.
It’s not all about graphics - Maple Story, not
your average AAA title, has managed to amass 3 million subscribers. It
has nothing to do with the graphics. It’s gameplay and fun factor are
what contributed to its success. In Vietnam, a “low spec” game called Swordsman Online has hundreds of thousands of concurrent users, surpassing even Ragnarok in that country.Free is still the best price - of course, World of
Warcraft is an exemption. It’s known that North American players are
used to paying monthly subscriptions and that the Asian market plays
for free. Call it a cultural or socio-economic divide, North American
MMO companies are slowly seeing the wisdom of acquiring games using the
F2p model. So did we, when we opened up Ragnarok here in the
Philippines as an F2P service.
Don’t rush it - getting a quality product done takes a lot of time. Well, you can slash that IF
you have a lot of money and resources too but rushing it just to make
it for the release sched is sometimes fatal. Remember what happened to Hellgate London? ‘Nuff said. Stick to a realistic release schedule, yah?Novelty isn’t always welcome - This comes as an oxymoron of sorts. Players always want something new. But sometimes, it doesn’t exactly fit the bill. Case in point is an MMORPG that features decking out cars for battle - Auto Assualt by NCSoft. New, right? They shut down the game in August.If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em - Are you already big? Then be a bigger and more formidable gaming company. Look what Activision and Blizzard did by joining forces last month (December 2007). Now, EA Games has something of a fight. Not to be outdone, EA did the same thing by acquiring Bioware for nearly $800M.
The news is that Bioware “is in the early development stages of a
massively multiplayer online game”. Consider this as a
counter-offensive to the still “unnamed MMORPG title” that Blizzard is
doing. Is it Starcraft, the MMO? No one knows for certain.China (and Asia) is where the money’s at - This is
true not just for any other product in the world but also for MMORPGs.
The booming economy of China, coupled with the billions of consumers is
a marketers’ dream come true.A great movie (or novel) does not equal a great MMO
- movies have a single (or few) lead characters. Take the obvious
example of the Matrix. EVERYONE wants to be Neo. You can’t have that in
an MMO. Same thing holds true for Star Wars Galaxies, (which mmorpg.com
said that it “turned gamers into professional forum terrorists”). Now,
everyone and his brother wants to be a Jedi. Who would play a Jar-Jar
Binks? Not me.