Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How is 2009 and the MMORPG genre?

Well, lets take a look.

Spellborn - Supposedly to be out now, still on hiatus in the US, AU and UK. This will most likely be a "It will launch when it launches game"

Stargate Worlds - This website says it best. Unsure if this is a true website, the rumor is "clarified" by CME (the developers of SGW) at Ten Ton
"At Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, we have always been upfront with the media and our fans that we are a start up. Like many start ups, we face the same cash-flow issues that all pre-revenue companies face. We have maintained a core of dedicated investors, but the new economic realities are forcing us to seek out additional sources of funding and that's what we're doing."
Lets hope the employees stay long enough to get the game out.

Aion - A hit in Korea, spells doom for the US. North America does not take kindly to Anime based MMO's and any perceived grind is blamed on the Asian MMO. Can it break through this stigma to help the failing NCSoft get it together?

Hellgate London and Tabula Rasa - The genre grows smaller as these two shut the doors. How many more will follow in 2009?

Champions Online, Darkfall, Jumpgate - ALL niche titles. Can any bring in a huge market? Darkfall is being toted as the Second Messiah of MMO's due to it's hardcore PvP, which is it's downfall. Superheroes are such a small audience And, as has been proven, Sci-Fi usually equals fail for an MMO, especially one with a basis on vehicle combat (Auto Assault ring any bells..?)...oh and it is the same developer btw...

Runes of Magic - Free, independently developed, WoW 100% clone...yea, this one will survive...does not mean it is any good...

Ah yes...no need to leave the current field, as greener pastures just look irradiated and dead to the genre...

I call 2009 the Year of the Casual Single Player game...indeed.

15 comments:

Brendan said...

It doesn't look good, that's for sure.

It's always hard to tell in advance, though. I remember when we were entering 2008 and everyone was quite hyped up for Conan and Warhammer, and both have underachieved (although one more than the other) and Blizzard's behemoth remains the core game of the genre for the time being.

The economy in general is going to have an impact in the short to medium term, too. Frankly there isn't financing for anything now, and the games developers won't be immune to that pressure, either. Perhaps it's more realistic to look towards 2010 as the new horizon?

Openedge1 said...

Agreed...
2010 has a few noted titles with bigger names, and different ideas (The Agency as an example with Console play and Free to play with Ads)
2009 will be a mess. The only bright spot is of all people...NCSoft.
I will post more on that later..

Cheers

Bildo said...

So, out of those titles releasing in 2009... how many have you played?

Learn to sit back and wait for something to come out before getting all depressed, my man.

You did forget DCU, The Agency, STO, and SW:ToR though. All are tentatively scheduled for 2009, most likely later in the year.

If all games make it out the door in 2009 it'll be a miracle, no doubt. But I don't expect each and every one will be a failure.

Play them, then bash them.

Openedge1 said...

@Bildo
You would be wrong.
Agency, STO, SWTOR all have NO release dates at this time. Why mention them in a post about 2009 games? The closest we have heard for any of these titles is 2010. Until we see concrete data, these are all moot.

As to bashing. Lets see here...nope, no bashing...would you mind clearing up the bashing part for me?
The closest I get is RoM which is a free game, and if you can find something good to say about it, do please share.

This piece was called "How is 2009 and the genre"...and basically, the games listed are all questionable at best. No major "hit" exists in that list...that I can predict.
Do you have one in the list of "known" releases that could be a major hit?

Naw...I don't think so.

Bildo said...

Forgive me, Edge, but I read almost every word in your post as "None of these titles look like I'll like them, so I'm going to call it a bad year."

That's what I'm referring to is all man. No need to go on the defensive.

I knew I should have put a :) or a :P, maybe even a :D in there somewhere.

As for release dates, I'm just going with what "target dates" we've been told and even said it'll take a miracle for them all to hit in 2009. I highly doubt they will.

That said of the ones that are targeted for 2009: Champions, DCU, Aion, and Jumpgate all seem like the kinds of games that will feel much wanted roles in the market.

Aion will likely be a Lineage replacement for a lot of Western gamers and may even attract some more players than that. Champions and DCU will be fighting over CoH subscribers, and each will be a console MMOG. Jumpgate has an uphill battle to fight against EVE, but if it releases in a solid state a lot of less patient fans of EVE might migrate there.

Just because there's not a massive hit, doesn't mean it'll be a bad year. In fact, I think there's a great chance it'll be far better than 2008 because no title is looking anything like a WoW II.

Aion looks to be the closest thing, and once you see it in video and the features, you know that's not the case in the least.

Sorry if my post came off harsh at all, but I'm definitey not getting what you're trying to say here. Seems to me that 2009 will offer you, a jaded MMOG player, better choices than this year has.

Openedge1 said...

Hmmm...I am not on defensive...no need to panic.
Just needed to get how you felt I was bashing is all.

The post is more of how it is disappointing for 2009 and how the news looks grim...

Lets take a look

SGW- Probably in the running for a Gods and Heroes situation.
No money, no employees being paid, and more employees quitting. Not healthy.

Spellborn - Acclaim ruins this game for the NA audience (and UK/AU). The word of mouth was getting strong close to release. Now, Acclaims word of mouth is quite foul. This is hurting any chance for a good release.

Aion - As I stated, has some major strikes against it. I actually have high hopes, and this looks interesting to me, but no claim to anything short of a "niche" title though.
Another 250k game if you will.

Champions - Really, how HAS CoH done? 250k game. I see the same here.
Darkfall - FFA PvP with body looting = VERY bad move.
Jumpgate - EvE 2.0, VERY niche.

STO officially was announced as 2010 today. Press releases for the Cryptic buyout announced this.

The Agency has ZERO data out there on release dates. I have yet to find any site with a date. We call that "When it is done".

DCU, does anyone even talk about this game? And it is on the same schedule as the Agency ..."whenever".

I think we need to look at this post economically.

The economy sucks..

Oh, and anyways, based on this issue of economy, we can see how this is hurting these games.

Also, none of these are "standout" titles.
We had hopefuls this year, and we got screwed (WAR and AoC).
Now, do you honestly think people will be just as forgiving next year with such weak titles?
Who is going to take chances on these games, when their game is running fine.

Lets just say, the future of the MMO genre is bleak for '09, and I do not expect anything good out of it.

Bildo said...

People will always try new games, and if one or two are worthy, it'll be a success. It's too early to call on any titles due out this year as disappointing I think.

Nothing will hit WoW's numbers, ever, except another Blizzard game. That's my take on it.

But these other games, they're likely to be spending less on development and concentrating on certain play experiences. If they do that, do it well, and don't rush titles to release they will be successful.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with 250k subscriptions, especially with the market becoming so crowded. We're looking at the MMO space becoming something of a buffet, with a little of bit of everything on offer.

I see no reason to get downcast just yet. Again, if anything, 2009 seems like a better year than 2008 already, provided most/all of the titles make it to the market.

Openedge1 said...

And as such, we will differ.
2009 looks much worse thanks to several companies in the hole (CME and NCSoft), and too many niche genres.

Lets hope you are right and at least one works out...

Danshir said...

I have to agree with you here Nedge, 2009 looks to be a sad year of the MMORPG. With most worthy prospects having no release date such as Blade&Soul and The Old Republic, we are stuck with what we have. In the cases of HellGate and Tabula Rasa, not even that.

OH well, Time to play some MegaTen..maybe they have fixed some problems since yesterday*sarcasm*

Tesh said...

I'm just waiting for Guild Wars 2. I will not pay for a subscription game, period. Until the market catches on to the idea that subs aren't the only way to roll, we'll see more of the same "saturated market" failures. It's not rocket science, and it's not even necessarily the fault of the game design. It's pure economics, and when the macroeconomic train is wrecking, the problem only gets worse.

*he says as he is happily engrossed in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and Rebelstar Tactical Command*

Hudson said...

Matrix Online and Pirates will be shut down by SOE

My prediction

Nilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nilson said...

What I don't understand is why you believe being niche to be a bad thing. In my experience, niche titles (be them movies, music, games, books or whatever) are usually my favourites, and that's because some are tailored to my tastes (while most are tailored to other people's tastes), meaning they're more significant to me than mainstream titles with their "be sure to please *everybody*" policies. When you *have* to be sure you're pleasing everybody, well, the result, most certainly, is that you will please them, but you'll not be the best for each people, you'll just be popular.

I strongly believe in the niche market and, in fact, the best MMORPGs I played (and that means, the best *for me*) is City of Heroes, with EVE Online in second place. World of Warcraft sits in third. Sure, CoH or EVE will never be as popular as WoW, they're niche after all, but that's the whole point: to a lot of people, they will be the best.

Besides, what's the problem with being a 250k game? We're only 12 years away from Ultima Online, when everybody got surprised it even got to 100k in one year! That's not a lot of time. If 250k tittles are able to survive for years, providing entertainment for a lot of people and profits to their developers, that's a good thing. 250k people paying U$15 per month... that's a lot of money, almost 4 million bucks a month - not what I'd call a grim business perspective.

I'm not meaning "being niche" means, automatically, "being a good game". The Auto Assault you mentioned is a good example. But Chris Andersons's talk about the long tail ain't no bullshit, the long tail is a valid business model, and - thank god - here to stay.

Openedge1 said...

@Nilson
What I don't understand is why you believe being niche to be a bad thing.

Simple...lets look at these niche titles..

Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault, etc.

This is the issue with Niche titles. Sales are not that good.
Also, even though 250k can be acceptable, with the cost skyrocketing for development, this will eventually need to be 500k to cut even or make a profit.

Also, by being niche, these games do not open themselves for all types of players. So, each game I noted as niche has something that may be fun to one guy, but not to another.
MMO's need a large audience to be successful, and fun...as I will note in a new post here soon.

Nilson said...

I'm no MMO developer, just a researcher, but...

Yes Tabula Rasa and Auto Assault are failed niche titles, but remember: mainstream titles can also be "250k games", or worse, and lot's of them also fail and close doors. Lord of the Rings Online is, what, a "150k game"? I'm not sure. What about Age of Conan? Did it get very far? I don't have hard data to confirm it, but what I could read about it tells me it didn't.

What's my point? You can be a successful niche title, like City of Heroes and EVE Online, or you can fail. The same for mainstream titles - but I believe mainstream titles are less likely to innovate (which is bad in long term thinking) and are more likely to spend more money in the making.

I agree with you MMOs need a large audience. I also believe 250 thousands of people IS a large audience nowadays. It may not be so in four or five years, but now?

Sure, I don't have a way to exactly know how much is needed to create one of these games, but if you can get your hand in 4 million dollar a month PLUS the initial software profits, man, you may lose a lot to taxes and expenses and whatever, but if 4 millions isn't enough to cover that, you're probably burning a big pile o' money every night just to keep you warm.

Also, who said games need to open themselves to all types of players? But I dealt with this point in the first paragraph of my anterior comment.