Monday, May 11, 2009

MMO support - Get what you pay for?

Since my issues over the past several months in using DX10 and Age of Conan, I started to think real hard on what our MMO publishers offer us for that 15 bucks a month.

What do some of the original archaic systems as offered by the big name MMO's like WoW, EQ2, Lineage 2, DAoC, AoC, LOTRO offer for that monthly fee.

What are their terms of service? Lets see what we can find...

First off, has anyone opened their game and found anything that says "This is what you get for 15 bucks"? I keep trying to think back, and as far as I can remember, I do not know of anything like a normal monthly service that shows what you receive.

Think of paying for Cable or Satellite TV, or phone service? When we pay we receive guidelines of what a company can or will not offer service wise.

But, is it that when we pay that monthly fee for an MMO, we ONLY get access to their servers?

Lets start with WoW, due to their size. They must cover their bases. If we read their Terms of Use (found through Google), we get this nice little bit o' text.

Warranty Disclaimer.

THE GAME AND THE SERVICE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND BLIZZARD DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE GAME OR THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE GAME OR THE SERVICE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS. BLIZZARD EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.

In so many words, hey bud you paid for this, and don't expect anything in return...WHA? Boy do they ever cover those bases, and add padlocks even.

"Does not warrant..."Uninterrupted or Error-Free" "Does not warrant...that defects will be corrected"

So, for WoW, what you are paying for is to be allowed to login to their servers, and they do not need to do anything for you as a customer. At least this is the way I read it.
This does not mean they will not try and help, but hey, if you cannot login, it is not like they will care in the end if they cannot fix it. At least this is how I read it.

Trying to find these same "warranties" for LOTRO and Age of Conan was next to impossible. I was able to find a "Terms of Service" for SOE from their EQ2 page, but it seemed to be about the use of their website, and not the games.

So, why is it these are not easily accesible. Why is it that WE as customers just allow the games to take our money and not question our rights or question what service we are given for those costs?

What should we expect for our hard earned cash while playing on their servers? When anyone discusses what we ARE paying for when we pay a monthly fee, support is always thrown in with the cost to access the server, like it is what we should be paying for...but do we really get it?

When I dealt with my issue for Conan, I decided to use their forums first. A quick access to answers, and a way for the devs to troll what issues others are experiencing. A good "one stop" shop for problems.
But, it seems Funcom does not troll their forums. Unless it is for negative comments about the game, or if you state "I will quit", this instantly gets deleted. (for example, my comment after months of frustration was "Do you guys not want my money?"...instant delete).
Thus I took that argument to a more public forum...MMORPG.com, and there they cannot delete, and what do you know, I got some results.

But, why would I, as a customer, try to make it easy for the company taking my money? Why did I try the forum first? Why have many people been conditioned to try this route first?

Would you try a forum first?

Now, even though I was finally asked, and catered to in the support dept., I still ended up having to figure out the issue on my own. This proved not to be the company's fault, even though it does affect their product in a way that down the road, it could lead to more issues. But, overall they were clueless. And it was an odd enough issue that I hold no grudge.

What was problematic was why it took so long, and why I had to scream and shout to get the support in the first place.

Something I always wonder is why is a tracking system not used for issues. NCSoft is great at this, because your questions go into a wide open database and as the issue is being resolved, all the discussion goes into that database (better than a forum, but like the forum in regards to openness).
And in regards to the forum discussions, Turbine has been really good to get involved. But, they run the same gambit, that if the issue is something they do not want to discuss, the thread will be closed (for example, the 6000 response thread on "hitching" from the launch of the game, that was finally closed as they just kept lieing and getting caught in the thread along with being quite rude as well...).

Finally, I can go all the way back to the issue I was having with Age of Conan, and in the forum thread I created, the devs did state "It is a known issue". Hmmm...yet the support group had no idea what the problem was...so who knew. And if they did know, why did they not offer some type of input instead of closing the thread?

I know a lot of games are starting to switch to the Free with bonuses for fee offerings, and this really does not include those. But, imagine if as a player, you could pay for ticketed services? Would this increase the support response times? Would support improve?
So, if we play a game for free, then pay a monthly, we get "support" as part of the bundle? Would that alleviate certain problems?

So far, support for MMO's has really been a hit or miss issue. In game help for quests and what not seems to work well, but for issues with game client support like graphics, memory issues, it is almost like they do not care.
I can already see those with spittle upon their lips, screaming "But, not all computers are the same..."
No, they are not, but, there are a lot of ways to support generic issues, and get the ball rolling on support for those with problems.

And maybe one day in "Utopia"- Land of Milk and Honey, all computers will run a specific way, and make calls to code a specific way that issues can be handled properly..

Until then I expect some help for my 15 a month...don't you?

3 comments:

Tesh said...

Yes, I do. That's why I don't pay it, and go with Guild Wars or Wizard 101. *shrug*

Openedge1 said...

I do agree. I wish another game had what I wanted right now that was free...
Guild Wars 2????

But, I am burned out on GW, do not like most any other Free to Play, so until a FTP comes along worth a darn (did I say Guild Wars 2 yet????)...then I am stuck paying for this game...ugh.

But, I think we as players should expect a little more than what we get for that 15 bucks.

Tesh said...

Aye, since GW is the only entree on that particular plate, it can get old. I'm baffled that there isn't a direct competitor to GW, spurring competition that could make both better. I do like microtransaction games like Puzzle Pirates and some F2P games, but what I'm really looking for is another game that's brave enough to use the GW monetization model *and* do its own game design.

...and yes, we really should be getting more than we do for the flat $15/month. I highly suspect that if that money were tracked, we'd find some interesting revelations about how these games are run.