Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rift: The Rebuttal (or who mentioned "Jesus"?)

Seems the discussion about my posting on Rift and why I am let down by the MMO community is making the rounds. My favorite remark in one post has been used several times, and I think we need some rebuttal here...

Rift: No, it’s not the “Jesus” game

If I may...myself, I have never noted Rift as the "Jesus" game. First, the remark makes no sense.

Jesus died....MMO's have not died (at least not yet)...Jesus was resurrected...uh, doesn't something have to die to be resurrected. Jesus is our savior (according to the Christians!)...

So, is it the savior part? Is Rift here to SAVE us?

It could be. But, only for those who are willing to help this market grow.

But, I digress on this point...maybe on another post? Lets get to the nitty gritty of this debate though.

Some of the commentary on this particular posting has a few concerns that I think we should look into. (Check out this link to Massively Multiverse for more on this story).

"Apparently, if I have loved WoW at any point in WoW’s history but haven’t fallen head-over-heels in love with Rift in the same fashion, then I should leave the MMO genre entirely because I am nothing more than a burnt out, jaded gamer who has simply played far too many MMOs in his day. Come to think of it, I am a burnt out and jaded gamer during these, my MMO twilight years….*snickers*…but that’s beside the point!"

Not entirely true. But, to instead look upon Rift as just "copying" WoW is where the main issue lies. If you cannot look at Rift with an open mind and either like it or leave it alone, is where it causes concern.

Again, I must refer to the infamous Metacritic rating by a standard user who felt the need to give Rift a ZERO ...and why?

"There is really nothing NEW here that hasn't been done before."

Fair enough. I have no issue with this. People will find a lot to not like in other MMO's. I can clearly point out EVERY issue with Lord of the Rings Online and why I feel this is an inadequately made game. But, I would never give it a ZERO, because it still has some things going for it, like a company who cares, a community who rocks. This would be a FAIR rating.

A lot of what I read about Rift is NOT fair. Again at Multiverse...

"There are only two things in Rift that are somewhat unique. The Invasions and the Soul system are the two features that should be touted by Rift fans everywhere."

So, the AOE looting, map transparencies, instant change loadouts for class skills between specs, hover over healing,...all the background workings that advance the way we play don't count because you can't see them?

This I think is the main issue in that Rift has advanced a lot of game mechanics that we normally do not think about (like the invasion mechanic...though not entirely new, used a different way here makes even quest hubs a danger zone... or how about the quick change soul specs, though mainly seen in Guild Wars, has the added option of being able to use it ANYWHERE).

Lets talk about the off-healing mechanic. What game has a smart heal system that looks at all players in a group and decides who needs the most healing when group heals take effect?

No, these are not innovative, because they are not TANGIBLE to the player. These are not NEW.

Multiverse goes on to say...

"As for the Soul System, it was probably the key ingredient that I enjoyed the most while playing Rift. It is a step in the right direction for MMOs, and I am more than happy to applaud Trion for its creation. But at the end of the day, it has two things working against it. First of all, that many souls will prove to be horribly difficult to balance over time, especially for PvP. I’m not sure if Trion will ever be able to get the balance right. Secondly, just like the talent system in WoW or EQ 2, certain flavor of the month builds will emerge and dominate as they always do, proving once and for all that we don’t really need a better class based system."

Good point. Yet, no one has done it yet. What MMO is 100% balanced and ready to play? What MMO does not get some type of balance change on a regular basis?

WoW is still not balanced to this day. Why should this be a strike? Instead it should be noted as ongoing development...because isn't that really what MMO's are about? A never-ending cycle of patching and balancing, content addition, etc.

What about a "better class based system"? As I discussed in my *Futura* post yesterday, only one of many MMO's releasing will have it. How will it work? And will the current MMO player of course find a way to ruin it?

Moving on...

"The bar has been raised and developers need to adjust their ambitions accordingly."

This one says it all. Who raised that bar? Who said that the genre MUST be 100% different to be a GOOD game? This is where the "jaded" gamer comes in.

My constant example is the "Halo/CoD" argument. Even though in different settings, they are basically the same play style, same gameplay...gun, run, don't get killed or be killed. THAT's IT. These games continue to thrive...yet, the MMO genre must make a whole new change.

Better yet, lets use our current market. LOTRO, EQ2, WAR, AoC (lets even go ahead and leave WoW out of this). What unique features does each of these games offer that the other does not? Out of all these, WAR is the most different of the lot. Tiered gameplay, Realm vs Realm....actual crafting that requires the player to really be involved...

Yet, it is one of the lowest populated games on that list. Can we blame the bugs? Maybe. But, DEDICATED players will look beyond this and wait for development to take place. Instead everyone gave up as the game was not READY yet.

Rift is ready though. Trion is committed to listening to their customer base. Talk about your concerns with the devs and support a growing game. But the outright slamming it for trying to appease a large audience who wants similarities to begin with (heck, look at all the posts on the forums for those who WANT the LFD know, what another game has), seems out of hand.

That has been my main issue all along. The growing need of a "jaded" MMO community who want things to be different from WoW, but cannot see it if it hit them in the face leads to bickering about a game that should be able to let itself grow.

Finally...and in line with what has been said...

"Rift offers little in the way of true advancement. And just because it does its job well, does not mean we should all conform to hailing it as the greatest MMO on the planet."

Again, as I have said before. The background technology, the emergent gameplay (even though it is something YOU do not like, does not mean it is not an advancement), the willingness to ask the player what they want and ADD it (that alone is the single most advanced feature, thanks to so many devs of other MMO's ignoring their playerbase), already is a step up.

Rift is NOT the greatest MMO. But, it is what other MMO developers and games should aspire to be. Great at launch, fully fleshed out and ready to play.

The bar has been Trion actually. It is not JUST about the gameplay and features, but about the company. If we as a playerbase decide that because the game has similarities to another game, it should not be supported, then maybe we need to accept that all future games will be like WAR and AoC.

As well, until proven to me otherwise, I do not believe players want a NEW experience anyways. Otherwise they would support titles who are trying to make changes to the genre (Age of Conan was a perfect example of a game that had skill be the single most important requirement...yet players cried until it was revamped 6 months later to be a standard MMO).

So, is this market the way it is because of WoW? Sure is. Is the playerbase largely responsible? Yes...

But, is Rift "Jesus"? No. But, it sure is a damn fine game, well made..and if you can just let go of your preconceived notions of WoW and the "been there, done that", you could enjoy it more.

Psalm 69!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crystal Ball-ing: Futura MMO-itis

Some appreciated linkage took place yesterday on my post about Rift and the difficulties of the current MMO gamer to just let go of the WoW mentality. (Thanks Common Sense Gamer)

Reading through the comments on his post got me thinking...especially one specific posting.

SmakenDahed said: “Guys, what do you want?” Something different.

This got me, of course, looking at my Crystal Balls for our future in MMO land. Can the genre really offer enough change that everyone really wants? The major complaint is how Rift is so much like the old MMO's, why would anyone want to play it?

But, will the new generation be that different?

Lets take a gander while I do a reach around and look at our future in MMO's...

This one has my ire up. The spectating I have done on this game has so many looking to Bioware for their next gen relief. Can the supposed "story" pillar really offer the change in this genre the MMO player craves?

Hell, all I need to do is go to my previous post and look at comments to see how "story" will be to the standard (WoW) MMO player...

Allen said "MMOs are about the gameplay. That's what makes people pay money every month to play. People aren't going to shell out $15 a month for a story, no matter how good, once they've completed that story. The gameplay is the hook."

So, is that how you feel? Rift has a unique IP and original story, but according to this player...who cares? But, is it the fact that so many are attached to the Star Wars IP and the legendary story, that it will be the key to their enjoyment?

Even though discussion has been rampant on some unique gameplay styles, SWToR will still have various issues that have plagued our MMO's since WoW began. Talk is there will be dual faction RvR...uh, everyone complains that true factional RvR needs three to survive. Dual factioning equals imbalance. What about the standards? Kill 10x? Gonna be in at launch. Raids? Sure thing.

What is unique? How about the companions...oh crud, DDO and Guild Wars have these....

Ok, will graphics...oh, fudge...NVM.

Again, next gen? Where?

Why will Star Wars be your MMO nirvana?

Ok, this one is easy. Right off the bat, we have Funcom at the helm. Yes, Ragnar, the man who supposedly can do no wrong is in charge. BUT...two launches of an MMO, both gone horribly wrong...Can the third time be the charm?

This issue alone will most likely turn away a good bit of audience.

Right off the bat though, gameplay is unique in respect to no "levels" per se, but a skills based system. The setting is also unique (modern day instead of renfaire fun). So, where could it possibly go wrong?

First off, the main push is the "story"... Yep, another game that believes players want story. I know I do. Age of Conan was awesome in respects to that first 20 level run. Story was incredible. then they pulled it out from under our feet and the game fell on it's ass. It has since been polished up quite a bit, but is still a sore spot.

What about progress? We do not know much in that respect. Here is what the website says...

"The Secret World does not force you down a set path of progression. You are free to do anything you want at any time. If you ever get tired of doing missions or slaughtering demons, why not return to your secret society and perform tasks for them so you can rise up in their order? Do so, and you will unlock even more powers, weapons, and even unique uniforms. And, of course, untold secrets!"

Lets check our words...Tasks? QUESTS. Missions? DUNGEONS. Slaughtering? GRIND.

Did I get them all? As you can see, anyone can take any part of the "hype" a game developer builds and see that even our next gen games cannot escape the routines we have grown accustomed to.

Out of any game I will discuss today, Secret World has the most chance to offer a unique experience. The fact the developer is frowned upon and the mechanics still have that "similarity" will be hard for the game to escape the discussion that surrounds all MMO's.

Why this is on ANYONE's radar, is a mystery to me. With it's Aion like graphics, why does it appeal to the MMO gamer?


Ok, well, there is also action based combat, but still....Vindictus does that already.

So, what does it offer? Quests? yes....Raids?...yep, yep. Story....meh, who cares, right? Most likely a lot of text boxes based on the videos I have seen. Hey, WoW does that too.

So, the game engine is definitely next gen, using Unreal 3. But, this is another issue. The game will hardly run on the hardware most gamers use (especially with the complaints so many give Rift of FPS issues, yet a friend of mine runs on a laptop with built in graphics, adequately, ...)

No, what we have here is another Korean MMO. Though they are popular to a large audience of manga/anime lovers, the derision most of these games receive due to poor westernization and shoddy UI's, etc...all add up to another game that will be reamed on a regular basis...(again, looking at Aion as our example).


This one I saved for last.

Though still stuck in Fantasy tropes and using some standards, GW2 is set to try and change the MMO genre as we know it. No quest markers? No grind? No Holy Trinity of Tank/DPS/Heal?

What could possibly go wrong?

First is the requirement of "story". Guild Wars, the original, did this well. But, people were not that interested in this aspect. But, the game DID sell 6 million copies, so that built in audience who cares about the story will exist.

Even though there are no true "quest" markers or this feeling of "following the path", there is still a need to somehow notify players of what is happening, so some type of system will be used to say "Hey, come here and kill 10 of these...", etc.

But, guess what? Dungeons? Still there. Raids? Still exist. Those same features that EVERY MMO HAS is still in GW2. Also, PvP, which is notorious in the realm of balance hell, will of course lead to the inevitable nerf, which is the purview of the MMO complainer.

Guild Wars 2 should be my choice for most innovative here, and it will be huge. But, I can smell the rampant MMO player waiting in the wings to take each NEW element, and turn it on it's nose and make us believe it has all been done before.


Basically, our future, though bright, is fraught with the MMO burnout. That player who, jacked up so much on MMO gameplay, is crashing when it comes to the newest innovations in this market.

Though we have a list of games that each offer something to advance the genre...just like Rift did.. they will be frowned upon. I mean, if I can find the issues (and two of those games on that list are my most wanteds), what will prevent that burnout from doing the same?

Though Rift is a really great game, the player feels the need to attach themselves to the "similarities" and not let go. I feel each of these upcoming games, no matter how hyped our MMO player is, will offer that "same old" feeling.

My suggestion right now is that if Rift is too much like your old MMO to let that feeling of sameness go...then let MMO's go in general until one of these launch.

Maybe by then you will remember what you loved about MMO gaming.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rift: This is where the MMO community let me down...

As I log in to my server now, though still quite busy, I can feel it.

It is somewhat emptier than it usually is.

The city still bustles with people during prime time hours. The guild fills up a bit late Saturday and mostly Sunday. But, the feeling that the game is emptier than it has been, is palpable.

I started to really think about this after reading the article...5 Reasons Rift is the New WoW.

His points are precise and spot on. Rift, though familiar, is as well, a very good game. Why it now is emptying out is beyond me...besides the fact that probably most who are leaving are MMO burn outs.

Lets look at each point and see why I think the MMO community is starting to disappoint me and why there are those who just need to stop playing MMO's altogether.

1. Rift is a finished product.

"Unlike just about every MMO released in the last five years, Rift isn't half-assed or half-finished. The game has PvP, PvE, and a large diverse world for questing."

Which is true. Just most people wish to see it as EXACTLY like WoW. And to a degree it is. YET, there is so much that could make the game different if a player put in the effort. This I think is the main reason people leave.

WoW did not launch to such a glorious lead off. It took time to get there. The patience of todays player is ludicrous though. If it was a year into Rift's game and they had hit a roadblock of no new content, no fixes, no balancing...then I could see the players point. But, it's is barely two months in.

Effort, people...effort.

I will talk about this more later...

2. There's an endgame.

"Taking a page from WoW, there's a lot of loot to work for in Rift."

Loot. We love it, but then we sneer at it, thanks to so many factors.

Grind...Gear Scores...repeated dailies...just a few of the reasons people look at this factor as a letdown in most MMO's.

But, I try to figure out this elusive "endgame" nirvana that most MMO's supposedly do not offer that some players continue to ask for...and wonder "WTF do you want then?". I see the term "meaningful" endgame mentioned, but never explained. Do YOU want to tell me what you expect? What does that mean? Yet, I never see anyone flesh this out. Some throw out expectations of huge sieges and what not...but, really, expectations are set too high for what our current technology can do. It has been proven time and again.

This is why I think what players REALLY want....they can't have for another 10 or 15 years. So, for my own benefit, just quit playing MMO's for that amount of time and leave the forum punditry to those who still enjoy this genre.

Oh, and that effort thing I mentioned? Applies here as well....more soon.

3. The game isn't buggy.

"Bugs have killed off more than a few MMOs. Age of Conan and Warhammer were both decent MMOs and both of them were so fraught with bugs they brought about their own too early demise."

This is the one that kills me. Every time I see another "I'm right forumite" spout off verbal diarrhea stating "Rift will be just like WAR, and fail over" "I expect Rift to fall to as many subs as Age of Conan", I want to slap someone (and my Wife is STILL pissed about that to this day...sorry Hon, did it sting a little?).

I have yet to have ANYTHING in this game stop me from completing a quest or asking a GM for help. I expect they may be there...but, the consensus has been through my guild and a lot of people writing about Rift, that we have been playing a well made game. PERIOD.

This is huge. To this day, Age of Conan, Warhammer, heck...even EQ2, all have existing issues that I am FORCED to communicate with their tech support to help me out of a jam. This is ridiculous.

Rift is just a well made game, that will progress...if people would just shut up and play.

4.  There's a lot to do.

"Rift has something for everyone."

This one is important...and true. So much exists in Rift to keep you occupied. The problem is ...a lot of it existed in other games, thus this makes Rift an instant bore for those who have played MMO's to death.

This is why I think a lot of MMO players need to just leave this genre behind and go do something else for a while. Anyone crying they have nothing to do in Rift is either not looking, has no friends, or is done with MMO's in general.

Every time I log in, I instantly have plans, or at least can look at my roster of alts and is a good day for..."____" (you fill in the blank, as I already decided...and I can't make that decision for you.)

Now, if you will excuse me...I need to go take a break as I already thought of something else I want to do in Rift.


5.   Rift is the cure for your WoW ennui 

Rift doesn't suck. Rift rocks. It's addictive and fun. It's what an MMO should be. There's nothing fancy about, but what it does it does well. Rift is the excuse players have been waiting for, the excuse they needed to leave the comfort of WoW for something new."

Yes it does rock. But, the issue continues to be WoW. It is like saying Crack can be replaced with crocheting.

Whats funny is, that is what WoW is. Just like Crack. The problem is most MMO players have been "users" for so long, they cannot understand what it would mean to leave that behind. This is where that EFFORT really pays off. Put an effort into not thinking about WoW. Put an effort into not playing Rift like WoW. Make a concerted effort to try and work through the soul system, find what you have not found, play the game like you have not played before.

Laziness is my only assumption here.

EFFORT is what Trion put into Rift. Why not do the same?

The one way it shows the most effort is the lore.

For the first time in quite a while, we have a unique IP. A new story, a new world ...something that is NOT WoW's warcraftian world. Something not based on a released novel, movie, comic book, etc.

Yet, no one puts in the effort to look upon this aspect...and instead are banking all their chips on... you guessed it... another non-original IP (Star Wars: ToR will be our Saviour...blah, blah).

This is why movies like "Scream 4" (though still not "too bad", is still regurgitated material) are made, and sell quite well...while critical and well written movies like "Source Code" fall over.

The McDonald's consumptive world ruins our MMO's.

And for the first time, I want to just hang up my hat for my fellow players. I want to leave them behind because they let me down. They want pre-existing IP crapola on a stick, and want it to be unique and interesting.

It won't be though.

I guarantee we will be in the same boat come launch of SW:ToR. Players will complain about features that Star Wars has that are unique. Yet, the base will be full of players who will pry open the gem that is SW:ToR and note how "It is just like WoW".

And it will be.

No matter how good the story, no matter what unique aspects they add to the game...there will be that contingent that state.."It's like WoW".

Well, I will continue to log into another brilliant game, that will most likely be watered down in the hopes the masses will return. It has happened to so many good games who had great ideas, but due to the buggy nature of their release and the need to balance based on desk jockey programmers who want THEIR class and playstyle to be "meaningful", plummeted in subs and could never get back up.

Rift is a damn fine game...just no one will know it because WoW has already ruined their perception of what a good game is.

I feel let down by my fellow gamers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rift: Oh the troubles YOU have seen...

"Nobody knows the whining I've seen..."

Yes, a spiritual to describe the dire nature of the current MMO market. Especially when it deals with a game I am really enjoying. I try my best to find the awful issues most seem to be experiencing as I read their blogs and forum posts of "Whaaa". I just can't do it.

Rift: Planes of Telara feels like a true world I can inhabit for a long time.

It has been a while since I have talked about my gaming habits, and Longasc was kind enough to remind me of what I am doing.

Playing an MMO I enjoy.

Though small, our guild of family and friends has been moving along at a decent pace. Most are in their low 40's, and we have already started to discuss endgame. The set grouping levels mechanic I have used in previous games has worked out well, though not as we planned. Instead of choosing specific days, we just noted levels and tried to play together when we could...but, hold up leveling until others arrived at that juncture.

As I continue to enjoy my travels in Telara, I note all sorts of little items that really help me enjoy this game above most.

When we journey together, finding the highest peaks and grabbing that snapshot for the memories is just one pleasure. The fact the game has so many of these "climbing" areas is a fun little side note in my overall trudge to max level. While climbing, finding little goodies like the "shinies" or more resources just adds to it.

Another measure I have taken to in Rift that I have not done much in previous games is avoiding that level grind by trying out different ways to play. Jumping into vent, chatting away while killing mobs for mats, dungeon runs with various group sizes and combinations (2 heals, 2 tanks, etc.), or straight rift running. 

Rift has opened this new playstyle and helps me through what most consider standard play.

One of the major complaints I keep reading is about mob density. Too much and it keeps you from getting to your objectives too many times. Is this the "easy mode" mentality of most players kicking in? Or is it this need to speed through and crush the roses (sniff those roses buddy or get a thorn in your....)?

I still have to wonder if it is because I avoided World of Warcraft that I can enjoy even the simplest things in my MMO of choice? Has WoW really ruined so many? 

As Tipa wrote at West Karana "I really like Rift, I do. But then, I really liked World of Warcraft, too. I was an absolute fanatic about that game for a long time. Thing is, I’ve DONE WoW. All I want from Rift is stuff I couldn’t do in WoW. "

Did this kill Rift's pleasure for so many?

Well, I will keep moving along. I have plans. Fun plans...BIG plans to enjoy every moment of a game that has really made every effort to try and be great.

They have succeeded for MY book.

Now, quit causing trouble and go play.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The rise and fall of western MMO civilization as we know It...

In a previous post, I had taken note of how the market for the MMO has changed. We cannot look back at how MMO launches use to be, and compare the genre today to that happier, simpler time.

Luckily, a comment from that post goes so far as to prove my point even further. (Props to Carson 63000 of Eldergoth, who had this to say...)

"Successful monthly sub games, like EverQuest, Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Eve and WoW, do not steadily increase over the first month and then drop off as a proportion of players decide not to pay more to continue.

Successful monthly sub games have more new players coming in than they have players deciding not to continue. Successful monthly sub games have more players after a year than they did after a month.

I agree that Rift seems to be following the predictable curve set by virtually every MMO in the last five years. But this really isn't the only direction a game can go, and it's not one to aspire to, even if a bunch of box sales and a one month "churn and burn" is enough to pay for your development"

I think we can look upon his comment and really note the issue with this comment...

Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Eve Online and WoW

1997, 1999, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004

What do we see here? Mainly, these are the launch dates for each of these games. Each MMO listed is 7 years of age or older. Why use games that were in a market dominated by RTS's, Diablo style RPG's or turn based roleplay (Final Fantasy) as a comparison of todays MMO market? If we look at these titles, each was a unique in the field; heck, console games were not even the norm at that time. If an MMO launched, it was something of interest.

Now, we have a world dominated by million sellers being straight console, FPS styled shooters and World of Warcraft or the "churn and burn" MMO, as he calls them.

All MMO's since WoW have not garnered any success beyond several hundred thousand subs, with EvE being the last on that list (besides WoW) to hold on and bring in more subs since launch (that we have any real data for).

No matter the situation, this genre is toasted thanks to WoW. Every MMO from this point on will be compared to WoW. Every game (MMO, I should say) that launches without as much product content as WoW has will be criticized and ostracized for not having WoW's gameplay...period.

Comparing this market now to the market of 7 years ago does not help any argument that "This MMO is fail" due to retention not being WoW sized. Name one MMO since WoW that has continued to grow and is bigger now, than it was at launch (without going free to play...*cough* LOTRO who did NOT expand further until they changed *cough*) and THEN we can talk.

Please note, we never touch on discussions of Asian grinders or Free to Plays, as we cannot get a real data read out of how many are true revenue generators, etc. We are strictly talking the western market and the syndrome of the launch of a AAA title.

For now, just like the console FPS shooters, the PC is flooded with so many MMO's still running or in development...I mean, head to and just look at their game list. So many to choose from AND many more to come.

Personally, I think any developer that launches an MMO now has several objectives.

First, lets sell the box. We make back our development costs and can continue to develop. Next, retain a good number of subs (as keeps being proven to us by low end games like Age of Conan, Warhammer Online or any other title in the last 5 years). 100k sounds good, but if you have more, why ....thats just peachy keen. Now, work your sales mojo, offer free trials, return trials, develop, fix, stabilize, add content....and hope that as players leave, others come in to replace the slack. If you get lucky, you could get out an expansion and then start the whole cycle again.

Now, as the player, you can, as I keep seeing on every blog, twitter or forum post...try to enjoy the market and games as they are and pray to whatever God, Gods or Spirit you follow that Star Wars: The Old Republic is that savior you hope it is.

Well, why shouldn't it many other IP based MMO's have been major successes in the last 5 years (/snark).

Truly, we need to understand that the words "WoW Killer" is just not a reality, and until something unique and awe inspiring happens in this genre, shaking the very foundation the MMO stands on, we need to look at each MMO release critically without the added..."Is it like WoW?".

If Halo, Gears of War, Crysis, Call of Duty...and...(damn, don't have enough fingers or toes to count the FPS's available) can all co-exist, why can't the MMO market live the same way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

X-Fire Game: Brought to you by the letters F-A-I-L

At least if you were to read all the commentary around the web about Event 2.0 in Rift.

This weekend took a bit of a dive for our beleaguered new game, as their special world event entered phase 2. This went to phase 3 and ended faster than a sitcom episode... yet no one was laughing. Disgruntled players abound across the blogosphere (NSFW posting)(Thats it?)(Queuetastic) and forums. Guess it really did depend on if you were there though, or queued to hell (I was in, and enjoyed it...but, it was short).

How much did this event affect numbers, and how did the weekend go overall for our other MMO's? Lets find out...

(KEY: Click the logos to understand what X-Fire or Raptr is. ↓ Means the game had a loss; and the game is in green text, means it had more players. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 3982 ( 4317  )
  2. EvE Online - 2017 ( 2087  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 1892 ( 2042  )
  4. Aion -1878 ( 1961  )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 326 ( 358 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 287 ( 324  )
  7. Age of Conan - 245 ( 274  )
  8. Champions Online - ?? ( 245 ↓ )
  9. Final Fantasy XIV - 131 ( 122  )
  10. Warhammer Online - 130 ( 163 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe - 41 ( 52 ↓ )
Looking at the chart, you get to see something I have seen before. A mass exodus of X-Fire players. Thats right, when we see loss across the board like this, we pretty much have people uninstalling X-Fire, and moving on. Now, sometimes this can also mean a change in season, like right now is Spring Break...thus less players.

Makes it hard to do our charts.

But, we can garner some things from how big the loss is. Rift DID have a big chunk taken out, but with so many players, this again is still not unexpected. The fact it was an event weekend with free trials though tells us that the normal playerbase IS shrinking. Again, expected (as I discussed in my article about decline). Until we see next week, we cannot comment on this...for now. Just know that Rift STILL has the largest population of players behind WoW, quite easily.

Looking at our normal top 5, we see no major drops for these games, so this mainly is a readjustment for the X-Fire playerbase. Again, it could take weeks or even a month before we see this rectify or stay down.

Champions Online must have updated the client again, as it was broken (this happened when it went free to play) and NO time or player pops are being noted.

Our big winner this week? FFXIV, who had a new patch over the past few days. Next week should tell us how Squeenix is doing and if the patch is fixing this mess of an MMO.

So, how do we know this big loss of numbers isn't all the MMO's sucking? Well, I usually will look at World of Warcraft and see how much loss we see there.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 17th - players   32,882 (34,755 )

Thats pretty big. And if it continues, well, we know X-Fire is in decline, and not our MMO's.

  1. Rift -  2705 ( 3176  players
  2. EvE Online - 967 ( 1006  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 751 ( 780 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 457 ( 496 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 225 ( 261 ↓ )
  6. DC Universe - 179 ( 214 ↓ )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 159 ( 140  )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 152 ( 122  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 101 ( 102  )
  10. Age of Conan - 94 ( 83  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 84 ( 71  )
Interesting. Another drop across the board. Spring Break in full swing?

The top 5 all had minor drops, except for Rift. The day after for The Event was kind of like the TV show of the same name (NBC Mondays, 9pm...but, don't look for it very long...cancellation is imminent). Dropping like a rock. Will continue to watch this and see if it stabilizes.

Surprises abound here though. DDO, Final Fantasy, AoC and WAR...all noted super failures, all having a rise on these charts. How odd. Again, as noted in my previous article on decline in the MMO market; players have such a wide choice now, that as long as these games continue to have audiences, they will stay open.

An interesting week. Several factors including loss of playerbase for the time tracking clients, Spring Break for schools...all equal lowered play times.

Rift really took a beating this week, and that is disappointing. The playerbase really has become jaded in regards to new MMO's thanks to so many years of flopped launches. No new game is given a chance. Of course Rift has a few strikes against it...familiar gameplay for those who are invested in the big momma MMO, security issues that is a product of a new tech savvy environment, and then shooting yourself in the foot with giving trials to players during a huge event.

I am unsure if it will recover. It will most likely be relegated to being another contender for the top 3 spot, and stabilize eventually.

For now, the X-Fire game is headed to the beach with numbers like these....time to go ogle some bikini clads until school is back in session.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spectating Rift:Is that a decline in your pocket or...

So, reading a post on the MMORPG forum turned up this little ditty...

"XFire shows a 20% drop of played hours [on Rift] compared to the peak one month ago. So as predicted this latest "great" game is starting to lose ground.
How much you wanna bet that by next month it will be at 50% of peak?"

Why would you believe that? Unless you want it to be so.

It is almost like the players are ready to pounce at ANY bad news and turn it into the ultimate doom. Using any tool at their disposal, they can predict the closure of Rift within a years time. Sales? You bet (look at VGChartz...OH NOES, Rift only has sold less than 200k copies), X-Fire? Shard lists? You name it.

I would prefer to look at it differently.

Right now, the MMO market is flooded with good titles (and yes, some pretty bad ones), but the fact remains; you want to play an MMO, you have some choice now. Throw that stick, don't poke your eye out, and there...hit another MMO.

Of course, the overall "sales" or "success" situation is not helped by the elephant in the room (World of Warcraft) that has this horrible addiction issue for most players. When I hear that a person cannot leave WoW due to how much money and time they have invested into it, then will be hard to get this type of player to move on to a new title.

Why is it that a game is not allowed time to prosper and grow, and must be a huge success out of the gate. The market was never this way to begin with. Again, back to VGChartz and their WoW numbers. Note the steady decline of sales. Yet, it WAS persistent sales, but fell by volume week after week for it's 10 week first run.

But, then it happened. Word of mouth took the game to the next level. People wondered what the hubbub was about. What was this whole MMO "thang". The growth of WoW could be noted as the growth of the genre and not so much this one game.

Right now, Rift or ANY launch MMO will immediately be given to the WoW bear to eat, and players expect as much content, stability and playability as a six year old game. And we cannot change that mentality.

Really, is a 20% decline from a single gaming service like X-Fire indicative of the overall market share? The fact it is just one piece of the pie tells me no. Look at the Raptr numbers, which show a less than 10% loss. Look at the shard listings and see how a majority of servers are still at high...and even some queues.

Decline will really not be noted until we see merges or closure of servers.

But, can even servers being shut down announce the end of Rift? All we need to do is look at the anecdotal evidence to the contrary to see that Rift can stick around and have great success...if they just persist.

Lord of the Rings Online is our perfect example of a major success story. Indie style developer, went big time with LOTRO. But, if we would note LOTRO success, it was not hopping to begin with. When it launched in 2007, it did not get further than #24 on the X-Fire charts. By near the end of 2008 it was laying off staff and free to play was but a whispered secret that no one wanted their game to be. On launch, LOTRO only sold 172,000 copies in it's first quarter...THATS IT.

Yet, 4 years later, Turbine is lauded as a major progenitor of the Free to Play for Triple AAA products.

Now, if Rift was a major "wreck" of a game, then yes, I could clearly see them falling and tumbling. For that example, look to Age of Conan. This was the game everyone required to fail. Predictions were pasted all over the blogs, various websites,, heck, Kotaku actually SHUT THEM DOWN due to posting a fluff piece by a hater.

"Suckered in by the newbie zone, 700,000 souls subscribed. Faced with the rest of the game after level 20, they unsubscribed. It all lasted a bit over two months."

Using this criteria, AoC should have been long gone in Year One. Three years later, and still moving along with another MMO in development.

Aion is another "hated" MMO. Many a player wrote the game off as the biggest failure of it's year. YET, the game still pops into our top 5 of listed MMO's, and even has times where it spikes higher on X-Fire and Raptr, due to returning players. NCSoft financials list the game as stable...and if anything, was the game that gave them help in moving Guild Wars 2 forward and money for NCSofts next development title, Blade and Soul.

The MMO market, if anything, has become like the music market. More artists, more songs, equal more players vying for the kids dollars. Why can't all MMO's co-exist?

Play the game you like, but if anything, if you feel Rift is on the downward spiral, maybe it is you the player that is actually done with the genre?

Let me tell you about Dragon Age and Consoles...

Monday, April 11, 2011

X-Fire Game: Whats the numbers there, Kenneth?

This past Sundays stats show just a glimmer in how our MMO's are progressing. Some major anomalies still exist though between what X-Fire says and how Raptr is tracking. Luckily, the combination of the two give us some great insight into how the various games are holding up.

Stay tuned, as I also look at progression of the Rift charts near the end. For now, lets see how our services are ranking the MMO's.

(UPDATE: To help those who do not understand what X-Fire or Raptr is, each logo is a link. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 4317 ( 4493  )
  2. EvE Online - 2087 ( 1938  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 2042 ( 1959  )
  4. Aion -1961 ( 1919  )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 358 ( 371 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 324 ( 318  )
  7. Age of Conan - 274 ( 281  )
  8. Champions Online - 245 ( 257 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 163 ( 168 ↓ )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 119  )
  11. DC Universe - 52 ( 58 ↓ )
If we really look at this chart, we can clearly see what happened here. As people left Rift (in small amounts, mind you), they started to go back to their old MMO's. But, with such a small drop for Rift, I can only assume that like other BIG MMO's (you know the one), the numbers fluctuate as one leaves, another starts.

Rift is still rocking our charts with over double the number of players for the main MMO's we have been tracking. If I had to take a stab at numbers right now, I would put Rift at about 600 to 800k players (subs?). I do this strictly on how many players we have heard EVE Online has (WIKI notes 300k players back in 2009, and I have seen growth on the X-Fire charts, so that could be closer to 400k now). Now, lets say I used my infamous calc system I have discussed in the PAST, I could see Rift having roughly 930k players (4317 x 215.5). Close to the 1 million mark I keep noting as the "success point" that MMO's need to be considered a viable market. Using that same calc gives EVE 450k (right on my money prediction ...). So, wonder what they REALLY have?

I tell you what... I will save that for a new post later in the week...

Basically, EVE, LOTRO and Aion are all back up this week. Why leave an MMO you have invested so much time into if you were not bored in the first place...right? Rift is definitely for those who like their MMO kinda like the other guys...but, have been fed up with how those other games have been run. I can see, just by looking at this chart, that these 3 games will be around a long time (PS: And to all the Aion haters...sorry, but Aion IS a success story, no matter how much YOU hate it.)

Most of the usual low end MMO's took dips this week. FFXIV had a slight tweak upward though, and is back to the numbers it was showing before Japanaquake 2011. I am happy they at least are keeping this dedicated crowd. But, really; it's still free...why wouldn't they?

We have a new loser this week. DC Universe. I expected this. I also expect more SOE Free to Play action...especially for something that cost them so much...they really need to deliver here. These numbers are not cutting it. Hope the PS3 version is at least keeping people.

  1. Rift - 3176 ( 3448  players
  2. EvE Online - 1006 ( 945  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 780 ( 847 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 496 ( 525 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 261 ( 253  )
  6. DC Universe - 214 ( 191  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 140 ( 232  )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 136  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 102 ( 114  )
  10. Age of Conan - 83 ( 123  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 71 ( 59  )
Lets just report this as we see it. Raptr really has no rhyme or, I am just gonna deliver their mess...LOL.

As we saw with X-Fire, EVE is back up...yet, LOTRO and Aion fall. Confusing indeed.

Champions is up? Yea. Weird. But, even weirder??? DC Universe cranking so high on these charts. I often wonder if the numbers from the PS3 mix in with these results. When I look at the PS3 says 6 players. LOL.

DDO had a very nasty drop here, and I plan to watch this and see if it continues. X-Fires drop was minor and was to be expected due to nothing event wise going on. Why DDO would drop so far on Raptr is a mystery.

Pretty much drops across the board here. So, X-Fire shows more risers this week, while Raptr shows droppers. Yet, last week X-Fire showed drops, and Raptr showed risers...

So confusing. One can only assume either demographics or region with these services. Wish I could get more data out of them to find out.

Now, this week, I want to take a trip down memory lane...and do the Rift charts from Riftideas ( I had used these previously while we watched how servers progressed through time. I decided to get some relative charts from various prime time Sunday's for both the EU and US markets.

Lets see how this went.

3/27 - Germany 8PM

4/3 - Germany 8PM

4/10 - Germany 9PM

So, note the progression of the EU servers (Right hand side) as we went through the weeks. The start had quite a few full (queued) servers on 3/27. As time went on, less servers were queued, but then we noted, no low servers. Finally at this week, we have mostly medium and high servers, with just one queued now.

Some comments had been made about tweaking server sizes. But, I also wonder if players moved around and joined alternate servers? Hard to say. The one thing we can see most is that no server is low now...and that is kind of cool.

3/27 - USA 8:30PM EST

4/3 - USA 9PM EST

4/10 - USA 9PM EST

We can note the decline of the servers as time progressed. Quite a few noted as highs went to mediums. But, some swapping took place (I can look and immediately see one medium going to high). players joining, while old players leave...about a two to one drop (two leave; one enters).

The most disturbing part is how fast the EU servers went from a few lows to mostly lows at this off peak schedule. Alarming changes...but, maybe not unprecedented.

Keeping most of these servers will be the key to how well Rift is doing. If all servers can stay up or at least most with minimal merges, then Rift will be rocking.

So, as we come to a close, I just want to throw in the final World of Warcraft chart from X-Fire. Maybe I might check back in on them on a monthly basis, but this final number will be it.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 10th - players  34,755 ( 34,325 )

Once you go crack, it makes you whack and then you go back. So, yes people....players decided that old graphics and gameplay that calls for dedication (et, al; addiction) keeps em coming back. Anecdotally, a guildie in Rift noted to me that their friend REALLY wants to try Rift...but, they have so much time and money invested into WoW, they just can't do it.

And yet, that persons dedication could be all wiped out by just one hack or drive failure. SCARY.

But, as expected. Rift HAS made a dent, but, WoW will hold the crown for a long time to come. When it comes to MMO's...there is WoW...then there are the other guys who combined STILL don't have enough players to outdo WoW (unless your an Asian grinder....and that is a whole other story).

Next contender please...

Monday, April 4, 2011

The X-Fire Game: So, who is sticking around?

I think this is a great theme for todays posting. As we look at the games on the charts, while 30+ days wind down for a new MMO launch; who is going back to their old games? And who is sticking around for the newbie on the block?

A concern with todays numbers deals with the fact that Trion threw me a whiffle ball out of left field called a "Free Trial Weekend for Friends". So, when we look at todays chart, we get what should have been the Sunday where we should see the real stats for subs, taking us into...well, crap, what are the REAL numbers?

April 3rd was the renewal date for subs in the US market for Rift (not sure for EU due to their later starting date), but, Trion decided to do something no other MMO has done, and give all members codes to hand out to friends to try the game during it's 30 days free for buyers.

I guess all I can say is stay tuned, and hopefully NEXT week we will get some fun data to look at.

On with the show. (NOTE: Except for Rift, the numbers we'll be comparing are from two weeks ago, as last week was a special solo edition. This will be interesting to see how a weeks hiatus stacks the games on the charts).

  1. Rift - 4493 ( 4730  )
  2. EvE Online - 1938 ( 1988 ↓ )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online 1959 ( 1977 ↓ )
  4. Aion -1919 ( 1948 ↓ )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 371 ( 401 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 318 ( 304  )
  7. Age of Conan -  281 ( 275  )
  8. Champions Online - 257 ( 304 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online -  168 ( 164  )
  10. DC Universe - 58 ( 75 ↓ )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV - 119 ( 0  )
Well, lets see...

First up is Rift. A large drop. I expected this though. People's subs would expire, players would, it is inevitable. But, lets really look at these numbers carefully. Even with the drop, Rift still garners more than double the amount of players of the #2 MMO, EVE. That is nothing to sneeze at. But, of course, next week the "free trial" will be gone (I assume...Trion is a savvy marketer, and I think they deserve kudos for that), and then we may see some real stats.

Across the board, most Fantasy MMO's are down. Lord of the Rings, Aion, yet, two surprises. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online. Both are of course rolling along the bottom of the barrel here. But, AoC actually moved up in the ranks to overtake Champions Online, which has continued it's downward fall. WAR added a few back...I assume those who left for Rift, and saw it's PvP will never be RvR (even though forum posts pleaded for such a move by Trion).

Final Fantasy XIV is back, but lower than when it left. About 128 players were on the last time I did the report (about a month ago, since the Japan Earthquake). I am not sure how they can really recover, and FFXIV may be the new bottom feeder on our charts. Time will tell if any of the upcoming changes will affect populations.

  1. Rift - 3448 ( 3430  players
  2. EvE Online - 945 ( 958  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 847 ( 949 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 525 ( 532 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 253 ( 285 ↓ )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 232 ( 296  )
  7. DC Universe - 191 ( 212  )
  8. Star Trek Online - 114 ( 113   )
  9. Age of Conan - 123 ( 89  )
  10. Warhammer Online - 59 ( 67  )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV - 136 ( 0  )
Lets see what took place this weekend...

As I continue to state...Raptr is just odd right now in how games track here compared to X-Fire. But, in all honesty, as I continue to watch Raptr, I wonder if the continued fall of players in all games on X-Fire is due to the fact so many are leaving the service. Some may actually be coming to Raptr. All I know is Raptr never jives with X-Fire...but, hey, thats ok. Lets just check the stats, shall we?

Rift is actually up here. I assume this would be a by-product of that free time this weekend. Next week will be the kicker. But, as I keep saying, Rift numbers are exponentially higher than most other MMO's (besides that one behemoth). I still think Rift is riding success for now...and time will be the key if they can keep up their momentum.

Games continue to tumble here, except for Star Trek who released Foundry recently and if I am not mistaken, a new update. Age of Conan is also up. they have been in MMO news quite heavy the last couple of weeks thanks to an update to the game engine. The game just runs better and looks better for everyone. I expect this is translating well into more players. I hope they keep going and can put more work into this title.

FFXIV returns...but is down quite a bit. The last Raptr numbers was 178 playersso, down a bit. We will continue to watch this and see if these can go up. Raptr seems to like FFXIV much more than X-Fire (or Metacritic, or...any other number of MMO bloggers, websites, etc)


Now, whether the month of April has anything to do with changes on our charts (warmth has come, the ball of orange death is out and spring break cometh) or it is a true effect of the Rift in place in MMO land...most MMO's continue a downward move.

But, how does the monster in the room stack up this past week?

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 3rd - players 34,325 ( 34,976 )

Hmm. Still a small step for mankind leaving behind the huge addiction known as WoW. But, it is happening. Now, again...this could be the X-Fire loss effect. But, to see a down note for WoW is pretty good. Not that I hate WoW, but for this market to move forward, we need to see people be willing to leave this game behind.

I hope this is true is all I can say.

And thats it for this weeks X-Fire game. Stay tuned, as (hopefully this time) next week should be the REAL stats and how Rift held up after the 30 days.