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So Tobolod asked “Is the Honeymoon Over”(1) for the new MMO contenders, Champions, Aion, and the like?
Hahahaha, well DUH!
The publishers of these new titles have been trolling the blog sphere and forums listening to every golden drop of wisdom the gaming elite has to offer. Somewhere in sifting through the STFU and the “teh cazuls suxxors” they built up the notion that if they create a game with a narrow focus on play style and demographics would somehow beat out games with varied play styles and a broad player audience.
Then just can’t seem to comprehend why they never see the numbers they wanted to see. They just don’t get why their game wasn’t the success that WoW is.
“But we built it like WoW!” they say. No, you used WoW like technology and a WoW like interface, but you DID NOT build your game to be the success WoW is. You did not build your game with a wide demographic focus to draw the attention of a growing gaming audience and demographic. You Fail.
If you want to know why I’m really snarky, it’s because these developers keep building games to narrow audiences, with narrow play styles because they’re positively convinced that they have to build their game to a set of mythical specifications.
When however, you’re building an MMO, you’ve got a huge hungry market out there. But by building to the mythical specifications, you pigeon hole yourself into a niche market that won’t pump out the numbers you’re looking to nab. Why? Because you’re selling to the stereo typical gamer.
The stereo typical gamer type is male between the ages of 18 and 30, maybe 35. He’s single so he doesn’t have to spend time dealing with kids and sometimes even a girlfriend. He might work, but he doesn’t work at a job that infringes on his play time so he’s got more than enough time to spend grinding for experience or reputation. He is a tireless fan that spends hours upon hours in game.
Yeah wow, that must be some kind of life there. Aside from the clever jabs and put downs, this WAS the face of gaming back in 1999. You know back in the EQ and EQII days. Back when grind was king and women didn’t know how to turn on a computer (supposedly).
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present to you the year 2009. In THIS year we have people playing games that DO NOT fit the stereo typical gamer profile. In THIS year we have people of both genders that game, we have working professionals that game, and we have families that game.
Two games that step outside of the standard model, Free Realms and Runes of Magic, have had some staggering numbers. Sure they’re both Free to Play over pay to play, but they also focus on some little things that a LOT of the triple A games seem to have been ignoring as of late.
These games are freely available, they include ginchy stuff like holidays and pets, and they allow the players to play more than one class at a time.
Free Realms however is far more successful, and has a Pay to Play option which Runes of Magic does not have. Runes of Magic, a more “WoW” clone like game, only recently hit the 2 Million user mark. This is actually very, very good for a new MMO (2). Free Realms however, hit the 5 Million user mark back in August, but officially announced the count in September.(3) Within 5 months of it’s release, Free Realms already had almost half the user base of the infamous World of Warcraft. But how? Well instead of trying to pull players from games they already know and love (by offering chintzy substitutes) the team at SOE offered a game for family play. This opened their game up to a whole new market untouched by the big boys.
World of Warcraft and now even Free Realms have tasted the kind of success that developers are craving but just can’t seem to attain. Why aren’t they hitting these numbers? Well because they’re limiting themelves by building games that appeal to the stereotypical gamer. They bring in stereotypical gamers into their betas. They only get the stereotypical gamer viewpoint on what’s wrong with thier games.
Even if they make a game that meets or exceeds the demands of these stereotypical gamers, how long do they think they’re going to maintain the interest of a group that jumps on the ‘new game’ bandwagon every time a game is released to beta?
You want bigger numbers, stop listening to the elitist gamers. Stop building dungeons and start building games. If however you just want to build the next ball buster, then don’t get uppity when you don’t get 11 million subscribers. Otherwise, start learning what it takes to sell a game to a family audience and to a female audience. Start building games that will sell to pve players, pvp players, and crafting players.
1 Tobold’s MMORPG Blog: Honeymoon is over (Link)
2 Massively : Runes of Magic hits 2 million users (Link)
3 Massively : Free Realms officially hits 5m users (Link)