[News and Links] September in the Rain

This is great, I found a website which lists lots of songs with months in the title and *looks outside* this one seemed appropriate. September marks the end of the convention season, more or less, and the start of the run up to the big winter release schedules. So if Summer is when the hype gets rolling, Autumn is the season for the heavy hitting spin and pre-release information.

The big story this year is going to be Battlefield 3 vs Modern Warfare 3. Sure, there are other big releases coming up such as Diablo 3 and SWTOR but the big console men-with-guns shooters are simply on a different scale. For example, analysts predict 11 million sales for BF3 vs 3 million for SWTOR.

Activision this week released the pricing for their MW Elite subscription, which will be $50 per year on top of the box price to receive the various map packs and extra features. It sounds like a hefty surcharge until you compare with either some of the high priced collectors editions we’ve seen lately ($150 for a plastic statue, a book, and a ‘making of’ DVD) or a subscription MMO like WoW.

Now I don’t have a sales prediction for MW3, but Activision claimed in a recent earnings call that Modern Warfare 2 sold over 23 million units and 18 million map packs in the first nine months. I bolded that just in case the numbers didn’t pop out enough on their own. 23 million copies. Now if you assume that the elite subscription is looking like a reasonable deal for fans of the series … oh yeah, the money will be rolling in.

It’s been an interesting trend this year that more MMOs are moving to the F2P model, while traditional console/ single player games are starting to experiment with subs or more regular DLC. Fallen Earth and City of Heroes are due to be the next up, with FE going F2P on October 12th and CoH has not yet announced a date but likely to be very soon.

Links and Things

I wrote this week about roleplaying in MMOs. This is an interesting article by a tabletop RPG designer talking about where that industry is going and what happens when you have to ditch the old fans to bring the new ones in (I’m sure WoW players in particular will be familiar with this mindset.)

Ratshag answers Ghostcrawler’s recent WoW blogs on the future of tanking. He wonders if the devs really understand what makes tanking fun, or whether they’re blinkered by mostly being involved in hardcore raid guilds themselves.

I see more and more posts on WoW at the moment from long time players trying to describe why they’re throwing in the towel. Klepsacovic notes simply that he doesn’t feel like the target audience any more, Borsk describes his raid groups’ last raid and why they made the decision to stop, The Grumpy Elf hopes he can hang on for the next swathe of content since troll instance are driving him nuts. Oestrus stops to think about how painful it can be to make the decision to quit.

Big Bear Butt Blogger is annoyed at the posters who are writing about why they’re not enjoying WoW any more. He says he’s having more fun than ever. I’m intrigued at his reaction actually, but it does fit into my model of consumer power (he’s in the loyal camp, who would rather people just left quietly).

Gazimoff has an awesome post about what components go into making a truly great MMO. I thought this was fascinating.

Jester’s Trek describes what life is like in a ‘fairly typical sov-holding null-sec alliance’ in EVE Online. If you thought your WoW raid was hardcore, go read this. I can see the excitement of being part of something as well drilled as this, but …

Werit compares League of Legends with World of Tanks. Wasdstomp has been to PAX and compares SWTOR PvP with GW2 PvP.

Insult Swordfighting asks whether game reviewers are bad at games. Ideally, I’d like the majority of game reviewers to be slightly better at games than I am (which is still bad, btw) because I want to know if /I/ will find the gameplay fun, not if an ultra hardcore gamer will. But actually, it’s quite possible that even a good gamer can gauge how a game will play for newbies. So it may be that one of the marks of an outstanding reviewer is that they can extrapolate this sort of information.

And as Rift holds its six month half-birthday, Tobold asks readers how they are enjoying it (and whether they are still playing it).

11 thoughts on “[News and Links] September in the Rain

  1. Some interesting articles there.

    I actually see a correlation between BBB’s blog and Klepsa’s blog. BBB right now is perfectly happy with the game. Klepsa no longer feels like the target audience. I’m kinda in that camp at the moment. Again, I’m still having some amount of small fun tinkering with alts, but it’s more of just a chilling thing for me at this point. While it’s pretty fun, I don’t get any real joy out of the game like i used to. But maybe at this point there is just an amount of people who aren’t the target audience, and then others who are.

    I also think there is somewhat of a split. Of course the people who are enjoying the game now don’t want to hear other people having problems with the game. Perhaps out of fear that devs will listen and those people will ‘lose’ what they had started having fun with, while some older heads want the game they DID have fun with back. I think, while WoW has always had plenty of QQ and people squabbling, it’s reached quite a high these days. Even in Wrath, when the game had a lot of easy things in it-people still had their LK25HC and Yogg-0; even at it’s all time high subs I didn’t see the amount of fan squabbling that I do now. (Again, it was most definitely there. :p)

    Needless to say…so…much…agreement…for…troll dungeons. I mean really heroics in general just make me want to take a dive out my window. I don’t need them for VPs as much as the stupid chaos orbs that Blizzard just won’t make BoE yet. What is keeping them? I seethe when I think about them just thinking ”well, it’s forcing tanks to queue in this LFD thing that *will* work whether people like it or not!” Grrrr…I’d rather run Vanilla Scholomance for flasks. I mean, back in the day I used to run dungeons just for giggles. Now I keep away from them with a ten foot pole.

    As for Rift, I’m still playing casually and enjoying it quite a bit. I think I might decide to start delving into some Expert knowledge soon for that. Trion still manages to impress me with the amount of content they can pump out for being such a ‘little’ company compared to other MMOs.

    • Wanted to add an edit: I know it sounds strange that I’d rather run Old Scholo for flasks than heroics for chaos orbs. I can’t explain why. Something about the Chaos Orb farm just gets my goat where having to farm mats in the old days was…I dunno, maybe because I could buy them if I felt like blowing gold? Guess there was a choice there.

      • I like Scholo as much as anyone, but this may be a rose-tinted spectacle thing. I suspect if you actually had to run Scholo daily for flasks, that might be a hassle too.

        I hear you on the chaos orb thing though. I can’t make myself do any more heroics, even though Spinks is a blacksmith and I could totally sell those ilvl 365 weapons as fast as I could churn them out.

    • I think I left the wrong impression on a lot of people with my post, not sure how. I have no problem with people having problems or issues with WoW, I have my own issues with WoW too.

      I don’t want people to be quiet, I don’t want people to slink silently into the night, I DO want people to talk about the problems they see and how they would love to see them fixed. Been doing that for years.

      I thought I said it clearly, but maybe it got lost in the post, but what I want to see DIE are people who hate the game, come out and bitch about the game, have nothing but negative things to say about how the game sucks… and yet, they keep playing. bitching and playing, oh it sucks but still playing. And in the process, talk about how it’s the gamke that sucks, the game thats terrible, rather than consider the possibility that it’s the player who has stayed the same while the game changed around them in ways they don’t like. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that the game sucks or is bad, just that for that one person, the game no longer supplies what that person wanted or enjoyed.

      But the alternative is to suggest that the game must stay exactly the same to please the person who liked it the way it was… and after what, six years, is that really a sane approach?

      By all means, talk about issues and irritations aplenty.

      As far as loyal… well, I don’t know if I can be called a loyal head in the sand mindless yesman when I constantly try all the new MMOs looking for something new and fresh to get into. And I’m really looking forward to trying on SWTOR for size.

  2. As I mention in my own “I quit” post, my ultimate reason for leaving had nothing to do with what I wanted to quit about (insert topical Design Decision X) and everything to do with something way more simple: my friends drifted away. Even in BBB’s tirade, he says “I am playing with great people, simply GREAT people.” That’s why he is having fun. Minus the social element, the novelty of WoW evaporates quickly. Which has nothing to do with WoW being “worse than before” or anything like that, it simply becomes like every other game in existence – turning to dust instantly when the magical immortality spell is dispelled, like in a movie.

    • Oh, having friends to play with makes a huge difference, but that’s a million miles away from saying, “Purging your head of the sick poison and bitterness you’ve got choking you will help, too.” I don’t think “Go make more friends” is going to solve the issues people who enjoyed WoW during Wrath are having with it now, but the main thing that intrigued me about his post is how aggressive it was towards anyone who posts anything negative.

      I think there is a feel amongst a lot of fans (this is in general, not picking on BBB in particular) that negative vibes can be a self fulfilling prophecy, and that if too many people read about others not having fun, it will infect them too.

      But given that I’m fascinated by the community, I LOVE it when people post thoughtful, emotive posts about why something that had been a huge part of their life doesn’t seem so fun or meaningful any more. Obv I hope they can be happy too, but that kind of analysis is pure gold.

      • I think the negative vibe thing works in so far as it helps people convince themselves that X or Y, which they previously regarded as a minor annoyance, is suddenly the worst thing ever that’s destroying all their enjoyment of the game and enjoyment of the game for everyone around them because they’ve found some people who agree with them and have created an echo chamber effect.

        I mean, to be honest, if you listend to the ‘I quit’ posts during Wrath, you’d remember the huge outcry, frankly louder than anything we’ve got not now, that Wrath was too easy and raiding was to accessible and so on and so forth and ‘I quit’. And now that the raids have changed again, it’s suddenly too hard and they’re catering to the hardcore and here’s our long, over emotive I quit post. And then when it got nerfed you had people making their long, overly emotive I quit post. So I’m at kind of a point where I think, yeah, these people do deserve a bit of a verbal clip across the ear along the lines of BBB’s. Because people who are enjoying themselves don’t often speak up about it.

  3. I’m in the “verbal clip across the ear” boat with Simon, personally. We’re all pretty clear on the fact that the WoW devs actively read the more popular WoW blogs.

    While it is sometimes nice to see an analysis of why people decided to quit, often people will dwell on things that the rest of us still playing do not want changed.

    I’d hate to have GC et al decide to make unnecessary changes, in the vain hope of accommodating folks that have simply burned out, or just need to move on. I quit playing myself for about 10 months between March of 2010 and January of this year; my aborted “why I’m quitting” blog post honestly was better left unwritten.

    At the time I needed to stop playing, because that was the best choice for me. I had some relationship problems with the girl I had been dating, and I was staring a new job. On top of that I was burnt from nearly constant raiding since early 2007.

    A lot of the “Here’s why I quit” posts I’ve read honestly boil down to the same thing when you read between the lines. The person posting has spent too much time focusing on the game, and they need to take a break.

    It is rare for people posting to clearly recognize this in themselves, and often they will fill a number of paragraphs with the inner dialog that they’ve created to justify quitting to their guild, etc. When those reasons can easily be traced to “I just need to take a break” they probably are best kept to oneself. Especially if their potential audience is the folks that make this game, and change this game.

    Additionally a lot of those posts boil down to “things are not the way they were a few years ago.”

    To those people all I can say is 1) If you want to play the game the way it was, find (or build) a private server and 2) Things in life change, learning to adapt to those changes is a pretty important skill.

    Just my two cents….

  4. I’d like to be 100% sure that GC et al make most of their changes based on in game metrics and not blog whines, but I have actually no explanation for why they changed from the perfectly functional and fun Wrath raiding model to Cataclysm so you may be right. Maybe I didn’t write enough about how much we had raiding in Wrath.

    I just think the metaphorical clip round the ear reads to me like “shut up, you whiny brats” and my kneejerk reaction is “Just don’t read those blogs if you don’t like them.” I also think that individuals do need to experience the emotional turmoil of burnout for themselves and blogging about it is one of the ways in which bloggers do that, so it’s just mean minded to try to shut that conversation down.

    But it does annoy me massively when a newly released game that I like gets bitchslapped all over the blogosphere by idiots who should never have been playing it anyway because it obviously wasn’t aimed at them so what do I know?

    • Well, whatever process GC (or whoever) used to make the design decisions for Cataclysm, it obviously didn’t work very well. So assuming he stays in a decision making position he’s likely to be more open to outside influences now. I suspect BBB and other “‘Shut up,’ he explained.” types are trying to limit inputs that would push the game in directions they don’t want.

  5. Hi Spinks,

    First off, thanks for the link love. I’ve been a long time reader of yours, so to see you plugging something I wrote is a huge honor. Not to sound too grovel-ly or anything. It means a lot, so thanks again.

    I’m actually working on a response to the “clip across the ear” posts, but I basically agree with what you’re saying. It does seem like a double standard, where they can say what they love about something and we can’t say what we don’t love about it. I think that attitude is more oppressive than those of us who have been critical of World of Warcraft and still might be.

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