The era of the Jesus feature is over

A Jesus feature, it emerged, is something that turns “4 loaves of bread into 50,000 new subscribers“. It’s the home run, the called shot into deep left field, the awesome idea that will solve all of CCP’s problems, carved in a stone tablet made of virgin Eyjafjallajökull lava and delivered from on high down to the adoring fish-factory devs.

Supertitans! Tech-IV! Jovians! Jovians in Tech-IV Supertitans! And they’re naked, and want your precious NEX store clothes and monocles!

You get the idea.

Trebor Daehdoow, Member of the Council of Stellar Management

The quote in the title was attributed to Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP, as part of his address to the latest session of the CSM.

According to the full post, the next couple of expansions will be more like Crucible, fixing and refining.  It will be likely be 18 months before the next big “new feature” based expansion.  While the minutes of the session are not out, that seemed to be the general gist of things.  The Mittani seemed to only be tweeting about alcohol at the CSM, which I take as a sign that there was little drama.

Now, in the case of CCP and EVE Online, they kind of backed themselves into a corner.  Their last set of “big” features, which came as part of Incarna, and they failed to draw many new people while alienating a lot of veterans.

But a lot of other companies take their shots at “Jesus features.”  Free to play seems to be the big one these days.  And it seems to work, for the most part, though it isn’t really a feature of the game, just a payment plan change.

But history is also full of big feature plays that failed.  Trammel in Ultima Online and the NGE in Star Wars Galaxies, to name a couple of historical precedents.

Do MMOs just hit a point in time when the best thing to do is incremental changes and improvements?  Where raising the level cap, adding a few more zones and dungeons, tacking on a new features, and maybe tossing in a new race or class is all they can safely do?

When does the era of the “Jesus feature” end for most MMOs?

10 thoughts on “The era of the Jesus feature is over

  1. Jaggins

    From a CCP Soundwave interview I read, he mentioned that while not adding new features, they are planning to radically update many old systems in EVE. To me, that is very different from just raising a level cap and adding a new race. EVE could really benefit from improvements to nullsec Sov, lowsec, and Faction warfare.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jaggins – Yes and no on that. I mean, fixing up some old things really appeals to a lot of the current subscriber base. On the other hand, there are a bunch of things you wonder why they didn’t work on sooner. Why did they launch them and then let them stagnate while they ran off to the next feature?

    I do think EVE stands out in a way that something like WoW does not is how the structure of the game allows them to add in new things. Since there are not really levels and such, they end up adding features that are kind of… horizontal I guess.

    On the other hand, they do sometimes wear out the way getting to level cap does. I remember when the first Titan got built. It was a huge deal. And then it got destroyed! Oh noes!

    Now a line of Titans isn’t a big deal, they have become so common that they unbalanced play and had to be nerfed.

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  3. SynCaine

    EVE getting better, as it has thanks to Crucible, not only retains current players, but draws in new ones BECAUSE of the existing players. In many ways its the exact opposite strategy of ‘replacement’ expansions of other MMOs with levels and such.

    Considering the longevity and growth of EVE, I’d say it’s been working so far for CCP, and as Incarna showed, New Eden has little need for Jesus.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – But Crucible is kind of a deviation from the past pattern.

    Previously they have tended to throw out new features and then let them ride with little ongoing attention. Factional warfare is the poster child for that, an attempt at a Jesus feature that kind of withered on the vine for most people.

    So for EVE, this has been sort of working so far, sort of not, with Incarna being the, “Whoops, we finally went too far” moment.

    The “no new Jesus features” outlook is actually a very good thing, as they are going to do more Crucible-like expansions for a while. That gets current and former players interested. And since EVE is very much a “are my friends playing?” sort of game, that helps build up the player base over time.

    I already have one, “Damn you!” email for my Ganking Tourism post from somebody who resubscribed after reading it, and at least one IM from somebody who was tempted. EVE works like that.

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  5. SynCaine

    I have a Corp with 9 pilots who all signed up because of my blog, so yes, it very much works like that. While in no way as major as FW, I think something like the POCOs are pretty significant additions to the game, long term. Not to outside players, but I’d say they nicely expand the options.

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  6. Pingback: DUST 514 – Rolling the dice | A journey through the mind

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