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Will Vanguard’s Closure Help Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen? January 27, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH.
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On Friday afternoon SOE chucked a huge stone into the lake of MMOs, and now we are watching how the ripples spread and wondering what they will impact.

more titles in the past than in the future

more titles in the past than in the future

What does Friday’s blood letting say about SOE’s all-in attitude on free to play, or about one company running more than a couple of MMO titles?  Should we avoid the niche titles from SOE and NCSOFT, as they appear vulnerable to closure at a whim compared to similar titles where that is all a given company has going for it? You seem safe playing in Norrath (on Windows) and in whatever the PlanetSide universe is called, but other titles… not so much.  How long does the contract for the DC Universe Online IP go?

Will people who invested a lot in cosmetic gear in Clone War Adventures or Free Realms feel burned and thus be less likely to spend money now that these two cosmetic funded titles are being shut down with 9 weeks notice?  Has SOE poisoned the well on this front?  And what does Smed’s “no more titles for kids” pronouncement mean?  I guess the myth that many MMO players were kids with daddy’s credit card has been dispelled.

Have we seen enough Asian MMOs ported to the US market only to languish and fade yet?

Can Smed be naive enough to believe that a vague promise to former Star Wars Galaxies players about SOE’s next, unannounced title being for them, that they can come “home,” means anything?  I am sure that those driven out by the stick that was the NGE are pretty sure that their home is elsewhere these days.  And as for those who remained, how many stuck with the game just because it was set in the Episodes IV-V era of Star Wars?  Is a different IP going to scratch that itch?

And then there is Vanguard and Brad McQuaid and the kickstarter for his new game, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

PROTF04

On the one hand, part of his “trust me” appeal for the Kickstarter campaign is his leadership in producing two enduring MMORPGs, EverQuest and Vanguard.  Sure, Vanguard had a tough launch.  That was just the situation at the time and he had to roll with it.  But once it was “fixed,” the game was good.

So SOE “sunsetting” (Because that makes us all feel better than just saying “closing” or “shutting down” right?) Vanguard kind of puts a pin to the balloon of that argument.  *POP*

Because if Vanguard was good enough, popular enough, and profitable enough, SOE wouldn’t have found security updates to be too difficult.  Money talks, and enough money gets your fixes done.  So we can assume there wasn’t enough.

So Brad now has one successful, still running MMO on his resume, even if it has been drastically changed from back in the day, and one that is being shut down… the announcement for which went out during his Kickstarter.

And then there was the talk about Brad buying Vanguard from SOE.  Fine, I know a small crowd of fans were really for that, but for me that was a red flag moment.  My concern for Pantheon, should it fund successfully, is that it will end up being another case of trying to do too much and ending up launching with an unready product.  A small team really needs to pare down projects to the essentials to deliver.  I still cringe that PvP is on the stretch goals, as that seems like a distraction, something totally outside of the vision set out for the game.  And it doesn’t matter that they will likely not make it to that stretch goal, it is the fact that they even consider it an option that worries me.

So, in the middle of a campaign for a new game, sudden talk about buying up the old game seems like a moment where somebody should be saying in Brad’s ear, “Stay on target!”

On the flip side, I wonder if the timing of this announcement from SOE… delivered after lunch on Friday, the time slot chosen by PR people who hope the news will be too late to make a splash in the news cycle and will end up forgotten by Monday… might turn to something of a boon for the Pantheon Kickstarter campaign.

Certainly, there is the potential to get the news about the Kickstarter in front of a few more faces.  The coverage of the closure of Vanguard inevitably rolls around to what Brad is up to now.

And Vanguard shutting down puts paid to some of the comments I have seen about the Pantheon up to this point, which basically amount to “Why do I want this when I already have Vanguard available?”  Well, you won’t have Vanguard around for much longer.

Will these two points help boost the Kickstarter campaign?  It currently sits at just over $238,000 of the $800,000 initial goal, with 26 days left to go.  That seems like a lot, but pledges have fallen short of the daily minimum to make goal since the initial surge of support.  So the campaign clearly needs a shot in the arm.

Can this news do the job?  It looks like there was already a small uptick in people supporting the project over the weekend, and there is some sentiment about for supporting Pantheon as a replacement for Vanguard.  But is it enough?

Comments»

1. Genda - January 27, 2014

Brad may have a creative pedigree, but anyone who would give him money as a manager deserves what they get. I predict disappointment, based on what I saw during the development of Vanguard. I don’t dislike Brad, I just wouldn’t trust him with money and milestones.

2. bhagpuss - January 27, 2014

It won’t be enough. I think you were bang on the money weeks ago when you said Brad’s name was worth half a million and no more.

That said, the Vanguard announcement was the nudge I needed to make a Kickstarter account and pledge. I only went for the $45 option because if this thing ever gets rolling I’ll consider $45 a very good investment just to play alpha and beta even if it never comes to market. If it looks like it will fund in the last few days Brad will get another $55 for alpha/beta access for Mrs Bhagpuss too.

On the “can I buy Vanguard” thing, I agree it sends a mixed message but not only is VG Brad’s baby but on the Pantheon team he has Salim Grant who maintained and ran Vanguard almost single-handed for years. There must be some serious emotional issues at the Pantheon offices where the closure of Vanguard is concerned and if Brad had been able to get his hands on the rights, well he’d have a fall-back plan for when Pantheon doesn’t get funded, wouldn’t he?

3. Rohan - January 27, 2014

Bhagpuss, why not just pledge the $100 now? You only get charged when it gets funded at the end of kickstarter. Judging by your plan, you’ll end up spending the $100 or spending $0 regardless of how you time it.

4. bhagpuss - January 27, 2014

@Rohan I’m not sure of the Kickstarter mechanics on this. The $100 pledge does give a second copy of the game but only the primary gets alpha and beta access so that’s no good. I would need two pledges to get two separate accounts with alpha and beta – can that be done with one KIckstarter account?

My logic on waiting was that the most irritating part of the process is making the kickstarter account (I use new email accounts for almost every new company I trade with so it means making a new email account too). I was thinking that I’d need to do that to get a second, stand-alone account for Mrs Bhagpuss and I don’t want to go through the tedious process unless it looks like the thing will actually fund.

If I can make separate pledges on the same account that would indeed make it worth doing right away, but I’d want the accounts to be in separate names, so I foresee issues down the line there…

5. KevinW - January 27, 2014

Seriously? Making a second KS account is that hard?

6. bhagpuss - January 27, 2014

@kevinW No, of course it’s not hard. It’s no harder than making polite conversation with an elderly aunt about the council’s policy on recyclable waste collection or sorting your socks into pairs when you take them out of the dryer. It falls squarely in the category of things that are best avoided if at all possible but that sometimes just have to be done.

7. Kevin Brill (@kevinbrill) - January 27, 2014

@bhagpuss Interesting…I didn’t realize that Silius was on the Pantheon team. Given the general dislike for him in the VG community (you know, for the vague “destroying the game” perception), I wonder if this will sour some people who are looking for their VG alternative?

8. HarbingerZero - January 27, 2014

He got an extra $45 from me, so it helped at least a little bit. I thought the instinct was right. I know people were concerned about funding and distraction, but the impulse to reach out and see if a deal could be done was a good one, and those were secondary hurdles that never had to be crossed once the initial question was asked.

That instinct to reach for the stars was part of what I loved about Vanguard…though I agree with you that Pantheon’s flirtation with PvP could be disastrous. I feel like Sean Connery at the end of The Last Crusade: “Indy…let it go….”

9. Isey - January 28, 2014

MMO players are a fickle bunch. I still stay in contact with my old DAOC guild (that played on Pendragon (testserver)) and when I asked one of my guildmates if he would be supporting Camelot, he was flat out a big no, because Jacobs singlehandedly destroyed the Pendragon population/experience.

(Yes, I sensationalized the last line for effect!)

10. KevinW - January 31, 2014

Forgive and forget….who else is making a MMO even close to what we want? It isn’t close but it IS closer than the others.

11. Vanguard Rising, and Falling | To Game For Life - January 31, 2014

[…] w-r-t MMO’s) and Stargrace (who is, simply, sad), to Wilhelm who has far too broad a set of thoughts to […]


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