Daily Archives: February 7, 2014

Broadsword and Niche MMOs

Did Electronic Arts actually do us a favor this week with the whole Broadsword thing?

I mean, it may have been inadvertent… EA may have been trying to be its usual evil self, envisioning an attempt to create some layer of contract studio serfdom in order exploit an IP they own to the maximum amount of return… but does this benefit us?

What Broadsword thing?  Well, this:

Broadsword!

Broadsword!

Broadsword Online Games will partner with EA’s Mythic Entertainment to operate, support and develop Dark Age of Camelot on EA’s behalf. Electronic Arts will continue to provide billing and account services through its Origin™ portal. Broadsword and Electronic Arts will work closely together to ensure a bright future for Dark Age of Camelot.

Broadsword site, DAoC Producer’s Letter

There is also an Ultima Online Producer’s Letter, where Ultima Online has been substituted in for Dark Age of Camelot for that bit of text.

EA is… allegedly… handing over the running of these two now-pretty-damn-old and long neglected MMORPGs to what appears to be… theoretically… an external team that is… presumably… made up of people who care about these two games and want to keep them alive.

This is EA though, so it pays to pay close attention when they say things like they are making a SimCity game, or that they are creating a successor to Dungeon Keeper on mobile OSes, or that the sun will rise in the east come the morning, because the expectations that get set in your brain based on your past experience may be at odds with what is actually being planned in the dark recesses of their San Mateo keep.

Fun Created Here!

Fun Created Here!

And how would this be a boon to us… where “us” is a legion of long term MMORPG players who haven’t been really happy since who-knows-when and who have traded in our rose colored glasses for rose colored long term contacts so we can avoid the harsh light of reality at all times… right now?

Does this move validate or otherwise legitimize the often Kickstarter focused, niche oriented MMO projects that have been popping up since the genre fell from grace… which was when?  LOTRO?  WAR?AoC? SWTOR?

Does this move legitimize projects like Camelot Unchained, Project: Gorgon, Shroud of the Avatar, and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen?  Is there hope for similar ventures?

Or is this just EA trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste from the tube in the most economically expedient way possible?

And is this even a good thing for Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online?  Will being out from under the yoke of BioWare subsidiary of EA, whose founders cashed out at their earliest possible convenience, lead to a revival of either game?  You still need to wear the mark of the beast, in the form of an Origin account, in order to play them.  Will that keep people away?

Wilhelm’s Elder Scrolls Soliloquy

To beta, or not to beta – that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The puzzled apprehension of the outside observer,
Or to download this vast sea of trouble
And by participation, to end all doubt.

TESO-let, Act II, scene 3

There is a beta this weekend.  It starts today.

TESO_small

I have a code.  I have speedy broadband.  I could, should I so desire, participate.

But do I want to?  Do I care?  We are indeed at the point that tests those questions.

I tend to be down on betas in the first place.  If I want to play a game, I will wait until launch so that the game is fresh then.  So betas tend to be for me to check out games on which I am undecided.  My track record on that front favors a “played in beta, avoided at launch” result.

Add in the fact that we are less than two months from the planned launch date on April 4, 2014 and the game is still under a tight NDA and I start to think that my play time might be better spent in Azeroth or New Eden or in any one of the neglected titles in my Steam library.

Soft you now, the fair-to-middling  ESO! —
MMO, in thine temptation be all my sins remembered.

So will you play?