Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – How Not to Fight Big Dev

It’s worth it to get out from under big dev

-Gigabear, Massively OP Comment

I avoided posting about the whole DreamWorld Kickstarter thing in part because I have very little interest in MMOs that show up on Kickstarter… they are not universally bad, but the wall of disappointment that has been built up around them in general should be a warning to all… and in part because the red flags on this particular project… a comically low ask, sky high setting of expectations, no industry experience, “we’ve got all the answers” attitude, and a free art assets demo reel… made me want to avoid inadvertently giving it any more attention that it might otherwise have garnered.  Massively OP and MMO Fallout gave it more attention than it deserved.

They last game you’ll ever play… because it will never ship

I can’t say if the whole thing was a scam or just hubris, but I will write a sincere post of apology if any sort of game results from the campaign. (Though I will reserve the right to compare what was promised versus what was delivered as part of that apology.  Sincerity can cut both ways.)

Anyway, another day, another round of BS on the internet.  No news there.

But I was interested in who would back such a project, and specifically who would back it at the $1,999 or more tier, which had seven parties throw in.

I can see maybe bidding at a low tier if you want to go along for the ride with some middle age prima donna developer who wants to prove that they didn’t do their best work back in the 90s.  We’ve seen our share of that in the last decade.  I didn’t chip in on Star Citizen because I believed Chris Roberts could deliver everything he promised initially… much less everything he has promised since… but to have a ticket to the ride should anything interesting come of it.

But with DreamWorld you don’t even have that draw.  So who sets fire to two grand for a bunch of nobody’s promising the sky?  I was willing to bet that at least a couple of the seven in for that much were shills, there to make it look like a success early on, but then pull out at the last minute.  But they all stayed in.  So, unless there was a “pay you back after we’re done” arrangement, they actually believed what they were told and I was interested to hear from any of them.

And then one popped up over in the Massively OP comments.  Gigabear, who is apparently a serial backer of such campaigns, dropped “$2000+” on the project.  And the summary of their reason for backing iy… and why they would back other projects even if this one fails… was the quote above.

They want to get out from under “big dev.”

What utter self-delusional bullshit.

I can totally understand not liking the big game developers such as EA, Activision, Blizzard, Ubisoft, and whoever else you care to throw into that group.  There is a lot there worthy of dislike and distrust.

But handing a couple of grand to a project like this isn’t “sticking it to the man,” it is encouraging more half assed scams.

Meanwhile there are a lot of worthwhile indie projects that are done and looking for an audience, and only a few get the attention they deserve.  For every Valheim, which for $20 touches so many MMO sweet spots, there are a bunch of titles that never get the audience that would make them even a moderate success.

There were 10,263 new titles launched on Steam in 2020.  Surely one of them must have been more deserving that DreamWorld?

And yeah, I don’t want to become… much less encourage… that guy who complains about people buying a latte at Starbucks rather than the game they worked so hard on.  But when you aren’t even going to get a pretend spaceship JPEG… much less a tall soy caramel macchiato… for your two grand, it doesn’t seem like you’ve helped the industry at all.  You’ve merely encouraged scam artists to keep on scamming.

Quote of the Day – The Passenger and the Sailor

A player-driven economy isn’t about the money. It’s about having every way to play the game serve a role in the ecosystem. It’s about all the wonderful and weird ways we choose to live and play, and how we find out that our silly hobbies are vital necessities to someone else.

Raph Koster – Player Driven Economies

Last week’s nothing ball of a vision message, which sounded like the intro to an actual presentation rather than a presentation on its own, left me wondering left me wondering if Raph had anything actually up his sleeve.  It is unlike him to be so empty of depth in a post.

But he is back, so maybe that past post was just the intro, and this time there is some actual meat to chew on. He jumps right in on his vision of an MMORPG player-driven economy.

Raph on the economy

Getting to the end of the post and that quote above brought Guy Kawasaki to mind and his book The Macintosh Way.  I still have a copy sitting on my book shelf, which I never managed to get him to sign even though he used to roll into the computer store I worked at for a while during a low spot early in my career.

The book is a tale of his time at Apple and after, and the vision of product development and marketing that came of his experiences.   When in comes to product, he was a proponent of DICE, products that are deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant.

It was an era when companies shipped complete products because they couldn’t assume you could update.  Imagine that!

But “deep” gets to what Raph is going for here, which is that a it should have appeal for a wide range of users, from the passenger to the sailor, as the metaphor in the book puts it.  And that range of users, or players, from casual to hardcore, should be able to provide something to the greater economy of the game and benefit from their contribution.

Seems solid enough and certainly evokes some of the Star Wars Galaxies player economy, which I have no doubt will rouse the keepers of that sacred flame.  That Bree, one of those keepers, used an image from SWG featuring the entertainer profession in the post about this over at MOP was no accident I am sure.

Raph loses me a bit when he writes “OK, enough lofty theory stuff. Let’s get concrete” and then presents a diagram of the macro economy he has planned, which has been obfuscated into a meaningless flow chart, then carries on as though he has delivered actual support to his assertion.

Playable Worlds and their unreadable macro economy chart

I get why he doesn’t want to show the details, but give me 30 minutes with Visio and I’ll crank out something that looks meaningful if you zoom out far enough too.  That chart is just as empty as his last post.

So it is all philosophy.  Not that philosophy is a bad thing, and Raph is very good at philosophy.  Have you read his book?  But the translation from philosophy to mechanics is another thing altogether.

And it is clear Raph, despite the earlier empty virtual world vision, is making a game.  But we knew that almost a year ago.  It will be a sandbox game, and not a “gankbox” (which, following the usage of the term, means no non-consensual PvP I guess, that being the only consistent defining metric of the term), but will have constructs in it that will give people purpose and frame the mysterious macro economy almost pictured above.

Overall, a more worthwhile read than the previous post, and you can lose quite some time diving into the linked post about trust relationships and game design, but it is all still just vision.  Vision can get people excited and keep people going, but execution is where the rubber meets the road.  And this is still the MMORPG genre, which has a history of being long on vision and short on execution.  Promises abound, delivery not so much.

Finally, in my experience over the years, any system that allows more casual play styles to thrive or be competitive or add value tend to be abused by the more hardcore end of the spectrum and end up being nerfed into oblivion.  So I remain skeptical.

Quote of the Day – Empty Vision

Yes, today’s world is a magical place. But our online alternatives have gotten kind of… mundane. Predictable. Kill some blues, collect some purples, fetch ten of whatever. They don’t have to be that way.

-Raph Koster, The Future of Online Worlds

I enjoy a good Raph Koster post.  He can bring a lot of insight into the history of online games, especially MUDs and MMORPGs.  So I was anticipating something good, something with some heft, something that would leave me thinking when I saw a new post pop up in my feed from his blog.

That turned out to just be a “go look at the thing I wrote elsewhere” post, directing people to a new item over at Playable Worlds, his current venture.  So I went and read that.

The future is somewhat vague

And it was a whole lot of nothing.

I mean sure, he invoked a some nice ideas, which I will sum up with bullet points that are the phrases he highlighted in the text:

  • We dreamt of living worlds
  • A lot of those big dreams did not come true
  • It’s time
  • yes, worlds can feel alive
  • fits into your life
  • it shouldn’t matter what device you have or how much time you have free
  • playable worlds

And in between those phrases is a lot of empty filler.

Seriously, I got to the final sentence of the whole thing…

We can dream big again, together. It’s time to turn those dreams back into playable worlds.

…and wondered where page two was.

The whole thing reads like the opening of an investor pitch or a GDC talk… throwing in the name of the company as the final words is almost too trite… that will then proceed to get into the meat of the topic.  But there is no meat.  That is all you get, a vision so nebulous that one hesitates to call it a vision.

Of course, the mere fact that he posted even that vaporous tidbit will get some people worked up.  This is Raph Koster, who has Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies on his resume, both of which stand out as special in the long line of online worlds.  Part of me gives him the benefit of the doubt just based on that.

But another part of me, the somewhat more abrasive and cynical part that has been nurtured by the industry over the last 20+ years, wants to shout out, “But what have you done for us lately?”

Because those two titles were also from a long time ago in the current technological timeline.  And, after leaving SOE in 2006, his sole public venture was MetaPlace, which had a similar open vision, and which shut down rather suddenly, taking with it any work that those who invested time with it had created.  And even that happened more than eleven years ago at this point.

It is almost a tech industry genre, the young designer with vision who has a huge impact early in their career, and then never has similar success afterwards and ends up on Fitzcarraldo-esque journey to relive and even top their youthful acclaim.  Their names alone generate interest and a following… think Richard Garriortt, Chris Roberts, Brad McQuaid, Mark Jacobs… and set expectations that their new vision, which is generally their early vision reinforced and revised upwards, will deliver.

The next time that pans out will be the first time so far as I can tell.  The jury is still out.

Of course, I might commend Raph for not going too deep or too grandiose with his vision, though it still feels too light to drum up any enthusiasm in my jaded heart.  At least he didn’t lay out a bunch of specifics that we will later hold against him when they fail to appear.  But I remain confident that we’ll find a way.

Related:

Quote of the Day – But We Did It Anyway

We definitely don’t want to sell skill points

-CCP Rattati, EVE Online Director of Product, OZ_eve interview

I don’t even have the energy to care about the actual selling of skill points now.  That ship sailed last year. I’ve accepted it as the new reality.  I just wish CCP would get their messaging in line with that reality.

On Monday CCP Rattati who, among other things, has been driving the economic starvation plan in EVE Online, did this interview on Twitch, which was then posted up on YouTube for your watching pleasure. (And now there is a transcript.)

He talks about the New Eden economy for about the first ~40 minutes, then the discussion moves to monetization.  You can find that quote at the top of the post at the 49 minute mark.

The interview happened on Monday, the video went up on YouTube on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday CCP literally started straight up selling skill points.

Personal Offer!

This is the sort of self-defeating corporate bullshit that just drives me crazy.  He is the Director of Product, did he not know that this was happening the same week he was saying that?  The usual paths are that the person is lying, stupid, or believes their audience is stupid, and I can’t really pin down which this is.

Now, you’ll want to talk about context, and you can justifiably point out that this was part of a discussion about the Expert Systems feature, the “rent a skill” plan announced last week.  As part of that he said that CCP had ruled out the idea of selling skill points to new players, preferring to rent them temporary skill increases… because new players won’t understand things like skill injectors or something.  Somehow giving them skills then taking them away will be more clear.

I remain unconvinced that this will somehow be better or make EVE Online more comprehensible to new players, but the details are still vague, so final judgement has yet to land.

But, even in that context, his statement not once but twice that they do not want to sell skill points seems pretty strong, as though it would apply outside the justification for renting skills.

He was also very firm a few minutes earlier that Pearl Abyss was in no way pushing CCP to sell skill points.  In fact, he was quite adamant that PA has taken a very hands off approach to EVE Online and that they have given no direction or advice on monetization, which seems to torpedo the idea earlier in the week that the whole Expert Systems thing was handed down by them, and based on their experience as a way to monetize the Asian market.  CCP Rattati said that this was all very much a home grown, Icelandic idea.

Then again, he also said CCP doesn’t want to sell skill points in the same week that the company did just that, so one might be tempted to point out that he has a credibility problem.

Anyway, if you want to hear how everything is totally going to plan with the economic starvation and resource redistribution plan and the rationalization of the rent a skill idea, this video will help you along.  I will say that the host does push back, gently at times, on some of the statements, so it isn’t a free run statement by the company, but CCP Rattati remained firm on his own positions.

I hope this will be my last post related to selling skill points for a while, but CCP will be CCP.

Related:

Quote of the Day – Streamers Should Pay

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

-Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director for something owned by Google, on Twitter

This was sort of toss out of left field I wasn’t expecting.

This all started on Wednesday when Amazon’s Twitch streaming service delete a large number of saved video stream for DCMA takedown requests without notice or an option to appeal, followed by an email about how streamers should familiarize themselves with the DCMA process… which isn’t supposed to work like that.

Twitch is Twitch

That is a whole tempest in itself, and Ars Technica has a good summary.

So a lot of streamers were pretty upset about this.  And onto the hot coals of their ire, Mr. Hutchinson decided to pour is own oil of scorn.

This was followed by two more tweets:

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.

Leaving aside the whole “kicking people when their down” aspect of this tweet, which is loathsome in itself, I can think of no quicker way to put an end to video game streaming that trying to extract a license tax from streamers.  A few streamers make some decent money, but most make little to nothing, and any fee would just put a stop to them.

And he seems to be pretty sure that game publishers can make this happen.  I’m not sure if the EULA and or ToS of every single video game is up to the task, but it is possible I suppose.  Shut it all down.  That is what he appears to want.

Remember, this comment is in a world where some game companies give popular streamers free copies of their games to play and often promote such streams.

And that isn’t the only problem with this sentiment.  It also appears to equate video games with forms of entertainment like music or movies, things that yield the same experience if you buy it yourself or listen/watch somebody play it online.  That seems to be a stretch for me.  Watching people play video games is a very different experience in my book than actually playing a video game.

Then there is the fact that, here in 2020, that horse appears to be well and truly out of the barn and gone.  If you can’t stream it, or have the saved recordings of those streams, what does that mean for YouTube?  We’re about fifteen years down the road on game videos on that front.

However, I think the most shocking thing about these statements is that they don’t really seem to be something others in the industry have been grumbling about.  “Streamers should be paying us!” isn’t something I’ve heard, and this is an industry that boils over now and then about used game sales, Steam sales, the cut apps stores (and Steam) take on sales, the cut physical retail stores take on sales, any barrier between them and publishing, too much competition due to lack of barriers to publishing, and the fact that people won’t spend their money on crappy 99 cent games rather than their morning latte.

Oh, and piracy.  Always piracy.  Literally a “make devs angry” thing for at least forty years, and one that has seen more money thrown at it for less benefit than anything I can think of.

But Mr. Hutchinson clearly sees this as piracy, so there is no doubt that fire in his belly on the topic, having been a game developer himself in the past.  And, as was pointed out over at MMO Fallout, he has had his own issues in the past. and might even be stretching the truth in his Twitter bio.

The funniest thing about today’s streaming drama is that everyone thinks Alex Hutchinson runs Google Stadia (because his Twitter bio says “Creative Director @ Google Stadia”). He’s actually a creative director at a Montreal game studio that was purchased by Google last December

[He has since updated his profile to reflect this.]

Anyway, being a creative director of some sort at Google’s means he likely isn’t in a position to do anything about this.  It looks like just so much hot air.  And I doubt there are many studios out there keen to press this issue and make enemies of streamers.  This is akin to the Mark Twain saying about not arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.  The videos are already blossoming on YouTube and elsewhere about this.  It may die down soon, but the embers will remain, ready to burst into flames it stoked.

I’m also pretty sure most game studios or publishers are smart enough give this idea a wide berth.  Even EA can’t be dumb enough to get on board with this idea.  And Google has made sure to carefully distance itself from the idea.  In a statement they said:

The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.

Google is not keen to burn bridges or throw away whatever small success they have managed to eke out with Stadia.

So, in the end, one person’s noxious opinion did not represent their company or the industry and probably would have largely ignored if their profile had not represented their position as a senior exec at Stadia and not somebody in a subsidiary far from Google HQ.  The status quo was maintained.

But, as we well know, the internet is a place where bad ideas find followers easily.  This might come up again.  Some other company exec, one with actual influence this time, could grab on tot his idea and run with it.  And if they do, I’ll buy some popcorn.  The drama will be excellent.

Others on this topic:

Quote of the Day – This Cynicism is Inconceivable!

My biggest disappointment with modern internet discourse is that there’s a significant amount of cynicism, especially in forum or reddit debates, and a portion of people assume the worst.

-Chris Roberts, forum post in response to player complaints

This is one of those “irony is dead” moments.

I mean, I’ll give him his “you’re looking at this from the outside” so you don’t know what is really going on, which is true enough.  But that also speaks to transparency.  We’re on the outside looking in, so we depend on what Chris Robert’s and his team tells us.

We are now eight and a half years down the road from the Kickstarter campaign, almost six years past the promised launch date, with a game that is still in alpha, with many promised features not yet available, and which has consistently and repeatedly missed promises.  All the while, Chris Roberts has milked his following for $300 million for a game that hasn’t shipped yet.

In that atmosphere, it seems comically oblivious to bemoan the state of cynicism on the internet when his actions have created a situation where cynicism is the natural, normal response.  Chris Roberts is in a world of his own making.  To whine about people not believing him after he has, to be polite, misinformed people since day one strains credulity.

Yes, I get the optimism inherent in software development, and can wax for pages about why it is more art that science and how almost any big project is built on a foundation of quicksand.  But at some point your optimism starts to work against you.  The people you’re trying to keep with you will get to one blown promise, one missed date, one broken feature too many and will feel the fatigue of the effort of believing.  You will lose their trust, they will turn on you, and they won’t believe any more of your empty statements.  You don’t have to be Derek Smart to figure out that the plan is a lie and that the milestones of progress are mirages that remain firmly fixed on the horizon.

And he cannot stop.  At the end of his post he says:

I can promise you the gameplay I described is not a pipe dream, nor will it take 10 to 20 years to deliver

We’re already more than eight years down the road, so ten years seems like optimism at this point.  How can you even write that and not feel your fingers burn from the self-delusion?

So my gut response to the quote at the top of the page is, “Tough shit!  You made this bed, you sleep in it!”

Seriously, the cynicism is there because he and his team have repeatedly promised people things that have failed to come to pass.  Most people are not stupid enough to keep believing every new promise after so many have been broken.  Some will, because they have invested so much in the projected, financially and/or emotionally, but a rational person will stop accepting things at face value from somebody with a track record like Chris Roberts.

And it isn’t like Chris Roberts is alone in this arena.  I lost my faith in Camelot Unchained earlier this year when Mark Jacobs announced that they were working on another gameCU was already in the years delayed category as well, having also failed to meet many milestones, so credulity was at the breaking point.

Then there was Lord British, who pushed out Shroud of the Avatar and ran, leaving backers with something that didn’t much match what was promised up front, save in the most general ways.

Nearly every crowd funded MMO projected has disappointed and sowed the seeds of discontent along the way.  I am surprised when anybody these days even floats the idea of crowd funding an MMO because it has been proved to be a path to disappointment.

And this is cast against a culture of undeserved hype from the video game industry overall, of over promising and under delivering, of demos that don’t reflect reality, and of reviews where the acceptable score range to keep your site in game company advertising is 8-10 out of 10, that has laid a groundwork of cynicism.  A game developer must sail in a sea of skeptics who will doubt their every promise because so many before them have polluted the waters.

Chris Roberts ought to know this.  He has been in game development since the late 80s.  He should know better.

But apparently he does not.  And so he whines about the unfairness of it all, this cynicism that he helped create.

Promptapalooza and a Quote of the Day

It is August, which means it should be Blaugust, but since we effectively did that in April (which was Blapril), Belghast decided, based on some feedback, that encouraging people to post every day for another month might be too taxing on some.  So, instead, we have Promptapalooza, where each of the participants gets a writing prompt to drive a post.

August means some sort of Blaugust

Yesterday was Everwake’s turn, which involved rituals.  You should go and take a look. Today it is my turn, and my prompt is:

  • What is a favorite Quote/s, and tell us why

This seems like a bespoke prompt for me as somebody who has a blog category devoted to quotes.  (Reminder: If you click on that link, you need to scroll down as this post will appear first, being the latest post about quotes.)

And I certainly have a lot of quotes to choose from, ranging from some Smed classics (there is a whole Smed tag to look at) to Chris Roberts and optimism of developers to Derek Smart and his own influence to some Gevlon staples to perennial developer complaints and F2P discussions and prescient quotes about the genre so on.  Lots of things to work with.

But I am going to go with a quote that I have used before but has never quite made it to the Quote of the Day status.

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

Edward Castronova

Dr. Castronova is known in our circles for his study of virtual worlds… though “synthetic worlds” seems to be the vogue term at the moment… and their economies, often covered by his posts at Terra Nova and on his own blog, both of which has been pretty quiet for some time now.  He has written a lot of interesting, thought provoking, and occasionally wildly optimistic things about video games over the years, but I like this one the best.

I like it best because it explains a lot of player behavior.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress, however we choose to measure it. There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  We will work towards the things we are focused on and do the things that reward us in the ways that we most desire.  Currency, kill board stats, battleground achievements, levels, whatever is our prime motivator, that is where we put our efforts, and we will focus on this things that most optimize the best results for us.

Why do the immortal god-like capsuleers of New Eden shoot NPCs in anomalies?  It is the easiest way to earn ISK, which is the foundation needed for other activities.  Why did we rush off to do battle grounds in Warhammer Online?  That was the fastest way to level up to get into the “good” content, the city raids and such.

The problem is that we live in this world and not the world of our games, and are driven by the desires and needs and goal we have here and not by what our character, elf, orc, capsuleer, or otherwise, might find as their own motivation if we were able to give them life and consciousness.

So it goes.

Next on the list for Promptapalooze is Stignite at The Friendly Necromancer.  Go visit their site tomorrow to see which prompt they got for the event.

Others taking a crack at this prompt:

Quote of the Day – The Button Label is Bad

Alright then, I think to myself. I’ll just repurchase another Ibis. They appear to be cheap, and I had made a whole big chunk of ISK from tutorials…

-Massively OP, Choose My Adventure Column

Chris at Massively OP headed into EVE Online for the latest round of Choose My Adventure and, unsurprisingly, it has been a tough time.  Welcome to New Eden, same as it ever was.  The new player experience remains… challenging.

But what struck me out of post of familiar woes was the line quoted above, because there is literally a button in the station/structure UI that will give you a brand new rookie ship… or “corvette” as they are now styled… on demand.  It isn’t even hidden away, being located right under the undock button.

The button and the hover help

Back in the day the game used to just give you a rookie ship if you docked up in a capsule.  It was changed to a button a while back.  I am going to guess they did that because somebody did a database query on “Ibis” and found there were more sitting in stations than there were total user accounts ever created.  I went on a cleaning up campaign a few years back to destroy all the ones I had cluttering up my hangars and when I searched today I have 26 still hanging around on my main.

Ibis results…

I was going to show the whole list, but I thought that one in 6RCQ, which I repackaged for some reason, like I was going to move it somewhere, was more amusing.  It isn’t like I couldn’t get one where ever I went.

Anyway, looking at that button I realized that the label on it isn’t as helpful as one might think.  *I* know what it means, but I know because I read the patch notes at some past date about the change.

But is it descriptive enough to somebody who wasn’t there when this change went into effect?  To somebody new to the game?  You know, the people who might actually need a new Ibis or other rookie ship?

The button says, “Board my Corvette,” which sounds a lot like simply “get in my ship.”

And the tool tip/hover help text is an example of the classic mistake for that medium, as it just adds three unhelpful words to what the button already told you, which fails to clarify anything if you didn’t understand what the button meant in the first place.  This is the equivalent of finding out that somebody is deaf and then just speaking louder.

The tool tip ought to say “Get a replacement starter ship for free!” or something else more instructive.

I am reminded of CCP Burger’s priority list from the first CSM14 summit minutes:

1. Stop the bleeding
2. Fix the stupid
3. Excite and teach
4. Incentivize return

-CCP Burger on CCP’s focus, CSM summit minutes page 6

I think we may still be in the “Fix the stupid” stage.

Quote of the Day – So Much Synergy

The expansion of MGI’s stake in gamigo is a positive step, as non-strategic shareholders will exit and gamigo can benefit from synergy potential with the other MGI companies. In particular, we see substantial synergy potential in customer acquisition for the gamigo games, in strengthening gamigo’s position in the mobile games sector and in the cooperation between the gamigo media companies and MGI’s media companies.

-Remco Westermann, CEO of Media and Games Invest plc in a press release

You know somebody is serious when they use the word “synergy” twice in a statement!

As reported over at Massively OP earlier this week, the primary shareholder in Gamigo, which operates a host of maintenance mode MMORPGs, including the Trion Worlds collection, which they acquired about a year and a half back.

Some of their pre-Trion collection

Back when they purchased the assets of Trion Worlds… the legal entity that was Trion itself imploded shortly thereafter… was the first time I took anything beyond a quick glace Gamigo, and it was difficult to figure out just what was going on.  They ran a lot of games… and quite a few MMOs, though who knows what people mean when they use that acronym these days… with a relatively small staff.

I think Blizzard has that many people working just on WoW

As for who owned the place, digging around Bloomberg and other sites was perhaps less than fruitful.  It was somewhere in a stack of companies, many of which were related to real estate investment.

Somewhere at the top of the tree

I suppose there isn’t much synergy between video games and real estate.

However, with the press release linked at the top, we now find that Media and Games Invest, plc (MGI), owned 53% of Gamigo and was moving in to acquire an additional 45% of the company, giving it a 98% lock on the whole thing.  I suppose we can just forget about Suryoyo Holding GmbH at this point.  Unless they are tied in to MGI somehow, they look to have cashed out.

MGI describes itself as an investment group and its other holdings include AppLift, which does mobile platform advertising, PubNative, which describes its business as “Advanced Mobile Monetization,” and ReachHero, which is into “Influencer Marketing.”

MGI itself is registered as a corporation in Malta according to Bloomberg, at an address that resolves to Papilio Services Limited, a company that specializes in getting companies Malta residency for tax purposes.  There is probably nothing shady in that, save for a desire to pay less in taxes.  If it had been Cyprus that would have been more of a red flag.

And MGI itself is 68% owned by Bodhivas GmbH.  Bloomberg doesn’t have anything on that, but it appears to be owned by Remco Westermann of the quote at the top of this post, so he owns the company that owns most of the company which he runs and which just bought out most of Gamigo, a company that was mostly owned by that company already.

There is enough synergy in that to make your head swim.

All of which doesn’t go very far in answering the question of what happens to the MMOs of Gamigo? That is, after all, the general topic of this blog.

Given the focus on mobile, ads, and monetization as well as the use of the words “synergy” and “efficiencies” I would have to say nothing good.  Then again, CEO Remco Westermann has been running Gamigo for a long stretch now (video of him at Gamescom 2013), so it isn’t like there is a new broom coming in to sweep away things.  Maybe nothing will change on the MMO front.

As always, we shall see.

Quote of the Day – The Hubris of a New Eden FPS

An Eve Online first-person shooter is CCP’s greatest folly

-Jeremy Peel, VG24/7

The money quote was actually the headline, but it will do.

Last month CCP announced changes to their first person shoot plans.  The work around what had been called Project Nova was going to move to a new team and be given a new name.

A number of news sites jumped on the news and declared that Project Nova had been cancelled.  Massively OP doubled down on that line and even brought up in their podcast.

In the end the problem is not that some web sites don’t understand what the word “cancelled” means or cannot resist a good headline.  The problem is that CCP did not simply cancel Project Nova, but kept the whole FPS idea alive with another team and under another (secret now) name.

The problem is that the only lesson learned after more than a decade (the initial DUST 514 announcement is coming up on eleven years) of thrashing and failure on the FPS front is apparently that they shouldn’t announce projects prematurely.  And they did this in the midst of telling us that the FPS project would keep going.  If you take the view that Project Nova was cancelled, then they effectively announced the new project right then and there.  They just were not going to tell us what it was called.  So we’ll make up something to call it I guess.  I’m going to keep tagging it as Project Nova just to maintain a thread of continuity.

And maybe things have changed.  Maybe being owned by Pearl Abyss and having its resources at the disposal of the project will lead to a different outcome.  Maybe better talent or a different vision will make it happen.  Maybe they will be less focused on tying whatever it is they end up developing into EVE Online and more focused on making a good game with its own virtues, a game that people would play even despite its connection to EVE Online.

But we won’t know until we see it, and the track record so far does not lend one hope.

Hat Tip to Wolf Brothers Inc for spotting this.