This year I eschewed the traditional practice of making predictions and issued a series of demands for the MMO industry for 2011.
Well, when you make predictions and you are wrong, it is your fault. If you make demands though, and the company does not live up to them, it is THEIR fault! Ha! Rather than scoring my own predictions, I get to score their behavior.
So it is time to review my demands for 2011, made way back on January 2nd. I gave everybody until December 15th to meet my demands. Now it is time to see who complied.
Stop looking so damn smug. Tell us what Titan is, ship Diablo III, and add some more content to the top end of World of Warcraft. I swear half the game is already level 85. Oh, and another sparkle pony, but something a little less frou-frou this time. And an expansion for StarCraft II. Somebody has to sell some PC games this year.
See, this is what is wrong with Blizzard these days. I threw a crapload of demands at them, six if you include “stop looking so damn smug,” and they barely made any of them.
To sum up, we still do not know what Titan is, Diablo III is out in 2012 somewhere, and no expansion for StarCraft II. I mean, how tough was that last one? Oh, and they still look damn smug.’
All we got was a new sparkly pony, the Winged Guardian Mount, and some more content at the top end of Cataclysm. Not enough I say! Not enough.
Sparkle Kitty vs. Sparkle Pony
For this I decree that Mike Morhaime will have to come up with more public rationalizations about WoW subscription numbers, including at least one additional convoluted SWTOR impact denial.
Sony Online Entertainment:
Smedley? SMEDLEY! Pull yourself together. I know those PlayStation people are bossing you around, but you make money. Certainly more than they make on hardware. Refine what you have. More server merges. Reconcile EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended. Work on the PC controls for DC Universe Online because I am NOT hooking up a console controller to my PC just to play it. And finish with the Agency already, you’re starting to embarrass us all.
SOE on the other hand, complied with almost all of my demands. We certainly got server merges on a number of fronts, and some are still coming, including the merger of the Live Gamer EverQuest II servers into standard servers. EverQuest II Live and EverQuest II Extended were reconciled, with Live eating and then becoming Extended.
And they certainly finished up The Agency. Ouch.
In fact, the only demand they missed on was fixing the controls for the PC version of DC Universe Online, and they were so busy launching, consolidating servers, and then converting to free to play that I guess they can have a pass on that.
For this I grant favorable portents for Planetside 2… provided they don’t pull an “Agency” move with it and string us along for several years.
Just go free to play across the board already. Champions and Star Trek Online. Everybody else is doing it. But don’t screw over the lifetime subscribers. And when you go free to play, make sure you have something shiny and new to bring people back. Oh, and Neverwinter, get it out this year and don’t screw it up!
Cryptic… Well, everything is either free to play or in the works. They’ll be a month late on the demand in the case of Star Trek Online.
Neverwinter though… just where are you guys even going with that title these days? Cryptic is supposed to be your company name, not your business plan.
I put a curse of market confusion upon Cryptic for Neverwinter… which they deserve just for choosing that name. There are OTHER locations in Forgotten Realms you know.
Everybody is watching you. You’re not making some single player game. You’re making an engine, an engine that is supposed to take in money and deliver the joy of being in the Star Wars universe. Don’t let those wankers in San Mateo make you ship early. Meanwhile, since you guys seem to be in the MMO driver’s seat at EA, for now, don’t screw around with Ultima Online, but do something about Warhammer Online. You’re bright guys, you’ll figure something out.
Wow, talk about delivering. I am pretty sure they moved the early access back to the 13th of December just to be clearly within the scope of my demand. And yet it is late enough that we cannot really tell if the engine is set to vacuum up money from Star Wars loving fans.
Plus they didn’t screw around with Ultima Online and they came up with a DoTA-like game reusing Warhammer Online assets and branding it as Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes.
Full points all around. For this the force will be with them… for three months. They are on their own after that!
Will you put that drink down already? EVE is still going, still making money, still popular, still unique, I get it. And you are improving it over time. But really, you’re starting to look like a one-trick pony. What are all those people in Atlanta doing? You don’t have to ship something new this year, but at least make us believe you’re really working on something new. We’re starting to think you’re spending all that money you make on akvavit and exotic dancers.
CCP is the only company that actually responded directly to my demands. CCP Manifest dropped my a note just 8 days after my post promising that we would all see amazing things from CCP this year and that my demands would be fully met.
And then, of course, Incarna hit, the player base blew up… more than usual… plans were re-assessed, people were laid off, projects were set aside, and the summer of discontent basically loomed over the staff at CCP.
And then they refocused, shipped the Crucible expansion to mostly favorable reaction (it sure is pretty), and plans seem to be solid for DUST 514, with a release target (Spring 2012… which means by Christmas, right?) and a platform (PlayStation 3 works for me).
So I guess, in the end, they met my demands.
I would suggest that we did not need all the drama, but that seems to be one of the vital ingredients to any CCP operation. That and alcohol. I know they aren’t spending all their money on booze, but I suspect there is still a line item in the budget for it.
For this I grant an early Spring and no bankruptcy in 2012.
Aion, City of Whatever, and Guild Wars. Is that really all you have going in North America? Well, there is Lineage II I suppose. And what do you have on your to do list? Blade & Soul? Really? Don’t bother. And let Guild Wars 2 gestate to full term, which means don’t ship it in 2011.
I didn’t ask much from NCsoft, and they delivered. No Guild Wars 2 in 2011. Now the question is will we see it in 2012?
Your boon is the usual subscriber boost as you move all of your titles to free to play business model.
Your big opportunity is coming. Ship Rift at just about the time when WoW Players have finally wrapped up the high-end content and you could get… a stable half a million subscribers. Okay, that isn’t WoW numbers, but history shows that most people just stick with their favorite MMO forever due to the social network they develop. Hrmm… that is sounding like a prediction, not a demand. Okay, go and get a half a million subscribers already! By June! With your shield or on it and all that!
Trion, you made it. While you were out there claiming a million customers, I am going to take it as read that that meant more that half a million subscribers at one time. And you even kept them for a while, thanks to Cataclysm backlash, a late ship date for SWTOR, and essentially no new competitors in your field.
For this you get favorable portents for End of Nations and a soft landing from the SWTOR effect.
Other MMO Studios:
Which of you is even poised to do anything in 2011? TERA is going to be another Asian oddity, soon forgotten by the mainstream. It was all that Aventurine could do to ship Darkfall, they won’t be doing anything else. Funcom won’t get The Secret World out in 2011, they’re more likely to cut more staff. All of you other studios, select a champion and send it out to do battle. Yes, it can be TERA if you cannot find anything else, but I’m telling you it is going to be completely forgettable.
Nothing? Really, no small studio champion has arisen?
Fine, you’re all doomed to mutter about the success of Minecraft and Angry Birds.
Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw:
When Star Wars: The Old Republic ships this year, review it. I know, it is a muh-more-puh-gah, but this is Star Wars and BioWare. I demand it. We all demand it!
Alright, you’re absolved because of the late ship date of SWTOR. But I expect a review of it next year.
Dr. Richard Bartle:
You were awfully quiet in 2010. And you’ve got your three level 85s in WoW now. (A very common claim these days.) Go say something controversial. Declare WoW dead. Predict SWTOR will be a failure as a virtual world. Make some news. Do an interview with those people at Massively. They’ll print anything you say.
Dr. Bartle was kind enough to comment on my original demands list that, while I found the past controversies surrounding his statements in the gaming press amusing (remember the “I’d Close WoW” headline or his positive view of Stranglethorn Vale), the whole thing tends not to be so much fun for him.
And he managed to steer clear of such controversies, despite my egging on certain members of the Massively staff.
So he gets a pass as well. We can just hope that somebody takes note of his idea of how to break the current state of stagnation in MMOs and that he has a good fortune in 2012 as he attempts to educate us on the obvious. I personally look forward to further education.
What is there to score?
Okay, if you want to view my demands as predictions, I think I did okay this year. But I did not really go out on a limb with anything either. 2011 was a quiet year in many ways, with titles being pushed off into 2012.
Now, do I go back to outrageous predictions for 2012 or stick with unreasonable demands?