With City of Heroes and Glitch closing within a matter of weeks of each other, everyone’s worried. Is their favourite game on the endangered list? Are you about to hear that the MMO you’ve sunk years into has only months to live?
Well, if you play WoW, you’re probably safe. But everyone else is fair game.
Syp breaks this particular can of worms wide open with his piece entitled Five MMOs On The Endangered List –
“2. Warhammer Online
It pains me to say it, but I really don’t think WAR is long for this world. Mythic is helming a leaking ship with no apparent hope for its future. BioWare’s siphoned off several of its devs, DAoC is really old at this point and not going F2P, UO is even older, there aren’t any new titles in the works that we know about, and WAR feels like a game that they’d rather you not notice.
The fact that Mythic has outright said that it’s just not financially realistic to convert the game to F2P speaks volumes about its future. Then you add on the fact that the studio also said that its MOBA version of the game will probably never leave beta status because of a terribly small playerbase, and I just don’t see WAR pulling out of this tailspin. It was a great if flawed game in many ways, but there’s no hope left.”
Syp’s list is interesting, well-argued, and probably controversial. But it does mostly focus on niche or less successful games. So if you’re in one of the front-running titles, you’re probably safe?
Not so fast. Green Armadillo’s been looking hard at the flagship publisher of Free To Play games, Turbine, responsible for Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of The Rings Online. And he thinks that something at their core might be more rotten than it appears –
“Turbine’s major releases this year in both games have drawn fire for uncharacteristically high rates of show-stopping bugs, even after a high profile delay to this year’s Rohan launch. Prices have trended upward, with DDO’s latest high level adventure pack coming in at 750 Turbine Points, compared to 450 for most releases in 2010, and expansions (themselves a new thing to DDO) coming in at $50 for the cheapest DDO bundle that includes the new class and $70 for the LOTRO bundle that includes the game’s first bagspace increase since 2007. Turbine was quick to promote 2011’s Isengard expansion as the best-seller in the studio’s history, but I haven’t seen even such vague comments on either of this year’s releases.
Meanwhile, monetization is indeed on the rise in Middle Earth, with apparel mannequins displaying cosmetic outfits that initially appeared in the most remote, dangerous locations in the world, a $10 cosmetic purchase that lets Dwarves take off their shirts, and the joke hobby horse with its hypothetical $50 price tag. Meanwhile, it feels like buggy and unpopular systems – kill deed grinds, legendary item grinds, holiday festival grinds, etc – are being retained in part so that fixes for them can be saved for the cash shop.
None of these individually allows us to distinguish a for-profit company making reasonable efforts to increase revenue from a less favorable scenario in which the studio is struggling to maintain revenue as the short-term gains from the game’s front-loaded business model are translating into non-subscribers who no longer need to purchase much of anything. All of the above collectively, however, starts to suggest the less-cheery scenario.”
Green Armadillo’s post is, as usual, well-thought-out and backed up with solid facts and figures. And that’s what makes it so worrying.
In a world where as old and respected a game as CoH can be put out to pasture, and where even frontrunning developers might be hiding problems, are any of our games safe?
What do you think?