WAR Success

this was originally a comment on mark’s new blog.  it was getting a bit verbose, so i just thought i’d turn it into a full post.  hate when that happens.

if war is to succeed, you have a few real issues to overcome:

1) people (any substantial number anyway) have room for one monthly sub.  plain pure fact.  that means you don’t get to be “second choice” for anyone.  you have to be the only choice for your subscriber base.

2) because of the network effect, war will not only have to be better than wow, but much, much, much better with lots more content — right outta the gate. and, it will need to sustain the “lots more content” continuously and forever.

the one and only one instance off the top of my head where someone has successfully done that is facebook to myspace. the features and quality bar difference between the two were not iterative. they were not evolutionary. they were revolutionary.  because of facebook, we now have game developers targeting facebook as a platform.

3) yes.  you have to “beat wow.”  see #1.  if you have a monthly sub and aren’t trying to beat wow, you are simply setting yourself up for failure.  if you were serious about not caring about beating wow, you’d be releasing a free game.  the reason being because people (again, in any substantial numbers) won’t have two paid subs.  that means you either need to allow for people to play your game in addition to wow (meaning it’s free) or you have to take wow’s subscribers — aka beating wow.

4) you’re not just competing with wow.  you’re also competing with free.  you have to convince people beyond the first free month bump that your game is not only better (see #2) than wow, but it’s several orders of magnitude better (not simply better) than something like requiem — which is free and high quality.  not to mention something like runescape which is both free AND has over a million subs.

i wish you luck, sir.

m3mnoch.

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6 comments so far

  1. voorshwa on

    While I can respect your opinion, I must also respectfully disagree on several of your points. Let me reply to each.

    1. I think you are mistaking this whole ‘monthly sub’ thing as a large expense. It plainly isn’t. I can get an entire month of entertainment in a sub for less than I can go to a movie for 2 hours. I believe that we are at a point in the evolution of monthly subbed MMO’s that people can (and will) run multiple subs in multiple games. This is backed up by the recent study that states most MMO players are in their 30’s. And more than likely if you are in your 30’s, you can spend $30 a month on your entertainment.

    2. This would have been true a couple of years ago, but it just isn’t the case anymore. WoW is losing it’s luster and people are clamoring for a new MMO. Just look at how many boxes AoC sold and it was an absolutely horrible game. WAR is well done, has a lot of polish, good amounts of content, and the HUGE benefit of real group PvP (RvR). They don’t have to have more than WoW, they just need to be better in their key areas, technically sound, and be interesting. They have all of those things and it will be a big draw from WoW. It won’t be a ‘WoW-Killer’ but it will be the first MMO released since WoW to have millions of subscribers.

    3. No, you don’t have to ‘beat WoW’. Mythic isn’t looking to beat them, they are just looking to be that VERY solid number 2 that actually pushes us towards innovation again in the MMO space. I don’t think many will disagree when I say that the genre has gotten stagnant. WAR isn’t going to bring any huge revolutionary achievements, but it will create legitimate competition and get us moving forward again. You argue that most people won’t have 2 paid subs, and I can counter argue that a lot of people will have 2 or more subs just in WAR. I’ve been playing these games a long time, and in the circles I run that is the rule, not the exception.

    4. Free games are not at the point where I think you can call them legitimate competition. They are good time wasters at work on occasion, and in the case of Runescape has a niche ‘hooky’ group of players. WAR is competing with the big, legit MMO’s and that is where the focus is at this point. I think in 5 years you will see the ‘free’ games make a dent in the space, but at that point the big MMO’s will be microtransaction based anyway. Then we start the whole ride over again.

    These are obviously my own opinions, but I’ve been playing these games for 10+ years and have seen many come and go. WAR is the next WoW in terms of where the players are going to go. It won’t kill WoW, or even really make it hurt a lot, but for the first time in several years we have a legitimate competitor.

    V

  2. m3mnoch on

    “This is backed up by the recent study that states most MMO players are in their 30’s. And more than likely if you are in your 30’s, you can spend $30 a month on your entertainment.”

    there’s more to cost than cash. especially if you’re in your thirties. for example, how many mmo’s do you have time to subscribe to, kind sir?

    “This would have been true a couple of years ago, but it just isn’t the case anymore. WoW is losing it’s luster and people are clamoring for a new MMO.”

    i agree. except for the teeny-tiny detail that people have said that exact same thing since eq2/guild wars/vanguard/ddo/lotr/aoc etc., etc., etc. wow just puts out a new update and gets more content and makes it harder for someone to launch with anything even remotely close to content parity.

    zomg! the content is great up until level 20 and then it’s grind, grind, grind!!! this game sux!

    “No, you don’t have to ‘beat WoW’. Mythic isn’t looking to beat them, they are just looking to be that VERY solid number 2 that actually pushes us towards innovation again in the MMO space.”

    yes you do have to beat wow. if it’s not as good as wow, but it’s not as disposable (aka free!) as something like requiem, it gets squished in between. that’s my point. you have to be better than wow or better than free.

    it’s the same reason there’s no other auction site than ebay. you either have to be as good as ebay (product selection, third party fraud prevention) or you have to have the ease and convenience of a regular store (security, branding, dedicated product support).

    “Free games are not at the point where I think you can call them legitimate competition.”

    maybe not to you. maybe not today. but, they’re 10x better than they were two years ago. and they’ll be 10x better two years from now. and it’s not because of a lack of revenue. for example, sulake makes $200 million a year — that’ll finance a jim-dandy “free-to-play” mmorpg.

    “I think in 5 years you will see the ‘free’ games make a dent in the space”

    you realize that maple story has 5x the subscription base of wow, right? when does that qualify as “making a dent?”

    m3mnoch.

  3. voorshwa on

    Damnit, I forget which tag is for comments. Bleh, anyway….

    “there’s more to cost than cash. especially if you’re in your thirties. for example, how many mmo’s do you have time to subscribe to, kind sir?”

    I subscribe to 2 right now, with multiple accounts on one. Yes, I think I have more time since I’m not married with children, but I don’t think I’m the only one. Have several online friends both married and single that do the same. So again, $30 a month isn’t that much even if you don’t have as much free time.

    “i agree. except for the teeny-tiny detail that people have said that exact same thing since eq2/guild wars/vanguard/ddo/lotr/aoc etc., etc., etc. wow just puts out a new update and gets more content and makes it harder for someone to launch with anything even remotely close to content parity.

    zomg! the content is great up until level 20 and then it’s grind, grind, grind!!! this game sux!”

    You have to understand, you are right they have said those things about the other MMO’s, but that is the nature of the business. A new one gets hyped into oblivion (see AoC) and can’t live up to it. WAR is actually good enough to live up to it. The content is there both in PvE and PvP. None of those other games you listed even comes close. Oh, and your ‘zomg…’ comment wreaks of an AoC encounter. That game should not even be called a MMO, it’s more a heavily instanced single player mound of garbage. I’ve been playing WAR a lot and have tried each class, I played each differently and never did it feel like a grind. The content is there.

    “yes you do have to beat wow…”

    So what you are saying is that there is no room in the space for competition? The 800lb gorilla is so big if you even try you will immediately fail because you can’t beat it? You aren’t going to beat WoW. It’s too entrenched, with too large of an install base. All you can do is put out a MMO that is polished with a lot of content and you will have a large group of players subbing each month.

    In my mind, that is successful competition, and it has nothing to do with ‘beating WoW’. People need to get that out of their heads, because it really doesn’t matter as much as they think it does. Thanks to WoW there are a lot more people that play MMO’s, which means there is a lot more money to go around.

    Oh, and your EBAY comparison is apples to oranges. People don’t get bored with EBAY content or features, they do with games and the same old content. They want new and interesting when it comes to gaming. Business websites that provide a service is just not the same thing.

    I’m not talking about the quality of the free games, I’m talking about their appeal. Right now and in the not so near future they just don’t offer up what most MMO players are looking for. There isn’t any engaging lore, no competitive PvP, very little sense of community, and leading edge graphics. I’ve played MMO’s for years, keep up to speed on the space, and I’m sorry but I have never heard of ‘sulake’. I’m happy that they make that kind of money in a year, but until the masses know about it, then it’s just not a blip on the radar.

    Finally, I think it’s great that Maple Story has that many people that registered on their website. That by no means equates into active players, nor does it even come close to the things I mentioned above that MMO players are looking for. The game isn’t a MMO in the traditional sense, it’s a web based 2D hacker haven. The community is a negative shambles, and the moderators are completely apathetic to what is going on as long as the hackers keep making them money.

    So yeah, 5x more people signed up on the free website, but that doesn’t make me want to play a game where I will never have a chance to be competitive or meet someone with an emotional age over 10. Hmm, that could also be a description of my WoW chances now…LOL.

    Bottom line, I think that WAR will be very successful and it won’t even come close to ‘beating WoW’. Which in my mind is all it needs to do to make me a very happy player.

    Keep up the good work though, m3mnoch. It’s great to see you posting regularly again.

    V

  4. m3mnoch on

    oooh! i smell a wager!

    i say: by april of next year, war has fewer than 200k subs.

    the bet will be the loser pays the other one’s fantasy football dues next season. (*sigh* my draft this year evidently sucked…)

    deal?

    m3mnoch.

  5. elias on

    You two aren’t talking about the same thing when you say “beat WoW.”

    WAR will beat WoW for some players, and it won’t for many others. That depends on the individual player’s priorities.

    voorshwa, you’re in the minority as far as number of subs you can handle, plain and simple. I agree with m3mnoch on that one. I can’t currently support any MMO subs and I am an adult with a steady full time job. I also have a family and wouldn’t want to forsake single player games in favor of an MMO. But I’m waiting for a free trial of WAR because the box is too expensive for 30 days to me, and I probably won’t play after that. If you think about it, it’s not that surprising that the people in your circles are like you in that regard, is it? That’s how things work… if they weren’t they wouldn’t be able to keep up, and they wouldn’t be in your circles…

    I think the eBay comparison is very fitting, and that there’s definitely more going on in free to play MMOs than I’m aware of; I see ads for new, free MMOs I’ve never heard of all the time.

    Overall, great post, m3mnoch.

  6. […] fact, i have here, documented, a friendly wager with my friend voorshwa. oooh! i smell a […]


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