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The Future of MMOs

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the time-to-level-up dept.

Role Playing (Games) 224

IGN has some interesting coverage of a panel at GDC 2008 that featured some of the top names in the MMO world who got together to discuss the future of the genre. "On hand were Jack Emmert of Cryptic Studios, Mark Miller of NCSoft, Min Kim of Nexon and Rob Pardo of Blizzard Entertainment. MMO newbie Ray Muzyka was also on hand to share his thoughts as BioWare moves into the MMO arena. [...] The conversation got a lot more heated when the subject of micro-transactions was introduced. This is a popular revenue model in Asia, where the games themselves are free to play but charge a premium for a variety of premium extras, from vanity items to additional content or abilities. It's a model that's working well for Korean developer Nexon but hasn't been adopted by many American developers."

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224 comments

Let's think before we import (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22517680)

This is a popular revenue model in Asia, where the games themselves are free to play but charge a premium for a variety of premium extras, from vanity items to additional content or abilities. It's a model that's working well for Korean developer Nexon but hasn't been adopted by many American developers.

Making your games so awesome that people pay for 5 days straight and die from exhaustion is also popular in Korea. Let's not import that, though.

Re:Let's think before we import (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22517888)

Raw stupidity? You could try to import more, but you'll find we're saturated.

Addiction is the addict's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519074)

I want awesome games, and I am quite capable of balancing my own life so I don't die playing them.

I don't wan't someone deliberately making their game suck, and thus ruining my experience of it, just because some other idiot might play it to much.

That is nuts.

If we were talking about a chemical addiction I would have a different opinion. But a game doesn't come with any mind-altering drugs. Its just light, sound, and interaction. If you get addicted to that, you have no one to blame but yourself. Therefore I have no sympathy for you, and will insist that the world not cater to your character flaws.

Import the awesomeness, encourage personal responsibility among the addicts.

Re:Let's think before we import (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519280)

If by "awesome" you mean "grindy" then yeah, lets not import that.

I Hope MMOs All Die (5, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517684)

Because I have a wife, and kids, and a job, and all these MMOs are just lurking around in local stores, threatening to take it all away from me. Fortunately, none have been good enough to get me to play, but someday... someday...

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (4, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517952)

Cause they are all too similar. This wizardry medieval theme maybe is getting old.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518250)

Considering that there's superhero/supervillan, military, and sci-fi MMOGs as well...

It's not the genre that's the problem. It's the networking and gameplay that comes from being multi-player
over the internet that's part of it- plus how things like PvP are handled that ends up scotching most of them.

But wait, there's more! (4, Funny)

thanatos_x (1086171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518498)

You've listed just a few of the current genres in MMOs. I predict in the future you'll take on the role of a denizen of a tough world. Initially you'll barely be able to do the simplest of things, but as you spend time, you'll level them up. Strange and arcane rules will be placed upon you, but as you level up you'll face less and less of the, until you hit the 2nd stage of the game where you rapidly level up abilities, but just as you're about to make use of them and rule the world, a new set of rules is placed upon you, and even tougher bosses appear, many of which you can't directly attack, unless you want agro from the mega boss force. Eventually after years of struggle, you'll slowly get promoted in whatever job you've chosen to level in - but the great thing is that you're almost unlimited in what 'jobs' you want to take, but various characters have aptitude for certain jobs based upon training and the options at character creation.

Of course they're already predicting that people will complain this is far too similar to 'life' and not want to play it, but that's expected to take a fair amount of time.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (4, Insightful)

wyewye (1206270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518324)

Try some SciFi MMORPG for a change. There are really tons of them out there. Some with notable success, like Eve Online or Anarchy Online. About MMORPG sucking all your life: this is actually not news, everything you do in your entire life requires time management. That includes entertainment. If you fail to manage it, all sorts of really bad results can come, ofc. At the core, the question is: do you really need to be number one? If yes, expect a huge effort to be required if you want to succeed. Oh, unless you are still dreaming that you can reap big rewards with no or close to no efforts at all.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518888)

Try some SciFi MMORPG for a change. There are really tons of them out there. Some with notable success, like Eve Online or Anarchy Online.
I still feel that Eve Online is too much like actual work to be a game. It truly is the prettiest spreadsheet ever.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (2, Interesting)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519372)

Try some SciFi MMORPG for a change.
Seriously, I saw this exact discussion way back in the dark ages, in 1990, when people discussed which MUD to play.
SciFi is just the same with different names for stuff.

The problem is the target audience is the same: mainly spotty teenagers en young men. Nerds (hi!). And they all have the same target audience. Second Life does best, but that's not a game.

A problem they will encounter is that for 90% or more, it is an addiction that blows over after some years. It did for me and I have found nothing that appealed to me since. Not that I think that's a problem considering my, uhm, time-management skills.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518616)

Let's not forget pirates. That's a fairly popular theme too.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (4, Interesting)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518782)

It's not the theme, it's the gameplay.

I want something that will shake to the core. Something that doesn't feel scripted.

No more quests from NPCs, no more boring and predictable leveling (ding, new skill!), no designed 'tanks' and 'healers'. I'm not sure exactly what I want, but I'm bored of the gameplay. I want more chaos, combats that require realtime strategizing and role changes during the flow.

I would also like improved customization. It's impossible to be unique in these games. Sad that they work so hard on graphics and then you choose from faces 1-8, and all wear the same armor. Make me feel special. I want to design my own emotes, and design my own abilities.

Just some crazy ramblings though...I ain't expecting anything.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

Gutboy (587531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519134)

Try Eve-Online, it's the closest I can think of to what you want (still has quests from NPCs, but you don't ever have to do them).

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518892)

Its not the theme. It is because the NPCs are non-living Quest-Automates and the World is persistant. It is mainly a problem of content.

You can't generate many content that is not accessable to all, because it cost money. Imagine a village with 40 NPCs and and 50 quest near a battle zone. It would be nice, if the village could be overrun by enemys and all the npc would be killed. But with the game-mechanik that is used today, it is imposible, because you would loose 50 Quests of valuable content. It is valuable because you need to entertain coustomers with 5+ Hours a Day Questing-Time.

Mayby Community-generated content is a solution, but mayby it is AI. But the key-feature of future mmorpgs is change.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (4, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518266)

Yeah, I played Everquest hardcore in college. And when I first got married I still played some. My wife was convinced she'd "fix me" ... but turns out I got her into EQ (I sat her down one night and made her make a character and just said "honey, just try and see what I see when I play the game, then tell me what you think" ... after the evening she was hooked). We played till our first kid was born then laid off it. Now our two kids are older, sleeping through the nights, we play again after the kids are in bed for a few hours (8pm-10pm). It's a fun outlet, and it's cheaper than dinner and a movie once a month (and the damn babysitter, they are so expensive nowadays). The other factor for me at least is I moved 1000 miles away to go to college, and it was a good way to keep in touch with friends. A few of which still play ...

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (2, Interesting)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518326)

Me and the 'little woman' play Civ 3 and 4 when the kids go to bed, just because it's really easy to play for however much time we have to spare. We started with Civ II, but I kept kicking her ass. Then we moved to Civ III, and she started kicking MY ass. Fortunately, we're pretty matched at 4, and it keeps us humble.

But all these MMOs... I played WoW for a little bit, and City Of Cookie Cutters, and some other ones, and all I could remember of the experience was "Man, Diablo II was more fun than this..." and I never played again. But someday, someday, an MMO will appear that will appeal to me. I'm scared.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518422)

I thought Civ3 didn't have multiplayer :P

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518494)

I thought Civ3 didn't have multiplayer :P
Play the World added multiplayer capabilities, eight new civilizations and some new units to the original release.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518604)

Oh yeah, I played Diablo those months in college when I couldn't scrape up $15 and was living off of Ramen :)

I played WoW for about 2 months (right after release) and promptly sold my account. Didn't really like it, although some of my longtime friends are still playing it. Wasn't enough depth for my taste. EQ, I feel like even though I've played for 6 years, I've barely scratched the surface.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518970)

It's a fun outlet, and it's cheaper than dinner and a movie once a month (and the damn babysitter, they are so expensive nowadays).
Not if you have a $15 NetFlix account and learn to cook for yourself. You can get six films a week (three at a time) and then spend about $5 on any given meal for two. Much better meals with a much better atmosphere than any restaurant!

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519264)

$5 !?!?!?

Where do you live?

Here is a summary for Spaghetti:
1/2 box of speghetti - 1.75
1 jar of sauce - 4.00
Ground beef (couse you have to have meat sauce and canned meat is sick shit) - 4.00
Total: 9.75

FOR SPAGHETTI!!!

It may be cheap if you are vegitarian (I can't even spell it apparantly), but when I eat, something dies.

Re:I Hope MMOs All Die (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519062)

I started playing EQ my senior year of highschool and played it well into college myself. Funny thing is, my G/F actally bought the game for me (old style big box Ruins of Kunark)...she ended up regretting that. I never got her stuck on EQ but got her to pick up being a tailor in SWG and later EQ2. (We eventually broke up, but not because of the games, but because she was an obsessive bitch).

Just ban Asia/FTA's and all proxies for US/EU (2, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517710)

Regionalization does work, and it has kept the bots out of regions where they've actually gotten on top the game versus just letting goldfarmers violate the rules endlessly.

Micro-complaints. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22517860)

Wasn't it Oblivion and their horse mod that drew everyone's ire?

Re:Micro-complaints. (3, Informative)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518062)

Yes, but there's a difference. The value of decorating your horse on a single-player only game is different than the value of decorating your horse in a multi-player-only game. Oblivion then came out with more mods that added value to the game and the community's received them much better.

Re:Micro-complaints. (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518934)

Oblivion then came out with more mods that added value to the game and the community's received them much better.
The funny thing is though, that none of the mods released by Bethesda can even come close to the level of mods being released by the Oblivion modding community. The mod community saved Oblivion from... well oblivion I supposed. The game really is pretty crappy out of the box. I had quit playing by the time I reached level 14 because the level-scaling of the enemies was just dumb and made the game boring.

I've seen this work out (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517910)

"...but charge a premium for a variety of premium extras, from vanity items to additional content or abilities..."

I play the web-based MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, and this has worked well for them for at least the past three years. They do a decent job of balancing it such that purchasing these extra items does give you a sense of being 1337, but doesn't necessarily give you a huge advantage over other players.

Plus, you can (in most cases) sell the premium items purchased with your hard-earned cash for in-game currency.

The "future" should read: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22517918)

Cross console, PC compatible, voice before text communication (controlled by radius and channels), and voice recognition for interacting with NPCs.

Otherwise it's just more of the same.

FFXI proves that the cross platform angle is entirely possible, other games prove that voice chat can be more enjoyable (and productive) than text chat, and voice recognition telephone systems have proven the technology is functional at the enterprise level.

Combine all of these techs with a portable Wii-mote and a 3" 3D display and you have an MMO that you can play anywhere. Picture having a Wii-mote in one hand, a programable button grip in the other hand and a small display on your wrist or reflected onto a pair of glasses. Certainly not a new concept, but at least now it is a plausible one.

Re:The "future" should read: (2, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518890)

For cross-platform, FFXI on PS2 and XBox 360 has probably done rather well. However, FFXI is a failure as a PC game.

Square Enix has programmed the game to shut down if you try to change to another window. This is particularly nasty with IM clients that automatically pop up, such as, well, all of them. There is an addon to stop that, but it's in violation of SE's terms of service.

The game is also heavily reliant on a gamepad control scheme. Its keyboard/mouse scheme is just horrid.

Re:The "future" should read: (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519354)

Official windower has been added. No one in their right mind plays with a mouse.

Re:The "future" should read: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518918)

voice recognition telephone systems have proven the technology is functional at the enterprise level.

What enterprise are you dealing with where their voice technology is functional? My experience usually goes something along the lines of...

"Now transfering you to some barely understandable cubicle monkey in Bangledash."

"God damn it! No bitch! I said English speaking, comptetent tech!"

Re:The "future" should read: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519034)

Picture having a Wii-mote in one hand, a programable button grip in the other hand and a small display on your wrist or reflected onto a pair of glasses. Certainly not a new concept, but at least now it is a plausible one.
Wow. The ability to look like a spastic mental defective anywhere, anytime. How much longer must we wait for this?

Re:The "future" should read: (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519332)

No, with all of that it'd still be more of the same. Perhaps the MMORPG developers should look into actually making their games fun instead.

Rob

Emmert? Oh, no. (2, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517966)

The man is this generation's Brad McQuaid. Gameplay changes made merely to punish player ingenuity and enforce his 'vision', and pointless choices and grinds simply for their own sake. The number of quality-of-life changes that have been made to City Of... since NCSoft bought it (and hired most of its devs) is simply staggering.

Similarly staggering is his apparent inability to learn from his mistakes. Early in City of Heroes development and testing, it was discovered that tabletop-style 'choose your own powers' play simply wasn't going to work-- players gravitated toward game-raping character designs, and it was really easy to make something that was simply unworkable. According to the Cryptic website, he's gone back to that kind of design... and for reasons that are apparently borne of pure sentimentality, he's using the HERO System too. For those unfamiliar with HERO, it's a tabletop RPG ruleset with over two hundred pages devoted to character generation and filled with special cases. If he was miffed at players finding loopholes in the elegantly simple City Of... games, the sheer amount of rule rape that will occur once savvy players pop up will drive him into a straitjacket. That's assuming that anyone gets past statting a hero out.

Re:Emmert? Oh, no. (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518332)

Most the rules from the books can be automated.

For example, you don't need a pages an creating a energy blast.

Assuming the game will enforce a speicif point range during creation that limits the number of rules as well.

However, you will still have people who can optimize a character more then someone else.

For 100 point's I could pretty much make an unstoppable character. Fortunatly, I put role playing first.

Re:Emmert? Oh, no. (2, Informative)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519076)

For 100 point's I could pretty much make an unstoppable character. Fortunatly, I put role playing first.
But others will not put role playing first. They will create characters that exploit whatever defects there are in the system (and with such a complex system, there will be many), and even worse, some will create characters to use for nothing but griefing, and probably be wildly successful at it.

Re:Emmert? Oh, no. (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518360)

Man, generations must be getting tighter, Brad McQuaid was still relevant as of last year with Vanguard :). It's too bad...

Re:Emmert? Oh, no. (3, Funny)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518574)

The ultimate offense is when the weezil newbies scout out the blogs and make these game-rapers by the hundreds. Not only do they ever get the thrill of figuring out how to play with reasonable chars, but any newbs that start with a simple char get crucified. Bleagh.

No wonder I don't play any of these things. Hard enough on a level playing field. Getting gang-raped by the n00bs is what I bought BF2 for.

Micro-Transactions and game balance (4, Interesting)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517988)

Micro-transactions aren't as popular here because they tend to give an advantage to people with more money. Most American gamers prefer games that emphasize skill and reward players for that, and would tend to be put off if you could simply buy an uber-item and win every time. On the other hand those same individuals wouldn't want to shell out money for only a slight advantage, so you have almost a cache 22, where you need to make the items powerful to get people to buy them, but limit them so that skillful players would still have the advantage of those that merely have a lot of money to spend on the game.
Personally, my suggestion is to eliminate the grind by allowing players to buy levels. That preserves the skill because at high level they still need to be able to use the character, and there would still be items that must be collected, but eliminates the tedium of grinding and is compelling enough that many people would be willing to pay for it.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518366)

The booming grey market for wow gold and levelling services is proof positive that there is plenty of interest in micro transactions. They ought to set up online vendors allowing purchase of in-game items and character levels. This would undercut the farmers and allow people that really want it to skip levels and get a new character up to speed. When I played wow I hated levelling. I was bored with the content and my main character - all I wanted was to change classes. They could put limits on what items you could buy so it would be possible to purchase a top level character after you already levelled one. Purchased items could be slightly gimped to allow a basic level of funtioning without really pissing off the folks that worked for the good stuff.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518532)

Buying levels, interesting. After thinking about that, it would be ok IF there was another marker to indicate the players experience in that game. Maybe after the first character maxed out, you could gain levels.
hmm.

Blizzard did a great job of allowing you to learn your classes abilities one a few at a time.

difficult. Perhaps an exp bonuses for every character level on a server? A small amount per level. I figure if you have 3 different classes at 70, a 30% increase in XP and rep would be fine.

I just want to limit the level 70 Johnny B. Noob syndrome

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519020)

I just want to limit the level 70 Johnny B. Noob syndrome
That's really where guilds come in. By belonging to a guild that limits the people it allows in (say by having trial periods) you have a guarantee that your fellow guild members know how to play the game.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519432)

It sounds like Blizzard is going to do something like this with the new Death Knight class they are planning to introduce in the next expansion. From what they have said once you complete some long hard high level quest with one character you can create a new Death Knight character that will start out at a fairly high level. It might be nice if they would do something similar for the other classes. Though I think one of the things Blizzard likes is the idea that each person have a MAIN character and a MAIN play style. This is just a guess based on the fact that they make it difficult (read costs gold) to change the skills that your character has.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519554)

Pokemon has it right, in that you could buy your levels (rare candy), but your stats are calculated based on the difficulty and the amount of enemies defeated since the last time a level up happened. So, a level 50 pikachu done w/ only rare candies will be really weak, a level 50 pikachu leveled up with exp share will be better, but a level 50 pikachu that was grinded out the hard way will destroy a rare candied pikachu.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518470)

...so you have almost a cache 22..."

You mean "Catch-22", but that's definitely a typo in search of a definition! If someone wants a Jargon File entry, and if Eric Raymond isn't too distracted with whatever it is he does nowadays to add it, here's your chance...

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518568)

You mean "Catch-22", but that's definitely a typo in search of a definition! If someone wants a Jargon File entry, and if Eric Raymond isn't too distracted with whatever it is he does nowadays to add it, here's your chance...

Oh god, I didn't even notice that... the jargon is starting to seep into my brain! I think maybe it's time for me to head home before I start talking about taking bytes out of sandwiches. Of course now I can't stop thinking about what an entry for cache 22 would be in the Jargon File...

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518968)

Cache-22... wouldn't any time the cache has to check the source file/location to see if it has been changed fall under that definition?

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519024)

Clearly a cache-22 would be a case when you have a program that automatically loads up the last file you were working on -- and in this case, the file causes the program to crash. You could switch to another file, or a blank slate, if only you could get the program to load without crashing, but in order to get the program to load without crashing, you need to get it to a clean slate or a different file.

I'll note that at least one instance where this can actually occur is Caligari trueSpace, though the situation generally only comes about when something else causes an initial crash, corrupting the file in question.

-Morgan Lewis

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

bsundhei (1053360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518518)

The purpose of the grind, to a lot of people, is so they can learn how to play their character. If this were to be put in place, we would have a ton of max level characters wanting to group, who had no idea how to play... Oh wait, this already happens. Now at least the company can get those people to fork over some money in the process :)

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518864)

Yep. Guilds are really the junk filter of the MMO world. The main reason to join a guild is to avoid PUGing so that you have a consistent and reasonably skilled group of people to work with.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518902)

I agree. It is annoying to be constantly reminded that your character will be that much better if only you shell out 'x'. OTOH CCG's are perhaps an extreme example of this model, and they seem to be pretty successful.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519154)

Micro-transactions aren't as popular here because they tend to give an advantage to people with more money.

Most American gamers prefer games that emphasize skill and reward players for that, and would tend to be put off if you could simply buy an uber-item and win every time.

This is simply, untrue. Almost every MMOG has resource monetization. While it's true players prefer not to link endgame content to real-world money, micro transactions are wildly popular and there is little stigma to "buying in" to an elevated gear/skill level.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519404)

While it's true players prefer not to link endgame content to real-world money, micro transactions are wildly popular and there is little stigma to "buying in" to an elevated gear/skill level.
At least one of your fellow slashdot readers [slashdot.org] seems to disagree with you. I know personally that several guilds I've belonged to have kicked out members that we later found had bought characters or levels (was actually less about the buying and more that they didn't know how to play worth jack). There is a stigma, possibly deserved. My point though wasn't about the stigma, just that people tend to get frustrated if they can't compete without having to shell out extra money, and often times these pay items tend to cause just that. Really I don't think paying for levels is a big deal (assuming you know how to play at any rate), but paying for items probably is.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (2, Interesting)

Orne (144925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519242)

It's interesting that you put it that way, since I think it kind of exposes the difference in values between our two cultures.

In the USA, there is a strong belief that, with all things being equal at the beginning, the amount of labor that an individual is willing to perform should determine the advancement of the individual. This is especially prevelent in the modern racial/sexual/*-equality work ethic, and is a common conservative/libertarian political plank that the only thing that holds people back is themselves.

Overseas, in South Korea, they have embraced capitalism to a level beyond the USA; it should come as no surprise then that the amount of money that an invidual is willing to invest should determine the advancement of the individual.

-- Scott

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519376)

Asian MMORPG players are about 5 years older, on the average, than western MMORPG players. They have more money, and perhaps less time, than their Western counterparts. For them, time is money - an equation (informally) that is less attractive as a transitive one to people with a lot of time and not much money.

Re:Micro-Transactions and game balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519290)

Microtransactions are just as popular here as any other region of the world.
However, people prefer to be able to buy power without it openly showing (i.e "greymarket/against the rules"), than systems where any such use of money to get ahead is for anyone to see.

Personally I'm completely against the secondary market in mmorpgs, and always have been. This is due to my memories of the "old" mmorpgs, (back when we were considering paying by the hour or minute in some cases/in subscription, not including isp fee - as normal) Meridian 59 as one prime example.

It didn't have a long grind, yet it had highly complex gameplay. It didn't take ages to get a decent character. The entire game wasn't hellbent on focusing solely on a huge amount of people spending days in a stretch to "grind" and then raid some ridiculously tough 'monster'. A lot of the "bosses" in M59, could infact be solod.

Still, people played. It was working, it was fun.
Back then, a lot of the "new innovations" in games now - were already in place. A part from the graphics, we've almost gone backwards in playability.
It wasn't until (in my memory) EQ came around, in our part of the web anyway, that "the grind" and "the work" suddenly appeared. It wasn't really there, before.

Basically this entire urge for purchasing 'past' the game is something the game developers created themselves. I'm sure it was logical in the name of revenue, however the systems before them were working just fine.

Also you have to be aware of the link, nowadays, with games and the secondary market in the first place. It's not mere conspiracy theories that suggest game devs are, literally, designing the game around a secondary market (wether it's officially allowed, or not).

You can see some of it from the interviews with Sigil developers, however the vanguard sites/archives all seem to be gone atm.

(http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:T4jSbqnBcioJ:www.vanguardsoh.com/forums/showthread.php%3Fthreadid%3D10236%26highlight%3Dige+Vanguard+approached+by+IGE&hl=no&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=no&client=firefox-a)

I really have no idea what to suggest, since infact whatever problems I might have with how mmorpgs are designed now - are irrelevant in the face of the success they're having.

I will say though that, this wasn't an inevitable "mmorpg design" outcome, and it's sad it turned out that way.

Re:catch22 (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519508)

Actually, there's a ton of evidence that you can make a mint off purely cosmetic items.

I'd imagine if you had a game where a couple pieces of clothing were purely cosmetic and not 'gear', you could do quite well with for-pay cosmetic stuff. Blizzard has basically done it themselves with tabards and non-combat pets alone. Though they're currently using that demand to drive people to Blizzcon and their CCG.

Imagine what they could pull off with housing, decorations or even just 'exclusive' guild logos for tabards and arena flags.

Pay to win, not play (2, Interesting)

achosler (1114023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22517990)

The idea of offering an MMO for free and then charging for extras seems wrong to me. It's like a dealer getting people hooked with a free crack giveaway and then saying for 100 bucks you can give him some heroin that will make him stronger than all the other crackheads. Of course every crackhead is going to want the heroin, that's how drugs work. So by adding premium content to free games your just making it to in order to be competitive with people you have to keep spending more money. In a pay to play game like WoW you only have to invest more time in order to be better than others, which is another post all together, but I think is cheaper in the long run.

Re:Pay to win, not play (4, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518078)

In a pay to play game like WoW you only have to invest more time in order to be better than others, which is another post all together, but I think is cheaper in the long run.
Depends greatly on how much your time is worth. It's one of the reasons that leveling services are able to stay in business, some people value their time much higher than others.

Correction (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518376)

"Depends greatly on how much your time is worth. It's one of the reasons that leveling services are able to stay in business, some people value their time much differently than others."

Re:Correction (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518484)

"Depends greatly on how much your time is worth. It's one of the reasons that leveling services are able to stay in business, some people value their time much differently than others."

In this context we're talking about putting a dollar value on your time, and specifically the time you spend playing a MMO. There is no "different", there is only more or less.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

achosler (1114023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518708)

A game is supposed to be fun. If you don't have time for the game, do something else with your time. If you use a lvling service you're literally paying somebody else to play your game. "Here's 250 bucks, go play WoW and tell me how much fun it is" Then when you get your account back in a few days you'll have no idea how to do anything and other high lvl players will know you bought your account and you won't be able to play again because everybody hates you.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518986)

A game is supposed to be fun. If you don't have time for the game, do something else with your time. If you use a lvling service you're literally paying somebody else to play your game. "Here's 250 bucks, go play WoW and tell me how much fun it is" Then when you get your account back in a few days you'll have no idea how to do anything and other high lvl players will know you bought your account and you won't be able to play again because everybody hates you.
Unless of course you've already leveled other characters up to max level, possibly even of the same class. Grinding is not fun, and never has been, but some of the things you do after you get done grinding are fun, and that's the catch. You need to do the grind to get to the fun. Using a leveling service is really almost a form of optimization as you can be doing more interesting or useful things instead of grinding, and then come back and enjoy the good parts of the game.

For the record, I do not, and never have used a leveling service, but if the MMOs I played offered the option to pay for levels I probably would (at least for some levels, the ones towards the end just get ridiculous).

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519428)

You need to do the grind to get to the fun.

Why?

No, seriously. The only answer I can think of is "So the developers have sufficient time to leech money from you."

Rob

Re:Pay to win, not play (2, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518730)

Unfortunately, the problems with leveling services is four-fold:
1. You're trusting complete strangers not to steal your account and the money you paid them to level you.

2. You don't learn how to play your character's class.

3. You don't run dungeons and get those nice rare items.

4. You miss out on the part of the game that's actually fun. Seriously, maybe some people enjoy the whole raid scene, but most of the time it seems like an exercise in masochism to me.

Re:Pay to win, not play (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518924)

Yep, which is why I don't use leveling services. That being said, having played several characters to max level the grind gets old real fast and sometimes I would just like to get to max level and start raiding instead of wasting my time questing. I really don't enjoy quests as it's mostly mindless repetition. A raid on the other hand, now that's exciting because you need to work in a group with others to accomplish your goals. If I just wanted to quest I could run a single player game and save myself a bunch of money.

Re:Pay to win, not play (1)

readin (838620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519190)

The MMOs I'm familiar have multiple servers and you get to choose which one you log into when you play. Suppose the game owner were to establish some fraction of those servers as the "pay for stuff" servers where you can buy levels, equipment, etc. using real money. Those who didn't want to play that way could still play on the other servers feeling more confident that those around them didn't buy extra stuff. Which servers do you think would be more popular?

Re:Pay to win, not play (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519320)

The MMOs I'm familiar have multiple servers and you get to choose which one you log into when you play. Suppose the game owner were to establish some fraction of those servers as the "pay for stuff" servers where you can buy levels, equipment, etc. using real money. Those who didn't want to play that way could still play on the other servers feeling more confident that those around them didn't buy extra stuff. Which servers do you think would be more popular?
The quasi-MMO gunbound took this approach. It ultimately leads to two almost completely different games, as you then have the watered down non-pay servers that anyone can play, and the pay servers that you can really only play if you spend a ton of money because everyone else is decked out in uber equipment.

Some of the free one work like this (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518370)

Some of the free one work like this

you can play for free but you may get kicked off at peek times / have to wait a long time to log on / you are caped a low level / locked out of some area and so.

To be able to play the full game you need to pay xx a month and this lets you do more then what the free people can do but does not give you a boost over others who are paying to play as well by paying even more.

Re:Pay to win, not play (1)

pabrown85 (1128059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518464)

In a pay to play game like WoW you only have to invest more time in order to be better than others, which is another post all together, but I think is cheaper in the long run.
Why would a company want their game to be cheaper? Wouldn't they rather get you hooked on the crack, then have you pay more for the heroin. That gives them more money.

At least, that's what all the dealers I know do....

Already here in the United States (1)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518138)

Okay, so maybe it's not your traditional MMORPG, but Kingdom of Loathing [kingdomofloathing.com] has been free to play and has offered special items in return for cash donations for quite a while, now.

Re:Already here in the United States (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518178)

Hmm... I wonder if my KoL account is still active. It's been what, 2 or 3 years since I last signed on.

Re:Already here in the United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519246)

Eh, KoL, Maple Story, Rose Online, Space Fed, etc, etc. There's a fair amount.

Hellgate: London. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518388)

Hellgate London is an example that is free to play but you get extra content if you subscribe. You do initially have to buy the box however. It is the *very first* MMORPG I've ever played and the fact that there were no subscription fees is actually what tipped the balance for me and I bought it and its great. It's nice to know that I don't have to run out and buy a time-card or charge-it to play again in a few months - so for infrequent players the free to play model is better than WoW's. Tabula Rasa is an example of the opposite: while reading it's box it said that a credit-card was required so I put it back on the shelf.

Microtransactions? (2, Insightful)

Damocles the Elder (1133333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518398)

This is a popular revenue model in Asia, where the games themselves are free to play but charge a premium for a variety of premium extras, from vanity items to additional content or abilities. It's a model that's working well for Korean developer Nexon but hasn't been adopted by many American developers.


Your face and my ass, sweetheart. The entirety of the World of Warcraft CCG is a microtransaction, with the addendum that you're not actually guaranteed to get a vanity item when you buy them. Just go look for an ebay auction of a Spectral Tiger [ebay.com] to see how popular it is.

Fantasy MMORPGs are getting stale (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518638)

I think we need to see more development towards other settings (not counting TabulaRasa, its basically the same as Orcs and Elves and all that mess). I always though Planetside was an interesting one that certainly could be improved upon for a decent MMO FPS experience.

Also now that the creator of FASA (Battletech/Shadowrun) has his IP back, maybe we can see a decent Battletech MMO, so long as its better than that one they tried several years ago that wasn't even really an MMO because you could only play 4v4.

The only other real potential coming up is the Bioware Star Wars MMO. Lets hope someone can do it right, I'm tired of swinging swords and fighting orcs!

Re:Fantasy MMORPGs are getting stale (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518798)

*coughCityofHeroescough*

Re:Fantasy MMORPGs are getting stale (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518976)

City of Heroes is still just a MMORPG, there's not really much differentiation from your typical fantasy game.

When I say that what I mean is you level, you grind, you get new gear. and thats it. Sure some of these games throw in some weak PvP once in a while, but nothing groundbreaking. I guess I just don't get impressed much and get bored to quickly when actions become repetitive.

Re:Fantasy MMORPGs are getting stale (2, Interesting)

esper (11644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519346)

So, then, what I'm getting from this is that your issue is not in fact with the "settings", "Orcs and Elves and all that mess", or "swinging swords and fighting orcs", but rather with the grind-based mechanics of typical MMOs?

I'd have to agree with you, although my bigger complaint with MMOs is the inability of players to affect the world in any meaningful way. If you make 10 characters, you'll end up going through the exact same world 10 times, doing pretty much the same missions/quests 10 times, without any real variation other than the order that you do them and the number of times you run off to help someone else with their "slay the uber-beastie before it destroys the world in 5 minutes" mission even though a) you just got back from killing it and b) they spent more than 5 minutes trying to recruit people to help them with it.

Now, granted, I don't have any practical ideas for ways to have 1,000 people running around all making their own changes to the world without it devolving into a complete mess as soon as you open the doors, but there's got to be something better possible than the current standard of every action being undone as soon as it's completed (perhaps immediately, perhaps after a brief respawn timer).

Premiums in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518724)

but charge a premium for a variety of premium extras, from vanity items to additional content or abilities.
WoW has that now. Its called the WoW:TCG where if you collect enough points (which costs $) you can redeem them for in game items like a tabard that does nothing.

They also have goodies that you can only get if you go to certain conventions, which also costs $, like the Murloc pet and suit.

And technically there is the whole buying gold issue, so we already have the premiums for money issue in MMOs. We just treat them differently than Korea.

China's Net Nanny drives Micropayments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22518750)

Because under-18 players in games like WOW are technically limited to 4 hours of playing time after which they are progressively docked points, game developers have gone to a model where you simply buy the power-ups, and there are no points awarded for anything. The time restrictions are only spottily enforced, but work better than in the US because many Chinese gamers go to "net bars" to play, as home computers are not yet ubiquitous. They've got to show their IDs, and their online activity is monitored by the netbar owners, and supposedly / very occasionally by police.

The micropayment model seems to have a cultural appeal in China as well. I read a quote somewhere where Blizzard was getting calls from Chinese gamers, asking if they just couldn't buy levels or items. The guy said that they would just apologize and tell them no, but now they're kicking themselves for failing to see the market potential.

All things change, gaming trends trebly so (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518804)

We go in phases, with complexities and add-ons, and complex rules piling on, and then a renaissance where people like Steve Jackson et al strip away all the chrome and get back to simplistic gaming.

MMO gaming has an ability to do this, but to add chrome in a way that it doesn't get in the way of play, by such things as a special sheen to armor (that you only get if you purchased the Platinum Knight expansion and paid an extra $5 a year for), or a special magic effect like Dragon Breath that really is the same as another attack but has prettier colors.

What bothers people is when only the ultra-rich can get the premium content, and there is no path to "skills" or "magic" or "items" that they can achieve through normal game play.

A World of Warcraft World (1)

RepelHistory (1082491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22518952)

Internet funnyman David Wong wrote a very in-depth article about the future possibilities of MMO's awhile ago, which can be found here [cracked.com].

Breaking out of the grind (1)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519082)

I currently have my WoW account terminated. Instead, I've been spending my gaming time playing a heavily-modded (read: boobies) version of Oblivion. As I've said before, I would kill for a multiplayer version of Oblivion. Multiplayer, not MMO. Having spent nearly three years of my life playing various NWN RP servers, I think such a setup would be ideal for the game.

MMOs stopped being fun for me once I realized how shallow the gameplay felt compared to my other, non-MMO games.

Ugh... (1)

keithburgun (1001684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519166)

I hate how no one is even bringing to the table the concept of REALLY changing what MMOs are. When MMOs first came out (UO and a few others), they were MMORPGs. Now, we have taken the RPG out of it, and not just to save letters. The games are un-dynamic, un-immersive and just not built for roleplaying. Since no one is even TALKING about this I guess it's a dream that will have to wait a long time.

Don't forget the thriving market of free Web MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22519390)

That market is thriving. And they're often doing crazy new things that the big boys (like Blizzard) aren't doing. Not to mention they're free, and often are designed such that you don't spend 20 hours of your day playing them (usually only 30 minutes or so).

Consider something like Billy Vs. SNAKEMAN [animecubed.com].

Character Development! (3, Interesting)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519394)

Can we *PLEASE* have an MMORPG in which character development is more than just acquiring new gear?

the economics of micro transactions (1)

mbaGeek (1219224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519526)

my experience (SWG, WoW, Dungeon Runners, Guild Wars, City of Heroes, et al) leads me to believe that the deck is stacked against "micro-transaction" games for a number of reasons

the big drawback is the lack of guaranteed cash flow. if you have a game that people are willing to pay $x a month to play, then that is the better option. if they are willing to shell out $50 to buy a box in order to install the game, that is even better!

therefore, the only games that will choose to use a "micro-transaction" revenue stream are ones cannot compete in the "monthly fee" market space (for any number of reasons).

then the catch-22 happens - programmers, artists, and I.T. folks tend to like to get paid for their work and will naturally gravitate towards the companies with the steady income stream (and probably better salaries/benefits/tech - which are the monthly fee games) - and of course the companies with the best programmers, artists, and I.T. folks will have the best games

the U.S. (being a wealthy nation, with a sophisticated "gamer" market with plenty of discretionary income) obviously shows a preference for the higher quality products (i.e. monthly fee games).

of course, this doesn't mean that a "micro transaction" game couldn't be profitable in the U.S. - just that they will never be the dominant choice (the "drug" analogy = in general, rich people snort cocaine, poor people smoke crack - same product different markets)

The future is now (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 6 years ago | (#22519542)

I don't care about what financial model their undertake; all MMOrpgs are based on stat pumping or grind. They focus on things
that are not FUN to play at all (more "realistic" just ruins games).
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