I have to be honest when I say I enjoy the somewhat regular back and forth between Tobold and Syncaine. Yesterday Tobold began the tet-e-tet with an innocent post that asked if the MMO market was “rationale”. You wouldn’t know from reading the headline, but he was referring to WAR’s recent announcement that they were shutting down two more servers, going on to theorize two reasons why WAR might have “failed”. Having my own theory about how the game market acts akin to larger economic models, I replied
Like you, I was expecting WAR to do a bit better than it actually did (http://iggepsrealm.blogspot.com/2008/09/war-expects-1-mil-subs-in-year-3-mil-at.html). But not even I was anticipating just how far it’s fallen, despite writing “Lets be honest here. What have we heard about WAR that we haven’t heard about every other MMO that’s debuted in the past two years? Nothing, really.”
Like you, I believe theory number one personally. It didn’t take me long once I did start playing to figure out there were a host of things I really didn’t care for, or felt just weren’t good enough to encourage me to stick with it. Theory number two has it’s impetus in that there are many people (myself included) who are getting weary of WoW. But the problem with other games is what is keeping us in WoW. Not WoW that is keeping us from those other games.
I think a lot of the problem is that games are trying too hard to not “be” WoW, and are creating features which I look back on and say to myself “what were they thinking”. Games don’t have to be clones obviously, but why fix something that isn’t broken. Obviously Blizzard figured out over time just what the market wanted, so why are other developers trying to disprove the point? Different features and mechnanics does not mean they should be changing the equation which Blizzard has proven.
As I said, it was an innocent enough post, and certainly worth discussing. But then Syncaine came along and posted his reply on his blog, postulating a ridiculous and unsupportable figure that he claims shows why WAR “failed”. I have no idea what rock Syncaine pulled that 60% figure from, but he lost complete credibility with me in the dialogue. I’d railed against his “tourism” theories previously, but if you are simply going to pull numbers out of thin air and pass them off as if they are credible and supportable, then you really have nothing left to add to any meaningful conversation.
Tobold found his response lacking for other reasons as well. And I have to say I agree with him 100%. Trust me, I don’t need a full month, let alone longer, to tell whether I’m having fun or not. And I think the market has shown it doesn’t either.