MMO Culture – A personal note to publishers and gamers

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2012 is ending soon, we survived the apocalypse and what an eventful year it has been for both MMO Culture and the online gaming industry. Tons of games were previewed, released and canned, which saw some of them making headline news globally. While I am not going to bring up what happened during this 12 months, I am actually more focused on looking into the future, say 2013 and 2014. Here are a few personal thoughts for publishers and gamers alike.
For the publishers
To all English publishers, new or old, please do consider reviewing games you are signing in a better manner, with more research done, especially for 2013. We may have survived an apocalypse, but that does not mean you must celebrate by picking up every game proposed to you. I have seen many bad Asian online games being signed for the English market, and this has got to stop.
I once went for a job interview at a local publisher, told the interviewer that gamers these days are not naive and stupid and will not like its upcoming title, which is a really sad excuse for a game. I went on analyzing the game and the current/ upcoming market trend for 20 minutes.
Of course, my straight-forward presentation did not land me the job, and the game has not gotten any news updates since May 2012 despite the server being open. It is near empty by the way, with zero advertisements for at least the past 1 year. What a farce!
Here are some personal tips, which I am personally confident of:
1. Do not just get the business guy to talk to the developers, ask someone with real actual gaming experience and knowledge. And no, not someone who has played World of Warcraft for the past decade. Someone who plays a variety of games, from consoles to mobile to PC and online. I have seen business guys being “tricked” by flashy presentations from the Asian developers, showing them only the “good parts” even in the demo. Just because the business guy has a big certificate from Harvard or Cambridge does not mean he is cut to make decisions.
2. Look for what the market desires, or lack. Publishers are not developers, they should not go all Steve Jobs and have the mentality of “let’s create demand”. A couple of unique and weird games were brought over, and none of them hit a chord with the gamers. Gamers are not ready for radically different features for online games, and these unique features should only be part of the overall content where most of them are still the same old stuff.
3. Stop using “this game has great content and features, it will succeed” as the main criteria when choosing an online game to publish. The truth is, there are other factors to consider about, such as gameplay. There are tons and tons of online games from China with tons of content, but other than the titles Perfect World has, which ones have succeeded in the Western market? None!
Look at Dragon Nest, a very successful F2P game of Korean origin, where the graphics are really horrific when zoomed in, and there wasn’t really much content at launch. The gameplay won the day for them, action combat, console-style which can be played using a game pad. Some games can boast 100 features, but if 99% of them are only available from mid-level onwards, the players would have left before hitting the requirements.
What if the game has outdated graphics, not much content and the gameplay is just bland? The only games which will succeed in this case are games which have a long history and a very popular prequel. I will not mince my word, Ragnarok Online 2 looks old as hell, but heck, I will play it just because of the card collection system, which I had a blast with in the prequel. And also the nostalgic locations, characters and designs. But how many games can do that?
Once again, I will like to highlight the fact that gamers these days are not naive and stupid, you can’t publish a cheap game with extravagant marketing and try to hide it from us. There is a Chinese saying that paper cannot cover fire, and although it is used rather inappropriately here, the truth will be uncovered by us in no time.
4. Scrutinize the developer’s track record, especially when it comes to delivering content updates for their existing games in its own country. Stop picking up cheap games only to let it die, you may have earned a bundle, but the name of your company will not be popular with the gamers from then on.
To be honest, the only 3 developers worthy of getting games from are Perfect World, NCsoft and Nexon. Eyedentity Games seems like it as well with Dragon Nest, but it is too early to tell. But its games are really what the market (the gamers, the PAYING gamers) wants right now 🙂
The list for picking games is actually much longer, but I shall stop at 4. And there are still many WoW-styled online games coming into the English market next year, which I certainly don’t mind, but with a much weaker lore, lesser content and even worse graphics. A recent example of such a game being closed is DragonSoul.
I played the China server years ago, and knew it would never fit the Western mindset when the English server was announced. Comeon, publishers, give us gamers a better 2013! There are still gems and maiden titles from new developers in Korea, waiting for you to unearth!
For the gamers
Ok, enough of my semi-ranting section. So, what can we expect next year for gamers? Blizzard’s Project Titan being revealed, English servers for games such as Blade & Soul and Cabal Online II going live, perhaps some news for ArcheAge as well.
Most of the big happenings will be in Asia though, especially G*Star 2013 since many big companies skipped this year’s show to concentrate on development efforts on many secret titles and sequels *blink*.
I am having two hearts on the Western-developed games. WildStar looks alright, but still hasn’t totally won me over unlike Blade & Soul. There are like 4 or 5 indie sandbox titles coming out as well, which will not appeal to most of the online gamers long term, in my opinion. ArchAge is an exception, since it is has the best of both themepark and sandbox features, making grinders like me feel at home.
For everyone
As you guys know, MMO Culture is being managed by just 1 person, which is me. I am glad to have the help of my colleague with several technical stuff which I am not trained in. I will look forward to make MMO Culture a better site (when my colleague is free), with more features and hopefully, earn enough ads revenue to let me go full time on this gig.
And yes, I have a full-time day job as well. I started this blog/ website when I was still working in the day and attending university lessons at night (graduated now), so it is of no problem to me. I love the MMO industry, especially the multiplayer part, and never once wavered since 13 years of age.
Still, the country where I am located does not really have many jobs related to online gaming, and coincidentally I am looking for one right now (I actually have 3 years of experience in the industry). Hopefully, something comes up within the next couple of months where my passion and expertise can be used.
To all readers of MMO Culture, thank you for coming to my website, I will continue to post the latest breaking and exclusive online gaming news for everyone. Merry Christmas to all, happy holidays and may 2013 be a bountiful year for all MMO gamers!