I lost count. And I’m too lazy to look.
Anyway, I was checking out The Ancient Gaming Noobs 2011 MMO hindsight post and followed the linkage to BioBreak’s “Six Steps SOE Needs To Take…OR ELSE” post. And it was really good. And so I recommend it to you and I have a few comments.
My first comment is that on Syp’s list, it looks like SOE has already taken steps towards two of them. # 3 (Do F2P right) is apparently on the horizon, as every indication is that Vanguard will finally go F2P in the coming year – and with new content to boot. But the key here is that they seem to be ramping up into it rather than doing it yesterday. And I think it will be a great move. Vanguard still looks very pretty, and at this point, is now playable on many, many, many more systems than it was playable on when it was launched…what, almost 5 years ago? And there is a host of untapped content there. Not to mention some of the conventions that we now expect (healers who melee to heal) are ones that Vanguard helped pioneer. Plus, flying mounts are already in the game. And #4 on the list (Keep experimenting with EQ) is also a go, with EQ getting its new expansion and an overhaul of the UI to bring it into (almost) modern paradigms. Speaking of which – that may be one thing that gets *me* to try EQ again. I’ve romped around in the original Norrath a grand total of two months, despite many months of Station Passes over the years, mainly because I had difficulty doing anything other than wandering around, killing the occasional rabbit (it could be said that this is not far from the original game’s content…).
My second comment is that, while I wholly agree with #5 (Acquire an Existing Franchise), I’m not sure what they have to choose from. To plug a favorite here, ArchAge is still looking for a North American publisher…but do you want to acquire a triple A fantasy MMO when that is what you are currently developing yourself? Should SOE buy out the troubled EVE Online (at least then crazy changes to the game would be less unexpected, right)? The Repopulation, when you are almost done with PlanetSide 2? What other options are there?
My final comment is that I wholly disagree with #6 (Corner the Kids Market). My son is six, and has played the tar out of Clone Wars Adventures. And do you know what he is eyeballing now? The Old Republic. I had to fight him for playing time on the Beta Weekend. Yeah, I know, I thought that was too young myself, until I remembered that at age seven, I was comfortably ensconced in my dad’s swivel chair, at his desk, “engaging in tactical level combat on the Russian Front.” The problem is that IP’s are static, for the most part, but kids are dynamic – that is, they grow up.
What SOE really needs is to pioneer an intermediate step between Free Realms and WoW. I know we all think WoW is simple – and it is – but that is knowledge earned after many years of MMO inundation that our kids don’t have. I played a lot of tactical combat, and it was fun, but to be blunt, I sucked at the game. The only time I ever won was when I used the editing button to swap my stack of 9 T-26‘s for a stack of 9 IS-3‘s…in a mid-war campaign. For the curious, yes, my dad was pissed…and he still almost won.
So what if instead we looked at something even more simple. Something without using a full set of multiple toolbars. Something where the entire game could be played with just the mouse and WASD. My son is doing fine in starter areas because he can right click to use the base attack – but after a few levels, everything falls apart because he has to leave WASD to find 1-whatever, and then jump back again. Left click = talk or attack depending on the mobs status. Right click is your block (tanks) or special move (heal). Both buttons at once charges your special meter, or is a third attack? Leave out the “W” and make “S” for forward movement. Adopt Guild War’s paradigm of only 20 levels, with each expansion being a self contained storyline.
In any case, cool stuff. H/T to Bio Break / Syp.