When people think of Massive Multiplayer Online games, they think of World of Warcraft. They also think of billions of dollars in profits that World of Warcraft has raked in.
What they don’t realize is that World of Warcraft was a freak sensation. Not because an MMO can’t be good, or because an MMO can’t be profitable, but because most MMOs are not either of those things.
A perfect example of this is Star Trek Online, which has been a persistent failure since it’s debut in 2010. The company that operates the game has changed owners at least 2 times in the past 6 years. They give the game away for free and they still can’t get a decent number of players.
Is that because nobody is interested in Star Trek? Hardly. The latest Star Trek film grossed $60m on it’s opening weekend alone. The reason Star Trek Online is failing is because it is garbage.
There is a lot of content in the game, a _lot_ of content. There is so much content you will never see it all because you will be sick of playing after a couple of days. Rather than spend any decent effort on creating a very solid game, they have focused on constant content updates. Content updates are great, but you need a solid core first.
I’m going to point out one specific area, Inventory Management. Your inventory space is very limited, and you collect a lot of gear by completing quests and PvE “Dungeons”. There’s no means to recycle gear into crafting materials, but you can sell it. However, the marketplace interface is almost non-existent. When you go to sell an item there is no indication of the going rate for that item. If you want to sell intelligently you have to search for each item by hand. And because the market is flooded with duplicates because there are no players, this means you need to make extensive use of the filters. There is a filter for rank, which does not match the rank on the items so you have to guess which item ranks go with which player ranks, then there’s a filter for rarity, and filters for item types. All of these have to be set individually, to sell one item. And then for the next item you will probably have to change all of them again.
It is literally a grind, it’s not fun, and it is enough to make me, a die-hard gamer and star trek fan, quit playing a game that is completely free. That is a recipe for a failure and in any normal business environment people would be fired extremely fast. But in this environment the people making the decisions do not know anything about the game industry or playing games. The developers who actually play the game don’t have any say in development priorities. The entire system is broken.
Massive Multiplayer Online games are great, and the free to play model can succeed, if done right. Let’s get rid of everyone destroying the scene presently, and replace them with real gamers who have a clue how things should work.