Dust, Draenor, Destiny

The one bit of news out of CCP’s Fanfest 2014 that peaked my interest was Project Legion. Which is, for all intents and purposes, a rebooting of Dust 514 on the platform it should have been released on in the first place: the PC. I’m not actually sure a sandbox PvP/PvE hybrid shooter MMO is what I’m looking for anymore, but given I have continued to grudgingly slink back to PlanetSide 2 for my FPS urges, let’s just say that I’m not exactly opposed to new experiences. It should be noted that in that article, CCP basically states that Dust still has 100,000 active daily players, which is around 100k more than it seemed to have any reason to have last time I played.

Incidentally, NoizyGamer believes that this year or the last one might have marked the last year of consecutive EVE subscriber growth. That’s noteworthy specifically because the ~10 consecutive years of growth itself was noteworthy. And rather annoying to argue against with my MMO market saturation theories.

Speaking of bodies, WoW lost another 200k of them since last quarter, bringing the total to a mere 7.6 million. I’m not really sure what to think about this sort of thing anymore; at the moment, I’m leaning towards simple incredulity that there are 7.6 million people paying a subscription to a game that will be going on a full year without any new content. I mean, I too was that guy years ago, but that sort of shit doesn’t fly with me these days.

Speaking of questionable Activision Blizzard moves, the console-only FPS MMO Destiny is reportedly going to cost $500 million:

To put some perspective on this, the money being spent on Destiny is more than twice the amount EA reportedly spent on Star Wars: The Old Republic and a little less than double the $265,000,000 Rockstar paid to get GTA V made. The Reuters article cites analysts saying that Destiny will have to sell 15-16 million copies at $60 to break even. So, the final game has to make a very, very good first impression.

For reference, Borderlands 2 cost ~$35 million and sold 8.5 million copies as of February 2014. It’s worth noting that the first link estimates Destiny at $140 million, so it’s entirely possible that the $500 million is in reference to the entire 10-year franchise run that Activision Blizzard purchased from Bungie rather than the BorderHaloLands game we have on display.

Still… goddamn. This doesn’t even seem like the same ultra-conservative game company of a year ago, who didn’t want to branch out into the mobile space simply because the Top 10 games change every year. I’d like to imagine those executives with a fat Hearthstone egg on their face, but great handfuls of money make for surprisingly effective yolk removal.

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Posted on May 7, 2014, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I thought that EVE growth in America / Europe had already ended over a year ago, but was compensated by them opening their Asian server so late in the life cycle of the game.

    In any case, market saturation theories here are complicated by the fact that there aren’t so many space MMORPGs to choose from.

  2. I’m leaning towards simple incredulity that there are 7.6 million people paying a subscription to a game that will be going on a full year without any new content.

    Well, either there are 7.6M idiots or WoW is really much better than the competition….

    And I can give you some answers as a WoW player:
    – content is not over, I’m still not done with hardmodes
    – there’s a ton and a half of stuff which I’ve skipped and I can go back to do (collecting, achievements, soloing, challenge modes, leveling other classes)
    – I’ve yet to find another MMO which is different enough and better enough to replace WoW. I’ll be jumping around various MMO during the pre-expansion downtime, but for the moment I always ended up back in WoW because I’m in a very good guild and the lack of bugs/polish/responsive gameplay/etc. puts WoW way ahead of the competition.

    • Yeah, my joke came across as a bit harsher than intended.

      That being said, they’re likely going to be breaking their Cataclysm record of 8+ months without anything new. I have no doubt that individuals and friends could make it through all right, but even the LK –> Cata lull about killed my casual 10m guild outright. Guilds are indeed the glue that holds everyone together, but… I dunno man. Glue dries out when left sitting out too long.

  3. Content is overrated. One reason for the perceived failure of certain MMOs, particularly TSW, and SW:TOR, is the impossibility of continuing to provide an unenending stream of written, voiced and videoed “content” fast enough to stop players getting bored.

    What MMOs require isn’t content but activity. It’s a truism that MMOs with good retention rely on the social bonds between players but those players require something to do while they’re socially bonding. WoW is like a pub or a cafe or a recreation ground. It provides a virtual space for people to hang out together and while they hang out they do stuff, goof off and chat.

    Outside of competitive leagues, few people go to the pub specifically to play darts or pool but they sure like to stand around with a cue in their hand while they yak it up. In MMO terms, almost any fairly simple, repetitive activity will fill this function and WoW is stuffed to bursting with them.

    • “Content is overrated.” Man, the future blog post just writes itself.

      I would actually agree with you insofar as it’s not exactly content that I’m after in these games – it’s the figuring out of content, so to speak. Perhaps Novelty is a better term. For example, Hearthstone is fun right now and there is still a shifting metagame out there (although sometimes it simply feels like musical chairs), but pretty much everything is a known entity at this point. If you play Class X, you want Cards Y in your deck, and then hope for the best. I’ve argued in the past that “procedurally generated” doesn’t mean infinite replay value, and that’s kinda what I’m referring to when I say “new content.” Even just some rules changes or ability tweaks would be good.

      And while I also agree that it is that “pub” aspect that keeps people playing WoW, I can’t help but feel like that doesn’t actually say particularly much about the game itself. Do you praise the bar for keeping your friends together? Presumably, you could just go somewhere else, a different bar or perhaps even a friend’s house, and do the same things. Imagine if WoW forcibly shut down tomorrow and Blizzard released WoW 2.0 in its place. Would 7.6 million people buy back in? I dunno.

  4. Why would you think that failure is only “perceived”? Wasn’t that stream of content exactly what these games marketed, “the fourth pillar” and all that?

    I would agree with your sentiment if MMORPGs of today had more sandbox content, more opportunity to socialize and experience emergent player content. But if the structure of the game is very much a stream of content, people are right to be upset and leaving if that stream ends.

  5. Oh joy, I wonder if Destiny is going to give the “TORtanic” jokers something new to latch on to. (Not that I wish failure on anyone, but that bit you quoted does make it sound like an incredibly risky proposition.)

    I suspect that WoW’s “secret” at this point is simply a lot of inertia. Several of those millions are not MMO players, they’re WoW players – it doesn’t matter what Blizzard does; they don’t care about anything else. I can understand that point of view because a few years ago I shared it! I still remember guildies getting all hyped up about other MMOs launching at the time and me simply shaking my head in confusion because to me all those other games were simply irrelevant to my interests.

    I’ve also had a scary amount of my WoW playing friends (including poor students!) admit to keeping their sub running even when they don’t play. Just gets mentally thrown in with the utility bills I suppose…

    • I’ll admit that I keep my Netflix subscription rolling despite barely ever using it. Game subs feel considerably different however, for reasons I can’t actually explain.

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