Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Is 2007 a bad year for MMORPGs?
I'm starting to get a bit depressed by all the bad MMORPG news recently. And although it isn't December yet, I'm looking back at what 2007 has brought us, and I don't see much good news. Here is the list:
World of Warcraft : The Burning Crusade was a huge sales hit, but US and European subscription numbers peaked shortly after its release. I think nobody disagrees when I state that the Wrath of the Lich King announcement has a lot less enthusiastic reception. WoW will continue to be the best and most popular game around, but many people had hoped the expansions would bring more than they do.
Lord of the Rings Online: The best game that came out in 2007. Great low-level game, but getting a bit less great in the middle and higher levels. Fortunately Turbine is adding content at a very good rate, with book 10 adding mid-level content, and book 11 later this year even adding player housing. Some controversy about managers lying about subscriber numbers, and then leaving the company. But these problems are more due to being overshadowed by WoW than to inherent flaws of LotRO.
Vanguard: Wins this year's prize as the best bad example. Strangely Vanguard ended up being probably the most influential MMORPG of 2007, because the catastrophic January launch resulted in many other companies being wary of premature releases later in the year. Whenever you read a dev mentioning the need to "polish" a game more before release, he is talking about Vanguard.
Age of Conan: Delayed into 2008, needing "polish".
Pirates of the Burning Sea: Delayed into 2008. In a curious reversal of old prejudices industry rumors have it that FLS wanted to release before christmas, and it was SOE who prefered a delay into 2008 for reasons of both distribution and "polish".
Tabula Rasa: Delayed into later this year. And the dropping of the NDA revealed everybody saying "nice game, but not worth a monthly fee".
Auto Assault: Cancelled in 2007.
Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning: Delayed into 2008. Beta suspended for 2 months. WAR by far has the best marketing, information, and hype machine going in 2007, leading everybody to believe that WAR will be the next big thing. But apparently right now the game isn't quite as much fun yet as WoW was in beta, and the official release date of Q1 2008 will most likely be delayed again, as the game still needs "polish".
Gods & Heroes: First delayed, then cancelled. For financial reasons, the state of the game in beta wasn't that bad.
Did I miss anything? A failed game, lots of delays, some cancelling, and the only games that sold well were those that played it safe, which is sending the wrong message to the guys in suits. I sure hope 2008 will be a better year for MMORPGs!