Thursday, August 06, 2009
Currently playing and not playing
I'm interupting the "Why do we play?" series with a short personal round-up of the games that I am currently playing, stopped playing, or will play soon:
World of Warcraft: Not currently subscribed. Patch 3.2 came out this week. A reader informed me that you can now ALT-TAB out of WoW even during the loading screen, which is nice, and there are a couple of other nice changes making life easier for alts. But the patch doesn't really change all that much, and it is hard to see why if I was bored with WoW before, I would suddenly be highly interested again due to yet another patch.
Warhammer Online: Not playing. Brighthub has a post about What went wrong with Warhammer Online, and I read various comments complaining that Land of the Dead is making WAR worse, just like Trials of Atlantis did to DAoC. But then there is some truth in the comment of Tycho from Penny Arcade, who said "I really want to catch up with Paul Barnett this year if I can, if he’s got the time. I want to know what it’s like to design a game that makes millions of dollars a month, millions, and is still considered a failure.". Of course "making millions of dollars a month" is not a good criteria, unless you know additional data like return on investment. And the list of reasons why WAR is considered a failure is long, from the percentage of players who quit after the first month, to the self-proclaimed failure criteria of "less than 500k subscribers, and closing servers". But in the end it is more a case of too much hype, and then not meeting the expectations that spiralled out of control through the hype. WAR isn't actually a bad game, but this shows that a game doesn't need to be bad to be considered a failure. There is a distinctive possibility that the "overhyped and not meeting expectations" is something that will happen to other games in the future, for example SWTOR.
Luminary: Stopped playing. During my holiday absence the Luminary item mall finally opened. I had originally planned to try that one out and write a review how good or bad the microtransactions are in that game. But it turns out that microtransaction items in Luminary are relatively expensive, because most of it isn't permanent. I did a quick calculation of what the convenience stuff I would be interested in (mount, added inventory space, teleport ticket) would cost, and ended up with over $40 per month. When Common Sense Gamer Darren complained about the permanent mount in Runes of Magic costing $10, I remarked that $1 is not worth the same thing to every person. I can see myself buying a convenience item in a microtransaction game for $10 if it is permanent. But if everything just lasts for a month, you basically recreate a monthly subscription fee, and there aren't many games I'd be willing to pay $40 a month for.
Atlantica Online: Just started playing. Created a first character, had to choose a weapon (basically your character class) before knowing anything about the game, made a bad choice, and deleted the character after going through the tutorial. Made a second character and played him up to level 15. I'd test the microtransaction system in that game, but curiously you need to be level 20 to be even allowed to buy stuff there. But as Korean developer NDoors created both Luminary and Atlantica Online, it looks as if the microtransaction system is similar, and equally expensive as in Luminary. I'll probably try it out anyway, but as I said, I don't see me paying three times the monthly fee of WoW for a Free2Play game. I was a bit disappointed that the combat system is far less tactical than in Final Fantasy Tactics, and not really turn-based either, but I'm starting to have fun anyway. Definitively a huge advantage of the Free2Play concept that you can try before you buy.
Champions Online: Just got a key for the open beta, apparently starting mid-August, via Fileplanet. There is an offer up for a lifetime subscription for $199 or a 6-month subscription for $60, and many bloggers complained that this offer expires September 1st, before the game is released. I don't see myself buying that lifetime subscription, but if the open beta is fun, I might go for the "6 months for the price of 4". Especially since it includes a Star Trek Online beta key. Obviously paying for a lifetime subscription before having played the game is a bad idea. But as you get to check out the open beta before you buy, and lifetime subscription isn't the only option, I think the deal is not so bad.
Aion: I think I won't play that. The game simply doesn't excite me, after having tested it in the beta. I'm not saying Aion is a bad game, but I can't think of a reason why I would rather play Aion than resubscribe to World of Warcraft. Or Warhammer Online if I were interested in PvP. Also, having started Atlantica Online this week, and having watched a Youtube video of a new Korean Free2Play game called Karos Online somebody sent me a press release for, it struck me how similar all these Asian 3D games look. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but personally I prefer cell-shaded superheroes to effeminate males with oversized weapons and anime girls in improbably short skirts.
Besides that list, I might end up playing this or that beta, or try out some Free2Play games like Runes of Magic, or play some single-player games. I'm definitively in one of my drifting phases, where I can't seem to stick to the same game for long. There are many games that interest me, but nothing I'm holding my breath for.