Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Greek hypothesis

Chris of Game by Night is asking Where Exactly Is Darkfall: Unholy Wars?, and while I don't have proof, I do have a hypothesis on the subject. I believe that Aventurine is in fact not making much money from selling Darkfall subscriptions. I believe their primary source of income is various subsidies and research grants from Greece and the European Union, as documented here.

Why this hypothesis? Because it very nicely explains the rather long periods of being vaporware that Darkfall has gone through, and is yet again in. To make money from subscribers, you need a game that runs. To make money from well-meaning bureaucrats, you only need a PROJECT of a game that might one day run. Not running the game is actually cheaper, and thus more profitable, than having all that cost for servers, bandwidth, and customer service.

If Aventurine's business model was based on people actually playing Darkfall, then I can't find an explanation of why they would want to shut down Darkfall v1 mid-November, only to have Darkfall v2 not up and running end February. Not only are there currently no players paying for Darkfall, but the long break between games probably makes less players want to come back for the sequel, because they found something else to do meanwhile.

Of course with the Greek state running out of money, and the European Union not being flush either, Aventurine might have problems getting more "research grants" in the future. I don't think they are a viable company under a truly capitalistic system.

Lucky we don't have a truly capitalistic system then :P
Darkfall: Unholy Wars is a great idea spoiled by the most incompetent project management team I have yet to encounter.

Darkfal was never a great idea, that is the problem. Hardcore pvpers need understand that they will never make the clock go backwards and return to "golden age" of UO.

Since the start Darkfall project was better on paper than as real MMO.

Anyway, I think you are being too much cruel, Tobold. I can hear Syncaine crying and shouting "HERESY!!!!!"
As much as people will try to make this conclusion sound crazy ("Tobold thinks Aventurine makes more money by NOT hosting their game!"), I think it's probably true that a good chunk of their money isn't from subscriptions or box sales. I don't know about any of the more than/less than stuff, but it's not hard to imagine other companies going under of at least introducing layoffs when they've been offline for so long. You could say its because they always aimed at a 20k audience, or whatever it is, but to ignore the government's role and incentive to keep them afloat is naive.
As someone who has actively been playing the DF:UW beta for a couple of months now -- this conspiracy theory has a ring of truth to it that is hard to ignore.

That said, I don't buy into the idea that they are intentionally delaying the game in order to make more money. I do think they want to launch this game on Steam and are hoping that the changes they have made to make the system less "hardcore" will open the game to a broader market.

@Joao Carlos: The idea of Darkfall is fine -- it just appeals to a different audience than WoW. And I don't necessarily mean just people who harkin back to the good old days of UO full-looting. I'm actually referring to the FPS shooter crowd who enjoy a more involved style of combat.

The major problem w/ DF1 was that a new player couldn't close the gap with an old player. No one wants to get ganked by a guy 1:1 you still have no shot at killing after 2 or 3 months of playing a game. In DF:UW, it doesn't take very long to become viable and the top-end gear is achievable within a couple of months (like most MMOs).
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sid67 I am a different audience of wow and Darkfall is not appeal to me. Any hardcore pvp game does not appeal to me and it seems does not appeal to majority of people. But the people who don't like hardcore pvp is not automatically wow players or complete themepark players.

There are many gamers that need a "PVE Sandbox" game. Something like that for example .

I guess I understand why they closed the first Darkfall and it does not have to be some apocalyptic theories. The audience they are aiming is very small and they need them only to one game not seperate in 2 games. If they closed the first Darkfall just when the new one releease it wouldn't be so "wise" to do, is like slapping the door to the face of the playerbase and "force" them to buy now the new one. By closing it now, the angry people will ease after some time and will be eager to buy and play the new one..
Where is Darkfall?

In closed beta. Next question please?
sid67 I am a different audience of wow and Darkfall is not appeal to me. Any hardcore pvp game does not appeal to me and it seems does not appeal to majority of people. But the people who don't like hardcore pvp is not automatically wow players or complete themepark players.

Uhhh... that's not what I said at all. I said that Darkfall appeals to a much different audience than WoW. Just because you don't like WoW, why would you assume that I meant you?

I even gave an example of that audience (FPS shooters). Do you like FPS shooters and MMOs? Then you might want to try Darkfall: Unholy Wars.

It's just a different style and there IS an audience for PvP.

Video games aside, very few "single-player" games even exist and almost all "real world" games involve competition against another person. To say that there is not an audience for PvP is ludicrous.

You can't even say that PvP games are not as successful as single-player games. The most popular console games are all PvP-based.

I guess you could say it's true in MMOs if you use WoW as the stand-alone bar for success.

Of course, the fallacy is that NO other MMO (PvP focused or not) has had the success that same level of success.

On the other hand, if we look at the next tier of MMOs that have had lasting success -- most have strong elements of PvP. Most notably, EvE -- which has full-loot -- has been very successful.

The part that cracks me up about the "hardcore pvp" thing is how many people think it's gamebreaking to lose all your stuff. It's not.

The "gamebreaking" part of these games is when you don't group up with other people. Or if the PvP can't be found or doesn't exist.
Frankly, the drive for a "pure" hardcore PvP RPG looks a bit like a criminals, who feel that being out of jail is for sissies. So they organize gladiatorial combat in a maximum security prison...

P.S. Grants from the EU for that kind of thing are probably available too.
@João Carlos

Don't be misled. Although Syncaine is heavily invested in DF and even now is still quoting Aventurine's recruitment as proof that the game has been successful, all of his language is deeply steeped in sarcasm.
Reports from the front line of the beta have not been great.

I have no doubt that he will claim he 'called it' if the game eventually folds.
Mel Brooks popularized it 45 years ago.

Of "hardcore PvP game" and "viable business", you can have, at most, one.

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