Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
I lied about Manor Lords

Two posts ago I said: "I won't be getting Manor Lords on April 26th". Today I'd say that this statement is probably not correct. Unless for some reason the 26th is extremely busy for me with something else, I might very well download and play Manor Lords that day. Sorry!

What changed? Well, it is a typical example of customer price sensitivity. They haven't announced a final price for Manor Lords, but it is rumored to be somewhere in the $30 - $40 range. And when I said I wouldn't play it, I meant that I had looked into the game, and decided that at this point in time it isn't worth $30 - $40 to me. So I won't buy it on Steam.

What I had totally missed was that Manor Lords is going to be available on the PC Game Pass from day one. Which I am subscribed to already. So while Manor Lords isn't technically "free", I will be able to download and play it on the 26th at no additional cost to me. That changes the situation. My main worries about Manor Lords are that the game is far from being finished, and I doubt it already has a lot of replayability when considering the large missing elements. I still consider it likely that I'll play Manor Lords once, and then leave it be until the game is finished, which might be years from now. But while playing it once for $30 didn't look like a winning proposition, playing the early access for free seems a lot better. Even if the game is taken out of the PC Game Pass library later, before it is finished, I'll have a much better feeling whether I'd want to buy it later. It's like playing the free Millennia demo at Steam Next Fest, which ultimately convinced me to buy the game, flawed as it still is.

So Manor Lord's is a strange one for me because I'm more excited for what Manor Lord's represents then for the game itself.

The only prominent dev currently in the hybrid 4X Strategy/RTS space is Creative Assembly.

I'm hoping Manor Lord's ends up being successful and the studio continues developing similar games moving forward so that we can have competition in that niche genre of games.
We should stop fueling this "early access" madness, though.

Sure, you can play it for free with the GamePass but it's still a way to "support" the prealpha/EA system. Which -in my opinion- is extremely cancerous. Because it lures people to believe in something that may never happen (in fact, EA games often turn into a big fiasco or mediocre product that takes ages to be finished).

Streamers are a big part of the problem too. They get thir hands on free/cheap copies and start hyping the title to the moon. And their subscribers rush to the "buy" button to "support" the game.
I do think there is an advantage to detect early whether a game "works". I don't think Baldur's Gate 3 would have been such a success without the feedback from early access. And if a project dies in early access, at least there are a bunch of people who didn't spend another year working on a game nobody wants to play.
If a game died in early access you paid for someone's "idea" and that's it. Which is the reason why so many companies try to profit from that (maybe even already knowing the game will never be finished).
How is early access any different then Kickstarter or other grassroots public funding efforts? People are paying because they believe in the idea behind a game.

That can pay off or not but I don't think there is anything wrong with this style of game development. Arguably we gotten some really good games that otherwise maybe never would have happened if it weren't for the public buying into them.
Actually early access is somewhat better than Kickstarter. You *not only* pay for the idea, you also get a half-finished version of it. Yes, there is a risk that the project remains half-finished, but with Kickstarter you have the risk of never even getting a prototype.

I've seen several streams of the early access version of Manor Lords. It is a playable game that provides a decent number of hours of fun. I agree that given the previous speed of progress and the current team of "one man and some freelancers", Manor Lords has a high risk of never getting properly finished. As I said, I wouldn't risk 30 bucks on it. But I think we should inform people of the risk, and then let them decide whether they want to support the game or not. And I'm okay if some of my Game Pass subscription goes towards this, as I'm sure I'll get some hours of fun out of it.
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