Rift, 2KGames, Mass Effect | MMOrgue 4

Rift, 2KGames, Mass Effect | MMOrgue 4

This week, we finally get around to taking an editorial look at the beginning of the life of Trion Worlds’ flagship MMO, Rift. How are the initial impressions and population trends for this game? What’s the long-term outlook for this game’s future success?

After that, we’re taking a look at two new franchises that may soon be landing on the MMO landscape, from developers at 2KGames and BioWare. What are we in store for, from these top-name game shops? Tune in to find out, and speculate along with us!

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Show Notes:

First, an update on a previous story…

It was announced this morning that “Perfect World” has penned a deal to purchase Cryptic Studios for $50mil.

  • I’m going to save the majority of my commentary for this week’s episode of STOked, which will film live on Saturday, June 4th @ 11am PDT. Tune in to hear all about it, or catch it after it is published on Tuesday, June 7th.
    • But, I will say that this quote makes me happy: More importantly, Cryptic Studios’ highly reputable development team and its technology platform will further strengthen our well-established R&D capabilities.
      • The emphasis on technology and R&D are what has made Cryptic a studio worth considering a player in the MMO industry as a whole, and it’s nice to see their new owners appreciate that fact.

RIFT

Inevitably… comparisons to WoW

  • Talents = Souls (some even exactly the same, just renamed)
  • Abundance of Kill, Click, Fetch and Deliver quests
  • UI elements (hotbars, extra hotbars)
  • “Whack-a-mole” combat mechanics – slave to cooldowns

Where it doesn’t live up to this:

  • Content (vastly inferior quantity)
  • The argument that “WoW has had 7 years to add content!” does not hold water. You have to compete with what’s on the market, not what was on the market 7 years ago.
  • Many “smaller” features, like guild banks
    • Added a LFG tool within first 2 months… took WoW several years to make one!
  • Balance — “Trion Worlds has thrown up their hands due to the complexity of their soul system.”

Where it breaks the mold:

  • Rift events
    • On one hand, fun change of pace
    • On the other, interrupts otherwise mindless and easy to execute gameplay (grinding)
  • Soul construction, and ease of switching roles while adventuring
    • At a glance, similar to Talents … until you realize the amount of options available to you.
    • Can swap any of your 3 active souls, to any others you have unlocked (within your archetype).
    • Individual souls are capable of doing things you can’t do in WoW: Tanking priests, healing rogues, Warriors with pets, etc.

Population consistency:
http://www.riftstatus.net/graph/Hammerlord/history/7d#!/graph/Briarcliff/history/30d

  • Most popular servers (which by default appear at the top of the list) are seeing growth, while smaller ones are shrinking or going stagnant.
  • Indicates that the trend is overall good for population.
  • Initial 30-day period definitely saw a drop, but not a monstrous one.
  • The response among active players seems to be “good riddance” for most of the folks that left. Community strengthened by it.
  • How many people? Under 1000 per server at “prime time”, but 58 different servers in the US, and another 41 in Europe (whoa!) Avg 500 per = almost 50,000 concurrent
    • Implies a serious lack of content.

Overall…

RIFT is a success, for a very specific type of player.
– Likes WoW’s mechanics, but hates its age and lack of “outside the box” class structure.
– Likes WoW’s interface, but doesn’t want to rely on UI add-ons to customize their experience.
– Likes smaller communities, smaller population servers.
– New to MMOs

The future of RIFT…
Sadly, despite the success it is experiencing right now, I don’t see it remaining a top player in the MMO world after the launch of SWTOR and/or GW2. Even another WOW expansion pack would take a significant bite out of RIFT’s population. It feels to me like a game that a lot of people are playing while they bide their time waiting for something better to come along.

Why? LACK OF INNOVATION.
Almost every single aspect of RIFT has been done elsewhere, first. Admittedly, Trion Worlds has done many of those same things BETTER in RIFT (like active, dynamic events, which we’ve seen since Anarchy Online and Warhammer), but they are still not anything NEW.

2K Games Enters the MMO arena!
http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/05/23/take-two-signs-with-xlgames-to-make-existing-property-into-an-mm/
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/preview/phoenix.zhtml?c=86428&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1568889

Lineage creator Jake Song (and his company, XLGames) signed into partnership deal with 2K Games to “develop and publish a massively multiplayer online game for the Asian market based upon one of 2K Games’ top-selling franchise.”

Let the speculation begin!

  • Since this is specifically in reference to 2KGames, and not its parent company Take Two Interactive, you can probably rule out IPs that aren’t directly owned by 2K. Including:
    • – GTA
    • – Red Dead Redemption
    • – LA Noire
  • This leaves a fairly short list when you’re talking about “top-selling” franchises:
    • – Bioshock
    • – XCom
    • – Borderlands
    • – Dungeon Siege
    • – Civilization
    • – Pirates!
    • I wanna see an innovative MMO Shooter.
    • The one most likely to get adapted would be Dungeon Siege, imho. Though a part of me would love to see either a Borderlands or Bioshock MMO.
      • I don’t honestly know how popular or appealing any of these IPs would be to a Korean gaming market.

What about XLGames’ “ArcheAge?”

  • Now undergoing its third beta phase, all reviews coming out of the game have been favorable. In fact, I’m honestly hoping to see an English version of the client available some time this year, as many of the sandboxey features of this game have definitely caught my interest.
  • Since this deal is a “partnership” and not a buyout, it’s likely that the future development and support of ArcheAge will not be affected in any way.

BioWare Talks Mass Effect MMO:

I’ll be honest, this is kind of a non-news item at this point, since it’s primarily based off a single quote. There’s not much to go on, but I’ll give you this:

http://www.vg247.com/2011/04/11/bioware-mass-effect-mmo-makes-sense/

“A lot of people say that they want to see an MMO, I think that kind of makes sense for this universe. […] If you get rid of the Reapers and win that, wouldn’t it be amazing to just live on the Citadel or just take a ship to Omega? That makes sense.”

That quote is from Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect franchise.
Not just “some guy” musing about the future of Mass Effect… he is “the guy” that could make it happen.

That quote is also from more than a month ago, and nothing has been said since…
Bioware is waiting to see how SWTOR does on the market, before moving forward with other online projects.

  • They’re not a small-fry company: They take BIG risks, and expect BIG payoffs.
  • If SWTOR doesn’t show a viable payoff for some reason, we may not see further MMOs from Bioware.

Reasons it could work:

  • Mass Effect has a rich galaxy, filled with political intrigue and TONS of stories to explore.
  • “Magical” technology (Biotics) allows for limitless imagination and flashy gameplay.
  • Psuedo-realistic astronomy would be unique in current space genres, if allowed to explore.
  • Plenty of armor, weapons, ships, etc, already established.

Reasons it could FAIL:

  • If you destroy the Reapers in ME3, why is it worth tooling around in this universe? What are you saving?
  • It would HAVE to be a cover-shooter, to live up to Mass Effect. And developing the maps, cover mechanics, bullet physics, class balance, and everything else… PvP would be a nightmare in this setting.
  • Your crew… people? No, I want well-scripted, well-acted companions that I can get to know, converse with, maybe even romance. If I wanted to talk to people, I wouldn’t be playing video games!
  • You’re not Shepard. This IS the Mass Effect franchise. Without Shepard, is it really ME?

Nintendo recently applied for ESRB ratings on a game titled “Zelda Universe.” No other news. But it’s POSSIBLE that Nintendo is looking to enter the MMO space.
– Interactive website?

NEXT WEEK:

I will be exploring the concept of MMO shooters. Why did PlanetSide not find success? Will SOE fix those mistakes in PlanetSide Next? Will FireFall be the next big thing in online shooters? How could Duke Nukem influence the future of this market?

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