Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Random Shots: The Hobby Horse, A Rant Delayed

  • Turbine decided that they needed a monocle of their own. But since hobbits are naturally hesitant, they decided to try it out on their test server before letting it go live. The internet responded in a wholly even-handed and practical way, as only the internet can. Today, Turbine temporarily recovered from whatever insanity afflicted them. (I wonder if it is the same madness that brought us Incarna?) And now the fifty dollar hobby horse has gone back into the closet where it belongs.

  • If you've come to the conclusion that things have come off the rails over at Turbine, I might be forced to agree. Even Green Armadillo has turned a skeptical eye to the company.

  • The free-to-play model is no longer the panacea everyone assumed it would be. More and more companies are finding that, instead, free-to-play is a short term fix for a long term problem. For MMOs to operate, they need revenue. If you just let people play for free, there is no revenue. Someone has to pay, and companies like Turbine have to find things to sell. But most things in an MMO are finite. Unless you can convince people to continually purchase consumables, you have to come up with more and more things to sell. And the things have to be more powerful or more exotic to make them more enticing than the things people have already bought. Fifty dollar hobby horse.

  • I for one, don't care if Turbine wants to sell a ten twenty-five fifty dollar mount. It's just a symptom. When CCP started showing these symptoms, the community intervened and the game recovered. LoTRO seems to be too far gone.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

6 comments:

  1. Note specifically what they said - that they would not sell this item at this price. I think you can probably remove the strike-through from the $10, my best guess is this item goes live at $15-25.

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  2. What drove Incarna (and what really pissed off the players... the monocle was always just an annoyance) was the work that went into walking in stations instead of working on the flying in space aspect of the game... which is pretty much the whole game.

    EVE still have their cash shop. There is still silly stuff in there at outrageous prices, but nobody cares now, since CCP has gotten back to development of the actual game.

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  3. I guess with EVE the question is whether the issues that led them to introduce the monocle are still there. Sure, they got back the people who unsubbed because of monoclegate, but are the underlying issues still there?

    I think they're heavily dependent on Dust doing well, and if it doesn't, then we'll see I guess.

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  4. @Spinks - Where do you get the impression that they are, as you say, "heavily dependent on Dust doing well?" Are you going to go Tobold on us and start predicting CCP going bankrupt?

    The issues driving CCP were likely what haunts most tech companies that have one product success: How do you get another?

    Working in Silicon Valley, it is the bane of many a company, having just one product that pays the bills. All the way up to Google, there are a lot of companies living off of one product and all the derivatives they can manage to squeeze out of it.

    For CCP, EVE pays the bills. It is a subscription MMO with ~400K accounts, something that would have made it a stellar (heh) success pre-WoW. But what if that dries up? That is what keeps Hilmar (the CEO) awake at night.

    So they were, and still are, trying to diversify. They went with Dust on one hand and White Wolf stuff on the other. Devs said on occasion that the tech for the walking in stations stuff was related to their World of Darkness project.

    Why waste that tech, why not put it in EVE? After all, one of the big gripes I used to hear in review was that you never got to really see your character, you were always in a ship.

    So they tied up a whole expansion cycle where that was the primary focus, and CCP introduced Barbie, complete with expensive wardrobe, to EVE Online. And the player base exploded.

    Fortunately Hilmar finally realized that paying the bills today was a more pressing matter, so cut back on WoD, which was not as far along as Dust, and put people back to work on the core aspects of EVE again.

    Does the issue still exist? Yes. EVE still pays the all the bills. Will EVE last forever? No. Will CCP fold up if DUST doesn't do well? Not unless they have borrowed money to create it, but I have not see anything to indicate that is the case.

    Things will suck for CCP if Dust tanks... and I suspect it will... but it won't kill them so long as they don't screw up EVE.

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  5. Every time I get a comment on this post now, I break out in hives.

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  6. Sparkle pony, hobby horse, they're all the same now.

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