The more interesting GamesIndustry discusses the idea of starting at 110% rather than the slow and sure approach with MMOs:
“Most MMOGs launch with queues to access their servers – worse again, many of them then end up offering players barren, half-empty servers when the player population falls after the first few months.”
Lump in throat I read on…
“The game service operator then faces an extremely tricky balancing act. Too few servers will result in enormous queues for the game, which frustrate and upset players – not a good move when your business model relies on them being so pleased with their experience in the first thirty days that they’ll happily subscribe for the long term. Too many servers, however, results in some of them turning into ghost towns later on, as the initial surge of interest in the game slows after the first few months.”
This could be written by a regular doomster in the forums… So I translate this into Football Manager Live terms: if there are not enough gameworlds for the people wanting to play then this will result in a waiting list of people wanting to play (a quick “hi” to the people demanding a new gameworld to play in the first half of the year). If there are too many gameworlds, some will turn into ghost towns.
With the demand for new GWs, whether beginner or pro, this has artificially accelerated the need for gameworlds, thus spreading out the activity of those with multiple accounts and therefore decreasing the number of hardcore actives which then as a result reduces the incentive for active users to continue in that GW. Add to this the fact that in the main people tend to flock towards gameworlds which are shown as more full, and you’ll end up with some GWs being reduced to what appears to be a skeleton crew which then could well start to devour the appetite for these remaining users.
“When the uptake of the game is higher than anticipated, companies can respond to the demand by opening new servers – but this is a blunt, unfocused tool at best, and in many cases, is utterly useless as a solution. Players who have already invested time in a character don’t want to start afresh on a new server. More importantly, players who have started the game with a group of their friends will find it very difficult to move en-masse to a new server. Instead, you see the spectacle of a game with a cluster of servers afflicted by huge queues, while new servers sit half-empty.”
Replace “character” with “team”. This in my opinion is the situation that many find themselves in. No matter how many people that tell you that it’s not the uphill struggle you think if you restart in a GW or start late, there will always be some that compare the fact that #1 rank is paying the same as #500 in the GW for their subscription and many would prefer to pay their money in a gameworld where
success comes quicker. If you move gameworld or restart you will in effect lose your players, your financial status and your stadium, so I can see a reluctance to forget about the seasons worth of monumental efforts and heartbreak.
However the last sentence in the above is a fact that is completely the reverse in Football Manager Live. It appears that many are willing to create new accounts while keeping their old one active. This means that new GWs are very active and old GWs end up with an active player becoming a semi-active or casual player.
“Today, it’s eminently possible for a game to be created in which a character can easily hop from server to server, playing with whichever group of friends he or she sees fit. It’s not hard to envisage a system whereby you log into your character first, and then select a server based on the people you want to play with at that particular moment – instead of logging into the server and picking your character, who is tightly locked to that server, as occurs in games today.”
Again translating this into Football Manager Live, this describes allowing the freedom to hop GWs without penalty. Maybe this is having a home GW and being able to play with your exact team in other GWs or maybe this is being able to move between GWs inbetween off-seasons without being penalised. What affect would this have. Would people move from GW to GW until they find a favourite GW, one which they do best in or where most of their mates are? Interesting thoughts. With the suggestions about merging GWs, maybe this is an alternative?
One recurring statement I find in amongst the posts around the globe is that of how MMOs are changing. Massively.Com puts this into simple English:
“MMOs may become nothing more than singleplayer games packaged with glorified lobbies. I think most people would consider MMOs to be games where massive quantities of people play together, not solo, in the same persistent world. This solo trend really is a redefinition of the genre. That said, not all is lost. Many current MMOs seem to be striking a kind of balance between multiplayer and singeplayer content.”
At the moment it’s every man for himself. There is currently no collaboration between teams other than loaning between what would be considered a natural parent-feeder relationship. Apart from that the current game does not allow collaborative play. Maybe in the future we’ll see the inclusion of paying for people to scout for you, or paying to use their construction skills, or maybe renting of stadium/youth academy. Perhaps there will be missions in the future which need both parties to function together to complete the challenge, which would be along the lines of the more traditional MMO.
So in summary, what have I learnt?
I’ve learnt that Football Manager Live really is at the start of the curve. Game worlds are not dying, they are just thinly spread. My opinion is that Sega and Sports Interactive have done absolutely right in the stopping of new GWs opening and it appears that the future enhancements by way of extra features such as youth academies and challenges is going down a route that has been proven to be successful in other MMO games. The only thing that I think is missing from the puzzle is the announcement of plans for the future, specifically with making older GWs more inviting for new users, which I understand is coming soon.
I’ll leave you with a point from an article which expresses what is wrong with all MMOs and I think it gets straight to the point:
“Humans. It’s a documented fact that people ruin everything, and it should come as no surprise that incredibly large groups of people who are insulated from retaliation by the anonymous nature of the internet are more ruinous than most. From the griefers who prey on new players (anyone for inviting newbies to Double Your Money comps?) to the obsessively anal guild masters who slowly grow mad with power (I guess this might refer to moderators) to the thieves who rush in and steal your kills and loot (what happens to those teams that go bankrupt?), MMOs have a tremendous opportunity to reflect humanity’s worst attributes.”
|Written By Rik Stewart
A long-standing beta tester for FM Live, Rik is a moderator on GW Hoddle and responsible for their game world blog at hoddlelegends.blogspot.com.