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Casual Games Quickly Transforming the MMO Market 238

An anonymous reader writes "Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick disclosed that their forthcoming, unnamed MMOG will have 'a little more broad appeal' than its market-leading MMO World of Warcraft. This is adding to speculation that the game might be free to play, since such games now take more in digital revenue than any other genre. In his GDC Austin keynote today, Sony Online Entertainment president Jon Smedley said, 'As a company, we knew we had to evolve ... to expand [our] audience ... and to get a much wider female audience.' The article notes that SOE hasn't abandoned hardcore MMOs, but his talk focused on Free Realms, SOE's free-to-play MMO that has grown to 5 million users in 5 months. Marketed to kids, 51% of Free Realms gamers are under 13, with around 75% under 18, who pose a challenge to attract and retain. Since they only play for about 20 minutes per session and aren't focused on the mechanics of the game, SOE can get away with changes that are unfair to some players, as shown by a recent, oddly-handled item nerf in Free Realms."
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Casual Games Quickly Transforming the MMO Market

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  • WoW was ruined (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:37AM (#29451439) Homepage

    I used to play wow. I used to love it. I raided with my guild, did all the fun stuff. Got the rewards from putting the effort in and loved each moment of it. Then Blizzard started listening to the vocal minority crowd, the ones who wanted the rewards with no time put in. The ones who wanted to get the "Sword of OMGWTFBBQ" to kill boars in the forest and nothing more, they wanted to be shiny and wanted it now with no effort. That's when the game started to go down hill. When I first started raiding it would take weeks of running an instance before even getting close to finishing it but now... its hellokitty island adventure with a different skin. The biggest complaint I hear about people who quit now is "I'm sick of seeing everyone decked out in Epic gear." You know you've done wrong when even the 'casual' (and I use that term loosely) player base complains about it.

    The casual player is a misnomer, there are people who identify themselves as this and refuse to raid but want the rewards yet they spend a lot more playing the game than most 'hardcore' raiders. Blizzard ruined the game about half way through BC and turned it basically into a game where you login and get teleported to your mail box (because walking is too much effort) to collect your epics.

    • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:51AM (#29451489)

      Are you honestly that bitter about people doing "less work" to get "unearned" items as shiny as yours in an online game? Really?

    • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

      by johan_from_cape_town ( 1142715 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:56AM (#29451515)
      I somewhat understand your problem. But you see my problem - I have a full time job and a life. I also want to play WoW. So should I just always suck - never able to actually complete an instance? I don't think so. Maybe Blizzard should create "I don't have a job and my parents pay my way realms" (for people like you) and "I can only spend a couple of hours a week on a computer game" servers for people like me.
      • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Interesting)

        by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:13AM (#29451573)
        Completely agree.

        My biggest issue is:

        - Without the gear, you cannot raid.
        - Without raiding, you cannot get the gear.

        How am I supposed to enjoy end-game content when I can't get into a group because my DPS is around 1k too low for these "elite" groups? I constantly see raids occurring with calls for "3000+dps" which is just unachievable without raid / heroic gear, and you can't get that without a significant time commitment that is just unachievable if you have any physical social interaction in evenings / weekends at all.
        • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Arkham79 ( 219828 ) <adam.comerford@net> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @06:39AM (#29451885) Homepage

          So, I've heard this before, and used to be in the same boat. It's not true anymore - you can gear up to decent raid levels without going to raids now, especially with the recent instance additions. It'll take longer than if you were raiding the whole time, but it's not that difficult. You do have to run Heroic 5 man instances though - no way around that.

          With the changes they have made to the instances though they are much, much easier to run these days than they used to be in BC. Do the daily heroic each day (30-50 minutes) and you will quickly get enough badges and rewards to be running in one of the entry level raids, keep it up and you can get well beyond the 3000 DPS you mentioned. It takes some patience if you don't have hours to devote to running instances, but one instance each day you can log in should be your first priority if gearing up is what you want to do.

        • by selven ( 1556643 )
          Battleground epics.
        • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @07:10AM (#29452001)

          I found your post somewhat insightful upon first reading, though I didn't necessarily agree with all of it. But as I re-read it, something started to bother me.

          How am I supposed to enjoy end-game content [. . .] that is just unachievable if you have any physical social interaction in evenings / weekends at all.

          If you don't have the time to run many heroics or raids to get your gear up, why do you expect to have time to run the end-game content? It's certainly not going to be any shorter. If you DO have time to do it, just not as much as the hardcore types, you can still experience it; it's just going to take longer.

          For those who literally don't have the time to get to any piece of content while there are still players interested in doing it, I don't think the solution is to dumb the content down*, at least not while such content is still the highest tier of content available. I think those players are just out of luck. If that ruins their enjoyment of the game, well, there are a lot of games out there. They should find one that is less grindy so having less time for the game isn't as big of a penalty.

          For what it's worth, I don't get as worked up about "ZOMG they hand out epics!" as others do. I measure my enjoyment of the game by, well, my enjoyment of the game. I just want to make forward progress, and that's independent of whether or not you or $HARDCORE_GAMER_X has made more or less progress than me.

          * I do sort of like the 10 normal/10 hard mode/25 normal/25 hard mode distinctions. It seems like a relatively good compromise.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by plastbox ( 1577037 )

            Firstly, I play WoW mostly for the pvp. I can do it alone or with a few friends, no need to get big, complimentary groups together.

            Second, grinding honor is about as simple as it gets. Time-consuming, yes. Hard, no. It's like kids sports, just participating gets you a prize (honor, badge/mark). Though, since it isn't hard you don't get the best items in the game. With a bit of patience, anyone can get Hateful Gladiator set with Furious Gladiator no-set pieces. At this point, your gear is good enough that yo

          • by _14k4 ( 5085 )

            What I'd like is a game I can devote 20/60 minutes to and not really have to worry and think too hard about. I am a programmer, and spend all day in front of the pc. Lately, when I'm not in front of the pc I'm taking up things like working on my home, carpentry, etc. But when that game itch comes back, I can't find something that's a) free (I'm poor), b) mmo / social interaction, c) fun.

            Well, I should say I can't find something graphical. I've been playing a lot of Materia Magica (a mud) lately...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )

            The problem is that you reach a point in the game where it switches from:

            "Just play a couple hours on weekends, or whenever you feel like"


            "You MUST be on and at the instance at exactly 5:45 PM PST you MUST remain on for 4 hours MINIMUM, then be free the next day at exactly 5:45 PM PST in case we don't finish the instance today. You MUST research all the bosses before entering the instance. You MUST be using one of the 2 acceptable specs for your class online, or you will have to respec, grinding gold to

        • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:49PM (#29457123) Journal

          My biggest issue is: - Without the gear, you cannot raid. - Without raiding, you cannot get the gear. How am I supposed to enjoy end-game content when I can't get into a group because my DPS is around 1k too low for these "elite" groups?

          I certainly know whereof you speak...I pretty much soloed my Warlock to level 80 in PvE. Then I had to find something else to do, so I thought I'd try raiding. I quickly found out that my DPS was dismally substandard for raid groups—if I even got into a group, I was quickly ejected —sometimes very rudely indeed. Words like "freeloader" and "parasite" were used to describe me.

          Actually, I don't have any quarrel with these groups—though I wish they had been more polite; I wasn't trying to commit a crime, for crying out loud. As far as I'm concerned, a group is certainly free to set its own criteria for admission. I think the problem is really one of game design; it's a fundamental flaw that I first noticed in the later, degenerate days of Everquest, and it is this: DPS is everything.

          I think the drift to DPS-centric game design is probably due to a couple of factors. First, it's relatively easy to design a game around this concept—it's just a matter of hit points and how much damage you allow players to inflict over time. Second, I think that a lot of players like it because it's so easily quantifiable. (And if you look, you will find web sites dedicated to the precise calculation of Damage Per Second for every WoW class that would put some dissertations on quantum physics to shame.)

          To me, this is just awful. I want the game to be a fantasy in which I can vacation after a hard day of Reality[TM]; I want it to require skill, pluck, and quick thinking. I want to be part of a group of adventurers who have a sense of humor, and whose primary goal is to have fun. I don't want winning or losing to be a matter than can be calculated at all. That makes it work! (Can you just imagine a fantasy story in which the Noble Knight yells at the Damsel in Distress to shut up because he needs quiet while he works his PDA to compare his DPS to that of the dragon? "Sorry," he says after much brow-furrowing, "I'm just not geared for this. The dragon is gonna take me apart, so sit tight while I round up some higher tier armor, ok lady?")

          As I said, I noticed this design drift back in my Everquest days. I started playing right when EQ (the first one, not that sorry waste of pixels, EQ2) first came out. I can truly say that some the most enjoyable recreational experiences I have ever had were in that game. I played a dark elf enchanter, and I'd picked that combo because it was supposed to be difficult. After the first couple of years, during which I had put a lot of energy into becoming a first rate crowd-control specialist, I gradually realized that nobody really needed crowd control anymore. During the early period of EQ, a crowd control specialist was just as essential to any adventuring group as a healer or a tank, because the game was designed to make "adds" just about inevitable in every fight. When adds happened, my chanter would hit them with a stun and a mezz, and I'd often be keeping 3 to 5 mobs staring blankly into space, waiting for their turn to be slaughtered. But then they jacked up the DPS of just about every melee class to the point where adds could be "off tanked" by a bard or pally or berserker, or anybody that wasn't wearing a nightshirt for armor.

          This totally ruined the game for me. Sure, my guildies would have pity on me and let me come along (heck, they might need a dose of crack, and I could slow almost as good as a Shaman), but it was just charity. Plus, there were too many nights when there weren't enough guildies on, and I just couldn't get a group. Seeing as soloing a chanter in EQ was as much fun as walking a tightrope in a ice storm wearing greased turtles strapped to your feet instead of shoe

      • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DreamsAreOkToo ( 1414963 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:46AM (#29451683)

        To turn this into a theme...

        I used to play World of Warcraft back when Stratholme was considered an impossible instance. Then suddenly guilds started figuring out this "raiding thing" and all of a sudden, some dumbass healer could get better items than me, because he had 39 other people to pick up his slack. That's when the game started going downhill. I quit and everyone else I knew started quitting and the biggest complaint I heard back then was "I'm sick of seeing some dumbass decked out in epic gear because he can farm gold all day and raid all night." I think the game was ruined sometime halfway through it's first year.

        "Casual" is not a misnomer. Anyone who wants to play whenever they feel like it is "casual." Anyone who adheres to a schedule where they get penalized for tardiness is working a 2nd (or 1st) job.

        tl;dr "Remember when WoW was good?" "WoW was never good."

        • When are you talking about that Strath was impossible? For a long time it was a 10 or 15 man instance just like Scholomance. Eventually they limited it to five man only status and it was difficult for a little while until they rebalanced it to be played through by just five. It might have been difficult then but it wasn't that ridiculously hard. The toughest part was finding a warlock or mage so that you could do the AoE parts.
      • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta ( 162192 ) * on Thursday September 17, 2009 @10:33AM (#29453319) Journal

        Maybe Blizzard should create "I don't have a job and my parents pay my way realms" (for people like you) and "I can only spend a couple of hours a week on a computer game" servers for people like me.

        What's the difference between that, and you just playing something other than WoW? Seems to me that if you don't want to expend some effort to advance in the game, you don't really want to play WoW. You just want to do whatever it is all the cool kids are doing, and then complaining that it's too hard.

        Think of it this way. Chess is a hard game, it takes a lot of effort to become good at it. If I decide I want to play chess, I don't ask people to change the rules so it's easier. I put in the time and effort it takes to become good at it. If I want something easy, I should play checkers instead. If WoW is too much of an investment for you, play something else.

        • S/He isn't complaining that other people can do something he can't. He's complaining that very large parts of the game are inaccessable without an unnacceptably large, to him anyways, investment of time. This is a common issue where everyone considers anyone that plays more than them Hardcore and anyone that plays less Casual.

          In your example you pick a game that you have to play against another player. Not a game that is played against an automated and scripted opponent. And chess is not a hard game in and

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hatta ( 162192 ) *

            He's complaining that very large parts of the game are inaccessable without an unnacceptably large, to him anyways, investment of time.

            Then he should find a game to play that fits into the time he has to spend. Why try to ruin it for those who do have a large amount of time to spend in a game?

            I am currently becoming enthusiastic about SHMUPs. Some of those fuckers are HARD. Yet some people can complete them with one credit. I doubt I'll ever have the time to practice that much to get that good. Do I comp

            • Probably because he is representative of the vast majority of the paying customers. Remember that label on the game box and splash screen that says something along the lines "game experience may change"
        • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:59AM (#29454351)

          Am I the only one amused at people thinking they're putting in effort and hard work by sitting at a keyboard playing one of the easiest games ever created, and only getting ahead of everyone else because they don't have anything else to do?

          The whole point of WoW's success is that everyone can get to the top levels, do all the raids and get all the gear. Five years and twenty million sales later, poopsockers are still telling us how Blizzard got it all wrong.

    • Disclaimer: I played WoW for 3 years but quit before the WotK expansion.

      It's not about the time put in, it's about the time commitment raiding requires. They tried to solve this with 10 man raids which could be done with pickup groups (which at times can be equally as painful). Just because someone can devote 2-5 hours a day playing a game doesn't equate to them being able to commit the same 4 hours a night to raid with their guild plus the hours mindlessly collecting reagents, potions, and repair money th

      • by Splab ( 574204 )

        What killed DDO for me was when they introduced WoW style raiding. Everyone wanted the epic crafted stuff you could only get from the new big raid, that meant everyone where running the same stupid raid over and over - yeah it was fun once or twice, but playing the same stupid "maps" over and over again just took away any fun of the game.

        • That's something I don't like, either - running the same instance over and over. I don't find it to be much fun at all to do that - with the caveat that I'll do it with different characters, because then at least I'm playing it a different way. But doing it over and over with the same character, and possibly with the same group of people, in the hope that some rare piece of gear you can actually use will drop... that's not for me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by webax ( 1034218 )
      You should be playing FF, SE has not let anything stand in the way of endless grinding reaping exclusive rewards.
      • by lbbros ( 900904 )
        Except that FFXIV will be different (although - luckily - not WoW like). FFXI hasn't changed a lot in the past 2 years because SE is basically keeping the game on life support, with very little development (despite a new "expansion").
    • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pHus10n ( 1443071 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:22AM (#29451599)
      Why does it matter if someone else gets an epic-quality item? Does it somehow strip you of your earned rewards? And why is it so wrong if a 12 year old kid wants to do *exactly that* and take his Sword of OMG to the forest and kill boars? If he's enjoying it, why do you care? How does it affect *you*?

      You complain that it no longer takes weeks of running an instance to clear it. So I'm guessing that (prior to you quitting) you've cleared all the hard modes available to you in the first week? .... yup, I didn't think you did. There's no lack of challenge in the game if you want it. Many of the instances are tuned for casual play, so that nearly anyone who's interested can make reasonable progress, even if they don't fully understand the calculus involved in tank itemization (for example). On the other hand, hard modes and the new Heroic 10/25 versions of Coliseum allow those seeking extreme difficulty can have it --- and are rewarded for their efforts. As a matter of fact, at the time of this posting, there is exactly one (1) guild who has completed the "Earth, Wind, and Fire" achievement. It's *tough*, and ready for anyone who wants to meet the challenge.

      Don't think I'm attacking you directly --- I'm not. I'm just tired of seeing this exact same argument passed around by forum trolls, who conveniently can't back it up with an Armory link.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rhaban ( 987410 )

        Maybe Blizzard should just re-think item classification.

        Today we have 5 item classes, 2 of which are useless:
        - grey, useless
        - white, useless
        - green, used while leveling, or if you just dinged 80 last week.
        - blue, most people who do not raid/hero have some of this. considered as 'basic' items
        - purple, everything from entry-level-80 gear (reputation items, heroic instances) to the most hardcore-level gear you can find in raids
        - orange, for some special vhl items only owned by a handful of people

        A lot of peopl

        • Why not keep everything how it is, and stop caring about how much purple everyone wears?

          I've been in instances with L80 full-purple DPS spec shamans who did lower dps than me, a 79 full-blue DK. By your reckoning, that shouldn't happen. But it does.

          Your shiny-shiny does not make you a good player. Purple items are no longer a measure of achievement.

          Those italics are intentional.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Av8rjoker ( 1212804 )
        I think that the the person who you replied to has a different type of mindset; one which is not too uncommon. If they had to work so hard for something, then it should not be handed so easily to those who don't put in nearly amount of effort. What was once difficult becomes easy for the newcomers due to the changes in the game. It basically boils down to a matter of pride.

        The only thing I can compare this to is the Marine Corps. I was punched, kicked, tackled, thrown, slammed on a table repeatedly, forc
      • Re:WoW was ruined (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Narpak ( 961733 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @07:21AM (#29452035)

        Why does it matter if someone else gets an epic-quality item? Does it somehow strip you of your earned rewards? And why is it so wrong if a 12 year old kid wants to do *exactly that* and take his Sword of OMG to the forest and kill boars? If he's enjoying it, why do you care? How does it affect *you*?

        I agree. It would seem that for some waxing their epeen is way more important than actually co-operating with others and having a well run raid. For me getting a raid done fast, with no wipes, unnecessary deaths; while talking trash on vent was always the most enjoyable part. Gear was simply a means to an end; not the end itself. And pretty much without exception the people I talk to agree.

        Now personally, as well as two close friends of mine, have been playing wow since the summer of 2005. After about six months of playing the game we started raiding MC, and later on BWL/AQ, then Kara, TK, Black Temple, and etc. Now myself dropped out of raiding after farming Black Temple (stopped playing all together until WOTLK arrived), since returning to the game I haven't really done anything but some 10 man and a few 25 man pugs in this new expansion; mostly I just stick to doing heroics and PvP. However everyone I talk to personally, both my two real life friends who have kept up the hardcore raiding, and those of my in-game friends that have dropped off and returned after prolonged hiatuses agree that the current state of the game is better and more enjoyable. This sentiment is mirrored, with very few exceptions, through the entire guild that I used to raid with. Raiding is more fun, gearing alts for raiding or PvP is less of a chore, the new instances are way better designed, daily quests makes acquiring coinage for repairs/consumables/enchants/gems less of a chore; basically the game feels, for those I have been talking to, more like an actual game. There are less people going emo (which seemed to have happened quite a lot more back when we were raiding 40 man instances and getting the gear you needed for the next step took ages and ages of repeated smacking your head against the wall until you were so full of piss and vinegar people went batshit for no apparent reason.

        Obviously the changes to the game leaves some people longing for the good old glory days when men were men and everything was much better; but for the most part my personal experiences indicate a higher enjoyment level, more laughs, with most of the heated debate circling around just how much cooler Chuck Norris is than your mum.

      • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @08:41AM (#29452391) Homepage

        > Why does it matter if someone else gets an epic-quality item?

        Because you can't entrust the Sword of a Thousand Truths to a noob.

      • by brkello ( 642429 )
        I totally agree with your post. It is like the people who are against gay marriage because it diminishes their marriage. Like since Bob and Tom down the street are married, you are suddenly going to stop loving your wife.

        Like you, I am impressed how they have had made content available to more people but have added in challenges that give better rewards to those who really want to go for it. They know what they are doing. If the people ranting in here had their way, WoW would be much worse off.
    • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:56AM (#29451725)

      its hellokitty island adventure with a different skin

      Pure marketing. It'll never reach the degree of complexity and required skill you could have in HK:IA.

      I'm talking about before the Breach brought the dark avatars and the kawaru fell upon the land, of course.

    • by Exitar ( 809068 )

      Are you sure that aren't you the vocal minority crowd that believes that raids should be for few elected players?
      You probably was one of the few players wearing epics in vanilla, but if you fail in real life I don't see why the false sense of importance you get from raiding must remove the fun millions of people have playing the game for what it is, a game.

      • I don't know that succeding in vanilla WoW required a fail in Real Life. But it did require either a ton of time, or slightly less time but at very inconvient times of the day alwasy combined with being lucky enough to make it into a large group of folks that could do the same. I managed to finish Molten Core, Onyxia, Zul Gurub and parts of AQ20 on two of my characters before The Burning Crusade was released. It took a lot of weekend late nights in raids because I couldn't afford to stay up past midnight on

    • As much as I'd like to mod you down I'd rather respond.

      Why do you feel you are entitled to have more fun in the game than someone who pays the same amount as you every month?

      It now requires uber gear to do ANYTHING fun in the game and if blizzard prevents casual players from accessing half the game because they don't treat it like a second job they will lose a ton of subscribers.
      If you really need to wave your epeen around you have achievements. Hate to break it to you but who do you think blizzard cares mo

      • Having it be much easier to get the gear later on means that the time the player spent WORKING is now worth LESS.

        I would argue that playing a game that basically amounts to a telecommuting job is a sign of OCD, but what do I know? I won't play MMORPGs for the most part because they want you to pay for the client and pay again for the service. That's bullshit. Maybe Puzzle Pirates doesn't have the awesome complexity of WoW, but I can just hop on and play for a while for free and then hop off.

        • Having it be much easier to get the gear later on means that the time the player spent WORKING is now worth LESS.

          And that's the core of it. There's a huge cognitive dissonance going on here -- people have spent years of their lives working these second jobs to satisfy this compulsive need for improvement that isn't being validated in the rest of their lives.
          Now somebody else is getting paid MORE for LESS work! ZOMGWTFBBQLMAOZEDONG! That cannot be, if I went through all this suffering for my reward, then they must, too!
          Of course the real message of all this is that people don't play the game for the fun experience i

        • You are correct on all accounts there. The thing is though that rarely has Blizzard reduced the challenges so hugely that the same rewards are now worth a lot less. And in any MMO almost every bit of gear really just represents an investment of time played working specifically toward that goal. So naturally those that obtain that item earlier worked harder for it, or atleast devoted a higher percentage of play time towards it. If Vanilla WoW had stayed vanilla forever eventually almost everyone would have a

    • by cyxxon ( 773198 )

      I am with you on this one, and I was in the group of people that did not even down Illidan in TBC before 3.0 (and never even set foot into SWP), and never went into AQ or Naxx in vanilla either. Still I liked the endgame more back then. Sure, there are some niceties now, such as tier tokens, and yeah, to an extend badge gear as well, but the removal of attunements and the tuning of the raids to be cleared by casuals with additional hard modes just isn't the same.

      Trying to down a boss for weeks and then gett

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      It could be worse. Imagine if Sony Online Entertainment bought Blizzard out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      this is too funny. I don't think I have ever heard a casual gamer complain that they had too many epics. The complainers are almost always the (self-proclaimed)hard-cores who think the size of their epeen depends on having more epics than anyone else. But guess what, we all pay the same (approx) $15 a month to play the game. Blizzard finally understands that to expend huge amounts of resources to create content that was only seen by a fraction of the player base was not a bright idea. So the obsessive play
    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      You are my favorite type of WoW player. The type who says "God, I hate that game! I played it for 3 years and it sucks now!" I think any game you have played for a long period of time is naturally going to be a bit boring. I call that healthy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:27AM (#29451617)

    'As a company, we knew we had to evolve ... to expand [our] audience ... and to get a much wider female audience.'

    OMG! Ponies MMO!

  • by milosoftware ( 654147 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:33AM (#29451635) Homepage

    I don't know about the rest of you, but i always make a point of lying through my teeth when it comes to online subscriptions to anything - especially a game. When asked, I'm a 12 year old redhaired girl living in Namibia.

    Now back to their stats. How do they know 50% is 13 years or younger? Right. They ask for your birthdate. And then assume that you click the truth...

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Surprisingly, many people tell the truth. I myself used to write crap like that, but I found I was really just being an asshat. These days I write something real for the demographics, I won't tell you my birth date but you'll get the age right. Not my address but the country. Basically close enough to be statistically useful, but not accurate enough to bother me.

    • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @07:22AM (#29452039) Homepage

      Kids go the other way, though. Because of the US COPPA legislation my wife's website doesn't allow under-13s. What you find is that kids want to pretend to be older than they are, sign up as 15, 16, 17 or 18 year olds because they think it is cool (and they can get to stuff that they shouldn't).

      Either that or kids don't have the imagination to lie like that, and most people can't be arsed either.

      I end up the other way and just going "I'm over 18, so why do you need to know my DoB?" and proceed to just hit "end" on their day/month/year picker and end up somewhere in the region of 113 having been born on New Year's Eve!

      • by julesh ( 229690 )

        I end up the other way and just going "I'm over 18, so why do you need to know my DoB?" and proceed to just hit "end" on their day/month/year picker and end up somewhere in the region of 113 having been born on New Year's Eve!

        I designed a web site for a client once who insisted that the DOB input fields on their registration form should be drop downs, and that 1 Jan 1970 should be selected by default. When they started getting a lot of registrations with a DOB of 1 Jan 1970, they suggested disallowing this

    • by am 2k ( 217885 )

      Usually, I'm about 100 years old on those web pages, in order to get rid of age restrictions.

    • Did you ever find yourself being offered services being tailored for Namibian 13 year old girls?


      Your IP address shows which locality you're in, never mind which country. The rest they can guess from your interest in specific features, or by stealing data from cookies from associated websites.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      And to think I sent you all that anti-Malaria medicine for nothing.
  • I disagree that casual players are the reason that a game change was posted without notifying anyone. That sounds a lot more like unmanaged development processes. How hard could it be to have some area where you say things that all the players can read, let's call it an "official website", where you post messages like "FYI, we changed the shoe items"? Do they really think people will buy the "our customer base doesn't care" argument? I'm more inclined to think that even if none of the customers would care, certainly the development team cares that they made the change, and they'd want to tell people about it. Presumably it either fixes a bug, adds a feature, or something. If the change really was purposeless, then why make the change at all? What's worse, can you imagine a development environment where the process driving these changes was so ad-hoc that you didn't have a way to communicate the changes to the users? From some older coding positions I held, sadly I *can* imagine that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZekoMal ( 1404259 )
      It's more common than you think.

      In most "free" MMOs, the process is roughly similar: release something, screw something up, patch it and screw people over. I'll list an example from Goonzu (they call it Luminary sometimes). There was a glitch where if you claimed a hunting ground for your guild, your guild would gain roughly 30-40 levels. So, some guilds went from level 30-70 overnight. They patched it swiftly but did nothing to undo the guild level ups. So there was a huge gap between the 20 or so guilds

  • Pizza and promises (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wild_quinine ( 998562 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:50AM (#29451695) Homepage

    Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick disclosed that their forthcoming, unnamed MMOG will have 'a little more broad appeal' than its market-leading MMO World of Warcraft.

    Seriously? Love it or hate it, the one thing WoW has is a broad appeal. I know loads of people who play WoW who, apart from Wow, only play casual games. In fact, amongst the people I know who play WoW, over half of them are (typically) casual gamers. Hardly any of them would touch Crysis, or even Arkham Asylum, and know what the hell to do with it.

    Hell, WoW has broader appeal than a casual game, because Casual and Hardcore gamers both play it! You want to expand on that? The only thing I can think of with broader appeal than that, is Pizza. Actual bread, cheese, tomato, to your door in 30 minutes or less. Are activision branching out, or going nuts?

    • by Narpak ( 961733 )

      You want to expand on that? The only thing I can think of with broader appeal than that, is Pizza.

      Good idea. Make it so that in their new game after ten hours of playing they buy you a pizza delivered to your door (or dormitory); now that would broaden their appeal I reckon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You want to expand on that? The only thing I can think of with broader appeal than that, is Pizza. Actual bread, cheese, tomato, to your door in 30 minutes or less.

      Everquest II did that. [] WoW countered with Chinese [], but that turned out to be an April Fool's prank. The EQII /pizza command, however, was real, but I believe it's been discontinued.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday September 17, 2009 @09:46AM (#29452893)
      It's kind of scary to even contemplate something with more broad appeal than WoW. It's sort of like a drug dealer announcing that Crack wasn't addictive enough, so he's working on a new "Super Crack."
    • The only thing hard core about Crysis is ... was the hardware requirements.
    • Exactly. I dont think they understand how causal WoW playing can be. The missions are brain dead simple, you can sit around and chat all you like, theres no real punishment for death, you can casually solo a lot of content, etc. These games are so casual friendly that you can pretty much play it 90% of the time without any group or even without joining a guild. Sure, you miss out on the instances and good gear, but casual Joe MMO Player doesnt care about that.

      I think what "casual MMO" is going to mean is

    • I actually had some weird experiences in WOW, where I'd mention being excited about just buying Mass Effect, and the entire guild would go, "uh, what's that?"

      Gee, you guys play a video game 12+ hours a day, I figured you were interested in video games. Nope, not video games, just MMOs.

      Ok, so now I'm excited about trying Age of Conan... "uh, what's that?" Ah, so they're not interested in just MMOs, they're literally ONLY INTERESTED IN WOW.


      And I'm not talking about just a couple of people, in a guild wit

  • !surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wjh31 ( 1372867 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:54AM (#29451711) Homepage
    c.f The effect that the wii has enabled on the casual games market.
    • by kellyb9 ( 954229 )

      c.f The effect that the wii has enabled on the casual games market.

      I've never played WoW simply because I don't have the time, however if I did, I'd be kind of annoyed if they watered down the gameplay because Nintendo came out with a new system. Some games are meant to be complex.

    • Oh, come on, the Wii has nothing to do with popularizing casual games. If anything, I'd credit Yahoo Games, MSN Gaming Zone, and PopCap. Those are the companies that really embraced the casual market online.

      If you want to credit the Wii for popularizing motion sensing controllers, sure that's fine. But casual games were on consoles long before the Wii came around-- to give a couple of obvious examples, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Tetris, and Dr. Mario were all on the original NES. Even the Xbox 360 HD (the

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @06:04AM (#29451761) Homepage Journal
    Broad appeal ... that means they're marketing it to women?
  • The balls to nerf and annoy the cry baby players is important to making a sustainable MMO (from a playability point of view, not from a profitability point of view).

    At some point you will screw up and introduce an item or power or combination that is simply too powerful. You need to fix it if you want to not have every character be exactly the same and have whatever that thing is. Nerfing it is orders of magnitude better than powering up everything else since if you power everything else up you'll get somet

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein