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Mechwarrior Online Developer Redefines Community Warfare 189

New submitter MeatoBurrito writes "The latest iteration of Mechwarrior was crowdfunded (without Kickstarter) as a free-to-play first-person mech simulator. However, despite promises to the founders, the game has been shifted to a third-person arcade shooter and now the community is rioting. This followed a series of other unpopular decisions; the developers decided to sell an item for real money that had a significant impact on gameplay, crossing the line separating cosmetic/convenience items and 'pay-to-win.' Then they added a confusing game mechanic to limit its use, which had the unfortunate side effect of making some strategies completely useless. From the article: 'PGI’s community practices showcase a fundamental misunderstanding of both freemium development and community management. The developer has never had to deal with such a large player base before, and it has never had to deal with the strains of continuous development before. Rather, PGI seems to be handling Mechwarrior Online in much the same way they might a AAA game: by keeping quiet and only discussing its work in vague terms. ... Mechwarrior Online’s road to launch is a cautionary consumer tale, fraught with anger and betrayal. It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication, unpopular features, and oathbreaking. It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"
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Mechwarrior Online Developer Redefines Community Warfare

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  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:44PM (#44726185) Homepage

    " It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication"

    I thought that firewalls handled that already.

  • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:46PM (#44726195)

    And I wonder what the heck the submitter / article author is smoking?

    Yes, they've done some things a lot of folks (myself included) have been unhappy with - I could list several things if you guys want - but the stuff in the summary is largely not true. What item is this he claims they have sold for real money (implying you can't get it with in-game currency) that has crossed the line into pay-to-win? I know of no such item!

    The biggest issue they've had recently is the addition of 3rd person view, which upset a lot of us - especially since they promised a separate 'hardcore' queue for those who didn't want to play with folks using 3PV, and then didn't follow through on that. They have made some other moves instead, though, which at least help: the real competition-level 12 vs 12 organized group games will not have 3PV available.

    On the plus side, the gameplay is generally fun and they have also done an *amazing* job with the mech designs! Are there things still to be done? Yes - tons! Are there things I would have done differently - yes, but they can't please everyone! But are they completely shifting to an 'arcade shooter'? Heck no! :)

    • Cool Shot (Score:5, Informative)

      by archer, the ( 887288 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:11PM (#44726329)
      The top tier Cool Shot is what the author is saying was pay-to-win. I never used one. I built my mechs to not overheat and thus take advantage of opponents who did.

      I've been playing the game for 6 months. It's been fun, but I've just been finding it too repetitive lately. I'd still recommend it to anyone who likes the MechWarrior concept. Just be prepared to spend time on the forums learning how to play, as no tutorial is provided by the developer.
      • Cool Shot (a one time use heat disipation module) is NOT pay to win.

        There is an in game module you can get that has the EXACT same effect.

        As someone above stated, there have been issues some peopl e have had (3PV) but PTW is not one of them.

        Frankly I think the 'uproar' is a tempest in a teapot. The 3PV is annoying, but certainly not game changing. They wasted development time on it, but that is really y only problem with it at this time.

        Honestly, this post seems like one guy whining about something he doesn

      • The top tier Cool Shot is what the author is saying was pay-to-win. I never used one. I built my mechs to not overheat and thus take advantage of opponents who did.

        You must be kidding. Even 3 medium lasers are enough to overheat a mech on all but the coldest maps. With double heat sinks that is.
        So you only play with machine guns and Gauss rifles?

        Aside from that, yes, Cool shot is pretty much crap.

      • by RMingin ( 985478 )

        The article (past page 1) is NOT about Cool Shot. Cool Shot is addressed on page 1, page 2 is primarily about Ghost Heat, and page 3 is about Third Person View and the many, many, many reversals of previous commitments that PGI has now made.

        If you want to make a widely-popular shooter set in the MW universe, that's FINE. Really, it is. It's been done dozens of times.

        But if you want to make something special, something sim-like and first person, and leave out the pay to win elements, then you need to DO that

    • William, When the game was funded they made a point of promising a 1PV Semi-Simulator that would never include "features" like coolant and 3pv They crowed funded the game as no publisher would touch it Without the founders there would have been no MWO at all. People are upset due to the developer’s lies. http://i.imgur.com/DZatw0S.jpg [imgur.com] They have now censored everything on their website to remove anything to do with 1PV "promises" to prevent refunds to due false advertising.
      • Actually, while they did some crowd-funding (the Founders program - I'm one myself, as is my brother) they *do* have a publisher: IGP. I always thought it funny that PGI made the game and IGP published it :)

        And yes, as I mentioned they have changed things - some to the disappointment of fans, including myself. But they have definitely *not* gone pay to win (the coolant flush can be purchased with real money or 'researched' and then purchased with in-game XP / credits). I'd prefer they had never put it in, o

    • by N_Piper ( 940061 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:26PM (#44726429)
      How about the part where the guy doing the "Ask the Devs" thread regularly take on questions that he answers with something along the lines of I don't know.
      Or that the Community Manager's only apparent contribution is getting big names in the "Let's Play" and Game reviewing to make videos of the game...
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIn-im_tWEg [youtube.com] Reference Video
      Or that instead of a Valve style change log the updates instead focus almost exclusively on purchasable content, there wasn't even a foot note when all the weapon sound effects were changed.
      Do I even need to bring up the cluster fuck that is ECM? Bringing in the Raven mech whose role as a dedicated ECM platform is somewhat undercut by the fact that only one of the three versions can mount ECM at all was a bad idea made worse by the fact that ECM was totally overpowered to the point of totally disrupting the team alliance indicators making it impossible to tell who you were shooting at.
      Also to remind you the Hero Mech design are Cash money only variants different from any acquired with in game currency that also have a bonus to exp and in game currency.
      Really though the main gist of the post is that PGI has failed to keep people happy or to even make enough empty promises to hold off full out rioting, Remember back a few months ago when PGI went ahead and deleted over half the official forums because it was getting unruly, Or we can look at the bottom half of this post http://mwomercs.com/news/2013/08/730-september-creative-developer-update [mwomercs.com] where they admit things are getting so abusive that they are considering calling police on some commentors...
      That is not a well managed community, not at all.
      I play in a group and have seen several Gold Founders (people who paid $120 to get into the closed beta) walk away in disgust or boredom.
      Things are going downhill.
      • "I play in a group and have seen several Gold Founders (people who paid $120 to get into the closed beta) walk away in disgust or boredom."

        Everyone had the big warning light flashing called "F2P" when mechwarrior went online only. That alone should have told anyone in the know all they needed to know. The reality is the fans who paid for MWO are stupid fucks. They are the reason developers are exploiting gamers, the dumb half of the gaming community is just so huge and missing brain cells.

      • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @11:17PM (#44728181)

        My brother, who is also a Founder (like I am) nearly walked from the game due to the 3PV issue. Then a few days ago he asked me to join him to play and record (FRAPS) a few games, with the idea of trying to exploit 3PV and post results to the forums.

        You know what? After trying we found that yes - sometimes, in just the right circumstances, it could be exploited... but that in PUG matches it didn't really seem to alter the overall match results, and that not a ton of people were using it anyway. Beside that, if you sit in 3PV you are at a disadvantage much of the time for aiming and other important aspects of advanced gameply. He has since started playing a lot again, and we were both greatly encouraged by PGI stating that the pre-organized 12 v 12 matches will *not* have 3PV as an option starting in a couple of patches.

      • by Chrontius ( 654879 ) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @07:35PM (#44733927)

        Also to remind you the Hero Mech design are Cash money only variants different from any acquired with in game currency that also have a bonus to exp and in game currency.

        And my anecdote? During the "LRMAgeddon" phase of beta, just after missiles' lofted trajectories were dialed back to make cover work, I played a Centurion. It mounted 15 LRM tubes in the left torso, and an AC/20 in the right arm for when the missiles went dry and/or someone got too close for comfort.

        A few weeks later, the server was reset and I lost my well-loved war machine. Then I found out that the economy was scaled back to the point of grinding with 'rental' mechs, after a month of evenings I plunked down my C-bills for a new Centurion chassis. I discovered I couldn't fit an AC/20 in the arm, and then I discovered they were selling my variant - but only for real-world money. And once I bought it, I'd earn money and XP 30% faster. The economy seemed to be balanced around those boosts now, for progress became painfully slow, and the game became boring - competing against real-money mecha with perfect builds in a 20-ton Commando, purchased so the 75% "you don't own your mech" penalty to earning money and the 100% "you don't own your mech" penalty to earning experience, is an exercise in futility. Because there is no respawning in this game, I typically spent about 5 minutes playing, 25 minutes spectating to get my money and XP.

        Not strictly pay2win, but working your way into the real game content the cheap way became an exercise in masochism.

    • And I wonder what the heck the submitter / article author is smoking?

      I read the link from the summery http://www.gamefront.com/mechwarrior-online-forum-ragesplosion/ [gamefront.com] (how to write an article!) and links from that. One thing I noticed is everybody on the user side is back tracking, this thread http://mwomercs.com/forums/topic/132638-3rd-person-an-update-and-apology-feedback-thread/ [mwomercs.com] while locked after three pages is full of edits.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I play the game with my 2 brothers and 2 best friends, and a few other people.

      I agree with WilliamGeorge - completely.

      This ARTICLE is a farse. There is DEFINITELY no item sold for real money that you can't get with free money which changes the game. What a stupid lie. If this exists... TELL US THE ITEM. Why hide it???

      Yes, the 3rd person view is SO SO SOOOOOOOOO dumb. I hate it. I want them to take it away... BUT

      I will say this - it sucks, completely. It offers the 3rd person user ZERO advantage in almost AL

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      The reality is they are targeted a particular audience in the F2P PvP (which I like to call purse vs purse and yes the connotation of those players attacking each other with their cute little Fabergé purses is appropriate) which is highly fractious. For quite a few of them it is not about gaming it is about beating other people and in their mind humiliating them, no matter how much the spend (lame) or cheat to do it. Do anything to upset them (like spill soup on them in a restaurant, beat them t

    • There's a definite negative agenda behind the original summary and article. The bulk of the community ARE happy with the changes and have continued to play. It's only a vocal minority that have screamed at the top of their lungs for attention, I sat in (online) on a couple of #saveMWO meetings and apart from a few well considered opinions the bulk of the talk was whining/specualtion about things that hadn't happened yet or were basically untrue.
    • If you can only be mechanically competitive 1 out of X hours with a real money spender it's part time pay to win.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:50PM (#44726213) Homepage Journal
    I would say it was more an issue of managing expectations and the fan base expecting something for nothing.

    When you "crowdfund" something you are giving money with really no basis for expecting anything in return. This is why I would rather just buy something instead of crowdfund it. I don't do investment, it is risky. I do do Kiva though for small amounts.

    This is problem with kickstarter and the like. Managing expectations. It looks like you are buying a product when in fact you are giving money to someone to develop an idea. This illusion of buying a product is reinforced by the limitation on 'fund my life projects'.

    In this case a game was produced. It sounds like due to financial constraints of running the game certain compromises had to made. This is standard. The initial concept is almost always unfeasible. Certain comprises have to be made during the engineering process. But the fact remains that apparently the money was used to develop a product that was, in general, like the product being advertised.

    What the firm maybe should have done is said that the original product could not be developed, and, BTW, we have no contract to give you anything, so we will just take the work done and make this complete other product, which looks almost the same, but we promise isn't, and you can pay just like anyone else. Which really is what they did but they tried to sugarcoat a bit better than that.

    • Actually, that isn't sustainable.

      When people give money to one of these projects, it is a an agreement between fans and developer.

      Is it legally binding? No. And that might be part of the problem. The fans were dumb enough to think they didn't need an ability to legally compel the contract.

      If fans have no expectation of things actually getting done they're not going to contribute to these projects.

      I've personally given a few thousand dollars to various kickstarter projects and all of them have lived up to th

  • It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"

    Or as those of us in the old guard of the geek community call it... "The Lucas Effect".

  • PGI has managed to snatch failure from the jaws of success, by ignoring, insulting, and lying to it's community.
  • "Arcade shooter"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:59PM (#44726265) Homepage

    Hah, how sensationalist. No, they just added a third person camera like all the old Mechwarrior offline games and a bunch of tryhards who seem to know better than the developers -- and these sort ALWAYS think they know better than the developers -- are upset about it.

    • by Lophir ( 3036021 )
      3rd person was fine in singleplayer offline games. This game was billed and founded and collected money as a first-person-only multiplayer sim game.
      • 3PV has minimal impact in the game. No one uses it, it has some moderate drawbacks, and frankly it is just not that great.

        Was it a waste of development time. Yes. Is it a real problem. No.

        • Out of 10+ drops last night (120+ players, or 110+ if I don't include myself in the ten drops) I saw 3 people using 3PV. Anecdotal evidence only, and I'd be in a higher player bracket but still....
  • One-sided opinions does not a story make.

  • 1: Buy the rights and announce a multiplayer version of a dearly loved series of games, suggest some great ideas, receive lots of money and goodwill.

    2: Drag your feet, procrastinate, dumb the game down, fail to implement features and watch it finally drift endlessly as yet another average, money grubbing F2P.

    3: ???

    4: Profit!

    CAPTCHA : pitiable

  • I seem to remember there being a mechwarrior style game on kickstarter that looked really good in videos - now for the life of me I can't track it down. It was a mech style game, but not the mechwarrior brand.
  • Sounds like the sad tale of Tribes.
  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:47PM (#44726547)

    I thought the article said a person could toggle between first and third person. Wasn't that always the case in the Mech games? At least I think I recall that in MechWarrior Mercenaries.

    • by Lophir ( 3036021 )
      The Mechwarrior and Mechassault series were in third person. MWO was billed, founded, and collected money as first-person-only multiplayer sim game.
    • The game was initially advertised as a first-person-only multiplayer game. People liked the idea of a first-person-only mech game.

      Problem with 3rd person is that it kills a lot of strategy and decisions inherit to a first person only game. An easy example, in a first-person-only game, you can hide behind a rock and be completely hidden. The only way to see what's on the other side of the rock is to walk around the rock (this goes for both the person hiding AND the any attackers). With 3rd person mode, y

    • At least I think I recall that in MechWarrior Mercenaries.

      Mech II Merc was first-person.

  • There was this Mechwarrior-type arcade game from Japan I saw in a Pizza restaurant. I can't remember the game's full name but I was dazzled by the game play effects. It had Mechwarriors movements as fast as the Flash of DC comic books. The player commit strikes that emit light flashes similar to lightning. The user can switch between two perspectives: fighting view from within the Mechwarrior or 3rd person view as in Mortal combat. I can only remember the name contained "Gundam". Do you know of this ga

    • by Chas ( 5144 )

      Basically this was an arcade-ized version of the MW4/Virtual World BattleTech game.

      It'd drop you as a single cockpit into a bunch of bots and let you shoot it out.

      One of the local theaters in my area had one at one time.

      Honestly, I've been a BattleTech-head for decades.
      And I was prepared to spend some money on MWO. I even opened my wallet for a Founders package.
      But the way PGI is shaping up, I have real difficulty justifying giving them any more money. Ever.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @06:45PM (#44726893) Journal

    Free-to-play is an awful model, thrust upon gamers because the publishers have decided it must be so. If it can't be online, then it can be pirated, and the notion that there's a nickel in a gamer's pocket that doesn't come to them violates the most dearly-held religious belief of the game companies.

    Nobody really likes free-to-play. I don't know anyone for whom it is their first choice of gaming platform. When a gamer hears that some well-known property is coming out as free-to-play, there is a sinking feeling in their collective stomach.

    And this physical reaction is very interesting. I've tried a few F2P games, and I find I get an actual nausea from them. One is actually a good game, Planetside 2, but the impossible-to-escape awareness that there's a guy there, tapping you on the shoulder to try to get you to buy something, or to just give him some money, permeates every moment of game-time. If Planetside 2 was a subscription model like Eve, or a dedicated server model, I'd gladly buy the game. But no matter how fun Planetside 2 is (and if you get a good group of people it's a LOT of fun), that nausea never leaves. Whenever you realize that spending another $12 will get you better weapons and armor, and a temporary boost to XP, you get that sick feeling.

    Maybe this will change some day, but I see a future with a lot more of these Mechwarrior situations where a community of fans, who have happily PAID MONEY for the game in the past, just decide, "Fuck it" and look for something else to play.

    I certainly don't see the me-too, uncreative, group-think that goes on in most game companies giving up on the F2P strategy. They're sold on it and it really doesn't matter what the gamers - the customers- want. It's the way of the world now. There's always another crop of 12 year-olds who will spend time on F2P games but they'll move on to the next one long before serious brand-loyalty comes into effect. If Mechwarrior had started out as F2P, I guarantee that it wouldn't have any "community" to be outraged.

    • Free to play is not necessarily bad: It just happens that it can be done badly, just like DLC.

      Look at, say, Dota 2. You get access to the full game to start. Every hero is available when you turn the game on. Paying more hours provides no gameplay advantage. Paying provides no gameplay advantage. You can pay for cosmetics and to watch pro tournaments in game. That provides plenty of money to keep the game running. It just happens that after someone sinks 1000+ hours into a game, and he's never paid a dime f

      • I didn't say they couldn't be a little bit fun, but just that there is something off-putting about the model itself.

        There will never be a AAA free-to-play title, I believe. Planetside 2 could have been AAA, but the F2P choice has relegated them to a sort of ghetto of half-good games, simply because of the model used to monetize the game.

        Same with DOTA 2

    • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @01:24AM (#44728845) Homepage

      Free-to-play is an awful model, thrust upon gamers because the publishers have decided it must be so

      Free-to-play exists because the developers that have nailed it with a good game are making money hand over first, and everyone else wants to do that too.

      Nobody really likes free-to-play. I don't know anyone for whom it is their first choice of gaming platform.

      Allow me to introduce myself - I'm someone that likes free-to-play!

      I've been playing Dota 2 a lot in the last 6-8 months. It is as often frustrating as hell, but it's great fun having a good game with friends.

      It is a free-to-play game; they make revenue selling in-game content like clothes and effects for characters. I am totally, completely uninterested in this, but I am by far the unusual one - most of the people I've played have dropped at least the cost of a normal AAA game buying stuff, and I know a few people who have spent over $100 - no doubt there are even more.

      There's the occasional in your face thing trying to get you to buy something - usually just an item expiring notice or something - but they are few and far between. I am easily able to ignore it.

      I often spend hours a day playing this and cannot believe they're giving something this awesome away for free. Maybe I'll buy something some day - some of the in-game content looks really visually impressive and it gives your character a unique flavour - I can see why people like doing it, although it seems like playing dress up with virtual dolls.

      Some games are more obnoxious about it - I play a bit of Tapped Out, the Simpsons game. It is much more in your face trying to get you to buy stuff. I love the game because I love the Simpsons, but it's just idle pleasure for me and I have no plans to drop money in it either.

      (plug: I did a review of Dota 2 [ausgamers.com] which outlines the game for noobs. I encourage people to play it because it's F2P done right, it's extremely well engineered and well featured - and it's great fun.)

      • I'll still happily trade you all of my Steam trading cards for a copy of The Witcher 3 when it comes out.

        "Free-to-play" is just an insulting business model. DOTA 2 would have been immeasurably better if it had just had dedicated servers, LAN games, and a price tag. As it is, playing it just makes me sad.

    • Don't worry, I think the free to play bubble is already bursting. A lot of the companies who made their name in that market, particularly Zynga, are in dire financial straits. At the same time, publishers who had made previous statements committing themselves heavily to that model (EA, Square Enix to name two) have started to hedge their bets over the last month or two. EA is talking about the importance of singleplayer and the traditional pay-to-own model again, while Square Enix (the masters of free-to-pl

  • I'd expect this sort of thing from House Liao, but from Piranha Games? Ha!
  • The summary for this is inaccurate, but the article is one of the best articles I have seen thus far explaining the issues. But even then, the article has a few mistakes (albeit minor ones). When ghost heat was first introduced, nobody knew what it was supposed to solve. It didn't affect the dominate meta at the time at all (2 PPC 1 gauss) and only screwed over gimmick builds, canon builds, and legit builds. It was only much later that we got confirmation that it was designed to "fix" boating, which was ne
  • by Sean ( 422 )


  • Really? Cause when you drop, there's no one using it. This article is so full of crap it's not funny. Nice try #saveMWO but you're little crusade is failing.
  • Apparently when a Dev says something will happen (no #pV) and 9 months later they Devs change their minds, it is now considered 'oath breaking'

    This is the same logic that people use to say that when a politician says he is for something, then is presented evidence of that position being wrong and changes it, that said politician is wishy washy.

    Changing your mind when presented with evidence is a GOOD thing.

  • They ignored the Mechwarrior: Living Legends (aka MWLL) developers, its community, and everything that came before in every previous Mechwarrior game. I've got significant other dirt I could share, but will refrain so as not to burn bridges and put other people in uncomfortable situations, but suffice it to say they have shown themselves to be underhanded enough to threaten people's careers and industry connections if anyone in the know should dare to actually tell the truth about their behavior.

    In any ev

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments