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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 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.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:54PM (#44726231)

    Why shouldn't they be whiny? The online gaming hivemind decreed a long time ago that anything "pay to win" was something that they generally don't want. This was and still is the line for many people where monetizing a product stops being about making a reasonable profit and starts being about wringing consumers for every last penny.

    There is no reason, in this day and age, that developers need to be making massive game destroying mistakes like this. There are many business models out there that skirt the "pay to win" boundary without crossing it that they could have copied (see LoL, Eve, PS2, etc). It's just incompetence on the part of the developers.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:11PM (#44726325) Journal

    The fan base shouldn't be so whiny and picky. That goes for any fan base or gaming community.

    If you want a less whiny and picky fanbase don't, Just Don't base your game's appeal on a continuously-developed-since-1984 tabletop-wargamer-nerd cult hit. Especially not one with several successful-but-now-dated PC game interpretations already built by other developers.

    If you have made that mistake, don't double down on the stupid by systematically alienating players and pushing the game toward the direction of being a generic action/arcade title (because that's not a crowded genre where better-funded franchises will crush you like a bug or anything...)

    If you want to play the "This is my goddam gameworld, you don't have to like it, the door is that way!" strategy it's idiotic to base the game on a well-established franchise universe: it severely limits your creative options and ensures that you'll have a pack of fanboys with reference materials rules-lawyering you on every point. It's not as though there isn't a market for 3rd-person robot-blaster games, it just isn't called Battletech.

    If you want a prefab fanatical player base, (which you can get by adopting an established franchise universe), be prepared to keep in mind that, so far as the gamers are concerned, it's your job to turn the universe they care about into a game that does it justice. You are just the means. If you can do that, you get the advantage of having the buzz done for you to some extent; but if you try to push against them, they'll quickly take the stance that you aren't doing your job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:34PM (#44726471)

    You people really can't believe that people sometimes have different opinions can you? Maybe if the account was made yesterday you'd have a point. But maybe it's entirely possible some people just aren't as mad as you are about this.

  • 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.

!07/11 PDP a ni deppart m'I !pleH