One Entitled Eight-Ball

Is Rift a success? Yes, I am a happy customer. The end. Print that for a box top and smoke it, Trion. Everything else from their return-on-investment to some silly “3-monther” yardstick is irrelevant. Yet, the story doesn’t fully end because this is a subscription game, and I have to determine whether it’s a success every single month. I will never say I am going to subscribe until the servers go dark. Therefore, Rift is instantly a success, and it will never be a success.

The MMO community carries a weird sense of measure for a successful game. It’s like there is some pressure for the game to be timeless that seems found nowhere else in the video game world. People are buying a new Pokemon this month, which is the exact same game every iteration. What about the $60 console games with 10 hours of gameplay before the credits roll? I own games on Steam I have never even played! Yet somehow it matters if Rift is timeless now?

It must be some weird artifact of the bygone days, you know before World of Warcraft ruined “community,” to be benchmarking the game’s life at launch. I certainly am not looking for an indefinite home, especially in a subscription-based game. I am looking for a sweet-vacation spot. When I hit sunny Acapulco, my fun is definitely not inhibited by worries that the town is going to go donkey turds in five years. It surprises me that people are viewing their MMO time that way. Hopefully they are still enjoying the game regardless of what their magic eight-ball is telling them

so let it be written, so it shall be done

18 thoughts on “One Entitled Eight-Ball”

  1. People wanting to know if it’s a success are asking on many levels, I think. There’s the “How’s launch going?” success. There’s “Is it worth my time and effort to dedicate myself to this for 6 months?” success. Then there’s the “will this game be around in 5 years?” success.

    That someone asks “Is Rift a success?” certainly doesn’t qualify the question, but it’s still a legitimate question that I think people are allowed to ask, so long as they specify the parameters of “success”.

  2. I’m right there with you. If I pay $50 for an MMO and play it every night for a month and never subscribe, I’ve still probably gotten a lot more value out of it than I do for most $60 console games that keep me entertained for a week.

  3. One of the original ideas behind an MMORPG was that it was a virtual world, and unlike a single player RPG, the adventure would never end, you would never see the credits roll. In 97, that was a HUGE plus for me. I hated the fact that FFVII told me when I was done with it, and loved that UO always had more so long as I wanted it.

    That the above is seen as silly by many today is sad, but there ya go.

    Plus, you would be enjoying Rift a whole lot less if your server was underpopulated, you had troubling finding people to close a rift, and overall things felt ‘dead’. That’s a very real reason to want your MMO of choice to be a success beyond just “I like it”.

    1. I don’t think we disagree, especially since I don’t think you are playing UO right now (or Darkfall?), but you had fun when you did, right?

    2. To playfully and with no ill-will, let me paraphrase …

      “When we got together back in ’97, we were gonna be together forever … but then, you broke my heart .. now I’m never going to love again.”

  4. But I played UO for 3 years, DF for 2 (and still going). If UO had not been trammeled, it would have been longer. More than a few people are going 7+ years with EVE, etc.

    If you leave an MMO after a month, the title failed as an MMO, even if it succeeded in being a fun game. (and no, I don’t have a timeframe for success, but I know damn well its over a month)

  5. I think it’s because MMOs always have a “work within the game”-aspect, the leveling, the title grinding, the farming and so on. And this work seems only worth the effort if you spend lots of time in the game to show off your archivements. Also, it takes time to build up your community, find a good guild and so on. Thats all not really possible and enjoyable within a month or two.

  6. John Smedley gave an interview sometime back in the very early 2000s (which I regret that I didn’t keep a copy of) in which I remember him saying that they had expected Everquest to have a life-expectancy of three years but seeing as it was going so well it might last as long as five. My memory may be off on the exact details but i’m certain that the gist was that EQ was not intended to last indefinitely and it had already lasted longer than they’d thought it would.

    That interview scared me at the time, because I couldn’t imagine being “done” with Everquest after just five years. And I was right. I’m still playing Everquest now. I hope to play it for the rest of my life.

    The yardstick against which I am ultimately measuring all MMOs is “will this game remain available for as long as I wish to play it?” For that reason alone, I want MMOs I like to be “successful”. If they aren’t, I can’t go on playing them. Therefore, having fun now is good, but there’s always a shadow, because I might still be having fun when everyone else has decided they’re not.

    1. Does it help or hurt that “shadow” that things like dynamic content without required grouping or the LFG system are being added to prolong an MMO’s appearance of life?

      1. I’m 100% in favor of the kind of dynamic content Rift is offerign and GW2 will be offering. I think the “pop-up” group is a brilliant innovation, which we should all be very grateful to Mythic for inventing. Whether it will lead to greater longevity for the games is harder to predict.

        My apprehension really derives from taking the “virtual world” thing at face value. When a world I’ve felt involved in (Rubies of Eventide, Ferentus) closes, it’s as if my passport has been revoked. It’s hard to understand, emotionally, why I’m no longer allowed to go to a place I liked and where I felt comfortable. I always feel the world is still there, but I’m locked out.

  7. Ah, someone saw the same post I did and was also compelled to respond. Hehe.

    I have to wholly agree that I subscribe to the “if it’s fun, sub, if it’s not, unsub” argument. It’s simplistic, but it reflects previous pain of subbing to games I didn’t like. That being said, my tolerance for allowing an MMO to sort out its inevitable issues is far longer than 3 months – as long as I’m finding some appeal in playing. Most times, I do.

  8. This was a great post. My litmus test has been reduced to one simple questions: is the game fun?

    Rift is fun. Period.

    The day I started to control my expectations for MMO’s was the day I reconciled my relationship with the genre.

    Rift’s early game and launch experience is a triumph: if anything it’s raised the bar for future MMO launches.

  9. I’m surprised that you find this surprising. We face difficult decisions about how to budget our time. If it does not seem likely that I would still be playing Rift in a few years time (either due to lack of endgame or balance or whathaveyou), then I do not want to invest a few months of time into it, even if those months would be relatively enjoyable. Because I could also play dozens of other super fun games that aren’t designed to make me care about the long haul, if I’m only getting short-term fun out of it.

    Rift can’t be offended that it is compared to WoW in every single way, since it copies from WoW in almost every single way. That’s like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 developers saying “how dare you compare us to Super Street Fighter IV, it is a totally different game!” It is not only natural to wonder if the game’s popularity will last the way WoW’s has, the game invites you to do so.

    1. Is long haul fun more fun than short-term fun? I understand your point but disagree with the foundations of it.

    2. You brought up a good point here: focus on the endgame. If that’s mainly why you play MMOs, then it would be a major concern. Why spend months, and subscription fees, on a game that will leave you disappointed when you get to maximum level?

      However, some people are into the journey rather than racing to level cap to raid. It just depends on what kind of player you are, I guess.

      Seems like WoW’s longevity has raised the bar for every other game.

  10. By this measure, every single MMO ever made is a huge, cracking success! Because there’s at least one person who, gosh darn it, likes it.

  11. “People are buying a new Pokemon this month, which is the exact same game every iteration.”

    There’s a certain degree of irony in making this statement in the midst of a post talking about Rift, which cribs from World of Warcraft to such a huge extent that I think Blizzard would have some ground to stand on if they were to sue for infringement.

    Honestly it’s kind of a questionable thing to say on any blog about MMORPGs, which almost unilaterally stick to a tried-and-true formula, but it’s particularly egregious when talking about Rift.

    Maybe you were aiming for irony?

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