February 12, 2009 Leave a comment
…but they still might close you the server! Ok, not really funny, I know.
NCsoft has announced some time ago that its Tabula Rasa sci-fi steam-punk MMORPG is closing servers as of 2009 February. Imagine you have bought the game (in a box) and you’ve paid regular subscription fees and now this. Ok, you’ve got your fun you’ve paid for, but it’s still difference to pay for a year of fun that is ended suddenly or to pay longer (hence more) but for a game that goes on and on just like you want. Not to mention that you would probably have not bought the box in the first place if you had known the fate of the game. NCsoft offered various compensations (time in other MMORPG or so) which is nice of them – it should go like this when the game ends sooner than expected.
Just a few months ago I mentioned Hellgate: London in my article about Sacred. I learned few days later that the online part would be closed too. That leads me to the question: “How can I know that this and this game is going to be successful? Whether it has perspective or not?” The answer is – there’s no way. Tabula Rasa looked extremely promising at the start. Every game eventually ends. I can’t imagine WoW being played in 2020. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they’ll enhance it continuously and it will be top game. Although I doubt it because while it still has reportedly some unbeaten features the graphics will be overcome by other games – and these games will catch the WoW in other terms as well. However – WoW will not end any soon and it’s pretty sure deal to go after if you want. That means buying three boxes (in our country the pack costs around $80 which is really a lot) plus subscriptions of course. But WoW is famous, WoW is the top, it’s the king of the hill of the MMORPG world, so why to lower the cost? I understand this, no sarcasm.
If I finish with PWI (or take a break) I’ll probably try EVE Online – that is if I have time for that. You have to buy it initially and there are subscriptions too but the cost seems better to me and the game is something different than typical fantasy MMORPG. But you never have to buy expansions – that’s the proper customer treatment in my eyes. Expansions often raise the level-cap and introduce new skills – this all favors mostly players who paid a lot already, why to cash them twice? There is also the other way – I’d say “the Asian way” – free client with subscriptions. Lineage 2 for example. Of course, you can object: “Hey, Asian MMORPG are unplayable!” I played only L2 and PWI, so I can’t tell – but I believe the people who tried both classes and know the difference. In PWI – for instance – you can’t redefine your keyboard or invert mouse movement – that sucks hardly if you ask me.
Back to the topic – how to avoid the situation from the title? You may wait till the game is really a big thing – like WoW or EVE. But if everybody waited no game would be a big thing, would it? Don’t worry though, either you don’t care about the money that much – it is spent for fun after all and you’ll not carry any of your characters to your afterlife anyway so if it’s fun for a year and then another fun with another game… not a big deal. Still you sometimes need several years to get to higher levels with your character if you are occasional player and you need game that will last for so long. There are still people who try many things, many games and these might make the game big before you jump in. Or try some F2P game like PWI. Even when I’ve already criticized the game in my posts (I still play it).
The point is – I don’t like paying for boxes and subscriptions, but it’s sort of standard today. I prefer subscription only because it’s more fair – but on the other hand it gives you the feeling that you have to play it now when you’ve already paid for it. I’m also not sure how you can take a break from the game? Do I have to leave for the whole month? F2P games never bring these questions and many players pay for them anyway (I did too). And if there are subscriptions why the initial payment is so high? These games are useless offline anyway. I’m curious what future will bring and how long these marketing models stay unchanged for the most popular games. Maybe later companies will find the solution for unsuccesful games too. What if users/players/fans were able to run the server somehow? Private servers exist for many games? Couldn’t it be the way for Hellgate: London and Tabula Rasa?