So with the news that SWTOR is going ftp, many believe that this is the end of SWTOR. Others think that going the FTP route will entice more people to join, but will that actually cure the game? Without meeting today's standard, an MMO is more than likely condemned to perform the walk of shame that is FTP. Some will laugh that a big studio now has to market their game with the likes of Runescape and League of Legends. While others will actually think the game to be more appealing since not only do they not have to pay a subscription, but the game is totally free to download and play. So why does this happen? Usually, its because of population drop within the game. The developer believes that they will no longer have the subscription base they need in order to pay for the game's upkeep and content. So with the injection of FTP, they invent ways to encourage free playing gamers to "accelerate" (some call it cheating) their character to either level faster or gain more powerful "unique" gear and sometimes more specialized clothing articles. Surprisingly, this method actually did work with a lot of failed attempt games. DC Universe had hour ques to log in when they released it for free. APB was scrapped, but then revived by another developer and has a pretty good population base. So obviously FTP can sometimes, not be that bad. But why does this happen?
Content should be prepared and ready to launch at steady intervals in order to keep hardcore gamers that reach max level within a few days, playing . If there is not enough content to play then there is no justification to keep playing. When it comes to MMOs, if there is not enough content it makes the player feel that the monthly fee is not justified and can lead to unsubscribed members. It is an important factor in MMOs to have constant content through the game's lifespan at a somewhat regular cycle.
This goes for every game out there. Developers should realize that what people want out of video games is to be entertained and whisked away from their seats into another world. In order for this to happen you have to fool the player into believing that they aren't really playing a piece of software that's rolling dice to calculate the next hit on their target. Everything from animations, story telling, textures and so on have to be familiar and somewhere in the realm of being believable. If i'm running across a lush forest with colorful plants everywhere, but then my characters gets stuck in a falling animation or gets stuck in the Jesus position. My fantasy of walking through the forest has stopped and I know longer feel the connection of being in it. There are all sorts of other examples I can list. From bad textures to limited character animations, if it doesn't feel right, it will probably pop the immersion bubble. Its important to have immersion or else the player will feel that they're actually play a piece of software, rather than experiencing something completely else.
A game has to have a quality standard. It should run at optimum levels that are smooth and guaranteed to almost run 24/7. Its understandable in an MMO to have maintenance periods. In fact, if anything its justifying that the monthly fee the player pays is being put to good work by keeping the game running and having it play the same way for long periods of time. This is something that should be handled first in a game. Nothing is more cringing and painful than playing a game that is unplayable due to lag or server outages. Most would think this is something simple, but they're a handful of games out their that are simply not as smooth as they should be.
Player interaction is the most important aspect of MMOs. It's what attracts people to play them in the first place. They're very few other genres of games that offer the type of interaction that MMOs provide. In order for a player to really feel like they're other people around, there should be evidence of other players in the world, such as player driven markets and places where they can congregate together. Of course, there should also be content that involves team work with other players and glorious PvP as well. However, it shouldn't feel forced and it should be easy to group up with other players. If I feel that I can't go through a certain area to pass through without another players help, then its considered forced. However, if the initiative to collect better gear is there and the area is put aside so that I don't have to walk through it, then I would probably more than likely group with a gang full of people to clear out the area and get the nice piece of loot. Accidental interaction is the best way to do this. The developer should be clever with their game by having zones where players will more than likely meet up or even events that entice all players around to participate. It's like having a party almost. You have to give reason for people to socialize with each other. What makes me want to talk to this random person? Maybe I'm just drunk as hell or maybe that was the whole point of providing alcohol in the first place. It lightens people enough to interact with total strangers.
The game should of course be fun to play in the first place. The difficulty should feel just right, not too hard and not too easy. The player should feel he never has to question whether or not they're wasting their time playing and should feel that they should play more. A sense of reward and progression either through story or game mechanics should always be present.
All five of these must be met to a certain degree in order for the game to sustain a healthy life span in the gaming market. If even one of these fails, it could mean population drop within the game and ultimately, the horrible FTP DEATH OOOOOooooo.
So in my opinion, SWTOR failed in almost all of these. The game felt rushed to begin with since there was little to no content to begin with. The graphics were somewhat ugly, especially in the textures and animations which leads to the immersion bubble popping and hitting a certain number of monsters over and over just didn't feel fun, also the on rail space missions felt more like time consumers and credit dumps instead of having a purpose. There was limited to no other player interaction throughout the world and overall each planet felt empty and like a ghost town. Quests sometimes required other players to help you which made player interaction feel forced especially since if you didn't do these quests you would end up being under leveled. The voice acting quality seemed terrible, more noticeably towards the end when you noticed your own character saying the same lines over in side quests.
Guild Wars 2 seems to be an MMO worth trying since it seems to have the right player interaction that I've been wanting to see since the old days playing Runescape and WoW. However the hype train is at full speed and a number of things can occur at this point, we will just have to wait and see I suppose on how it turns out.
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