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How much is riding on Stygian Abyss?

Discussion in 'UHall' started by Rocklin, May 5, 2009.

  1. Rocklin

    Rocklin Guest

    Let me preface this post by saying it is impossible for any of us to know the real answers to the questions raised by exploring what SA means to the UO franchise. However I am curious on how people view the release, and if their opinions are similar to mine.

    I have been back in Ultima Online for about three months now. I find in general I am enjoying the game more than ever before. I have the feeling now, with the exception of player versus player content, that I have more freedom to create whatever I want from this game.

    With Stygian Abyss looming in the not so distant future, the question I have is simple.

    Do you think Mythic's success with Ultima Online, and the very continuation of the franchise hinges on Stygian Abyss?

    I believe that Ultima Online is in its later years and without a boost to the gameplay and environment in general, that the franchise has limited time. I would guess maybe three or four years. However, I believe that if Stygian Abyss could draw old players back to Sosaria, and perhaps gain the attention of some new players by offering a solid game world, that the game could continue even farther.

    I believe almost everything hinges on Stygian Abyss and the subsequent support and acceptance of that product.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. DVDA

    DVDA Guest

    Maybe if they actually Market the game we would get more players...

    Even if they market a fraction of what WoW Markets we would atually gain players not lose them
     
  3. Sweeney

    Sweeney Guest

    If they do not plan on marketing this expansion.. they must have done a cost-benefit analysis, figuring only about 50-70% of the current player base would quickly buy the expansion.
     
  4. Bazer

    Bazer Slightly Crazed
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    about half the population of UO is riding on SA, if they market it then all the better
     
  5. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    UO has 100,000 subscribers and is "wildly profitable."

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/warhammer-time

    However, against that there's Mark Jacobs's statement that EA wanted to shut down UO before he took it under Mythic's banner.

    Reconciling these statements leads me to the following conclusions.

    1. There is no rational reason to think that UO is in any kind of trouble. While no one knows real subscription numbers (despite Internet sites to the contrary), the consensus is that UO does better than, say, Dark Age of Camelot.

    2. However, EA is on occasion inclined to think irrationally, and may not really understand the MMO business model (which, unless you're World of Warcraft, basically is smaller profits over a MUCH longer period of time).

    So anything could happen. Jacobs could go off on a wild ego trip and pull the plug right now. Or EA could be stupid, and make him pull the plug.

    However, assuming that EA and Mythic keep their wits? I think we have no reason to think that UO's future is dependent upon SA or anything else.

    Look at SA as just another thing to mess around with in the game you like playing.

    -Galen's player
     
  6. DVDA

    DVDA Guest

    EA did close Gamestorm.com and that gaming website rocked!
     
  7. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    Probably as much as AOS had riding on it.
     
  8. Tina Small

    Tina Small Stratics Legend
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    Rocklin, you might want to read some of Cal Crowner's "letters." Cal is UO's Development Manager. His most recent letter is from December: http://www.uoherald.com/news/news.php?newsid=476.

    This paragraph in particular stands out as a possible response to your questions: "For us, the team is actually having a great time coming up with diabolical ways to engage you for the foreseeable millennium, or until 2012 when the Mayan calendar says everything will end – whichever comes first."

    And another quote from his October 29, 2008 letter: "I was talking to Draconi this morning about the size of the ship that is UO. We are not as nimble as we’d like to be sometimes… but eventually we’ll get UO back on the course that is reminiscent of 'The Golden Days.'"

    Also,from Cal's letter on April 11, 2008: "We’ve had one of the more significant publishes in seven months just days ago, a comprehensive plan that takes us through the next two years of development, an increase in player activity and subscribers, and increasing interaction with the community." [Added emphasis is mine.]

    And, last but not least, from Cal's introductory letter on February 4, 2008: "I am here to break radio silence. First and foremost: by no stretch of John Cleese’s imagination is Ultima Online going away. On the contrary, if you could see and smell the amount of right and left brain molecules burning between developers here, you might wonder how we could stand to work among the palpable sulfuric fumes.... We have some amazing, well-scoped, and thoroughly achievable plans – a lot of them silly, most well-intentioned, but all of them passionate about the continued evolution of the Ultima universe. The most important thing to remember is the team now dedicated to Ultima Online is growing and so thrilled about what’s to come … your best chance for survival is a +5 Helmet of Endurance … and your seatbelts."
     
  9. RichDC

    RichDC Guest


    I like this one, it acutally installs a bit of confidence.

    I like the bolded bit best because of that word..."eventually", shows that he knows its not going to happen overnight but they are working on it.
     
  10. Maplestone

    Maplestone Crazed Zealot
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    If you're expecting any change or expansion to teleport you to utopia, it's probably a danger sign that you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

    The way I see it, there will be new stuff to do and there will still be old stuff to do. I say just ignore the hope and fear and enjoy the ride.
     
  11. Beer_Cayse

    Beer_Cayse Guest

    If they do not start cranking on the shelf presence, UO will be short-lived after SA. The biggest failure IMO is that other games than UO had copies on shelves all over - yet for some reason EA chose WalMart and electronic, then damn few copies to be had.

    You cannot increase revenues via new players/exposure unless there is an in-the-face presence ... shelves, TV, whatever.
     
  12. Harlequin

    Harlequin Babbling Loonie
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    *is secretly planning a viral youtube vid for SA* shhh...
     
  13. Tina Small

    Tina Small Stratics Legend
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    EA has their 4Q 2009 earnings conference call with the analysts this afternoon. Their company annual report should be out soon too, as their fiscal year ended March 31st. Might have some interesting info in it that will shed a little bit of light on their future plans for marketing specific types of games.
     
  14. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    I would imagine, again imagine since we don't know facts, that the UO subscriber count is steadily going down and not up. Sure, they tell us now that UO is 'wildly profitablel'. But, as the amount of paid accounts goes down and zero focus is placed on getting any new players to replace those that leave, its hard to imagine UO being 'wildly profitable' for any extended period of time.

    SA is clearly not in any way designed to get 'new' players. But instead it is designed (and marketed) to do nothing but lessen the flow of players away form the game. Even if SA is 100% successful in regards to that design, it does nothing to ensure the longevity of UO.

    People grow up and stop playing online games. Even games they love. People get families and stop playing online games. Even games they love. Clearly, new players are needed in order to help a game last longer. And until EA (or whoever is responsible for UO's strategy) begins to make an effort to attract new players to replace leaving players, UO will continue to be less and less 'wildly profitable'.
     
  15. Cybrdragon

    Cybrdragon Guest

    I agree with this.
     
  16. Beer_Cayse

    Beer_Cayse Guest

    Oh, I could just not stop myself with this one ... but I do agree with you. I just need to poke sticks, or whatever you wish to call it. Just my perspective ...

    Ummm, my middle name is "Peter Pan". so I won't grow up. I haven't stopped playing online games, just shift from <this> to <that>. Childish since the days of Isle of Kesmai on the pre-AOS CompuServe of the '80s.

    Ummm, yup and nope. Spouse didn't wish to partake, however son did when he was as young as 12 (a thief in pre-Tram days).

    Abso-tively correct.
     
  17. JC the Builder

    JC the Builder Crazed Zealot
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    Why do you keep ignoring the market of players who have left UO? That is who they are marketing to, not just current players. If they just won a good portion of those people back UO would easily have over 1 million subscribers, maybe even several million.
     
  18. DHMagicMan_1

    DHMagicMan_1 Guest

    Considering how badly the deployment of the 11th Year Items were... and those were just small items and by the time they were deployed in North American servers they already existed, I am just scared to think how badly SA's lunch might tank.

    At one time UO was a terrific game and it still has some fun aspects that the newer MMOs can't dupicatate, but the level of investment and interest on the part of EA/Mythic combined with the overall "age" of UO make me think it's running it's last few laps.

    I know there are a lot of people who still really enjoy some aspects of UO, and I was one of them up until January/February of this year, but the game is definately showing its age, there's no doubt about that. The fact that the team is not able to deploy patches and maintenance releases reliabley also bodes badly.

    I don't see any upside for UO except the dedication of "Hard Core" fans that will continue to pay and play no matter what... and that base, I fear, will dwindle slowly as discontentment grows.
     
  19. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    I don't ignore them. But, to me, they are just treating a symptom. Not the actual disease. My point was that sooner or later, people quit playing games. So, even if we got every single person back that used to play UO, we would still end up needing NEW players sooner or later.

    Sure, it would be great for UO to suddenly jump up to a million subscribers. Or two million. Or ten million. But, common sense tells us, that is only temporary if we never get any new people playing.

    Look at it like its earth's population growth. We could suddenly go from such and such billion people to double that but if we stop having any kids, sooner or later the human population will die out.

    Bottom line, we need more people playing. Yes, it would be great to get back every single person that used to play UO. But, for long term success, we also need to attract new players into the game.
     
  20. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    I am with you. I am *cough cough mumble*9 years old and I still act like I did blank blank years ago when I was a kid. But, not everyone is like us.

    Sure. I know people that brought in several of their kids and wives to the game. But, in general, people stop doing things like that. Not everyone, sure. But enough for the loss to be impacting.
     
  21. JC the Builder

    JC the Builder Crazed Zealot
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    The "disease" for the past 3 years has been a lack of expansions. The other factor has been people quitting due to bordem. There just isn't much left to do in UO due to all the bad design choices over the years.

    PVP has dwindled down to champion spawns and Yew moongate fighting.
    PvM has dwindled due to a lack of getting good loot anymore since Age of Shadows.
    Treasure Maps and SOS have also been killed due to a bad loot system.
    Vendors and crafting have dwindled due to a lack of equipment turn over.

    If they can fix some or all of these things, then they will be able to win players back. Of course that would mean Stygian Abyss would have to make almost as many major changes to the game as Age of Shadows did.
     
  22. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    The actual disease is a dwindling player base. The cause/s of this are things like weak pvp systems, lack of loot, no 'major' expansions and vendor boredom.

    The point, as always, is that unless UO's numbers stop falling and start rising its future is in danger. Getting all the old players back is a short term fix to a long term problem. Long term, we need new players in order to replace players that leave for whatever reason (age, family, disinterest, death, jail, alien abduction).
     
  23. Mook Chessy

    Mook Chessy Certifiable
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    Over 1 million?

    At its best I don't think UO ever had close to 1 million.

    I have been playing for ocer 10 years and IMHO two thing are to blame for the population on UO
    #1 WOW, we lost alot of players, over the years I watched played come and go either DOAC, Star Wars or any other MMO of the week. Wow was the first to take a huge bite out of UO. You can guess all you want but the fact is UO is empty.

    # 2 Cheat, hacks and dupes. Uo is basically three types of people
    those you aquire wealth
    those you want to pvp
    and a mix.
    the cheat, hacks and dupes (allowed by EA I might add) have made the core group second class citizens. Look at how many people who collected items, only to have them made worthless by dupers. How many crafters quit due to the scripters and the days of being a casual pvper are long gone.

    Ea will follow suit with what is has done in the past and recycle old items (look at the faction items, old **** with extra mods) bring out an expansion that is so overpowered you need to buy it to compete and bleed us until we all wither away........
     
  24. JC the Builder

    JC the Builder Crazed Zealot
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    Yes, UO peaked at about 250,000 accounts at one time. But that is concurrent, not total people who have ever played the game. Even when UO had over 200,000 people quit and joined every day. Only the team knows how many UO accounts have been created. It should be well over 1 million.

    Getting back just 1/5 or lower of former players would bring UO back to its peak.
     
  25. DHMagicMan_1

    DHMagicMan_1 Guest

    I don't think UO will get a sizable portion of players "Back" any more than a sizable number of people who now buy BluRay disks will go back to Standard DVDs... You can argue all you want about whether x is really better than y, or what if x improved this or that, but y is "newer" and "hotter" and while x may not be dying now, which DVDs aren't either, obviously, the people who enjoy BluRays certainly aren't looking to go backwards.
     
  26. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    Indeed. Particularly the bold section.
    While the remaining old-school players want some of the good ol' days type of content, EA should focus on getting new players and not catering to the small group of hardcore-PvPers left.
     
  27. wrekognize

    wrekognize Guest

    now I understand.
     
  28. 4gregu

    4gregu Slightly Crazed
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    Yes he is!

    [​IMG]
     
  29. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    UO is past its peak. It will never regain its peak. We need to accept this and move on.

    Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call....These are all examples of games that are well past their peak and still live.

    Some new players would be nice I guess. But why do people think that Stygian Abyss is somehow riding on new players? If it is....Then, well, EA has unrealistic expectations for whatever reason.

    Now it's quite possible that UO is in fact riding on SA, due to some weird, flawed thinking at EA. That's perfectly plausible. I just see little, if any, reason to think that this is the case. In other words, if UO goes down, what's gonna kill it more than anything is the same kind of irrational thinking that led to other great business ideas, such as derivatives and Priceline.com.

    And that can happen to any business venture, in any sector of the economy, to any company, at any time.

    As to the issue of UO needing new players? Well again....Let's say we get a few. That's a long way from UO regaining its peak, which I find impossible.

    If anything's gonna be aimed at new players it is going to be some kind of Holiday release of the new client on disk, not the release of SA per se.

    -Galen's player
     
  30. EnigmaMaitreya

    EnigmaMaitreya Crazed Zealot
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    What follows is just my 2cp's aka opinion ......

    Does UO hing on SA? *Laugh* Hardly, the perennial believers that UO is dead, dead, dead, dying, mostly dead are statistically insignificant. UO's subscribers, overwhelmingly (and would not surprise me if it were 99.9%) are hard core, dedicated UO 2D fans. Sorry, but no cigar there, SA is nothing on UO. If it attracts players and keeps players then great ..... otherwise, business as usual.

    Now individual UO Team members, individual UO subscribers, they may be joined at the hip to the success or failure of SA .....
     
  31. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    Ask those 99.9% when they actually started playing UO. I would wager that a large percentage of them weren't playing when UO first started in 97. What's the point you might ask? Well, simply that they were NEW players at one time. Yes, we were all NEW players at one time. However, if we didn't have players that started playing AFTER UO:R or AFTER UO:AoS or AFTER UO:KR do you really think that UO would still be around just with us 'hard core' players from the mid to late 90's as the only playerbase? Of course not. WE needed new players then to keep things going. And we need new players now.

    Sadly, I think EA agrees with all of the posters here that don't believe that new players are important to the success of UO. Its obvious that they haven't made much effort to attract new players in the last 5 years or so. I guess time will tell which side it right. Personally, this is one of the few times that I actually hope I am wrong. I hope UO lasts and remains 'successful' until the day I die without having to attract any new players. After all, all of us 'hard core' players are going to play from our deathbeds and after we go, the servers go with us.
     
  32. I'd say everything is riding on Stygian Abyss. I'll bet that if it performs poorly and doesn't pull in substantial subscriptions, or ends up losing more with the direction, they'll milk the playerbase for everything they've got, which is pretty evidenced already by all the BS anniversary items and crap you can buy, and then axe it.
     
  33. Fink

    Fink Guest

    I think Stygian Abyss is just like any expansion: new content for the existing player. I don't think it's meant to draw new people (maybe bring some back for a look?), but it is meant to give us something fresh to continue subscribing. Like a massive publish or event arc. If we stagnate, we die.

    As for the SA client, it'll probably go the same way as the others: small group of fans, lots of resistance, declared a failure before too long. I'd like to imagine otherwise, but unfortunately that's how I see it being received.
     
  34. D'Amavir

    D'Amavir Guest

    I agree with you. The only difference is that I see the 'failure' (if it happens) as being caused by a poor client that the majority of people currently playing just don't enjoy. While you see the failure as being caused by a bunch of people stuck in their ways that don't want to give anything a chance. I definitely don't see that as being true.

    I can only speak for myself, but I try out every new client that UO has popped out. If I don't enjoy the usability, or if I don't enjoy the look or if I don't enjoy the performance, I drop it and go back to the legacy. As if should be.

    Are people putting out things that clearly look bad with SA? You betcha. As they should.

    SA will be just like every other new client to UO. It will be praised long before release. It will be dissed long before release. It will be seen as the death of UO long before its release. It will be seen as the savior of UO long before its release. In the end, its success or failure will be determined by its quality and by how many people like it more than the legacy client. I hope to be one of those that like it. But, and this is judging only by what I have actually seen, it doesn't look like I will.
     
  35. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    I actually think they should come up with a new name for the client.

    Calling it the SA client implies that you can only use the SA content by using the client which we know isn't true. Also it links the client and the new content in a way that I find inappropriate and misleading.

    -Galen's player
     
  36. Perhaps to get new/returning players?

    "I heard UO has a new expansion."
    "Really"
    "Yah, SA"
    *googles SA*
    "Hmm, new client. Looks different. Ill try it."


    At least KR failed without the hype of an expansion.
     
  37. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    Took me a few reads but I think I get what you mean now.

    Basically, word gets out that UO has an expansion, and in the process of looking up information about it, by coincidence they realize that there's a snazzy-looking new client also?

    Yeah I could see that happening now that you mention it. And I could also see some marketing person having similar thinking.

    Certainly works as an explanation for why the client and the expansion, though very separate, have the same name.

    -Galen's player
     
  38. Orthus

    Orthus Guest

    New players come to new games. Occasionally, a big change will net you some new players (the Japanese expansion netted some new, but that was a MAJOR change, including housing, monsters, land, dugeons, etc.).

    Perhaps it is time for UO to become a new game, where current players have a no-cost invitation to switch to the new game. Keep it UO, just make it new by reflecting a decade of innovations in graphics, monster smarts, knowledge of what works and what doesn't work in UO MMO land, catching cheaters (like PunkBuster), etc.

    I was counting the days until UO 2 came out, but then EA cancelled it. I was ready to buy a new game simply because it was still UO, but with better graphics and perspective, with new lands and monsters. Many of the ideas of UO 2 came into the current game under AoS, but they were reduced to just eye-candy.

    I won't buy WoW, DOAC, or any other "new" game, but I would buy a new UO.
     
  39. Anderuin

    Anderuin Guest

    I am happy to say I am returning to the game. I have played off and on since 1999. I can never get rid of the craving to play UO. No other game compares in my book. There is so many more cool and fun things to do in UO than any other MMO game could ever provide. I am really surprised the game has lasted this long. I remember I quit around the time SE came out and I thought the game was going to tank. I think EA/Mythic care a great deal about UO and preserving it. I can't wait for SA to come out thats one of the reasons I am coming back to check it out and see what it has to offer. But I would in no way say that expansion alone has anything to do with me coming back. I sorely missed the great communities of UO and like I said no MMO I have ever played has ever had such great support and communities in a game.
     
  40. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    This actually has already happened once: Age of Shadows.

    While Age of Shadows has its supporters and has its virtues, it can be fairly termed UO's most controversial expansion. It can also be fairly said to have been associated with a decline in subscriptions. Now I'm not going to say "AoS killed UO" or anything like that; to make that judgment would require a lot of data we don't have access to. And even then the analysis may not yield a definitive answer.

    Just saying that newness doesn't necessarily equal an increase in subscriptions.

    -Galen's player
     
  41. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
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    Welcome back.

    -Galen's player
     
  42. Orthus

    Orthus Guest

    Which is why I won't buy WoW, DOAC, etc.
    Mainly, I was suggesting that given the problems with legacy code, artifact creep, and the fallout of all the nerf changes to try to achieve balance, maybe it time for a complete reimplementation of UO. Make it new again. Either that or I'm still suffering the fallout of the new Star Trek movie :popcorn:
     
  43. Lord_Puffy

    Lord_Puffy Crazed Zealot
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    Everything???
     
  44. phantus

    phantus Stratics Legend
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    Correct answer. You win a UHall widget. It comes in the form of flames from the clueless. Enjoy.
     
  45. GarthGrey

    GarthGrey Crazed Zealot
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    To the OP, your answer is actually contained in this reply.

    Nuff said I think..