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Discussion in 'UO Spiels N Rants' started by MoonglowMerchant, Oct 20, 2008.
A MMORPG's lifeblood is new players. Right now, we have nothing to bring new players in. Only nostalgia is bringing back ex-players, and they aren't near enough to replace the hemmorage of players who are leaving a game they perceive is obsolete or dying, and the ones disgusted by the Devs refusal to enforce the anti-dupe/cheat policy.
I really am surprised EA is going to go ahead with this expansion. I really, really thought they were just gonna continue to run down the clock with minimal investment.
I can think of one good reason: I want to play it.
I'm assuming I'm not alone there.
Shelf space? C'mon guys, get out of the '90s! Welcome to the digital age.
Shelf space would be nice, but I think that if they took that money spent on packaging and instead put it into magazine ads, it would be way more beneficial. Of course, I have no numbers to back that up... just my feeling on the matter.
Same here, if I don't have to go to some store in a crowded mall, I won't. I don't do walmart either.
UO isn't dying as all you doom & gloom guys think, UO is alive and well......maybe if UO is all you have and practically live online, then maybe you're mind is dying.
There's a world out there.
This was mentioned at the Town Hall. Jeremy was saying that it is extremely tough to get shelf space in stores, especially for PC games as they tend to favour console ones. Where they do stock them, they tend to want the huge sellers.
I think their point is that the sums involved in getting it in store may be better spent in other forms of advertising.
As of now they have not made any firm decisions, but I think we are going to have to judge it in the light of the overall package when the launch comes.
Shelf space puts the game in the view of the average gamer. Without it, UO is dead as far as the mainstream is concerned.
Package an insert for a trial with Warhammer's next box. Instant shelf space and new players.
Hard or not.. if its not on the shelf, UO in itself will not have any new players which also means no new subs. They should seriously reconsider that. Heres an idea for them... Make the box more attractive to sell in the store, and they will jump at selling it. Obviously WOW did something like that to earn 6 feet of shelf space top to bottom here in Canada.
But the reality is that is not going to happen; that would cost an awful lot of money. That is the sort of thing they would do with Warhammer or another game they see as the future, not with a game regarded as a niche title with limited potential.
The way stores are managed today, it isn't impossible to get UO on the shelf. How long it remains there is a different story. It isn't like World of Warcraft where they sell through their stock at a decent pace.
To get UO back in the store they have to step up to an expansion level unseen in UO history and get people excited about the game again. One new race, a couple new skills, another new land: yawn. If that is all they have planned it just won't happen.
Contrary to personal norms, I'm not sure of the "best" direction here. I know I don't like the idea of no box/ shelf space, but that's from an emotional opposed to an intellectual baseline. If we had a history of solid marketing, I'd recommend defering to their good judgement, but we know how well that's gone over the years. While I don't believe a yearly box the necessity it once was, there probably needs to be some cycle for reintroduction. Maybe 2d or 3d year boxes, but as JC mentioned above, a shelved product needs something more special than routine updates/ upgrades. I'm not sure how far out Dev plans anymore, if they're on a single year plan, the process wouldn't lend itself well to any predetermined shelf cycle. My guess is that SA is the "biggie" over the next few years, and if so, it likley needs to be boxed. If it isn't "big" enough to merit the expense, hold it until it is. Of course there are other methods for marketing, so if we move away from boxes entirely, it's probably worth a shot to blitz alternate techniques if for no other reason to calibrate results for future marketing schemes. EA has to remember that our player base is not the same as the base for other products, and for the market we represent, it's a very safe bet that the market isn't even close to fully utilized. Regardless, it will be interesting to see where this goes.
Even if it's not offered up in stores it should be present in magazines, and other periodicals, especially one's targeted on PC Technology and the Gaming industry. If they advertise that way and make use of sites like Amazon and Gamestop to sell boxes then it shouldn't be that bad on them. Amazon doesn't have the limited shelf space issue that retailers do.
There's seven major problems with the current state of Ultima Online, in my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary, but I would like to hear what you think.
The first two, really can't be helped:
#1 - The game is just old. Gamers are fickle when it comes to the age of their games. Most people who play computer games are under 30, and young people naturally are always going to new horizons, especially with entertainment.
#2 - Isometric games have fallen out of favor. The FPS stampede over the
past two decades still continue to be popular.
The next four I think are irrevocable, just the sins of the past management:
#3 - The UO name still has an ominous legacy. The Dread Lord Days did a LOT of damage to our player base. Thousands of players who were learning the ropes were mercilessly bullied and preyed upon by PKs, in a system that did not protect weaker players. This made a great deal of people leave UO, never to return. Hindsight is 20/20 -- non-consensual PvP was a bad idea, because it rewards predatory behavior towards weaker players. Virtually no MMORPG allows it any more. UO still bears the stigma of antisocial gaming.
#4 - Hand in hand with #3 is the utterly pathetic way the duping crisis was handled. Our UO economy STILL hasnt recovered from this travesty, and it took the GMs YEARS to fix it, after months of denying it and having a bunch of greedy cheaters rob the rest of us blind. Again, when a counterfeiter gets away with it, the rest of the consumers end up paying for the theft. Also, it has been proven countless times that scripters and bots operate with impunity in this game. While EA makes lots of hot air posts about raids and investigations, at the end of the day, we the players see two big things on our screen -- cheaters rampant, and a conspicuous lack of enforcement.
#5 - Years of infamously horrible customer service, (GMs were synonymous with the line "I can't help you with that" on virtually anything) But damn, we didn't know when we had it good. At least someone actually SHOWED UP that you could complain to. Now we have a cookie cutter "go look at our website" support.
#6 - Richard Garriot and crew built this system out of love and personal pride. It was their baby. Now EA sees it as a vehicle to get money, nothing else. Its an intangible change, but it still its a malaise that eats at the game.
The last one, I DO think EA could fix. And fixing this could lessen the impact of 1-6....
#7 - Inactivity on the Event Front. I understand all efforts are currenlty being diverted to the new expansion, but let's face it. The game has been dullsville for months. There's no hot quests, no new developments to the storylines, no new BBEG wrecking havoc on the world. Just the same ol' monster mash in dungeons, the same uninspired crap we've always had.
You know, it wouldn't be hard at all to just have a weekly ongoing event (and not another damn invasion, those things just show how unimaginative things have gotten on the other side of the screen -- oohhh, lets just have a wave-based monster spawn we cant possibly win in the long run -- yeah, we never saw that before). It's showmanship and good writing that gets people excited. Have it so that if you miss a week in UO, by God, you miss something BIG. That doesn't take wizardry programming, nor does it take a lot of planning. Just have an involved storyline that gets everyone itchin' to log on after work. THAT will generate the word of mouth and bring people in.
That is why Diablo III and Starcraft II are going first person right? The perspective you play the game in does not matter. It is the game itself.
When I see people talking about UO they are often referring to the "good old days". There is obviously something more appealing with the way UO was 8 years ago than it is today. Some people may have been turned off, but many more people were having fun.
Sure. That's why all the MMORPGs still have non-consensual PvP, right? I don't care what you heard, the current policy towards PvP (consentual/server based only) prevading the MMORPG community speaks with a lot more weight.
I don't deny that it's great fun to be the wolf. Being the prey that has no chance of fighting back is actually not very fun. I don't think I've ever heard some guy recounting with fond nostalgia how his miner got ganked by a flock of red names, losing three hours of work. Have you?
Yea the game is old but it never met it's potential. If..UO was to ever have a major overhaul (This doesn't mean just a new client) to allow it to meet that potential they I would say the impact of it being "old" would be dampened. After all everything that's old is new again.. look at fashion, car design, and numerous other instances.
Very true though I personally detest FPS games, There is still room for Isometrics, but it would have to be integrated with the option of being played First Person.
I don't completely agree with this, One thing I hear positive about UO is that it has the best PvP of the MMO's out there, another thing I look at is UO peaked in subs 3 months after AoS launched. Players had the option of removing themselves from Non-Consensual PvP by that time. I think it's more of a view from the knowledgeable public that UO is a game riddled by Exploitation, and Cheating. It has several major balancing issues because the developers don't seem to make the use of variables in the code to separate PvP encounters from PvM most the time leading to balancing in one causing imbalance in others.
Read the Above, I do think that cheats and exploits are the single most damaging thing in UO's history.
The Volunteer program legal mess jacked that up, years ago when you did a page you often times got a Smurf to evaluate the situation to see if a GM was warranted. Also all the GM Support staff wasn't restricted to being in house, they have people doing it from home all over the place. Restricting it to In house really cut back on the numbers of support staffing, leading to constrains in time, which of course lead to procedural changes, which binds the support staffs hands.
Yea they did and when RG left most of his development team at least those remaining went with him. EA's demands for deadlines and reshuffling of the Dev Team squeezed most of Origins in house programmers out. These were the people who helped envision UO, and many of the standalone Ultima Games, simply put no one else could have followed in their foot steps no one knew the internal working, story line, and goals for Ultima Online better.
I don't think #7 can fix it or really help at this point simply because as long as the issues generated by the others are still in place, it's simply a band-aid. It's like trying to plug a leaky dam with bubble gum. We get the Event we're all happy for a few days or weeks and then BOOM right back to harping on Cheats, Bugs, and Exploits. There has to be an overall improvement on both ends for UO to progress, more event and fresh material, and a serious visible effort to close up exploits bugs and cheats. These will lead to solid game play again and that will do the most to help UO.
UO had quite the niche worked out way back in the day. The skill based system meant you could be up and running within a few days on a character. It was fun, you didn't need to endlessly grind to get to some mystical endgame. You just got on and socialized with friends, with different things to do. But once Everquest started getting big, they went back on what made UO unique and tried to make it more like other games. The result was the bastardization of the vision the game originally had. They lost a lot of the older players that liked the feel, and the newer players that preferred the EQ type stuff went over to EQ who did it better (and eventually World of Warcraft, which redefined Massively Multiplayer). If UO is going to survive as a niche game, it first needs to have a niche...which is something that went out the window long ago.
Gamers go where the other gamers are. If UO's ever going to gain momentum again, it needs something huge. Events won't do it, at best they'll keep the current players interested. They need boxes on shelves and word of mouth spreading. I used to hold out hope that this would happen eventually, but Stygian Abyss made me realize that's it. They're just trying to retain the current playerbase, instead of expanding...which just leads to stagnation and decay.
The entire premise behind Warhammer Online is non-consensual PVP. That game sold over 750,000 copies during the launch. EVE Online has huge non-consensual PVP areas and is currently growing its subscription base with up to 40,000 players logged in at the same time. The idea that non-consensual PVP is undesirable to most people is absurd. During that time that everyone said Trammel had to happen or UO would die, UO was growing subscriptions! It was only perceived as a negative thing because Everquest came in and grew to twice UO's size.
What's the average population difference between Fel and Tram on any given Shard (not Siege ruleset)... I'm not talking about right at Champ Spawn time but overall... where do people spend their time.
That should tell you how many people like non-consentual PvP.
Eve Online has HUGE areas of non-PvP as well... sometimes "Carebears" have to fly through "PvP" lands and they cringe and whine... but a huge portion of the 40K concurrent users are not flying in low-sec and 0.0 space at any given time.... Non-Consentual PvP is not the way to build a huge fan base... or not the only way, anyway.
Check the figures for UO Subscriptions over time (is sirbruce still tracking this?). See that higher than current figure back before Trammel. Now subtract the 75k or so current subscribers from the 200k or so from then, and you'll see that 125k people preferred non-con PvP, a good bit more than there are active now.
Sure, it doesn't account for outside factors, but neither does comparing Trammel and Felucca (seeing as you deliberately exclude the one advantage Felucca has over Trammel).
People really need to give up on the "building a huge fan base" thing if they really want UO to survive. UO needs to bring in new players, sure, as they're the lifeblood of MMOs (there's always churn, you need to bring in more than are leaving). But there's only room for a couple dominant games in the market, and it seems those slots are taken thus far. The best UO can hope for is a niche slot. To do that they need to both have things the other games don't, and they need word of mouth spreading. Copying whatever the other games have won't help with this.
I don't believe that.
When I go to Best Buy, they have tons and tons of PC games. A lot of them aren't bestsellers. In fact, most aren't bestsellers.
If EA doesn't want to spend the money to put SA in boxes that's fine.
It just means that they are too cheap to make a real investment in bringing new players to UO.
That leads us back to the original question. Why make a new engine to get new players when you aren't going to give new players the opportunity to see the game?
Perhaps the investment they are making is soooooo minimal that they feel they can recoup their investment by selling only to the existing playerbase. That is the only thing I can think of...
Very nice post. I strongly agree with the "theme" of your points, but disagree on a couple of the "eaches."
While there's merit here, I don't agree that it can't be "fixed." Unfotunately I know nothing about programming, so I may be about to unintentionally err. My understanding is that theres code in two places, on a server and within a client. If the client code is modernized in SA, the first battle is won. Again, as I understand it, the client must be modernized before the server side can be. Assuming client acceptance, the second battle is the server code. Unless you intend to win both battles, theres no reason to fight the first. So "mechanically," I think there is an ongoing effort to update code. As players though, we really don't see much of the back end. We have four perceptions, the visuals, interface, content and events. I can not comment on how the interface compares, I suspect we're fine with what we have. UO has never "lagged" on content and likely never will. Events, and a staff to support them, seem based on subscriptions/ generated revenue. On that we'll have to see.
JC hit this one already in terms of comparison. I like our "view," others do as well. I'm not sure this is really a problem, but you are correct, it generally is against the trend.
While many may disagree from a perspective of personal preferences, the simple fact is that you're absolutely correct on the effect this had, and consequences continue to linger. Whether you preferred or loathed the playstyle, for those few of us still around from the pre-public days, the impact here was the most significant of all. We lost more players in the first year than any online game other than WoW have achieved since. My first two public years were spent trying to help beginning players, so for me this isn't a "hearsay" theory, I played avidly the entire time and witnessed the migration first hand. UOR offered some repreive, and subscriptions recovered to their highest number before or since, but the new player influx during that time period was miniscule compared to year 1. While not "fixable" in terms of "tainting," it can be addressed now and in the future. Powerscrolls in Fel only, and red access into gargoyle lands display a tendency within dev to ignore lessons learned over the years.
Absolutely. It is vital to eliminate duping once and for all. Gold needs a replacement currency. This one requires a "reboot," but again it's something that can be done.
Yup. Much of this was actually organization, not broadly known within the public wrealm. Support and marketing have been separate of dev at least since year 3, I'm unsure prior to that. The effect was that the lead guy for UO, each of them over time, could not directly influence critical facets of the player experience or growth of the game. Later moves into pogo/ ea.com and now Mythic have not "cleaned" this up. Unfortunately it's now become a resource issue. We don't generate adequate revenue for a large, trained, and dedicated staff. I do think they're trying though, recently, things seem a little better, though thats more a "feeling" than a "fact."
True. But sincerely, I think for EA it's always been primarily about revenue, something I'm not critical of - that's business afterall, which is EA's role. Again, and while also just a "feeling," I get the sense that our team still sees and feels the love and pride aspect. I do have directional concerns with our current team, but much of that may be due to poor communication, which isn't necessarily anyone's fault.
Agreed, and fixable. Again, great post.
Hail: Here is the real reason why they won't put the expansion into stores, imhop that is.......
How many of you would wait for WoW to be 11 years old, Then go play it??? Yea, that's what i thought. No one want to enter a game, that everyone else had a few months, to a few years, to several years head start in it. The average 18 year old never heard of Ultima. To them, Ultima Online just came out, unless they read all the print on the box. They have NO clue about current exploits, all the dupes, cheaters, and so on. The average person does not see a game in a store, and then goes home and does reasearch on it before buying it. Did you?
This game is very complex, and complicated. There is NO one place to go to find ALL the information on everything in the game. There is no guide book, ie, "Prima". So, they buy it, log in, and kill a small creature and get a plant seed. Now has to log out and search what the seed is for. Log back in, attack another creature and gets killed. "Oh, Oh, I know this one, go to the Healer". No map of towns, and spends a lot of time running in circles.
I can go on forever like this. I will now PROVE my point. Log in, and let a family member or friend, or anyone who has not played the game, read the pamplet that came with it, and let them try to play with your established charater, "Without you helping them at all". hehehe. Now try doing it as a brand new charater........
This is why it will not be in the stores. EA has much better chance of trying to get players to return to the game, than they do trying to get brand new players. They do after all have every person who ever played the game E Mail on file.......
ADVERTISING? Where? When? How? Who? I wanna see ... can someone point me in the right direction?
To whoever moved this one into Spiels and Rants, the thread 1) has been constructive and 2) will never be viewed by anyone in Dev based on where you've moved it to. Just an opinion for what it's worth.
Relax. It is far too much work to moderate a message board where people actually post.
It is much better for the mods if we all just get back to work and quit bothering them.
It also fits with EA/Mythic's general customer service culture. You know, the one where they hate their customers and go out of their way to avoid hearing from them. Thanks for that Mr. Jacobs. You are doing a bang up job.
Call me skeptical, but the only proof that we have of the expansion is a few words from the devs. Give someone a WoW manual, a thesaurus, and the phrases "it's in the works" and "we'll look into it" and they wouldn't have much trouble coming up with similar expansion notes.
Not that I necessarily think this is the case now, but EA/Mythic announcing an expansion with no real intent to produce results would be a minimal investment... and certainly not the lowest a company has stooped to grab the last bits of profit from a sinking franchise.
I agree JC.
The mass exodus was when they started changing gameplay to appease the minority. People didn't leave UO because of the PvPers/ PK'ers back in the day what happened is that the PvPers/PK'ers left and moved on to other games.
I also agree with Moonglow Merchant. If they want to move UO in a positive direction they need to get the game on the shelf at Best Buy because that's where I go when I want to browse the new games that are out there on the market.
Personally, I don't want to download a game online I want a box and a hardcopy with my code and some instructions. I'm not saying not to have the option to get SA online what I am saying is EA is dumb as rocks if they don't make a legitimate effort to get this game on the shelf.
Like Moonglow Merchant I see tons of PC games on the shelf at Best Buy. I've gone back a year later to see the same games on the shelf. It's not rocket science.
How is EA going to get old players to return if when they go down to the local Best Buy and SA isn't on the shelf... How are they going to know there even is an expansion?
This is a rhetorical question no reply needed.
Any thread that says things aren't peachykeen is moved to the SnR section. Where it is safe from the eyes of the Devs (and therefore an utterly useless subboard for complaints). God forbid they should actually read what's upsetting us.
Darkfall Online = Death of UO???
I'm not looking to pick a fight, but this simply is not correct. JC, as do many, prefers the PvP aspect of the game. PvPers are one of the five major demographics of our remaining player base (PvPers, role players, "older" players, female players, and Japanese players accross the spectrum), so I have no intent to diminish the enjoyment many find within this aspect of the product. That said, anti-social behavior nearly destroyed the game. Anti-social behavior and a preference for PvP are not the same thing. But history is what history is, despite current "real life" trends to rewrite it, and in this case the outflux of players early in the game due to anti-social behavior was overwhealming - and has never even been close to repeated since. And there are some of us who were around to witness it firsthand. It doesn't make anyone smarter, more experienced, or provide a more valid "worlview." But it is a fact, and the first year was a proverbial "muther." It's hard, probably impossible, to put a firm finger on it, but if we retained 1 in 10 of the year one players through a third year I'd be surprised. Subscription rates didn't fall off as quickly, many of us were opening multiple accounts during this period, so statistical accurancy isn't easy to be sure.
Subscription attrition since the post-UOR "peak" has been due to many, many things. A "renewal" has not occurred also due to a myriad of things. But unlike some, I'm not so finalistic about what can/ can't be done, provided focus and intent.
I do agree there needs to be a box at some juncture, and as in an earleir post, suspect SA offers the best near term opportunity for one.
To be fair, they get it right most of the time. One of them blew this one, which is forgivable It needs to go back to UHall though. Fixing mistakes is a sign of confidence!