• Ramin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 7 months ago:

    The Death of the MMO
    By Ramin Shokrizade
    2-28-2012
    In early 2005 I noted that the continued weakness of Western MMO launches dependent on the unlimited subscription monetization model, combined with the perceived strength of Eastern MMO launches utilizing microtransactions, would cause all MMO development to go the way of microtransactions if an alternative was not developed. While microtransactions are not inherently bad, the way they have been used in the East has been to use them to sell game objectives. Any game where the objectives can be purchased immediately becomes “not a game”, what I call an “entertainment product”. A classic example of this is that if I let both players buy extra moves in a chess game, whoever spent the most would win the game. As soon as I allow this chess is no longer a game.

    Thus I went down the path of pioneering the field of applied virtual economics in 2005 and had developed the first alternatives to both subscription and microtransaction monetization models in 2009, as first described in my 35 page Sustainable Virtual Economies and Business Models paper. Now in 2012 I am reading in Gamasutra where they quote in the Global Games Investment Review 2012 (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/162929/Social_casual_market_domi...) that 57% of game investment is occurring in the social [network] games space and 30% is occurring in the mobile space.

    As a general rule, games are not made by designers, programmers, or artists. They are made by investors. All of the games in the social network space currently are either single player games, small group games, or multiplayer “pay to win”/ante games as I describe in my “How “Pay to Win” Works” paper. There are no massively multiplayer games at all in either the social network or mobile space currently. If investors keep making more of these, they won’t make any more MMO’s.

    In my eyes, the last successful MMO’s, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EVE Online, and Final Fantasy XI, were all made almost ten years ago. EA’s recent Star Wars:The Old Republic is more of a massively single player game than an MMO, and would have been more successful if designed as such. The only two recent multiplayer products to have found a way around both the classic subscription and microtransaction monetization models are Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks and RIOT Games’ League of Legends products. What makes these games different from their competition is explained in my upcoming Supremacy Goods paper. These small scale match-based games are still not what I would describe as an MMO. The scale is too small and without an understanding of what makes these games successful, investors will not fund more complex versions of these. Even if they did, these two titles bypass the weaknesses in their models by not permitting most forms of social interaction. Thus they would not scale up in an elegant fashion.

    For gamers, the social game revolution peaked some time around 2003-2004, and it has been downhill since then. As investors pull the plug on massively social games and move their resources to social network games (not the same thing), gamers are going to have to endure an extended “Dark Age” while investors unsuccessfully attempt to give us what we want. I would think that the ante game bubble will burst severely, and soon, and then perhaps a new Golden Age of social gaming will be born on the other side. The risk is that as investors catch fire during the bubble burst, they will reallocate their resources to other industries, thinking ours is “too high risk”.

    It could be some time before MMO’s make a come back, especially when you factor in the time required to make them after they receive investor funding.

  • Avatar ImageIgor Glinsky, a level 0 monster with 3 posts — 7 months ago:

    Heartwarming news for me, the part about the decline of inferior social/ante games :)

  • Avatar ImageRamin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 6 months, 4 weeks ago:

    In about 2 years there will be very little market for ante games. The only people still playing them will be those that prefer ante games, which is at most 2% of the consumer base. The other problem here is that those that prefer ante games only like them when they are not populated with others that like ante games. If they are, they experience competition and uncertainty as to outcome, and the price of winning the ante game can be much higher. So if you lump all these people together into one game, it suddenly becomes a lot less attractive to them.

    This leads to a self-extinction trend.

  • Avatar ImageLorraine Hopping, a level 7 monster with 190 posts — 3 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Taking profit out of the equation (I know, I know, that’s your point), I was interested to see an MMO game engine used to create Bear 71—a National Film Board of Canada interactive project. http://bear71.nfb.ca/#/bear71

    Superb application of the social platform.

  • Avatar ImageTracy Wilson, a level 0 monster with 1 posts — 3 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Yeah,I have been checked it.It is such an outrageous platform to show anticipation and views.

    painters boca raton

  • Avatar ImageMace, a level 3 monster with 7 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    I find it hard to see what you call a sucessfull MMO Ramin.
    Even if i agree the ones you quoted are effectively great games and commercial operations.

    I have maybe a different explanations:
    As you said, there were failure like the recent SWTOR.
    But the market of MMO is attracting numerous games companies who aren’t really into multiplaying games, of massive online games.
    We can exactly see here the case of Bioware which had troubles ot keep its identity and fit into a MMO.

    Currently, there are no breaking games selling in the MMO world.
    But I am basing my point of view not on investors but on firm.

    Yes, Bioware failed but its experience in MMO was light.
    But on the same time, ArenaNet is opening beta for Guilds Wars 2, Blizzard is still on work on their “secret MMO”, CCP is building its DUST 514.

    All 3 got very innoving and creative teams and investors trust theirs skills.

    I’m surely not knowledgale enought on social network games (not compared to MMO) but my approach is this:

    Great teams put on awesome games around 2003/2005.
    They worked a long times on this games and gathered experience still getting money from these titles ( investors would want such money from these).

    Many others entered the market with some or no sucess, but these early teams who got experience and feeback from their only title (not counting extensions) are ready to gather all this data onMMO to make it evolve to a next step.

    When one will make the first move (probably ArenaNet), the competition will start back, even harder.

    I am no scientist, nor I made analysis to say this.
    It’s just my feeling are all these years of following the MMO landscape.

  • Avatar ImageRamin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    I am not sure I got your central theme, but you make a good point that those on good projects tend to get good skills. In theory they could make even better games on the next pass. There are two things preventing this:

    1. There is this axiom, I forgot who came up with it, that people tend to be promoted until they are no longer qualified for the positions they are in. In this case, the best people will eventually get promoted to places where they are no longer skilled while at the same time their egos get so big (along with their paychecks) that they don’t want to admit the situation. I see this all the time.

    2. These games I mentioned were all great games that were poorly monetized. This usually means that money that customers would have liked to spend on the product instead went to the grey market, which actually hurts the game directly in addition to representing lost revenue. This issue of lost monetization is what spurred my research in this field starting in 2005. Overcoming these systemic issues can lead to games that monetize two to four times as high, allowing much more elaborate products to be built.

  • Avatar ImageCK, a level 3 monster with 6 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    Your axiom sounds a lot like the “Peter Principle.” Here’s a link to a more detailed explanation of it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

    Another possible deterrent to add to your list is “learned helplessness” brought about by cumulative institutionalization.

    As to the egotism, IMHO the driving force behind the bad behavior is shame.

    Your posts are interesting to read, by the way.

  • Avatar ImageRamin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    Yes thank you that Peter Principle was exactly what I was referring to. You might also find my “Moneyballification” article relevant.

  • Avatar ImageMace, a level 3 monster with 7 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    Concerning the Peter axiom, I find it hard to see how it could be applied to entertaining industry.

    First, because the main motivation of most game developpers is passion towards game not money or a will to get promoted

    Second, I get it from my engineer experience, people don’t get promoted out of their skill zone in technical work.

    You won’t promote a level designer to anything else than leading a team of level designers and if you were to propose something else, the employee will probably refuse because he choose this particular section.

    Well it may be a bit optimistic of me but I trully have faith.
    Maybe i’m still too young.

  • Avatar ImageRamin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    @Mace: You have a very different experience from what I have read is the case across the industry. Most producers have been drawn from other positions, and rose to that position because they were one of the few people drawn to the field with good social skills. Gamers don’t typically possess even average social skills.

    I would suggest that the Peter Principle kicks in even faster than normal in this industry, especially when you realize that the average working life span of people in the IM industry is 3.5 years. Turnover is massive. The industry is growing so fast that there is a lot of opportunity for advancement, possibly too much. Getting your foot in the door is the hard part. I attribute the high turnover rate to people thinking that game development is “fun”, and not realizing just what a grind it is, especially for lower level employees. Hours are very long and there are always 50 people who would love your job. I intentionally skipped a lot of that by training myself with skills that did not exist in the industry but that I predicted would be in demand before their existence.

  • Avatar ImageLailokken, a level 7 monster with 26 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    @Ramin. ((Gamers don’t typically possess even average social skills))

    Based on the gamers I’ve known since the early 90s, I’m not sure I would agree. How did you come to this conclusion, and, is that statement directed at a particular age group or does it apply to all gamers from 1 – 100?

  • Avatar ImageCK, a level 3 monster with 6 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    Mace, a gentle word of caution from an oldster about generalizing for an entire “entertaining industry” since, although what you suggest may be true for game designers, it certainly does NOT apply to musicians, writers, actors and other “entertainers” with whom I have been familiar for decades.

    In every creative endeavor, there is always the phenomenon of backing off from your most extreme creativity in order to make your work “more commercial,” i.e. more responsive to your audience’s or sponsors’ expressed desires. Nobody likes it but everyone who gets paid does it to some extent, some more than others.

    As for “social skill” deficiencies, techies always seem to lag behind salespeople and other “politicos” in this regard – a tradition that goes back to Henry Ford and earlier. Let’s face it – talking in front of people is painful until you get more practice. The best remedies are either “Toastmasters” or the intro speech courses required by California junior colleges.

    There’s also practicing on your own with a cassette recorder — just turn it on and talk for one minute, five minutes, half an hour, whatever. Then, play the tape back, learn to cringe less as you listen more, start fixing specific speech patterns that sound terrible and slowly get better with practice. As a start, say your first and last name 100 times into the machine and then listen back. (Part of my background includes being a radio DJ, doing jazz shows in California and Nebraska).

    Finally, I like Ramin’s approach of developing skills on the outside so you don’t have to “start at the bottom” whenever you begin work with a new group of people. I have used a similar strategy in my legal work. There are always 3rd parties at work trying to limit you, and this is the best way to fight back.

  • Avatar ImageRamin Shokrizade, a level 0 monster with 107 posts — 3 months, 1 week ago:

    I should have been more clear before I started making generalizations about gamers. If you want to include ALL gamers, that is a huge slice of society now. But… that slice does not make games. Every interview I have walked into in the last year, and every game design session I have ever had in my entire life, has been all male. I am usually the oldest guy in the room (been a few exceptions). Most studios have VERY few women, and they are almost always in “grunt” (non decision-making) position.

    This is our industry, and I don’t like it because it means we make games for the people making games, not the people playing games, which is two very different groups. The people making games, I would propose, have lower social skills than those playing them on average.

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