First Sign of an MMOG Downturn?

Rubies of Eventide, a respectable fantasy role-playing title, will cease operations by the end of the year (thanks Warcry). Launched in June, the world was down to about 800 users at last count.


Comments on First Sign of an MMOG Downturn?:

Ian 'anyuzer' Reid says:

An MMOG downturn? I hardly think so. A bottlenecking of the industry? Most definitely.

In my opinion, the big companies are taking a very direct strategy in regards to the industry. That approach is to throw 10, 20 or 30 million dollars into a project. Design it with thousands of hours of content, amazingly advanced graphics, dozens of complex systems and advancement ladders. In other words, a game of such high quality that it is next to impossible to compete against without having similar funds at your disposal.

I see Blizzard doing this Sony Online Entertainment doing this, and I think Sigil Games Online wants to do the same thing as well. The end result? The smaller projects will be mercilessly killed. The market share will be entirely controlled by the major companies who can afford the cash needed to compete. I think this will have its pros and cons. The positive sign is that I think we're going to see some really amazing games in the coming years, released at a quality higher than what previous offerings have shown. The cons being, the independants will die out, and thus innovation will be entirely controlled by the major companies.

To me this does make sense though. The larger companies can afford a longer period of time to get a return on their investment, charge cheaper prices (SOE All Access Pass, new UO/UXO deal) and even afford putting money into products that will be less successful. In the end, they will still make a killing, and won't have to worry about a hundred independant projects competing with precious subscription dollars.

Posted Nov 26, 2003 8:58:18 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Edward Castronova>Rubies of Eventide, a respectable fantasy role-playing title

Just as a matter of interest, what current fantasy role-playing titles would you say were no respectable?

Richard

Posted Nov 27, 2003 3:21:50 AM | link

Tek says:

Wish. I just know that's going to be a mockery of a game. (Prove me wrong Dave! Prove me wrong!)

I'll assume respectability as worthiness (not size):

In my book, though non-fantasy, SWG is not respectable. Reason: it's cashing in heavily on the license, but not delivering a solid game. Great graphics, some nice subsystems, but basically "too easily optimized" (i.e. not enough hard "puzzles"). I think it's a hit with the socializers though. Some people have the theory that SWG was primarily a test-bed for EQ2 systems...

Posted Nov 27, 2003 8:43:29 AM | link

Edward Castronova says:

"Just as a matter of interest, what current fantasy role-playing titles would you say were not respectable?"

Well, I think almost all of them are respectable, in the sense that they do allow you to enter a fantasy world, adopt a role, interact with NPCs, and go on quests. Come to think of it, anyone who can get one of these places up and running has my respect. That's the sense of 'respectable' I was using.

[Now, if we want to talk about my personal tastes - I don't get too excited about games that aren't 3D, that crash all the time, and/or that have no AI.]

Following up on the death of Rubies, have a look at their message boards:
http://www.rubiesofeventide.com/forums/ubbthreads.php

This dying community is trying to maintain its connections. They're also wondering if there's a way to keep the world going. I'm sure it's old hat for the veterans *coughrichardcough*, but quite interesting to me.

Posted Nov 27, 2003 11:44:46 AM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Edward Castronova>This dying community is trying to maintain its connections. They're also wondering if there's a way to keep the world going. I'm sure it's old hat for the veterans *coughrichardcough*, but quite interesting to me.

Old textual worlds died all the time, of course, although some were subsequently resurrected. Of the early graphical worlds, we've seen M59 go and return, The Realm bought out by its coders when the publishers wanted to shut it, and more recently a reincarnation of PvP UO.

VWs with any kind of cohernet community can be incredibly hard to kill off. Kingdom of Drakkar, for example (screen shots at http://www.kingdomofdrakkar.com/sf_ss.htm) ought to be dead and buried after 12 or so years, but it's still there. It takes real dedication, like AOL showed with Shadows of Yserbius and Neverwinter Nights, to close down a virtual world and keep it closed.

I don't know whether RoE will find an angel or not; it depends on whether the people who own the code are willing to give it up or sell it. If so, it wouldn't surprise me. I hope they do effect an escape from the executioner's axe, though; the more distinct virtual worlds there are, the better in my opinion.

Richard

Posted Nov 27, 2003 1:19:45 PM | link

Lee Delarm says:

This project seemed more like a personal venture trying to find a small niche market to me. I think it was more a failure due to lack of proper financial planning and funding than anything else, not just the big company pushing the little company down.

There was almost zero big time advertisement that I saw, like on major gaming pages, interviews, chats, and general popupads. But most of all, there was no word of mouth. In our day and age of computer gizmos, word of mouth can and will make or break a game and this game just didn't shout loud enough.

A good try, but not good enough unfortunately.

Posted Nov 27, 2003 1:20:18 PM | link

B. Smith says:

*sigh*

Did anyone else bother to check out the fact that (or this was true when I checked out Rubies some time ago) that the game required broadband?

And the hardware requirements were pretty dang steep also.

Posted Nov 27, 2003 10:33:06 PM | link

B. Smith says:

Follow up:

Now requires "56k+" according to the site. But still requires:

"Minimum System requirements are:

Pentium 3 (Pentium 4 recommended)
256 MB of RAM (512 recommended)
At Least 1 GB Free Hard Drive space
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
64MB 3D Accelerated DirectX 8.1 compatible Video Card (GeForce III or better)
A DirectX 8.1 compatible Sound Card
A Microsoft compatible mouse
A Microsoft compatible keyboard
A 56K+ Internet Connection
An active Rubies Of Eventide game account with Cyber Warrior Inc.
DirectX 8.1 or better"

Ouch.......

Poor people, self employed and/or blue collar low-lifes need not apply.

Posted Nov 27, 2003 10:39:26 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Lee Delarm>There was almost zero big time advertisement that I saw

I saw several advertisements for them, but unfortunately this was some time before they launched...

Richard

Posted Nov 28, 2003 5:39:30 AM | link

Ian 'anyuzer' Reid says:

On the advertisement thing. Zero big time advertisement (magazines etc), plenty of MMOG community advertisement even when the game was live. It seemed any half assed MMOG community had the banners which went something along the lines of "Profession #45 (insert class title here)". These could be found on sites ranging between small scale stuff like Waterthread, to network sites and even popular web comic sites (I can't remember whether it was Penny Arcade or PvP that feature the banners, possibly both).

Question is whether targeting the already jaded, veteran MMOG community (which is the main population of the community sites) was a good idea or a bad idea. Personally I think it was a bad call. Design wise, Rubies of Eventide was far too crippled to please even the most forgiving experienced MMOG player, which means all it really recieved was lukewarm to awful discussion threads, and people who knew about it but simply weren't interested. Maybe if they targeted less 'hardcore gaming' communities they might've found a better return for their advertising dollars.

Posted Nov 28, 2003 11:13:48 AM | link

Brian 'Psychochild' Green says:

I'd say the closing of Motor City Online (MCO) and the lukewarm receptions for some major games (Earth & Beyond, Asheron's Call 2) would be more of a sign of things to come than the closing of a small game that's been "in development" for several years.

From what I can tell, RoE suffered from a lack of focus. Most experienced developers tell you that the hardest thing to do is decide not to implement your killer idea (something often referred to as "killing your children" or "knifing your babies" by those that have been there). Sometimes you have to focus on a core set of features to implement before you can go for the pie-in-the-sky ideas about making a huge game.

My thoughts,

Posted Nov 29, 2003 3:43:47 AM | link

Unggi Yoon says:

Korean MMORPG 'Shininglore' developed by Pantagram and pay serviced by NcSOft will cease operations by the end of the year also.

Launched in Last year, the world once was up to about 30,000 current users. Indtead, the old user of shininglore will get Lineage service coupon.

At the same time, NcSoft announced that the company will no longer service Everquest in Korea.

So the Everquest user will have to log in North American servers.

Posted Nov 29, 2003 6:30:03 AM | link

Mark Asher says:

Rubies did get some advertising on game sites, and the game was shown at GenCon for years (literally!). It just wasn't a very good game. The character development system was interesting, with dozens of class types, but the game world and the process of advancing your character was dull. There's just too much competition for MMO players these days for dull games to gain much traction in the marketplace.

Why pay to play Rubies of Eventide when it doesn't offer much of anything that's new (besides the multiplicity of class types) and the other commercial MMOs are a more compelling experience?

Posted Dec 2, 2003 12:52:07 AM | link

Brian Miller says:

I don't think there is any real risk of the mmog market drying up anytime soon. Rubies, and other games mentioned above like AC2, have done poorly simply because they aren't good games. Did you hear people speculate that the FPS genre had reached saturation because Daikatana did so poorly? No. People recongized that it was simply a bad game and moved on. What we are seeing is that as the number of available games increases players are able to choose between good titles and bad ones instead of choosing to play a bad game or none at all.

Posted Dec 3, 2003 12:11:09 AM | link

Staarkhand says:

There is a tremendous amount of inertia amoung active MMOGer's. Besides the obvious knowledge, character, and virtual material assets given up by emmigrating, the most telling loss would be the community and social network. Many player guilds will move from game to game wholesale, an act understandably rare, with individual members opting to forego new games in favor of preserving an invaluable resource of friends and support.

Any MMOG hoping to enlist existing gamers needs to overcome this friction by offering a fundamentally new and intriguing experience, as well as the expected latest graphics and game mechanics. The market, while healthy, has no place for "me too" games.

Posted Dec 4, 2003 2:25:10 PM | link

Tek says:

From one point of view, I think that holds some truth, though for the most part I see it as follows:

The achievers, explorers, etc. -- the players most motivated by the game itself -- will tend to forego everything in favor of a better gaming experience (from what I've seen during my time in MMOGs). So as long games continue to be made roughly on par with what they are currently playing, I see them continually switching to new games for the untapped content they provide. The social and escapist players will stick with their assets (material and friendships) more faithfully, but this can be attributed to their satisfaction with what the game provides: a familiar world to visit.

If the above holds true, a new game will see roughly the same success whether it's just a "decent" game or a groundbreaking one: they both will attract the veteran "gamers" and neither will do well with the veteran "socializers".

Of course, games that are groundbreaking tend to do well at bringing new customers into the mix. "The Sims" created many new gamers, "Halo" converted many to the XBox, and "Counterstrike" blew the modding environment wide open. So, the importance of ingenuity cannot be ignored.

Posted Dec 5, 2003 12:14:46 AM | link

Mark Asher says:

Entire guilds now are happy to move from game to game, though these tend to be guilds of hardcore gamers who play other games and who prefer PvP in their MMOs. I've seen it happen quite a bit with DAoC and Shadowbane. They don't have the same kind of loyalty to a given title.

From a consumer's perspective, this is a good thing. It's better that the developers have to work harder to provide an experience that encourages retention rather than players sticking with a game just because their friends are playing it.

Posted Dec 5, 2003 11:08:13 AM | link

Julia Howe says:

Hello everyone, I stumbled across your thread while doing a random search and this deals with subject matter that is very personal to me -- Rubies of Eventide.

I appreciate the comments about ROE and defense of our marketing efforts. We are a small company afterall, it's very hard to compete with the likes of Sony for the same buzz space. But we made do with positive word of mouth from players that appreciated the VW we are building. It's true (as someone brought up) most of our gamers were the Social Explorer-types and Achievers, to borrow Bartle's model (BTW hi, love your work Richard). Many of our players came straight out of underground MUDs and MajorMUD BBSes. We had little appeal with the killers and griefers. In this way, our game was "old school" in philosophy.

The people most affected by ROE going down will be our high population of women that play this game with their loved ones. And families that have used this game to stay in touch with their sons in college. Of all the mmorpgs out now, ours had never had a big griefer or noob-bashing problem. We were always ethical with our customers and would reimburse openly if they were not satisfied with their experience. This consideration trickles down to would-be griefers and seems to stop the problem at its source. Unfortunately, no matter how Utopian our customer service efforts have been, we are always just under the radar to the general jaded gamer population.


So what now? I hope another game comes by that is engaging, fun, doesn't insult my intelligence and has clothed female avatars. Until then, its back to warcraft3 and MUDs for me. ::sigh::

Thanks for the space to sound-off, g'nite
Julia

Posted Jan 22, 2004 6:58:59 PM | link

Mithra says:

After reading this thread I'm even MORE disheartened at the prospects for independent games to emerge in the market. :/ I'd like to ask the experts a question though, not to stray too far from topic:

If one was interested in developing a MMOG, or lets say MOG even, can anyone recommend a server rental company with reasonable rates? And where might one research MMOG development, in terms of books, with regard to server hardware, operating systems and bandwidth?

Mithra

Posted Jan 22, 2004 8:33:46 PM | link

Edward Castronova says:

Know what Mithra? For tose questions I would go to MUD-Dev. They are more savvy about those things than anyone here. In fact I'm sure the MUD-dev archives have several answers already.

Posted Jan 22, 2004 11:46:53 PM | link

DivineShadow says:

Update... Looks like it slipped back to darkness.
From the homepage at http://www.cyberwar.com/

"Rubies of Eventide mmorpg has ceased operations as of February 14th, 2004. On our 10th anniversary we are regretful to inform you that this project has come to a close but the spirit of Rubies shall live on."

Ten years... Ouch. My best wishes to the RoE team and I'll bid them the techie farewell... "May thy bits forever hold their charges"...

Posted Mar 13, 2004 3:00:17 AM | link

Snowblind says:

I know this is a dead thread, but...

ROE is back. www.cyberwar.com

I thought you might want to know, some dreams don't die.

Posted Jul 2, 2004 12:28:58 PM | link

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mark leonard says:

rubies is infact transformed a bit it has been updated and continues to have a loyal if small following. new spells and monsters have renewed interest

Posted Nov 29, 2008 7:19:27 PM | link