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Sep 27, 2003



This is going to be interesting. I'm already disagreeing with them. I can't see marketing as being a delineation of what is and what is not a "MMOG." Specially, I see the GEnie and Compuserve early online multiplayer games as direct anticedents of the current crop, not so much the MUDs, which were a parallel development (and certainly are at least a great uncle or something). But then I fall into my own trap, because I think that the pay model is what allowed the existing crop to happen, not the free, MUD model. The current crop just found a more sellable fee structure than pay-by-the-hour (and I did, boy, did I!)

I first found games of this sort on Compurserve, and only later explored GEnie, Sierra Online and others. So I started on the higher end of the fee schedule and moved downwards, which may prejudice my view.

But it has to be argued that economics is what allowed things to go from small, one player, to middlin multiplayer, and finally to global. Thus, contradiction my original point, the games with the firmest economic bases are the ones that determined there was a market. The free games determined there was technology and an audience. An audience that will not pay is not a market.

One could argue the free games hooked their audiences and then promoted them to paying small fees, and that happened some. But that provides little capital for expansion. The full pay model, on the other hand, can easily be scaled downward, making its existing base happier and rapidly explanding that as it becomes more economically attractive to those who could not afford it at the higher levels.

In other word, I believe Island of Kesmai and such proved money can be made in large games. Then the SOE's stepped in with big capital, big production budgets, big infrastructures, and proved they could be mass marketed at man-on-the-street prices. The MUDs eastablished that men on the street (and some women too) were actually interested in this form of entertainment, but didn't prove enough would pay for it.

So I think the article underrates the important of the pay, "private" networks. They also ignore the fact that many of those went "public" before the current crop of "real" MMOGs was born. I played Legends of Kesmai over the internet, and at least one spinoff of the original IoK, Drakkar, too. I believe this was before UO.

These games were of a size then that EVE Online and A Tale in the Desert are now. So they were not tiny by modern standards, they just are when compared to the biggies now in their claim as the biggies then.

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