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March 17th, 2007, 14:38
Ok, I only chose Vanguard because it's a game that I'm currently playing. The fact that Sigil is directly responsible does not make it much better, I guess. As I said, the customer usually doesn't care who is responsible. And why should he? He (or she, sorry that I'm constantly talking of the male customer) has paid money for a product - there just is no need to think about who scerwed up the product, and who did not.

Now, I'm not a complete idiot (no there won't be a poll about that), I know that it can be damn difficult to find investors. Someone, I think it was Dhruin asked:
So, the question is: should Vanguard have died when MS dumped it or is it better to have it, buggy as it is? I don't know, because I don't play it.
Very good question. A bit simplifying because it implies that there would have been no other possibilities than these two, but still interesting for me, because I'm playing it. I'm inclined to say I'd rather have the game in a buggy state than not. But then again such questions are hard to answer, after you actually played a product… and after all, there are a lot of people who have great ideas on various markets, but they cannot put them into practice because they are simply lacking the money - why should that be different in the pc gaming scene?

I also think, it is fairly hard to say if Sigil really had no other alternative than to release the game. I doubt they will ever tell us if so. Fact is however that the rushed release clearly damaged Vanguard's reputation. I tried the beta because I was an Everquest fan, but if I had never played EQ, and had then read Vanguard's reviews I probably would not have bought it.
Technical flaws aside (and here I'm making a little digression, I'm sorry), Vanguard is also a victim of Sigil's naivety. I'm not an expert on games, but I've played a lot of mmorpgs, and even I know that the release is a critical point. How you can develop a mmo with such heavy system requirements is not really understandable. Don't get me wrong, I like Vanguard, but everything about the game just says:"Don't buy me." And since I'm off-topic anyway - if you look at the game - it's not a glorious example of innovation. Since EQ, I have seen basically one EQ-clone after the other, with hardly any innovation. Of course AO, DAOC, WoW, EQ2, they all added some minor features, but I've yet to witness an evolution that really justifies the term next generation mmorpg. Hardly any innovation, but everyone wants to be succesful - how is that supposed to work out in the long run?

Anyway, back to the topic.

Originally Posted by Moriendor
BTW, what's funny in this whole context is that Funcom has just decided to go fully online (it's unknown what this means to Dreamfall episodes - the project might have been cancelled or maybe they'll make online activation mandatory).
What Moriendor wrote is going again more into the direction of piracy. You are right, there is no empirical proof that piracy does not play a role in the stagnating pc games market. Your conclusion however is erroneous - just because there is no study that proves that piracy does play a role does not mean that it does. You cannot prove either statement.
I guess, it is safe to assume that several factors play a role, but to what extent is hard to say without any empirical data.

Yes, but what "anti-proof" is there that piracy is not a major factor? The only "empirical" evidence that I have seen in that regard is people accusing publishers of pulling the numbers of downloads or of lost revenue out of their ass. Wow. That's some kind of proof…
Well, I couldn't give you proof of anything. But in the statement above I gave you you at least an explanation for another factor that could possibly play a role. The MMO market is growing and that indicates that people are changing their "play habits." While this market is extremly profitable for companies that act on the market it seems to be damaging for the rest of the pc gaming scene. 13 a month is not 50 or 100 a month, and it is split between a few mmo companies, and not between the masses of pc game developers. We also should not forget that there we can find more and more attractive offers that don't cost any money at all. Free online play for example - it's fairly widespread nowadays. It's questionable if the new studies about sales numbers include these things.
Again, these are assumptions… I have no real proof. But the fact that the pc MMO market is growing while the offline market is declining is an indication. Of course you could argue that online games are hard to pirate, and you're right… but as I said numerous times before: that's the responsibility of game developers, and publishers. If they have not yet thought about ways to use the internet for the single player market then it's their own fault. The MMO market DOES however prove one thing: The pc gamer is willing to pay for a service if he (or she) has the feeling that it's worth it.

Won't use a quote here - too much to quote really. But let me get back to the quality of games. Subjective impressions are a tricky thing. That's why I'd really like to see a good study about it. I have the impression that quality is declining ( I think a few other people in this thread as well), but there were also quite a few people in this thread, including yourself, who thought otherwise.
Now, as I said, I do not have a quantitative study… at least not one that I would consider to be 100% credible. But I came across a survey from the German games magazine Gamestar (2005). Of 1850 people that took part in that survey 74% said that they struggeled with bugs in various games that they bought in 2004. 22% claimed that the bugs were so heavy that they could not run a game on their computer. And 52% said that they encountered minor bugs in their games.
I have to admit that I also found an article that mentioned a Gamestar survey from 1999, and while it gives no exact numbers, it also says that bugs were more or less a common thing. In the same survey Gamestar comes to the conclusion that developers and publishers often know about the imperfect nature of their games, but accept it to hold certain release dates.
As I said, you have to be careful with such surveyes… but they give me the impression that my personal impression (meh what a sentence) that games have more bugs nowadays is not quite right.

About player demands. Oh well, there are people who always have to complain about something, and if it's just about the fact that a game company has not yet announced an expansion. But you ahve to take into account that the gaming scene is a fairly hetreogenous scene. You got children, teens, and adults… and not all of them know how to behave. Especially message boards are often used to vent your frustration, since they are fairly anonymous. On the other hand you also have to consider that even the most heated post shows that there is a fan who actually cares. If I were a game developer I would be more worried if my message boards were empty.

BTW - very interesting discussion - compliments to this community!!!
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