Everyone whispoers of this game. Everyone is waiting with baited breath. The grace which will usher in the next generation of MMO’s is on everyone’s wish list. The magic word of course, is Bioware. The catalyst is Star Wars, The golden child is The Old Rebuplic. Even talk of delays with this game, which has no official release date, is a big news item. Before I go to far and before (some) of you stop reading let me elaborate on the title somewhat. This is not a piece stating that TOR WILL fail. It is stating reasons WHY (If it fails) it might fail should my concerns not be addressed in some way. In essence it is a reaction to the idea that any company or any ga me should be above a critical approach. It is a subjective and empassioned response to similarly subjective and empassioned media which holds this title up as the next big MMO. Concerns of the ridiculous marketing cycle, the translation of the Bioware experience to MMO’s, disjointed plantary hubs and a niche IP all are barriers which I need to see addressed. Please continue on with sobriety and discernment to what I am saying and that I am not trying to hurt anyone.
TOR Fridays are a great idea, TOR Fridays for over 18 months plus, is counter intuitive. As someone who would normally be interested in any new MMO I have passed through the marketing stages. Ignorance, curiosity, informed, excited, impatient, apathetic and finally annoyed. I believe I am a good example of a majority of the demograph. From what I saw in my time working in retail as a Games Manager the MMO community is a minority to the extreme. The vast proportion is entangled in WoW, leaving fragments to the rest of the IP’s. The only way to extract subscribers from these established IP’s are new tactics like subscription model or game play/mechanic innovation or a marketing campagn which reaches fever pitch on the release week. First impressions matter and the effect of allowing that impression to be soured by impatience causing indifference or over expectations to what product will be delivered. Something like developing a champagne taste on a beer budget.
The game is overshadowed by the developer and may lead to the wrong impression of what is to be expected. Bioware have a very strong reputation and will market heavily in both the MMO demograph and the mainstream market they developed through thier various AAA titles such as DAO and ME. For the sake of clarity I will refer to non MMO gamers as mainstream and MMO gamers as such. Mainstream gamers will seek out the arcade experience. MO gamers will seek the depth and expansiveness of early MMO’s. Two incompatible expectations are clashing already in this one group of people. The compromise in catering to both will send the MMO players into despair of a simpolified, easy mode game. The Mainstream players will play for one month and move on to the next new release game they find at EB Games. Thats if they can surpass the complexity of the MMO concepts that the MMO players would require. Essentially one thing I have heard in a few places, particularly concerning the 2 million target, is that they have many pools of people who will play. Star Wars fans, Bioware fans, MMO fans, KOTOR fans and so on. These are very fragmented groups however. My view is that anyone who plays must satsify multiple conditions as opposed to qualifying through intgerest in any one category. For example many Star Wars fans do not play MMO’s. Many do not even play games. Many Bioware fans are console gamers and will not consider a PC game because that is not a suitable platform for someone who doesn’t maintain the feasability of their computer for the intensice power required by AAA MMOs. humans are excellent at seeing patterns and imposing them where they do not nessisarily exist. My example is that more often then not, gamers are Star Wars fans. QED Star Wars fans must also mostly be gamers. I have met far too many Star Wars fans who oppose this view to be comfortable with the assumption that TOR will appeal to Star Wars fans. More likely it will appeal to Star Wars fans who play PC Games.
So I intened to finish my Five points but it seems I am running long. I will cut it short here. At any rate I hope to get some feedback and that this is recieved in the intended spirit. I will post again and try to fit in my final three concerns by the end of the weekend. Please post your impressions and opinions in disagreement and let me know what you think. am I the only one?