One Man's opinion: Why Sony can not win the MMORPG war.

Discussion in 'MMORPG Games: The Realms' started by GnR, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. GnR

    GnR Retired Captain

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    For those of you who do not want to read the rest of this, the short answer is lack of emotion.

    Please realize this is only my personal opinion and does not reflect on you as an individual playing your Sony Online Entertainment games.

    Here is the major problem. Like it or not, Sony's foremost goal is corporate profitability. Well so is every other companies, you say! Of course. But in my personal experience and personal opinion Sony's biggest problem is they lack "emotion" in their games. I have no doubt working for Sony Online Entertainment is nowhere near as fun as working at Blizzard. So what, you say! Picture this, (Easy for those of you who are or have worked in a larger corporate environment) you can come to work ready to create some of the best looking monsters ever to enter the game world using your creativity. Or, you can come to work to create 7 monsters by your supervisors next art deadline next Friday in order to stay within the project timeframe. Emotion! Which would you be more psyched about during your morning coffee.

    Sony has triumphed very well in its hardware (Playstations). These things do not stray as far into creativity as game development. Game creation does not fit into the standard corporate mold and I sincerely believe that is what SOE must do to maintain a certain level of profitability for the company. If you look at the playstation you will find the top games are made by specific game development companies. Great games have to come from game developers that encourage creativity and are willing to take risks. I have no doubt SOE messes up the little things in games because they run more as a corporate machine than as a specific game development company. I doubt SOE takes too many risks in its day-to-day operations. It's emotion and risks however that place unheard of developers at the top of the game industry. Search out a little company called "id" that created Wolfenstein 3-D...

    Perhaps I am rambling, and I missed the point of my message entirely. In any case, I predict SOE will suffer largely in MMORPG market share after EQ2 while other game companies move in to take larger and larger shares.
     
  2. Twiz

    Twiz Retired Captain

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    Interesting argument, however having worked at neither Sony or Blizzard I cannot confirm or default your theory. It is easy to predict Sony (EQ2) will lose market share to Blizzard (WoW). Why? Because there are TONS of folks playing (and cheating at) Blizzard games on battle.net who will flock in droves to WoW to see what it's about. These same people probably haven't tried EQ2 because all that *most* of them want to do is exploit bugs, grief others, find ways to cheat the system (my experience with battle.net through WC, WC2, WC3, Starcraft).

    It is also easy to predict that SoE will lose MMORPG market share because there are more MMORPGs up and coming. Wish shows great potential. D&D Online will draw the true D&D crowd and also shows great potential (especially since they were smart enough to leave out PvP in a fantasy game based on a tabletop game that was all about cooperation).

    I am no SoE fanboy. In fact, I usually could care less who makes a game, if it's fun to me, I play it. If it's flawed and allows cheating and exploiting, I avoid it. What I don't understand is this loathing bubbling just beneath the surface that many here seem to have toward SoE. It's akin to the issues people have with Microsoft when, in fact, Microsoft has advanced computing exponentially. Like SoE or not...the fact is the MMORPG model currently in use by all games started with Everquest 1, developed by Verant, BUT produced (read willing to take a chance) by SoE.
     
  3. Raest

    Raest Well-Known Member

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    Interesting points there Twiz,

    I think your wrong lumping Blizzard games under a cheaters haven. Look at SOE's games - exploits happened there too. It simply comes down to how hard people will want to find a hack for it...look at some of the dupe exploits for SWG you'd have to be searching pretty damn hard for some of those dupes. I already know of certain dupe exploits for EQ2 and I have no doubt they will crop up in WoW.

    WoW has a pretty strict TOS as does EQ2 and hopefully in both cases they'll be quick to rectify exploits. Blizzard would have to be stupid to design a MMORPG without trying to find possible exploits during development considering their past history with Battle.net. But now its a whole different kettle of fish - people pay to play and they dont get the $$$ if cheating is rampant. Honestly I never heard of any exploits during the beta test....correction there was one apparently that allowed someone to unbind a soulbound item which was patched quickly.

    Just did a google search for Everquest 2 exploits - found one site with 10 posted on the front page already (its a pay site though). Does this mean you'll quit EQ2 as people can exploit the system in that too?

    Btw I'm pretty sure that EQ borrowed on alot of UO's features too.
     
  4. Twiz

    Twiz Retired Captain

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    Well, the SWG expoits, EQ exploits, and if there are any EQ2 exploits (not easter eggs, but exploits), haven't affected me in the least. However the battle.net exploits and cheating negatively affected me enough that I will never do battle.net again. It kind of sucked playing fair and never winning then finding out why :? . Not that I could win anyway, but the rampant cheating and hacking was enough for me to never trust battle.net again...especially as long as Blizzard let it go on.

    I'm not sure why I would quit EQ2 over bugs that may or may not be there after the first two weeks. I wonder how many leet players will fall for the "EQ2 exploits here...pay us $10.99 and we'll tell you what they are" scam, when some of them have likely been fixed already and some probably aren't bugs, just legitimate stuff folks haven't found yet. I never suggested anyone should quit WoW, I just relayed Blizzards on-line gaming history...and even your comment confirms it. I absolutely enjoy ALL Blizzard games solo versus computer where I don't have to deal with the battle.net crowd. I absolutely LOVE Starcraft and wish they would do a SC2 for single player.

    As for the UO features...UO and EQ don't compare...there was no rampant PKing in EQ1. EQ1 was the first 3d MMORPG model. EQ had a vast and detailed lore right from the very beginning. I have no idea what UO has now. Played the first couple of months and got fed up with the griefing. I wasn't referring to the "fantasy" model which goes back to tabletop gaming...I was referring to the advanced state of the game when released...and it was light years beyond UO, at least at the time I tried UO.

    Finally, you avoided my SoE loathing comment. Why do WoW players have a need to attack SoE over and over? The comments I've made were based on my WoW gameplay experience (graphics, PvP, too linear, no teamwork, lack of customization). Now I could interpret all that to mean Blizzard lacks creativy, as GnR levied on SoE. After all, if Blizzard is so creative, why aren't there groundbreaking aspects to their new game? It really just rehashes EQ1 and 2, provides some different races, and adds PvP which many MMORPGs already have. At least EQ2 added the new idea of iPvP, and I found more quests just in my hometown in EQ2 than I did for the two weeks I played the WoW beta. WoW has some great aspects (loved the Night Elf I played), but in the end is just a rinse, repeat of what is out there, albeit in cartoon fashion.

    I don't think I have ever started a WoW vs EQ2 thread in any of these forums. Seems to me most of those type threads are started by folks wanting to bash EQ2 for whatever reason, as if folks playing EQ2 are gonna kill WoW by not playing it. I wish all of you playing WoW well...it will never be a game for me when there is a better alternative (to my play style) available. I enjoy grouping, I enjoy non-linear questing, I enjoy having an avatar visibly unlike anyone elses (unless or until someone makes a concerted effort to copy it exactly)...but this thread started as an SoE vs Blizzard post and allegations that SoE has no creative developers...most anyone spending an hour or two in EQ2 will find just the opposite...a world full of creativity, challenge, in-depth lore covering over 500+ years of the game world, tons of different looking character models. Of course, if you go into it finding ways to hate it, you will likely hate it...but then why would anyone try something intent on hating it!
     
  5. GnR

    GnR Retired Captain

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    Realistically all my comments are just feelings I get from SOE. I could be floating out in space with my comments, and they could easily prove me wrong in many ways.

    I agree that SOE is the pioneer in this field. I think, as with any pioneer, someone else inevitably comes along, takes the idea, and makes it better. Also with any success comes a change of attitude. Whereas Verant was once young and eager to prove their abilities, I think they may have moved on to a more corporate-like business model with SOE taking over. And in any corporation, internal politics can get nasty and cause unneccesary tension in a company.

    You are also right about players loathing SOE. I personally am dissastified with Sony because of the games I have played from them. Tanarus, Planetside and Star Wars Galaxies. With all of the games I have played from SOE, they have taken a game with unlimited potential and missed the mark. Tanarus is the grandfather of all SOE 3d games, again created by Verant. It has been played daily by some individuals since for 5-7 years straight. Planetside was another risk from SOE as the first MMOFPS. It's threatening to become outdated before its time. Star Wars Galaxies I am not sure of its current status, because I left over a year ago. Still, the greatest franchise on earth, not well-executed by SOE in my opinion.

    I only air my comments because of my dissatisfaction with Sony. I think if Verant had stayed a seperate entity and not become SOE, they would still be making hit games with extreme staying power. As it stands I don't think that is the norm and I believe Sony will one day close this chapter in their life by selling or splitting their SOE division away from the Parent. It certainly won't be tommorrow but I'm curious to see what the future holds for this company.

    In short, I think Sony should stick to their excellent producing skills and leave the programming to the hungry young minds...
     
  6. Twiz

    Twiz Retired Captain

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    /concur with SWG comments. Played at launch till 30 days up, then again after I found TOG, awaiting EQ2 launch. I think the recent interaction between Lucas Arts and SoE confirms that SoE was going in the wrong direction (and I don't think they'll ever be able to fix the debacle they created when they allowed everyone to be Jedi).

    As for Verant selling EQ to SoE. That argument will play out over the next couple of years as Brad McQuaid (sp), the brain child of EQ1, launches his new baby named "Vanguard". If there will ever be an EQ killer, that will be the one with the most potential to do it since EQ is McQuaid's model, and EQ1 was most fun and challenging when McQuaid was at the helm...before the mass expansion treadmill, after SoE bought him out.

    I suppose in the end, I am just not one to hold an entire corporation accountable for the successes or shortcomings of individuals within that organization. When a CS does not give me the answer or resolution I want, I blame that CS, not the president of SoE. Heck, he probably doesn't even know who his CS' are. Granted, if they are espousing written company policy, that falls back on leadership, however most negative interactions folks have with CS come down to a person who should never have been hired to do CS work in the first place.

    Never tried Tanarus or Planetside so can't speak to them. But I absolutely agree SoE will lose MMORPG marketshare...it has to...there are just too many appealing MMORPGs on the horizon!
     
  7. GnR

    GnR Retired Captain

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    A Microsoft MMORPG! This is news to me and I have no doubt it will be a success. As Microsoft has proven in the past, they have the money to buy any share of the computer market place they choose. What Microsoft lacks in abilities they make up for by bringing in the most talented people. I guess Microsoft's new plan is to take over the MMORPG market!

    Thanks for the info.
     
  8. Ijs

    Ijs Well-Known Member

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    From what I've read, there is more grouping in EQ2 than WoW. Now SWG, that's a different story.

    Galaxies is a game of solo groups. For money or exp, fly to Dant or Dath or Endor, join a "group", then go off somewhere to do your own solo missions. Limited chatting amongst up to 20 group members -- 80% of them might as well be afk. And absolutely NO teamwork, unless someone was on a jedi grind.

    People actually got upset when you came within "sharing loot" range.

    Just seemed like the exact opposite of how I wanted to play an MMO. Their rallying call is, "Be alone in a universe of thousands."
    Bleh, I grouped more in one day in WoW (working co-operatively) than I did in a month's worth of SWG.

    JTL might have changed things a bit, but doubtful.
     
  9. Raest

    Raest Well-Known Member

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    Well I never really played too much battle.net - perhaps Diablo 2 for a week. Never came across any exploits there that affected my game time either.

    True but your argument is flawed there. I never saw anyone exploiting in WoW either....you have to remember this isnt battle.net. This is a whole new setup so the odds of exploits occuring are much less. Its now a server-client configuration with all the important stuff residing on the server and hence untouchable. The same as most other MMORPGs. So the odds of exploits happening are the same as EQ2/SWG. Face it, every MMORPG has exploits and all that can be done is not use them if you know what they are and wait for the developer to patch them.

    To me EQ2 was uncreative. Sounds like you didnt give WoW a fair go because in 2 weeks I've completed countless quests (WoW has 1600 quests in already) with some variety. EQ2 quests are either a) Go deliver this to person X in this zone and then run all the way back here b) Go kill 40 gnolls and come back. Theres lore in WoW just as much as EQ2. I like being able to run thru a huge zone and go to a city without being dropped to a loading screen. I love being able to roam a huge city whilst the city zones in EQ2 feel like a shoebox. And its just fun! EQ2 whilst I tried to get into it, just felt like a chore.

    As for not responding to the SOE loathing comment - I don't have anything to contribute or its already been said.

    Same, I wish the EQ2 players the best. I don't hate EQ2 but it could've been done so much better especially for non-EQ veterans. I'm not trying to piss off the EQ2 TOG crowd but I do get frustrated when they lump people who are going to play WoW under a cheater label or l33t d3wd label.
     
  10. Raest

    Raest Well-Known Member

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    [quote="GnRA Microsoft MMORPG! This is news to me and I have no doubt it will be a success. As Microsoft has proven in the past, they have the money to buy any share of the computer market place they choose. What Microsoft lacks in abilities they make up for by bringing in the most talented people. I guess Microsoft's new plan is to take over the MMORPG market!

    Thanks for the info.[/quote]

    I'm pretty sure Asherons Call is the MS MMORPG.
     
  11. cluelessmoron

    cluelessmoron Just Joined

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    forgive me if im wrong but isnt blizzard the first to make zone war mean something? im not sure on spwn time but say if they made it a week then razing a town/fort means the opposite faction will lose ultility of that zone for the week. think large scale ppl :twisted: !!! should one side manage to gain the upper hand and raze all but the capital city then the opposite faction is pretty much left stranded.

    and i think thats how the game was designed, for us to cruise through the levels whilst it seves as an intro to the mechanics of how he/she plays. the real part of the game is raiding/killing the evil entities that threaten the land and continuing the horde vs alliance war legacy

    eq/eq2 seems like and adventuring game where u look to complete quest and gain equipment as u lvl up. the problem with that is what happens when u do reach the end game, where the only thing left to do is raid for better gear but unfortunately have no where to make full use of it.

    then theres the issue of longlivity of the game. when i played eq i made a decent amount of money that i could gear up another toon with gears that would still be appropriate into the end game and only replacible from raid content, thereby bypassing the need to do 90% of the quest. the only thing left to do that was worth while is pvp, but even that was pointless to some extent as the zone belonged to no faction, and u really achieve nothing by killing someone save making them wait 5 min before coming back. i dont know about the many of other eqers out there but this made for a vry boring end game

    certainly hope eq2 is better than this tho, but with no pvp i dont see how id would want to spend my days grinding away the lvls, then only log on to do raids.

    dont get me wrong twiz, griefing sux, i know from first hand experiences when theres absolutely nothing u can do when attacked. but it drove me to get stronger and one day stand on their rotting carcase laughing
     
  12. RedMan

    RedMan Retired Advisor

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    Point format :)

    SOE
    * No doubt huge company, different development teams containing different developers, be it good or not, doubt they rotate them.
    * Different game focus sofar, Planetside is perfect and not to be counted out of its list of games. EQ and SWG seem large, huge, massive pieces of work. What would the game be like if a team did a similiar WoW? Fail? can't say
    * Has to supply to customers, has a promotinal team, has to keep workers happy, etc etc

    Blizzard
    * A huge success history with mass market and fan base
    * No idea if the structure is similiar, BUT, they are limited by managers just as much as Sony, where sony is more 1 person telling them, Blizzard is more 100,000 investors telling them or as such (?). They are in it for the money and a comfortable income.
    * They seem to have done things well and good for the future, keeping services supplied adaptable and reusable. So I'd say they have a good Dev team, or can manage a good Dev team.

    I find the basis that WoW will fill up with cheats and hackers moreso than EQ flawed. Yes you can say possibly some RTS and Diablo lovers will come across with the urge to cheat. But those two games are MASSIVE and award winning. They didn't get that for being poor games.
    Blizzard community management I've heard more success stories than failures. EA's Generals, sheesh, a major site gave up due to complete stupidity of manageing the community. I'd find it hard to say that Blizzard have failed to do what is considered "the best in the industry" in regards to dealing with cheating and community management.

    Just my point of view though. But also, SOE can be misjudged. Sofar its MMORPG have a hugeness to them and huge grinding. Sony can easily poach developers and build a mirror style WoW based on Skippy the Kangaroo. If their marketing department see's that fit.

    I suppose that could where you see they're flawed. Blizzards marketing is probably much closer to the developers and community than SOE's.

    And all of this is speculation and in no way fact. Would be great if people know of info that is fact in these areas :)
     
  13. Father

    Father The Boss Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Certainly an interesting thread, nothing like some healthy discussion and glad to see that it can be done here in a civilized manner.

    Peoplw who love a certain game can be very passionate about it.
    Great to have this argument, even greater that at the end of it people can just play the game they enjoy the most here at TOG!
     
  14. Raest

    Raest Well-Known Member

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    Hear Hear!
     
  15. Twiz

    Twiz Retired Captain

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    True that, Father! Why I like it here :D ...
     
  16. Bayland

    Bayland The Doctor

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    May as well weigh in on this since it's something I've thought a good deal about too.

    MMO experience phenomen is fascinating and complicated. As an Interaction Designer I tend to look at software in terms of persona needs and usage. In english, who the game caters to primarly.

    I'm sure I could write a thesis on MMO archetypes and expectations. I'll try to keep it tight.

    The first fact about games that make them different from other software is that people have a choice. No boss is holding a gun to you paycheck and saying play PlanetSide or you're fired. It's a choice. This choice makes the games market voilitile and fast paced.

    The second fact is that people come into games with the expectation of entertainment and in MMO fulfillment.

    The third fact is that we've seen MMO saturation in most English speaking markets. When a new game comes on the market another game looses its numbers. It's rare for a game to bring in a first time players. SWG did this . WoW and EQ2 not as much, just look at our recruits. "Hi I want to join the WoW / EQ2, I've played blah, blah and bletch before."

    Good software companies are companies who know WHO is playing their game and more importantly WHY. In interaction design we call these Persona's or architypes and goals.

    Having a clear set of persona with goals can help avoid incomplete or bad design. However many companies don't use this methodolgy and tend to GUESS what their players would like.

    Let me give you quick sample of persona. (This is complete hackery and not based on real data other than my own experience)

    Jeff (16) plays SWG every night after school. He plays about 16 hours on weekends. He wants to be the best player in the game. He wants his character's name to be feared and known. He always gets the best items he can find. He wants a jedi. He want to join the police when he's old enough.

    Tina (33) plays SWG after work once the kids have gone to bed. She enjoys the comraderie of the group. She wishes to be the best amorsmith in the galaxy. She wants to be known for her taste and design sense. It's more important for her to have a good time than to win. She's enjoys gardening on weekends.

    After playing SWG for a year it became quite clear to me that the SWG dev team had no idea how to make any particular persona happy. They would implement an idea that wouldn't make Jeff or Tina ecstatic or keep them happy. They would guess what to build, based upon their designers guesses, focus groups, competitor analysis, and some small amount of customer feedback.

    In the end Tina and Jeff could find themselves becoming disenfrancised from the game. Each release doesn't give them any additional tools to further their goals or worse blocks their goals entirely. When they become too frustrated they'll look for another game.

    Now I use SWG because I know it. However, from the rumors of WoW I could see Jeff becoming frustrated because more savvy computer people are cheating him and he can't compete. I could also see Tina becoming frustrated because people no longer need her services or because the cheats allow people to discount her usefulness. (Not saying this is true, just showing an example base on speculation)

    The thing to do is to know your players as people. Build only complete solutions or not at all. Make sure you're making someone absolutely happy everytime you make a major release.

    The classic SWG blunder was jedi. The vast numbers of people didn't want or have access to the jedi class. Yet, due to the changes and massive ammount of attention it got its become the heart of the game and primary driving factor for most people. The result was wide scale burnout and disenfrancisement. Someone who wanted to be a Doctor or Pistoleer suddenly found themselves to be seond class players regardless of what they did.

    Currently in PlanetSide there's a massive downturn. The main reason was that the game designers misunderstood their customer's need. Instead or providing everyone with more incentives to fight for, they instead provided them with more things to fight with. So all the disenfrancised people went to other games with the hope of being known and fulfilled by those games.

    As for EQ2 and WoW. We'll have to see. Personally I've not seen SOE understand their player persona's needs very well and from reading this forum the same could be said about Blizzard, at least in the game security area.

    [tounge in cheek] However, in the end the only thing for all you EQ2 and WoW people to do is quickly burn out on the games and come back to Planetside :p

    - Bayland
     
  17. GhostDog

    GhostDog Retired Administrator

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    Face it Baylad, PlanetSide is the game that we play 'in between' games.

    :D ;)
     
  18. TGBO

    TGBO Getting Started

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    Gotta agree on the personas. I think that hits the nail on the head very well.

    There's only one thing that keeps getting brought up on the boards in general as a way to poke at Blizzard, and it annoys me, so I'll try to explain why, because I'm feeling long-winded tonight, and someone might find my ramblings passably interesting ;)
    This is something I keep seeing people bring up. And I keep having to boggle at why. Or more accurately, why so many thought it was Blizzard's duty to stop cheating on a free multiplayer arrangement network, and why they think a pay service will be even remotely the same. For starters, offering such a service for free at all was highly unusual for a game company. But since all battlenet was for the most part was just a chat room to meet players, in most games it was not thier responsibility as to what happened in the game itself. And even in Diablo2 realm games all they offered was a place to store your savegames where they were out of reach of hack programs. Everything else? Hosted by the players, on thier own computers, which Blizzard would be downright silly to take responsibility for, because they cannot police everyone's computer, when they're not even touching Blizzard's network after game start.

    And remember that free part? Ever tried getting funding to track down and plug every little exploit in a game that was released primarily as a single-player game? Especially if it's one released over a year ago? At most companies you'd have never even had the go ahead for the service in the first place without it generating revenue on it's own.
    So hey, you got what you paid for! A great single player game with the ability to hunt down or host you own games online. Battle.net just made it easier to find the games to join.

    Now with WoW, the game resides on thier servers. It's not hosted on a players computer with just a chatroom to hook people up. It's more then just a few saved games. And people are paying an ongoing fee to use it. So now they have an official obligation to maintain the service, and have identifiable income to support and enhance it.

    It's like looking at the playstation and saying EverQuest Online Adventures will be full of cheaters because you can use a GameShark to cheat on Sony's Legend of Dragoon single-player game (a great game, btw) and Sony wouldn't do a thing about it. The comparrisson doesn't work.
     
  19. Twiz

    Twiz Retired Captain

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    /agree on the persona descriptions.../disagree that SoE can't do it...

    If SoE couldn't make a set group of people happy, EQ1 wouldn't have lasted as long as it did/is (keep in mind Verant sold out to SoE early in that cycle). Obviously they are catering to "some" type of person, as the subscription $$ keep rolling in. Unfortunately, they chose to cater to the uber power leveling players and guilds at the expense of the casual player.

    As for the Blizzard/on-line adventures debate...anyone can buy a game card (shark, whatever)...not too many people can hack code, so to me, that argument doesn't hold up.

    I don't doubt that Blizzard will do everything in it's power to prevent exploits, just watching. Heck there are still occassional exploits in EQ1 years after release (usually after they put in something new that affects something else, that affects something else--till some honest player /bugs it).

    I personally think the issue was not so much that the cheating on b.net was occurring, but that Blizzard took so long to acknowledge/do anything about it (if they ever did). Doing something about it could have easily been a very public statement they knew it was occurring and couldn't do anything about it. The log in to b.net came with the game--it was a logical (to me) conclusion that b.net WAS paid for when you bought the game.
     
  20. Bayland

    Bayland The Doctor

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    San Francisco, California
    I agree with you Twiz. There is no reason why either or any company can't make good software. However, it takes a dedication to the product. It means making changes that don't seem to make monetary sense, but fufil a fundamental need of a persona and thus make the a large percentage of the population happy. In SWG an example would be making battlefields work for PvP. It's not a big ticket item. It's not something the marketing heads can easily say "that gives us an edge over competitor X", but it would make a portion of the game players very happy. The inverse is to do a revamp of a small class that only 1% of the population plays. You're not going to get the same impact.

    So the real question is who is the lead designer for WoW, EQ2 and SWG? Have they shown any ability to see past the monetary and into the hearts of their players? I think both EQ2 and WoW are too young to determine this. As the releases and revisions roll out we'll know for certain.

    - Bayland
     

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