SOE: An exercise in futility?

I have stayed away from most of my game forums for quite a while, being that I sort of want to maintain a little bit more of a “balanced image.” My hopes of eventually being a writer or game developer are always coming closer to being realized, and it wouldn’t serve me much to get caught up in a screaming match with angry nerds (but my gosh how I love them.)

But I am involved now more than ever with communities, so I might as well see if I can communicate on these forums without my old habits showing their head. But, of course, it won’t take long before I get into a screaming match with some burned out gamer that, instead of taking his toys and going home, wants to stand around and glare at all the other kids.

The Vanguard community has always been one of these communities that, as far as the forums are concerned, is filled with a good percentage of players that feel as though they are entitled to a certain type of game, experience, or level of communication simply because they pay 15 dollars a month. Many of them feel as though their level of playing (several hours a week) should still be met with the same level of creation on the part of the developer team. After all, those players seem to be unable to figure out that playing for 20-40 hours a week will exhaust any game of any amount of content, and it has. Look at any game out there now…from LotRO to WoW to EQ2 to Allods, and you will find someone complaining that the content is all gone, that there is not enough of it to support “end game” or that the developers simply “do not care” about the players.

Vanguard is a funny example because, to me, it is so glaringly obvious that SOE is not going to be doing anything more substantial with the game. Of course, they have practically said this in a million ways and in a million places, but even minus all that and any player with common sense could see that their actions are saying this.

There have also been examples of how SOE can hold a game out for years. Matrix Online was held up and open until it was literally down to barely enough people to keep the server paid for. Planetside still goes on with 2 servers. What makes players that are in the least way familiar with SOE think that somehow Vanguard will be different? SOE has shown through their actions that they will do what they can, but will move on to other larger projects because they have to make money. Remember, we all have to make money.

Remember, this is a company that is running several MMOs for thousands of people. I have heard some figures about the communications they get from players and the player base can easily be seen as a small city in population. So let’s not pretend that SOE is somehow being mean or ignorant by not placing more and more funds (on top of the millions they have already spent) within the smallest section of their city. (Of course, this doesn’t stop players from talking about “easy” solutions like more ads or more developers added to the team.)

See, I want readers to understand that I am not saying in any way, shape or form that SOE should “ignore” the game, or should run the servers on fumes. I have never said that I did NOT wish that they would spend 100 million dollars on a revamp or relaunch.

But, let’s be adults for one second. Let’s be smart and real:

SOE is not going to do it, and they have said it (something I have noticed since I first started with the game) in more ways that one. If players expect them to come out and go “Sorry, players, you will not get your huge updates and expansions probably ever..” then they have no idea how most business’ operate. They are not lying about anything, they never said and it is never promised in any game that players will receive the same updates and attention that WoW receives.

Is it not enough that they are maintaining this game, this game that in any other companies hands would be closed down? Is it a crime for them to keep the doors open to a section of their city that probably less than 1% visit?

I see the same frustration in the Spellborn community, and I even feel it. I have never said that I would hate to hear more updates and more communication. Of course I would love to hear more. Spellborn sits there with no updates or any news (and I am digging for it, pulling out all the stops, trust me) for months, and players are either one of three types in this situation:

1) They post thread after thread complaining about the situation

2) They go and play the game

3) They accept the situation and still tell people about the game

Again, this isn’t about if a company is right or wrong when they do what they do. This is about how players react to the situation, and how players need to start paying attention to the signs. No company will come out and say “You’re all screwed, the game will be dead in 3 months” because the truth of the matter is that things can always, always change. An MMO developer knows this.

Yes, Vanguard could have a massive change in population, or could suddenly attain this massive community.

But SOE will not have much more to do with that, because they won’t. I don’t care about their reasons, I don’t care about their profits or their community communications. I am an adult and I can see that they tried with Vanguard, it didn’t pick up like it should have, and that now we can either shut up and play, play and spread the word, or complain on the forums about it.

There is no other alternative, and this should be evident. The game is fantastic, and the players need to stop worrying about something they don’t have and start passing on the word about the killer game that they do have. Since I just typed this on another forum and liked it, I will type it here too: we community members have more responsibility than just consuming the product, and that has nothing to do with the company.

Beau