Monday, April 30, 2007

Ever get that feeling...?

So here is a thread you want to keep your eye on for the latest events surrounding the future of Sigil/SOE/Vanguard...whatever. You'll see a post there from Brad (...yes, it is long..and no, it really doesn't say anything he hasn't said before). He goes on, again, about why Vanguard is where it is, what types of players he wishes to target, how they are going to get players interested in Vanguard ("viral" marketing term is used again). He also restates how they overshot the system specs in terms of technology. He gives some insight on what features he wants to bring into Vanguard in the future...but honestly, and I'm cringing as I say this, I don't know how realistic those point really are. I don't even know why he commits that much writing space to future features when they have so much work to do getting other things up to speed. He's already talking an expansion and/or relaunch of VG come 200x...huh??

Here's an interesting thing regarding audience targeting. He was hoping to target burned out WoW players and he mentions LoTRO as an x-factor game. He wants to target those WoW players and he knows that those casual players will move to LoTRO...and understandably so. The window to grab those players is shrinking fast and I don't think VG has even the slightest chance on getting any of them. If you put a bored WoW player in front of VG and then in front of LoTRO...guess which one they'll pick? I'll give you a's not VG.

Here's what's not fitting to me with this whole thing:
1) SOE is taking a game which will take a lot of time and resources to "fix" and bring to SOE standards (please keep "SOE standards" bashing to a minimum. plskthx). And they are doing this why...?
2) When VG is "fixed", besides the diplomacy system, SOE/Sigil will have a similar product to EQ2. No one has yet been able to convince me that this is not the case. At the most, we'll have a Pepsi vs Coke kind of thing with VG and EQ2.
3) The window for VG to maximize it's potential is, IMHO, gone...especially in the context of the coming 2007-2008 titles. LoTRO is turning out to be the best casual PvE experience right now. If they hold on past Pirates of the Burning Sea, Gods and Heroes, Conan...and gawd help them, Warhammer, they may stay that way. You mix WoW and EQ2 in there and...yikes.

Granted, if this was 2005-2006, then my whole view on points 1,2 and especially 3 would be completely different.

I'm missing something. Something about SOE taking/partnering/merging (whatever) with Sigil/Vanguard when they (SOE) already have a VG-like product. Something about all these long posts from Brad (we're now at four I think). You know what, it may be nothing. This may just be a simple case of Brad giving it a go and now, when it's not working out, he simply needs help.

You know what, that's probably what the truth of it is...and some have us have been in that situation. You try one of those projects on your own, like finishing a basement, or fixing your car's transmission by yourself. You end up calling your dad who patiently comes over, fixes what you've screwed up, pats you on the back and says, "Now, next time...ask for help stupid."

Regardless, how the relationship between SOE and Sigil works out will be something to keep an eye out. Obviously, my thoughts on this aren't done yet...yayyy for you eh? :)

D out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can we just come out and say that Vanguard, as a competitive, first tier, modern MMORPG, is finished? I hate to come off as a rabid Vanguard hater, because I followed it through development and was excited for it, but its just missed so wide of the mark that I don't see how the market is going to give them the room to turn around and get back on track.

Some of this dev's comments seem to completely misread the market. He talks about Vanguard needing to be available for those who tire of the WoW expansion...welcome to last month! The Burning Crusade has been out for over 3 months now, even the most casual player has hit 70 and even the slowest "raider" is in Karazhan at this point. People who are burning out on WoW have been doing it for a month now and are doing it now...they're not going to be buring out on TBC 6 months from now when Vanguard might be desirable (that's a big "might"). I would guess if you could see a Bell Curve for "TBC burnout," the peak would be right around mid-April. The "TBC Burnout" market is rapidly shrinking.

Further, where does he think this positive viral marketing is coming from? Sure there are some people talking it up on the various message boards etc, but they are dwarfed by the people talking it down. And regardless, your not gonna build a meaningful subscription base by attracting everyone who reads Fire of Heaven or something...viral marketing isn't gonna reach the types of players you need to build a large, meaningful critical mass to make a MMORPG last. He says at one point in here that they need to "Keep the momentum going" my opinion, momentum is going in the wrong directin at this point.

And finally, like you say, the state of the market is such that Vanguard is heavily, heavily disadvantaged. By the time this supposed "re-launch" is supposed to start paying off, your gonna have WoW still going strong (no one seems to dispute this, even if its slowing a bit by then), plus LoTRO, which has at least started off with a strong launch, plus a whole host of second tier niche games (Conan, Gods and Heroes, Pirates of the Burning Sea, etc). Plus there's EQ2, Sony's own franchise which, at least from reports, continues to improve with every expansion and update. Oh, and right around the corner will be a Warhammer, a top tier MMORPG, based on a very popular, long established franchise, with the backing of EA (some say this is a bad thing, but if having a corporate conglomerate parent is bad, Vanguard's just as screwed as Warhammer) There's not going to be room to breathe at that point, especially for Vanguard, which for all intents and purposes might as well be "Generic fantasy world," since it doesn't have anything to distinguish its mythos and's Norrath when EQ was still in its vanilla release.

My guess would be SOE needs to take over Vanguard to justify the increase to the Station Pass, since nothing else on there would even remotely merit that. I think they even explicitly cited Vanguard as to one of the reasons station pass would go up. Is anyone actually paying for that pass so they can get their Star Wars Galaxies game on? I don't see it.

I hate to say it for Vanguard, but I think its done. Its a brave new world in the MMORPG landscape, and they were not suited for the new terrain when they arrived. Per the link, this thing is supposed to target people burned out from WoW...I'm burned out from WoW, and have been cutting my playtime way back outside of raiding, and I'm actively looking for something else to do when I'm not raiding...I drove to 4 different stores this weekend, and finally found one single (!) copy of LoTRO at a Best Buy, after falling short at the others. Every store I went to had multiple Vanguard Special Editions stacked up...the game's time has passed. Let it die.

-Orestus, 70 Druid, Mug'Thol