11 Biggest Lies Told by MMO Developers
by Tyler Edwards, November 17 2011
Let's say right off the bat that, as a general rule, MMO developers are honest, up-standing businessmen just trying to put out the best products for players to enjoy - and fork over large sums of money for. But nobody's perfect. Sometimes, they fall short and wind up unable to deliver on their promises. Sometimes, they oversell things or bend the truth in advertising their products. And, okay, sometimes they're just lying bastards.
11: "You're not in Azeroth anymore" (Trion Worlds):
The tagline of Trion Worlds' much-hyped new MMO, Rift, attempts to differentiate itself from the titan of genre, World of Warcraft. But while this statement may be true in the strictest technical sense, it's false in pretty much every other sense.
Yes, Rift does have some unique features - such as its class system and the titular rifts - but when you get right down to it, it's the same grind you spent the last seven years doing in Azeroth. The gameplay mechanics are the same. The dungeons and raids function the same way. The interface is the same. Even the two factions, the Guardians and the Defiant, are so similar to WoW's Alliance and Horde it's a wonder Blizzard hasn't sued them for copyright abuse.
I'm sure Trion would claim their crazy, magic-abusing Elves, the Kelari, are much different from WoW's crazy, magic-abusing Elves, the Blood Elves, but we all know the truth.
10: "Coming soon: Abyssal Maw!" (Blizzard Entertainment):
Among the features announced for World of Warcraft's Cataclysm expansion were two new dungeons set in the elemental plane of water, Throne of the Tides and the Abyssal Maw. The Abyssal Maw was intended to be the first completely underwater dungeon in the game.
Then Cataclysm launched, and while Throne of the Tides made the cut, Abyssal Maw was nowhere in evidence. "It's coming in patch 4.1," Blizzard said. 4.1 came and went. "It will be a raid in 4.2," they said.
No such luck. By the time 4.2 rolled around, Abyssal Maw had been put on indefinite hiatus, and it now seems unlikely it will ever see the light of day. We'd say the whole process is rather fishy, but such a bad joke is more cruelty than we feel comfortable with.
9: "X will kill WoW!" (Many):
This is a claim more often perpetrated by the fans, but it's not uncommon for developers to subtly imply it. Every time a big new MMO is announced, people start declaring the end of WoW is nigh.
Then launch day comes, and reality comes crashing in. The fact is WoW's popularity is self-sustaining. Its community is big enough that it keeps itself alive through inertia and the bonds between its players. It will no doubt die one day, but that day is likely still far off.
But hey, we hear Guild Wars 2 is looking pretty cool...
8: "No real world cash for in-game advantages" (Blizzard Entertainment):
Blizzard has long sworn up and down that people will never be able to buy any in-game advancement in World of Warcraft with real world money, but this statement's veracity has become ever more suspect with the recent introduction of the new Guardian Cub pet.
The Guardian Cub is a cute non-combat pet purchasable from Blizzard's online store. But it is also tradable and sellable for in-game gold. In other words, buying an in-game advantage for real world money.
The Cub isn't game-breaking on its own, especially as supply and demand drive its gold value down, but it is a major step down a very slippery slope.
7: "Come play, my lord" (Evony):
This is more a lie of implication, but still a lie all the same. Evony is a game best known for its incredibly racy advertising campaign, featuring gorgeous cartoon women in suggestive poses and very little clothing with captions like, "Come play, my lord."
The trouble is that these ads had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual game, which is a rather dry strategy game in the vein of the Civilization series. We can only imagine the disappointment of the thousands of perverts who clicked on those ads with hand cream at the ready.
Apologies for the mental picture.
6: "No more killing rats!" (Many, especially Blizzard Entertainment):
This is something that numerous game developers have said while hyping their games, but Blizzard probably made the biggest fuss about it when World of Warcraft was released. "No more killing rats to level!" they claimed proudly, promising epic adventure from the start.
And then you zone in to the game and are immediately ordered to kill small boars/cats/monkeys/dung beetles/whatever. Much more exciting than rats. Totally.
Not to mention kobolds, a tiny race of rat-men. Soooo epic and... Well, enough sarcasm. The point is, when a game promises no more annoying chores at low level, be suspicious.
5: "X will revolutionize the genre!" (Many):
This is something pretty much every developer has promised at one time or another, but none have really delivered. Even World of Warcraft, despite its record-shattering popularity, didn't fundamentally change the way MMOs work and borrowed many elements from past games.
We're not saying that innovation is impossible or has never happened in MMOs, but we've yet to see the game that can completely redefine the genre, no matter how much creators of games like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or Guild Wars 2 try to convince us otherwise.
4: "Star Wars Galaxies will release when it's ready" (Sony Online Entertainment):
"When it's ready" is a joke thrown around by many impatient gamers in reference to the release dates of hotly anticipated games or patches. But they might reconsider their impatience when they hear the tale of Star Wars Galaxies.
The only people claiming SWG was ready at release were its developers, and unless they were completely delusional, that was a lie so big it'd make the Dark Lord of the Sith shake his head in disapproval. The result was a buggy, awkward game missing its much-touted Jedi class, as well as all space content, which wasn't added until the Jump to Lightspeed expansion.
When it comes to Star Wars games, there are two things one should always remember: let the Wookie win, and don't release the damn game until it's finished.
3: "Coming soon: dance studio!" (Blizzard Entertainment):
When Blizzard Entertainment announced their Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft, they promised a number of new features. One was a dance studio for players to customize their characters' dances. This feature was well-received by the player base, and many people eagerly waited for its release.
And waited. And waited.
Wrath launched, and no dance studio. We're now nearing the end of the expansion that followed Wrath, Cataclysm, and awaiting the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria, but the dance studio is still missing in action. Blizzard claims it is still slated for release, but at this point, who knows?
2: "We developed this software ourselves" (NPCube):
Dark and Light was a game fraught with problems. Much like Star Wars Galaxies, it was rushed out before it was ready, and the result was a buggy, laggy, virtually unplayable mess of a game.
However, amid all the cut corners, the worst error by committed by the game's developer, NPCube, was the use of another company's technology - VWorldTerrain Technology created by VWORLD, LLC - resulting in a lawsuit. Despite arguments to the contrary and a counter-lawsuit claiming defamation, NPCube was found to have stolen the technology, which was likely the cause of the game being unceremoniously shut down in 2008.
Remember how we mentioned at the beginning that some developers are just lying bastards? We think NPCube would fall under that category.
1: "No changes planned" (Sony Online Entertainment):
To paraphrase a certain song from a George Clooney movie, Star Wars Galaxies is a game of constant sorrow. The game was plagued with enough controversies and problems to fill a whole other article, but none bigger or more famous than the "New Game Enhancements" (or NGE), which completely reconfigured virtually every aspect of the game and even removed things as fundamental as character classes.
The only thing more bizarre than this U-turn in game direction was the way it was handled. Sony Online Entertainment offered virtually no warning of the change, announcing it only two weeks before its implementation. There were hints that they were up to something, though, such as online listings for a new "starter pack" for the game. SOE claimed this was a mistake, but sure enough, the starter pack turned out to be part of the same plan to drum up new players that also resulted in the NGE.
No other MMO developer has ever pulled the rug out from under its fanbase in the same was as Sony Online Entertainment did with Star Wars Galaxies and the NGE, and especially not in such an under-handed way, so they have earned the top spot on our dishonest list.