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Joined: 2009-09-30

[A bit long opinion piece, you've been warned :D]

Everquest set the bar, WoW raised it, now every gamemaker sees dollar signs from the MMO biz, the holy-monthly-subscription-grail, the pay retail + sub + micro-transaction big profit goodness.
(Also adding + expansion costs for these 2 as well)

Obviously some have/are bucking the trend, and there are exceptions, but you need to have seriously good product and continued delivery to warrant anything near the 'current standard' of retail + $15/mo + microtrans services.

Champions Online is one of the better MMOs that I don't feel warrants full fare. Crimecraft is one of the poorer MMOs that doesn't cut it at all (IMO).

Age of Conan, Warhammer Online were good in their own right - but I wonder if they don't do that much better with a better model suiting their products and delivery, out of the gate. Lord of the Rings possibly the same thing.

Guildwars was a triumph IMO, even if it didn't have WoW numbers, but really who else outside WoW does. A great game, reasonably spaced and priced (and optional) expansions, along with some reasonable micro-transaction options which added some convenience but weren't necessary - e.g. you werent really *shorted* in storage and character slots, but you could buy more. I look forward to Guild Wars 2.

Really to demand the big bucks you need to deliver - of the next crop only Star Wars:The Old Republic seems to be set to up the ante with spoken dialogue and story driven roots. But even with all that I'm a bit skeptical about it needing to have the typical MMO pay model, where this seems to be like their previous/forthcoming titles - SW:Kotor I&II, Mass Effect I&II - and just allow multiplayer.

Somewhere along the line 'persistent universe with lots of people running around' for all the +s and -s that brings with it, meant 'bill monthly'.

Frankly that's a lot of pressure on any game, to continue to deliver excitement and fun, and justify its growing pricetag. On one hand you probably forgo other titles, but on the other if you only have casual game time, you might feel the pressure as well, am I just throwing money away?

I think there are a lot of lessons being learned, and hopefully sooner rather than later - as it's a bit of a shame, some good games are almost DoA, or are on their way out, shortly after release. And then it's tough to jumpstart it back into activity, frankly. Again with a different model, or at least more modest costs - not full fare retail and monthly for an early cash grab - this may have been avoidable. I enjoyed Warhammer Online, but I didn't keep it up. WoW I played longer but I doubt I'll be back.

There's too much game value to be had on the second wave. I picked up the first Mass Effect for $20, a little more than one month sub to the typical MMO. Castle Crashers for the Xbox360 was $15 - it's normal price - and offers up more fun than most $60 titles I've tried for the wife and I to enjoy. There's been other deals as good if not better lately.

Indie titles have really raised the bar as well - World of Goo, Defense Grid, and others not only have reasonable prices, but often have deals. The former is having one where you name your price on their website, as I type.

It's nice to see the small company/Indie resurgance lately, and along with the bargains to be had, there's little reason to pay the ridiculous cash cows that are the typical MMOs lately. What knocked me out of WoW was the crunching the numbers for my Horde Paladin to end up on an Alliance server with my friends - Blizzard would charge me $30 to change factions, then $25 to change servers - I'd pay a cool $55 to continue to pay to play how I want.

That's when the whole concept jumped the shark for me, I was done.
That doesn't mean these games don't have their pull and their place, and certainly some will continue to succeed and offer a great experience. My argument here is though too many are reaching for the premium prices without premium delivery, and objectively looking at the costs, even the 'best' of the MMO crop have a hard time justifying their prices when looking at what else is out there.

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