New SOE Game: An Experiment

Well I’m sure you all know by now that Smedley plans on announcing a new MMO at Fan Faire which is set to release this month. I’m thinking this is going to be something of an experiment for SOE. Even announcing a game less than a month in advance in unprecedented in the MMO industry, or really the gaming industry in general. I think a policy more like this should be taken with MMO’s. While a month is a little short, I think it’s more reasonable to announce around 6-8 months prior to expected launch, or possibly beta rather than two or three years prior. This is enough time to get all the info out about your game to get people interested, but not overly hyped. Too much anticipation can breed extreme disappointment. I really don’t think that any amount of PR can build this game up enough to sell it at $50 a pop in just one month, though. Furthermore, if the game is getting released this month, that means there is likely to be no beta testing. (at least open, perhaps there was closed beta testing that was very hushed, but I doubt this, it would have leaked somehow. It’s more likely that it was all internal testing.) This all flies dead in the face of everything we’ve come to expect with MMO releases. What does this tell us? That they are trying something entirely new.

My primary belief is that this game is going to either be free to play with advertising (not so likely) or a free to play with an item mall of sorts. I think they want to turn some MMO concepts taken for granted on their heads, including how an alternate revenue system will work for a big-name western company, simply making enough money in the process to break even. That said, I have no idea what concepts they want to toy with, or even what genre the game will be. I could be completely wrong about this one, and they could release a full-fledged standard MMO (which I think would be equally as cool, since we won’t even have to wait to play it, and beating out all of the other competition on the way,) I just don’t think so. I suppose we’ll know soon enough whether either of these are the case, or whether I’m completely off-base.



5 comments so far

  1. Lars on

    I thought they were going to announce a new “game.” Has it been specifically stated to be an MMO anywhere? There’s no way an MMO could come out a month after being announced. These games are too complex for that.

    Its probably just another online collectible card game. They can get those out quicker since they share an underlying game engine and they can probably automate a lot of the game testing and balancing (since you can set up computer players to play each other and keep track of the results). Its mostly just the game assets (art, etc.) and mechanics that change from one CCG to another.

    But who knows. Maybe I’ll eat my words later. Where’s your delete button? 🙂

  2. kanthalos on

    So might I, we’ll just have to see. I just saw “new title” in the press release so to me that doesn’t say a TCG, but who knows. Besides, it doesn’t mean they are going to build it in a month, it just means its getting “announced” within a month of release. They’ve surely been working on it for quite some time. By the way, if you are wrong, I’ll delete your comment for you, hehe.

  3. Aaron on

    I’m not a fan of alternative revenue systems. But I havent played many free-to-play MMOs, so they might change my mind in the coming years. Give me the traditional subscription model.

    There are a lot of reasons why waiting until just before release to advertise your game is a good strategy.

    For one, you don’t create angst toward your company when you have to push back the release date (which happens waaaay too often in this industry).

    For another, just because a particular element of your MMO design is going in smoothly at the moment, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into a major snag later on. It’s terrible publicity when you talk about a planned, or even hoped-for, feature and then have to take it out or heavily modify it.

    And then there’s the horrible losses in development time when you have to prepare a demo or trailer for a publicity show, like E3 or GDC.

    I’m with Dennis Dyack (Silicon Knights) on game marketing: wait until you’re pretty-much finished, then advertise your game.

  4. kanthalos on

    I totally agree that PR with MMO’s has some major issues, and games are announced far too soon, I just think one month isn’t really enough, but I could be dead wrong 🙂

  5. Anaktoria on

    It would be nice if it was a game with lower system requirements, since I’m out of the MMO loop until I upgrade my system!

    Actually…I hope I have a better computer by then anyway…so nevermind:)

    Great blogging, wish I still had the time and resources to blog with you but maybe after our wedding I’ll be able to get back into gaming! I’m settling for Wii action until then.


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