Customization is the Key ...
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Join Date: Dec 2007
12-02-2010, 12:11 AM
Originally Posted by
I was referring to APB. I apologize for not being clearer.
APB was shut down. Realtime Worlds went bankrupt and closed. APB died. The IP was sold. It is still dead, and will be dead until GamersFirst launches it.
Argue semantics all you want, but the fact remains that the original iteration of APB was not successful.
I will concede that but I think the key there is one of managing a tight ship on budget and being prepared for small numbers that build over time (the EvE model) rather than needing big numbers. If that means you build a smaller game, that means you build a smaller game and grow it.
I think STO, overall, has had the right BASIC approach, they just needed another ten million and another six months in beta.
I believe STO was a $13 million game with a 24 month development cycle.
APB was a $100 million game with a five year development cycle, closer to what armchair folks think is standard for a AAA game.
If that's a AAA game, then I don't think the market can support that many of them. WoW has the core market cornered and niche (let's call them "single A") games eat the scraps.
I think the real growth potential is probably for a game with a 30 month development cycle and $25 million. Less than that and you just have an online co-op game with incomplete features. More than that and you have something that relies too much on subscribers that don't exist or that really can't be swayed from their existing gaming habits or who expect everything they have to be represented in a new game.
WoW cost $65 million and, to replicate it, pundits estimate it would cost twice that figure today. Few people have the money to do that and conventional wisdom says that even if you do, you basically need WoW numbers to turn a profit.
There might be money to be made in cloning a smaller game like EvE and attaching a familiar brand license to it; some people did want that with STO. To an extent, the Cryptic model is to do that with Champions although I think STO and Neverwinter are different enough to attract different players and that you could probably continue to replicate that with other branded IPs like Transformers, G.I.Joe, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, stuff with a core heroic action style... and the success or failure will bear out in the style and quality of the art direction and the new content/skill design.
But overall, if I had a billion dollars, I'd probably stick with an established, visual customization heavy engine and drop $25 million over 30 months into multiple games.
Effectively what they used to call "Total Conversions" in the FPS days, just higher dollar and branded and hopefully with very distinct artistic styles and some novel new gameplay in each. And I'd be shooting for AA MMOs, each reliant on style in graphics and design, rather than a ground up AAA game like WoW.
And I'd wear the AA label with pride. Only compulsive gamblers with deep pockets are shooting for the AAA tier... and if you're only going single A, you might as well homebrew it and do something like Kingdom of Loathing.
(And, yeah, the STO box claims it's a AAA MMO but I honestly think Cryptic guys were so busy making games and still riding on the pre-WoW environment that City of Heroes launched into that they didn't know what AAA even meant by today's standards. If the present incarnation of STO launched before WoW, I actually think it would have been a huge hit, the flipside being that microtransactions would be out as a revenue source in that market.)