Why Dark Millennium Online will fail

Don’t get your knickers in a twist, I needed a controversial title. When I say fail, I actually mean “won’t be a huge MMO hit and have whole countries raving about it (ala WoW), like everyone is expecting it to be”. I’m fairly certain it will gather a fanbase and that it won’t suck or fail completely.

Now that’s clarified, let’s look at a list. I know lists are stupid but this is a last-ditch effort to piss some people off, so let’s go with it. In no particular order, here are my reasons:

  1. MMO players nowadays seem to be expecting new games to come out polished, with innovative or unique design, lore and gameplay. They are expecting an MMO that has built on and improved things that have worked for other MMOs, but hasn’t actually copied them. An MMO that puts casual players on even footing with the hardcore players, while at the same time offers hardcore only content and doesn’t diminish the efforts of a such a player. An MMO that has an ever-changing environment but a lore set in stone with old content being always relevant. An MMO that caters to the PvE, the PvP and the roleplaying crowd. An MMO that is perfectly balanced, yet offers diverse classes and playstyles. In short, they want a perfect MMO. And because such a game can’t exist (mostly because the expectations are unreasonable or mutually exclusive) they won’t commit to any. They’ll get bored of a MMO within weeks and jump ship every two months. And because the average player has gotten so spoiled, I dare predict that no future MMO will be able to sustain a large base of subscribers.
  2. The Jedi SWG syndrome. Players are expecting Spacemarines to be extremely powerful. This leads to a problem of either space marines being incredibly overpowered, to the point where they are boring to play, or of them being underpowered, which would make them just like any other soldier. Moreover, players don’t want to work hard to be able to play one, they want to be able to play anything they want, including the fabled Spacemarine. But if everyone can play one, that means playing the iconic space soldier loses some of its exclusiveness, and the Spacemarine becomes just another MMO class. Either way, playing a Spacemarine will be an underwhelming experience in the long run.
  3. Dark Millennium Online is promising battles on a monumental scale with the whole server duking it out. This makes me highly sceptical, as the last game that promised such gameplay couldn’t quite deliver it. I think that huge battles are still hard to pull off due to the technological constraints. Especially if the developer is planning on incorporating twitch-based combat with free targeting. I just can’t see huge battles and free targeting mixing very well. But if they decide to go with selected targeting, where you just select a target and all shots are directed towards it, they’ll lose a large part of a potential playerbase and be accused of making a “WAR/WoW clone but in space”.
  4. Vigil are a relatively new studio and have never made a MMO before. Neither has THQ, the company owning Vigil. And although a history in MMO development doesn’t guarantee a good MMO and no previous involvement in the MMO business doesn’t guarantee a bad MMO, it’s always a fair point, as the chances are not on Vigil’s side (and neither am I after the Darksiders ragequit).

Oh look, I’ve coincidentally finished the list at the magical number of four. Without even making stuff up, a success!

As a final note, do not take the above as a holy text of holiness. It doesn’t mean that the game will utterly suck. It just means that the MMO won’t be a roaring success and the end of social life as we know it. Or I might be completely wrong and it will be. Either way, hold off on the hype and curb your enthusiasm a little. We don’t want more MMO related suicides.

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14 thoughts on “Why Dark Millennium Online will fail

  1. hmmmmmmmmmmmm………..

    Success and failure are in the goal set. A developer/publisher sets a goal which is based on “I will invest the much $, to return this much +$, in this timeframe.”

    To the average gamer, “It didn’t beat WoW, it’s a failure.” ((stomps out of room back downstairs to his basement liar))

    If you think you can beat 12 million subscribers over night, without 6 years developement and getting license agreements all over the world, you’re nuts. WoW doesn’t have a true 11 million in subscribers, they have 4 million between NA and EU. Their number is grossly inflated by just the fact that they are a success in Asia, as well as being one of the only few to be able to be in China. So, any developer going to try to take the crown from WoW is insane. And I don’t think I have ever heard one think that they could. Fans maybe, but not the developers themselves. They know better.

    THQ actually stated their goal, which gives us terms for their investment. They stated that anything near a million subscribers would be far far over any expectations that they have. So … I can already tell you, their not going for making the king of MMOs. They know what they are, they know what to build. They build speciality games that serve a particular audience. Specifically, the success they have in making Warhammer 40K games. Was Dawn of War a success cause it was trying to take out Command and Conquer? No, it’s cause they did exactly as GW wanted and the fans will buy.

    I can tell you right now. As a gamer and a 40K fan, I really expect THQ/Vigil to hold up GW’s expectations and build the MMO in that image. I want that game, not an MMO cookie cutter contender. How many non-40K fans are you going to get with that? Not many. And I’m cool with that. It’s a niche game, and it should be. I don’t think this MMO will be on the radar as a big contender and I don’t think they want it to be. As we can tell from MMORPG.com ratings from the fanbase on excitement.

    I think if you look for this game to be a contender, you can garrantee your disappointment on release. Are you a 40K fan and really wish you could play in a 40K communitee in an MMO, okay, all 150K of us will be there chatting up. I think any expectation over that, is probably expecting too much. As you stated, its a publisher and developer that has never built an online game, let alone an MMORPG. Is that a fail?

    The goal is profit and really more and more relationship success with GW. They’ll get both.

    EA got profit on WAR, but what’s the likelihood that GW and EA have a good relationship? Will EA get a shot at a WAR II 5 to 10 years from now? Not bloody likely. Will GW want another shot at it, you can bet on that one.

    • All of your points are valid of course, I almost confused you with Mark Jacbos (Online games are a niche market).

      But as you can see this post was made for and because of the typical MMO gamer you describe in the first paragraph. The basic premise is that you are a fan and are assuming DMO will be a roaring success. I’m aware of the fact that not all fans are like that, which is why I stated that DMO will probably have a playerbase with enough people to sustain itself, in order to make sure I’m not pissing off the fanbase who knows all this.
      But the fact that the game probably won’t have 3-4 million subscribers and turn enough profit to fund an army (WoW) remains.

      The title was there just to catch your attention. ;)

      Oh and I’m fairly sure I read somewhere that WoW’s sub numbers come largely from the Asian market where you pay by the hour for playing. Anyone that has ever payed for a single minute of playing is counted as a subscriber, so traditionall non-rigged sub numbers are prolly a lot lower. Dunno why I’m writing this as I’m sure you’re aware of it. :)

      • Well you got me.

        I see your points. And you are right. If they so dare to think they can even notch WoW’s numbers, they will fail.

        I liked Mark Jacobs. I miss him. I was expecting him to show up by now with a new pioneered company or to head another small studio. Now I’m sad.

  2. I am torn between my opinion of WoW. It stands as my first “long-term” MMO and submerged me into the MMO-verse. However, it also did a great job of tainting the MMO player base for, what feels like, the rest of time.

    Blizzard had a very unique opportunity when they decided to make WoW. Up until that point it felt as though MMO’s appealed to a very select demographic. WoW kind of… mainstreamed the whole process. They brought players from other genres into the MMO-verse. I honestly believe this was due to the game’s content being based on the popular/successful Warcraft RTS.

    To the actual topic of your post: “if” Vigil is able to pull off a twitch-based action-mmorpg without major lag weighing them down they will have strong standing against other competitors who plan on releasing AAA MMO’s in the near future (SWTOR, GW2, Rift,…).

    I personally won’t be playing it because Warhammer Fantasy appeals to me more than 40k does.

    • WoW was also my first “full-time” MMO and I still have very fond memories of vanilla WoW (the time it took for WoW to go mainstream pretty much). But now I’m looking at it and wondering where did it all go, since it seems that there’s very little left save for the things I hate.

      I feel (very much like Mr. Meh and Mark Jacobs) that this statement still holds: “Up until that point it felt as though MMO’s appealed to a very select demographic.” Since only WoW has been able to become mainstream in the West (Asia is a whole different beast) so far, I’m inclined to think that it’s not something you can do very easily, and that exceptions prove the rule. Developers and public are still puzzled and wondering how exactly WoW was able to do it, and if we could figure that out the dark age might be over. But for now, I’m quite content with claiming that MMOs are indeed a niche.

      Which is kind of my first point. WoW has spoiled the playerbase into thinking that MMOs are something that can appeal to everyone. And that’s one of the reasons I believe the larger audience will be disappointed with the game (just as they were with WAR and many MMOs that were hailed as the new messiah before it).

      And yeah, IF Vigil can pull off something resembling Planetside in a W40K setting, stay true to the IP AND draw in the PvE crowd you have a WoW killer. Which is a monumental task I’m afraid. I’m not even sure they can pull off the 3rd person FPS + huge battles part.

    • I don’t know that I would put Rift in with where SW and GW2 are going to try and go. It looks like a cool MMO so far. But I would be suprised if they even breach 500K in sales. Looks like a Champions or Fallen Earth type game to me in numbers.

      I agree on what WoW did for the MMO genre, breaking us from the EQ mentality.

    • Rift looks nice, promises some interesting gameplay, but I’m afraid the whole Rift system will prove to be rather predictable and bland, with the game being more on the grindy side. Call me a skeptic if you will, but I am yet to be convinced. :)

      • The reason I included Rift was because of a few of their design concepts. How well they will do is up in the air, but I appreciate the fact that they’re stepping away from “traditional” class systems and their random rift encounters.

  3. I don’t think that you are right. There is no usable info regarding this project yet. As ever “Waaaaggggghhh !!!111” type no content posts and articles.
    Dont know what is the reason of interview if the most important questions are have only one answer “We are not ready to talk about it”. If you dont then dont talk at all. Do your game and start talking when you will be able to answer questions. Stupid marketing moves are annoying.

    Imho there are more chances to see good MMO from company which never did one than the company wich is specced for MMO production.
    New MMO’s should use different gamplay system than stupid classic Tank/DPS/Heal system. Imho it is the key to the new BooomGame ala WoW.
    People are sick of standarts …. first ones who will take risk to change em will be th new King.
    There is only hope left to see a good made new wave type MMO without idiotic classical standards ala WoW type boss fight. This kinda system is old enough to say that we need something new and fresh to see.

    P.S. Sry for my English.

    • You are right, the above post is speculation but it’s based on my experience with MMOs and the available information (however scarce that is). It is my opinion and one that I believe to be valid, though.

      The lack of information is a double-edged sword. It seems that they don’t want to overhype the game and have it draw a crowd that isn’t interested in it, thus acquiring a bad reputation, which is naturally bad for business. If they are indeed content with creating a niche game, they can get away with witholding information. Though for a game that has been 3 years in development, the lack of information might be a bit concerning.

      I can’t agree with you on the point that inexperienced studios are more likely to create a good MMO, as there is so much more to a massive persistent online game than to, say a single player indie game. A claim that indie and inexperienced developers might make unique and good games more often would pass, but not if you are talking about MMOs, where experience is a large part of the succes (it doesn’t guarantee it though).

      And I can’t see people being sick of the norm in MMOs. If they were, they wouldn’t keep coming back to WoW, a MMO that is relatively short on innovations (Cataclysm might be one, but we’re yet to experience it). There have been plenty of innovative MMOs that have failed or aren’t doing that good, simply because people love old and tried things in a new suit. A trend that can be seen in almost all succesful games (CoD, Starcraft, Diablo type games, various sport games such as FIFA, Championship Manager, CiV, small hits like Bejeweled,and I could go on), that seem to keep getting identically designed sequels in different/updated skins.

      Thanks for posting and discussing everyone, this is the kind of discussion I’ve hoped to foster with this post. :)

      • Yep, I can be wrong about studious but my thoughts where that the man who dont know how to do it will think two times and check himself while doing it. Also there is a chance to newcomer to think without norms. Previous exp is realy good but it also have two ends imho. Not many people are realy ready for things to change fast.

        From my point of view norms are those criteria for en new mmo to fail. I dont talk about MMO with a blank idea or in a “playable demo” state on release, like ABP for example.
        So I’m saying that player is looking for something new and intresting and instead he gets the same general stuff with improved graphics and a lack of midgame and endgame content or poor gamplay, “dead” classes etc (WHO).
        Thats the reason why they are coming back to the games they where fond of just because no one like to spend their time leveling another toon in the “same” game. Also they remember the fun they got playing it and realy like to have it again.

        Lets see what is atm on market in so called new way MMOs
        I know only 2 games which are capable of giving fresh gameplay – Vinidictus and World of Tanks.
        Vinidictus is just fun slasher but have loads of very good ideas (like fishing) in the hat, taking into account that it is OBT.
        WoT is “no content” game atm, just grind and fun but still i have spend a couple of month playing it and may say it is still fun same as it was when i looged in first time.
        Both of em have a very good future with a bit of luck ofc.

        My point is – gamplay have to be the top one to focus on, if there will be no interesting “gameplay” then DMO will have same fate as WHO.
        Tho DMO devs have a very good rts DOW series stuff to copy into MMO. Hope they will do so and wont go for norms which are just stupid to see in 40k universe.
        Can you imagine SM tanking Dread and Medmarine standing behind doing focus heals ? Imho it is stupid.
        That was a main trouble (and it is) of WHO … devs made PvP game with PvE classes and combat system.

        Sry for spelling again.

      • The main reason I say that MMOs require more experience than other games is that there is so much more to developing an MMO than a regular FPS or indie game.

        The fact is that MMOs need a vision and planning into the future, and not just “finish the game, put it out there, profit” kind of 5-year planning. Just one of the problems is having a tidy game code, as coders will come and go, resulting in a spagetthi of a code and rendering any coding impossible. This pretty much applies to any of the departments, since MMOs are never finished and are basically in development until they die. And then there are logistic problems like making sure the game is codeded good enough to not use up too much latency/crash because of constant updates, getting good servers, distributing the game, setting up payment options,… Any of these can make or break a MMO and experience comes in very handy.

        Also, you are saying that they don’t want the same slightly improved systems in a new package, remind how APB failed with a relatively fresh idea and admit that they keep coming back to their old games. You’re contradicting yourself and I’m afraid statistics is not on your side. As I said earlier, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that people are quite content with playing the same, slightly improved and visually updated game and aren’t as keen on trying out completely fresh ideas, over old tried and trusted ones.

        Again, thanks for commenting. And don’t worry about your English, as long as you can be understood it’s allright. :)

  4. Players won’t be able to jump in access their account and create a space marine. They will have to do the progression trials that any chosen imperial guardsmen as recruits for the Astartes. Probably along that path players will be able to choose what they want to progress into, a Commissar, a Space Marine, a heretic and then Chaos Space Marine. As long as the gameplay will be awesome and the servers stable, also if it will be F2P like other big MMOs are planning on being, then they will manage to steal in time from their major competitors. Lets face it, Warhammer 40k as the richest story and lore of any mmorpg out there. The story is a big part of an MMO, it makes the players more aware of the universe they are intarcting in and more familiar. That’s why players don’t really connect well to new MMORPGs, because the story is most of the times less than original, boring and unknown. Moreover since it is the 41-42nd millenniums during the time of present action of the game it’s a lot more plausible as a sci-fi, than anything outhere, because the history of Warhammer is so in sink with the actual history of human civilization.

  5. I just wanted to give my opinion, yer it is not going to be the greatest, but i bet it is going to be a very interesting and unique game. Personally i have been waiting for a mmo based on the table top game of 40k. I do agree about the space marines being overpowered but only to a certain extent. I hope they don’t make them to overpowered or it will ruin the space marine class. But i am also looking foward to the ork class. But I think we need to remember, this is based off a table top war game, so they are probibly trying to stay true to it, so space marines will probibly be strong (hopfully not to strong) but they will probibly take it out of other things, like the fact that they are big and heavy, so they probibly are slow compared to other classes, unless equip with a jumppack where they will probibly be restricted to one hand weapons like pistols and chainswords. Overall, i am looking forward it and i hope that they don’t overpower classes.

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