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The perils of MMO tourism

Eliot Lefebvre

MMOs are a big business these days. This hasn't always been the case -- Ultima Online might have been the first real game of the genre, but it didn't make everyone want to build a competitor. It was the success of World of Warcraft that really opened up the idea that there was a huge amount of money to be made from the genre, and that in turn has brought almost everyone to the table in a rush to build a game, find a method that works, and try to hook as many subscribers as possible. The only problem is that we might find ourselves with an industry drifting toward what MMOSH refers to, quite fairly, as The Bad Place.

We've all found ourselves buying new games, playing them only until the trial is up, and then never picking them up again. Sometimes we don't even give them the full month. And some developers seem to be adopting this mentality as well -- there are rumors here and there about the future of Champions Online after its first month, and both publishers and players are treating it as if the first month is everything. (Their recent free trial seems to tie into this -- you could argue that where MMOs once got new players by word of mouth, they seem to be in love with constant trial offers to entice players now.) And that's just the tip of the problem, really -- the post goes into further detail about the cycle of hype, release, and abandonment. As it says, gone are the days when we should stick with the game that we had and wait for it to improve -- and that might ultimately be far more harmful than whatever holes in the game lead us to leave so quickly.

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