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The Think Tank: Wistfully watching MMOs across the pond


Black Desert has been filling our headlines lately because of its Korean beta, but over here in the US, we have no inkling as to when or whether we'll ever get our hands on the game. That leads us to this week's Think Tank question: Would you rather know all about the awesome games overseas we might never get to play, or would you prefer they just shut up until they have a plan for those of us in the west? I polled the Massively team members for their take.

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist
@ceruleangrey: I definitely want to hear about them! Even if we never get to play them, it's always good to see the features and ideas being developed. Plus publishers might be more likely to bring them over if they spark interest, which is pretty hard to do if they're not being marketed or talked about.

Brendan Drain, Columnist
@nyphur: The gamer in me hates the bait and switch of seeing news on games I might not even get to play, but information on those games does have a knock-on effect on the industry worldwide. The western MMO industry is frequently accused of being stagnant and innovating only one or two features at a time. So when foreign games and indies seem to appear out of nowhere with fully formed new ideas that have already proven popular or financially successful, the big western studios are forced to take notice and step up their game.

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief
@nbrianna: I like hearing about them, though I'd like hearing about westernization plans even more since I don't really enjoy telling readers about games they might never get to play. Not only do overseas games keep western devs on their toes, but they can help quash stereotypes about "Asian games" too, especially when we're talking blockbuster MMORPGs and sandboxes.

Eliot Lefebvre, Senior Contributing Editor
@Eliot_Lefebvre: I'd honestly be happy to stop hearing about Black Desert because I clocked out of that one as soon as we hit "gender-locked classes" and haven't looked back since. That has nothing to do with its country of origin; it's just a real pet peeve of mine. Beyond that, though, I think hearing about Korean games with no release dates kind of starts a weird cycle. We hear rumblings about the game, and we get excited. There's less hard information and more tantalizing hints, and it gives us the space to sort of project what we want to see in the game compared to what's actually being promised. When and if they actually come over, they often turn out to be a great deal less impressive than we'd originally heard; the gap between what I had hoped for when TERA was first announced and what we actually got was fairly sizable.

Do I want to stop hearing about them? Not particularly, but I temper anything I hear with a fair dose of cynicism. I think it's great to see all of the different things being tried with games worldwide; I just think there's a stronger than normal tendency to project what we want to see on a game we know very little about, at which point we clamor for its release over here.

Jef Reahard, Managing Editor
@jefreahard: I'd prefer to do away with regional releases, country-specific clients, and hell, even language barriers while we're at it. Failing all of that, yes, I still want to hear about games from Korea and elsewhere because western MMOs have been in a rut for quite some time and I like Korean MMOs.

Justin Olivetti, Senior Contributing Editor
@Sypster: I guess it doesn't bother me as much as it might others, probably for a few selfish reasons. One, Korean games aren't usually on my "most wanted" lists anyway. Two, I have far more to play right now as it is without needing to cling to the hope of a foreign MMO making its way here. And three, good ideas should be spread around even if the games don't make it out of the chance that those ideas influence gamemakers in the area. Sometimes I feel bad I don't know more about the MMO culture in Asia, but due to the language barrier and lack of sites that give a clear idea about those communities, I don't really know how to rectify that.

Larry Everett, Columnist
@Shaddoe: As a gaming journalist, I say it's my job to keep up on trends. From that perspective, I want to know what and how all games are doing in all markets. The western market feeds off the Asian market just as much as it feeds off us. However, as a gamer, I couldn't care less. I mean, I'm happy that all players have found a niche that they love, but if it's a game I'm not going to play (Asian market or first-person shooter), I would rather devote my free time elsewhere.

MJ Guthrie, Contributing Editor
@MJ_Guthrie: While it might be a bit of a tease to hear about games you can never play because you happen to live on the wrong side of the globe, I'd still want to know about ones released in other markets because those games can still have influence on the development of games overall. Ideally, however, we stop having these crazy region locks, blocks, and other nonsense and just let people play together!

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.

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