Everything is Early Access and a broken MMO

Below is a picture of Monty, the greatest doge in the world. He has grown up so fast since we got him in December and he’s the reason I’m getting out a lot more and choose dog cuddles over video games more often than not nowadays –

So yeah, this is a rant with all the usual hyperbolic grumpy trimmings. I am annoyed at gaming and have been for some time. It’s not just that most open world MMORPGs have become convenient and boring and more of the same. Apparently Project Gorgon and Shroud of the Avatar will turn the clock back on some of these things and remind players that shortcuts are the devil (you heard it here, many times before). Or not, it doesn’t matter. Both games look dated and none of them look finished, so it’s another few steps down the ladder of ultimate desperation before I’ll pick up copies.

The situation on Steam is even more ridiculous. As a frequent follower of new Steam releases and discovery queues, I have been appalled at the level of unimaginative half-releases for months. The great, great majority of titles in my queues or on my follow and wish lists are early access. If I disable the EA tag in my search, I end up with even worse than when I keep it. And 40% of what’s actually releasing reads “Here is our open world voxel-based crafting simulation and survival game!” and every iteration thereof, sometimes it’s on Mars or on a desolate island. Hooray.

After months and months of previews Kingdom Come: Deliverance finally launched in February and I haven’t bothered picking it up. The game is plagued by the usual launch maladies and bugs that we’ve come to accept in 2010+ and there’s no way in hell I’m paying full 60$ price for a broken deal. Sea of Thieves has been hyped to no end pre-release for being that super exciting Pirate MMO but just like ARK, Conan Exiles and Destiny 2 (I want my money back!) before it, it turns out to be empty promises, shamefully missing content and broken co-op features. The next big thing? More like landslides on the erosion of trust.

Game releases used to be fun – they used to be full releases of finished games. Now everything is a premature MMO and players are juggling different categories of disappointment from “needed another 3 months” and “holy hell, how is this not still beta?” to “they’ll fix it next month…..or so” and “yeah, should’ve left it”. The PC market is clearly leading on this issue which is why consoles have re-established themselves so well, getting away with exclusive titles all the time. None of this is my idea of gaming in 2018. Also I’m getting sick of hearing about Fortnite and Twitch streamers.

Anyway – I’ll be back talking about the few, short games I’ve actually enjoyed playing lately. They weren’t MMOs!

17 comments

  1. All that. And the “oh, right, I didn’t think this through” part of the whole “everything is early access” is that launch day ceases to have any meaning. When anybody really interested in a title has had months or years to try it out, who is left to buy it when it really goes live? H1Z1 was released finally and they had to make it free a couple of days later to stir any interest. That is effectively tying a pork chop around its neck just to get the dog to play with it. Still, I guess it helped a bit. They should have given that a thought with Landmark back in the day.

    Meanwhile I don’t want to crap all over indie devs, but the estimate is that 35 new titles show up on Steam every single day, and almost all of them are absolute crap that just clog up the platform and infest your queues. There could be a great game in those 35 I suppose, but I’ll never know. I have three different Mars colonization sims on my wishlist and I got a note that another game on my wishlist, which I couldn’t be bothered to spend 99 cents on, is on sale for 25% off. I probably won’t spend 75 cents on it either.

    1. Oh god yes, the endless betas where no one notices anymore. DAYZ and 7DTD are prime examples of that but it’s across all genres really. The excitement for launch is completely gone.
      And Mars colonization games are all the rave now! ;) I played Osiris but have stayed away from everything else since. Steam has become a conveyor belt clone factory so alike to the mobile games market these days, it’s a shame.

  2. I’m not sure whether these trends represent a commercial decision that will only persist as long as it remains profitable or a response to cultural change. I tend towards the latter.

    I feel that most of the pushback, such as it is, comes from a demographic made up of mature gamers, probably in their late 20s to early 40s, who are very uncomfortable with things no longer being done the way they used to be done. You see it in every aspect of the culture, from attitudes to social media and mobile communications to music and even food.

    It’s always been the case, at least as long as I’ve been alive, that many (probably most) people struggle to stay abreast of new cultural trends once they reach their 30s. Onte thing that’s changed is that nowadays companies are more adept at marketing to those otherwise disenfranchised groups in a way that enables them to convince themselves they are still “young” and “in touch”. They aren’t.

    Gaming is a particularly difficult example to parse because it’s still seen almost universally as a young person’s pastime, even though the statistical evidence (and plain common sense) suggests that it has a much broader cultural reach than children-adolescents-college age young adults. There’s not really an established cultural equivalent in gaming of “Dad Rock”. Gaming companies haven’t seriously begun to court the grey dollar. That may come.

    Meanwhile, the evidence of PUBG, Fortnite, ARK and many, many more suggest that young games consumers are being well-served with what works for them. I’d argue that if those games don’t seem finished or worthwhile to players from their parents’ (or grandparents’) generation, that says more about the significance of generation gap (something that has more relevance now than at any time since the mid-60s) than it does about the innate quality or value of the games themselves.

    1. A friend’s immediate comment to my post was “you’re getting old”. ;) I dont doubt that has much to do with it. On the other hand, I don’t know what choice kids even have nowadays – they’re born into this hyper-capitalist world where everyone is their own product and their own brand or has to be and just playing a game on its own is apparently meaningless unless you have an audience. It’s a Black Mirror scenario happening.
      I always hoped the fact that the gamer demography is getting older too, with lots of people between 35-50, would affect things more positively. Guess not.

  3. I’m back playing Everquest on the new timelocked server myself, that’s how exciting I’m finding new games atm.

    I did like rift prime for a week or two but i just don’t find it sticks.

    Early access is getting out of hand but until the market says no to paying for alpha i dont see an end to it.

    On a plus side it allows niche games to get out to the market on less funds and see if they have a viable product.

  4. I suspect that Bhagpuss has nailed it. We (IE us lot over a certain age group) are on the wrong side of the curve. Business will go where the markets lead and if that means a plethora of superhero movies, unfinished generic games and other stuff that us old timer balk at then so be it.

    Look on the bright side. Those pesky kids with their sexting, tattoos and shitty hair cuts will never get on the property ladder. Is this a good place to stop and laugh maniacally?

    1. I don’t know Roger, some twitch streamers are making hundreds of thousands $$$ every year, if not millions. Looking at them, I clearly did something wrong…

  5. You should write a post about Destiny 2! All I remember is seeing some Tweets from you about having bought it and having some fun with it; then the tone suddenly shifted to how disappointing it was. I want to know what I missed. :P

    1. Hahaha, you’re right. I will make a post about this, just for you! :D
      I have a hard time even remembering my early joy with this title now but I know I had some. :(

  6. I’m not going to be all that worried about whether I have enough new releases to play until I get through the backlog of existing games I’ve been meaning to get to. At my current rate, I’ll be about a quarter if the way through it on my death bed. Even if I were really into new releases, why would I pay $40-60 for a half finished game now when I can play a finished version of the same game for $10 or less a few years from now?

    When you are 25, “must play the latest thing right now!!!” makes some sense (that’s certainly how I felt at the time). However, time seems to pass by faster and faster the older I get. At my age, waiting a few years for all the kinks to get worked out doesn’t feel like waiting at all, it feels like common sense.

    1. I dont disagree. For me it’s not so much having to be around for every next big thing – just something I could enjoy for a bit longer that ain’t a sham. I’ve had precious few great gaming moments since Witcher 3.

  7. My gaming life is so easy since I moved away from PC and MMOs to PS4 only. I get 2-3 PS+ games a month, more than I can ever play, buy big titles that I can invest countless hours in (Horizon Zero Dawn, zomg). I am too old to find Twitch streaming or games like Fortnite interesting whatsoever.

    I don’t expect to ever find an MMO again that will knock me off my socks. The genre is dead. I expect my MMO future will be 3-monthing WoW expansions until the game finally dies.

    1. Eugh WoW! ;)
      It sounds so sad to think MMOs are dead. But the best stuff in the last few years has basically been expansions to established games, so I guess I can’t fight the argument any longer. I agree we can never relive our early MMO days but I always hoped for something solid to come out again, a WoW or LOTRO with fresher graphics, but that died with EQN.

  8. The weirdest thing had happened in that I went to post a day or two ago and your website vanished for a while.

    Anyhoo, I’m back and saying that Monty looks awesome!!

    And yes, I’ve been a bit grumpy about the half baked releases out there that I’m simply not touching until a few years later. This really has the feel to it of the period immediately before the Great Video Game Crash of 1983-84, but the difference is that there are a few people keeping all of these games afloat by being obsessive collectors. I can’t imagine this bubble lasting much longer.

    At the same time, I do feel some sympathy for these devs rushing to get their products to market before the winds turn against them. But why some of the third party developers don’t see that there’s a difference between “early access” and “needs to get to even a beta level of quality”.

    1. Monty is a joy :)
      Hmm my website has been acting up lately, I hope it was just temp provider issues!!
      *wave*

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