12 Comments on “Content Locustry: A Second Look at MMO Content Consumption”

  1. JCharms
    I agree with your observations about progression, but I do think the player base is a little more diverse than story or ops. From my experience in playing this, along with ESO and GW2, there are some sections among the pvp and rp groups that have no interest at all in the mmo type progression. Of course there's plenty that like repeatable content that is all about progression, be it events, dailies, fp's, pvp, space, ops, achieves and some that like it all. But you seem to stop at operations as the "other side" of story and I feel that's way off the mark in the need for diverse content. Myself, I'm in the "like it all" camp and I can say that if they gave us a choice of one new type of group content, that new ops would be the last type of content I would add to the game. This is not about being selfish, quite the contrary, I feel it would target too few of the overall player base and that it would be better spent on something more of the player base would enjoy. It goes without saying that it would be better if they could add all types of content at a reasonable rate, but that's just not going to happen. I canceled my subscription last month, Chapter 11 was enough for me, it was the turning point and the point at where i said to myself that I could not see myself playing this much longer. The story is not good in my opinion and makes so little sense from my bounty hunters perspective that I just lost interest. When or if the game gets back to being starwars again, with lots of new events and fun group content to do, I'd like to come back, but it's not looking good.
  2. Shintar
    Very interesting post! There are a few points I want to disagree with though: While there are many players who always want to chase stat progression and efficiency, I am pretty certain that this is not universal. In an interview last year, Bioware's Manager of Analytics stated that "less than 10% of our player base seems to be primarily motivated to “get to the end”" (however they measure that), which seems to imply that the composition of the player base has changed a lot since the days of those who played 120 hours a week to get to the endgame ASAP. I wouldn't consider that a bad thing either, as I associate that type of player with many bad things - you bet that the guy yelling "SPACE BAR" in all caps in your flashpoint is one of the "less than 10%". So I would very much question whether chasing after content locusts is necessary or even desirable at this point - they are certainly not the only way to build your player base. I also think your "self-fulfulling prophecy" doesn't give Bioware enough credit because the only way it would work exactly like that is if they only looked at percentages, not at absolute numbers. I'm pretty sure that an overall drop in player engagement won't go unnoticed by them. James Ohlen has also strongly hinted that they are working on new group content - at least I'm pretty sure that wasn't an April Fool's joke. :P
  3. altrocks
    Progression is key, but social and group activities are important as well. If there's no one to share the victories with or to show off the new achievements to, then what's the point of progression? Being a SWG refugee as well, I think back to what I looked about that most enjoyable of MMOs. The level up process was just a hurdle to reach the fun stuff at end game. Gaining faction ranks, getting new ships, finding the best resources, creating the best gear, and of course PvP/Bounty hunting in and around Restuss was where the fun was at. In between we had customizable houses in player built cities with player made buildings. We had resources randomized and reset on a regular basis that challenged us to find the best stuff week after week with our non-combat crafters. We had excellent space combat and co-op mining capabilities, both PvP and PvE. We also had a single instance backed by powerful servers instead of hundreds of instances that don't sync up. Our actions mattered beyond the end of a mission and could make a lasting impact on the game world. On Chillastra through 2007 and 2008 I was one of the most powerful Bounty hunters in the game. I was also one of the best structure and ship component crafters. I had billions upon billions of credits worth of raw materials, rare items, and collectible trinkets from numerous events. We had a major city on Lok, built by our guild, and dedicated to be the very best businessmen and crafters on Chillastra. Without others there to help us, and for us to help, that's all meaningless. If we can't show off or neat accomplishments, what good are they? By the same token, if our only accomplishment was getting lucky with a gambling box that we bought with real money, what kind of pride can we take in that? Where's the effort and skill in gambling to victory with a fancy slot machine? Endless grinding, endless gambling, afterthought social content, and blatant time sinks will kill the fun from a game, and a game without fun is work.
  4. Vatec
    I'm not sure why MMO developers keep underestimating the rate at which players will consume the content and arrive at endgame. This has happened in literally every MMO I've played ... and that's over a dozen starting with Asheron's Call back in 1999. At this point, I would expect every competent MMO development company to have three different, interrelated plans in place: a plan to merge servers once the starting wave leaves, a plan to introduce incentives for the starting wave not to leave (daily quests, horizontal progression, equipment progression, raid progression, and/or guild progression), and a plan to encourage players to create their own incentives not to leave (cosmetics and emotes for roleplay, emergent gameplay, player-generated content, and/or "meaningful PvP"). And yes, it's easy for developers to derive the wrong message from their metrics. "Players spend most of their time doing A, let's add more of that!" completely ignores a key piece of information: why players are spending most of their time doing A. Are they doing it because they enjoy it? Are they doing it because it's the easiest or most efficient way to achieve progression? Are they doing it because it's the "only" thing left to do after doing everything else? I'm not sure SWTOR necessarily needs to focus on operations, though. Raids generally only interest a very small segment of an MMO's playerbase, even for raid-centric MMOs like EQ2. But absolutely SWTOR needs to add more *group* content, because group content gives players incentives to encourage *other* players to stay. If you don't need your friends to do at least some of the endgame content, then you have a lot less reason to try to talk them out of leaving when they're considering it....
    • MMOByte
      lmao! Not everyone knows how to utilize paragraphs unfortunately! Nevertheless, regarding the speed at which players consume content - most MMORPG players these days are casuals. This means they don't consume content at the same rate as players a decade ago and therefore new content every few months seems like a good enough schedule.
  5. Tridus
    I'd argue on some level that content locusts are the most rational people here. They play the game, do the fun content, then leave. Why stick around to grind endlessly when doing so isn't fun, especially when there's tons of other games out there? I mean, that's exactly every other genre of gaming works. People play other games until they're bored or finished, then they move on. Nobody making Mass Effect expects it to be the only game you play for the next six months, and it's not made to try and do that. MMOs have this mentality as a holdover from the early days where they *do* want that. They want you to play this one game to the exclusion of all else, even when the game can't provide enough content to make that make sense. So, they throw in mind numbing grinds, endless "progression" treadmills that give you the same thing only with bigger numbers every time, and the other tropes we deal with now.
    • Sechari
      I think your comment is particularly insightful, Tridus. I'm one of those who is happy to think outside the box and challenge conventional thinking, and you're right. "Content locusts" are branded with a kind of lack of loyalty that is looked down on by some, but it does make sense from a consumer point of view.
      • Ian Argent
        What if: BW realized this? They've given up on staying ahead of the content speedrunners and are making themselves content to have drop-in;drop-out players? The monthly sub rewards are a token to keep people subbed even if they aren't actively playing every day. Living within their developmental means, in other words.They also appear pivoting a little and making more effort to engage players new to MMOs instead of trying to attract/retain/poach MMO veterans. Just as a side note: taken as a whole, the "story" side of KotFE is at least as long (by cutscene length and playthrough as estimated by Dulfy) as either RotHC or SoR. The whole HSF structure and alliance rep is a different kind of daily/weekly area and rep grind; as is The Eternal Championship. It's less legacy-focused and more individual-character-focused, but there are legacy ties (alliance lockboxes are legacy bound). It's entirely missing group PvE content; but... They had a lot of development-intensive work in rebuilding companion mechanics and level sync, and TEC's bosses are at least the developmental and QA of a traditional Op.And I'll note that it's explicitly supposed to be an on-ramp to group activity. Why build it if you're not going to put in group activity in the future? I think the 4.0 cycle was a "rebuilding" year for SWTOR, and a time for them to experiment with some new marketing devices.
        • Sechari
          You're probably right that they realized it and adjusted their strategy, giving up on hungry players and just started pacing themselves with what they knew they were good at by essentially enacting a change in game genre. They're certainly entitled to do that as it's their game. Only problem is it started as an MMORPG -and many have certain expectations of the genre. Now that it is becoming more of a single-player RPG, the community is having an awful time adjusting.
          • Ian Argent
            One thing I look at. Blizzard cancelled their "next MMO," and allegedly looted its corpse for the building blocks of what is a really shiny team shooter. Nobody else is launching a new "classic" MMO any time soon, from what I've seen. I gotta wonder if there's a big enough market to sustain a "classic" MMORPG. I am a regular participant in Forum PVP on the SWTOR forums; and "having an awful time adjusting" is an understatement.
  6. GamerLadyP
    I think a game like SWTOR is wasted on people who spacebar through narrative. I hope decisions don't get made in games based too much on that demographic. They can go play any MMO and probably are happier playing one with quest text. As someone who normally doesn't spacebar through content, even I can only stand reading/hearing the same thing over an over again so many times before the spacebar happens. One of the reasons I have so many alts is that I got to play through 8 different stories. We got sucked into that model, and then it went POOF. The class stories and becoming different aspects of a Star Wars hero were as big of motivators and rewards as any silly new hat or set bonus. The gear treadmill is available in any MMO. There absolutely needs to be more content designed for people to do once they've finished the main storyline. There need to be appropriate rewards for doing that content and goals/motivations. But end game rewards are easy and certainly not a unique factor in a game. Where I get frustrated with the game design changes and story decisions that have been made since SWTOR first came out comes from the loss of vision and focus on having 8 unique and distinctive classes to play. The latest content penalizes anyone who has come to love each class and has played all of them. Rather than continue down a path with unique dialogue and interactions, unique motivations and points of view, I have been funneled down to the point where playing more than one or two of the class choices is like reading the same book over and over again. I am very sad that we went from having a whole box of different puzzle pieces that we constructed into a final glorious picture, to DUPLO blocks of story. If STORY is its own reward, then simplifying the story to the point I don't consider it one of the rewards of the game but merely a hurdle to get past in order to see tiny bits and pieces of unique and class personalized content, is a real problem for me.

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