Home > Alganon, Opinion > “Well That Took Long” or “Alganot”

“Well That Took Long” or “Alganot”

Starting Monday, effective immediately, Quest Online has decided to shift from a subscription-based to a free-to-play model.

For me, the most interesting statement is the following:

“There is a difference between Free to Play (F2P) and Subscription Free (SF). F2P gives the client away so there is zero barrier of entry. This creates a game world where anyone can just come in and do their thing. The drawback is the lack of controlling troublemakers and defining the general social maturity of a game.

We decided to keep the purchase price to prevent Alganon from being saturated by gamers who have no investment in the game they are playing. Even though we are subscription free most gamers prefer to play with others who are committed to the game to some degree.”
– Alganon Team, Press Release

The reasoning has some rationale, but it’s still a little flimsy. A mere three months after launch, Alganon decides to switch to an F2P model. Perhaps the decision is more closely tied with the inability to retain a loyal customer base. You know, due to the fact that the playerbase may finally be in tune with the fact that this is, after all, a watered down, rehashed version of another MMO, the name of which I quite forget now. But that is mere conjecture.

This does spark a few interesting questions. Is this truly the future of MMO gaming? Is the MMO player-base turning increasingly casual? In a hyper-competitive market is the ever-expanding choice of multi-genre titles more of a curse, than it is a golden opportunity to tap into an existing market.

But then I think of the hype around titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic and wonder if the fault lies with the developers who to try to adhere strictly to tried and tested formulas instead of focusing on innovation, novelty and inventiveness. The fact of the matter is that contemporary MMOs suffer from a the rigors and pressures of surviving a market dominated by a few select titles that all follow the same base formula. Deviation from this formula not only implies challenging the norms that the playerbase is most used to, it also makes for a poor business decision, especially if the sustainability of the title is responsible for a series of continued paychecks.

Which brings us to paradoxical impasse. Should developers try and focus their energies on the pre-established conventions and try to milk the existing market through content and gameplay elements that feel ‘natural’ to a rapidly maturing MMO audience; or should they focus on challenging these conventions and take risks to ensure they stand out from the crowd and build a upon their edge through innovation.

If you play Alganon, and you throughly enjoy the experience, all the more power to you. But it does beg the question, does blatantly ripping off an ultra-successful franchise an advisable option, or one that will eventually lead to poor retention and only short-term gains?

Categories: Alganon, Opinion
  1. March 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Star Wars Galaxies was utterly inventive, novel and innovative.

    I think you mean Star Wars: The Old Republic.

    Regarding originality the games being released reflect how players have chosen. WoW was heavily based on Everquest, even to the point of hiring EQ raid leaders as senior developers.

    What Bioware Mythic seem to be trying with TOR is a large element of familiarity served with a small helping of new. Which is what players have taught developers is the most they can get away with.

    As for Alganon I think it’s doomed. There’s a spiral in diku grind games. In order to get people to grind the deferred gratification has to be worth it. If the game has a rats are leaving the ship feeling it’s not worth doing something not very fun for later reward and status – there might not be a later. I’d be surprised if this game is open in 2012.

  2. March 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Very well articulated Stabs, and it merits a full response, but I am a little tied down at work, so I will have to do that later this evening.

    And yes, I did mean Star Wars: The Old Republic, I will fix that in the copy now. Thanks for pointing that out! 😀

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