By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Bethesda will host a press conference on Sunday, June 14th. This makes it the first time the publisher has had their very own press conference at E3. This is causing a lot of people to wonder what exactly they’re going to talk about.
While the internet fought over Dota 2 and League of Legends, I was enjoying a completely different game: Heroes of Newerth. But over the last few years, HoN has been all but forgotten, a shadow of its former self. Now, I’m not here to pine for the “good old days,” when I actually had friends playing Heroes of Newerth. Instead, I want to talk about what made me fall in love with the game: the atmosphere and the speed.
In comparison to Dota 2, Heroes of Newerth plays at lightening speed. The pace of the game, the animations, the team battles — they all happen much more quickly than its peers. Combine this with a gank friendly environment (i.e. one hero roaming the map and picking off players when they’re out of position), and you have a game that requires constant awareness of the opposing team’s players. This isn’t to say that other games in the genre don’t offer similar experiences, but Heroes of Newerth always felt different.
That could be due to the game’s personality, which is oozing through its pores. I’m not sure if it’s the taunts, the over-the-top announcers, or the larger-than-life heroes, but something about Heroes of Newerth resonated with me. I felt invested in the game. I wanted to win, and I wanted to do so with style. I didn’t simply play because I enjoyed it. Heroes of Newerth put a smile on my face. Even when I knew that I couldn’t win, I took solace in scenarios such as this:
Even when you’re losing, its hard not to smile when “IT’S A THREE WAY!” is blasting through your speakers.
When SimCity 4 was released in 2003, many considered it to be the high point of the SimCity franchise. People were thrilled when 2013’s SimCity was announced, and eagerly awaited the series’ return.
Of course, everything didn’t exactly go as planned. SimCity‘s launch was, to be blunt, a clusterfuck. The game’s behavior, AI, and stability would all come under fire weeks after launch. It soon became clear that SimCity wasn’t exactly the glorious return many people wanted.
That being said, I couldn’t care less.
I never went into the game expecting a follow-up to SimCity 4. Instead, my friends and I had a plan: focus on creating small communities with various specializations. Since we weren’t really able to get everything connected, I branched off into planning a region that would absorb weeks of my life. The small mining town would set the foundation to help build an educational community next to the river, all feeding into the grid-oriented, skyscraper-laden city.
There was a certain joy about being worry free concerning those sprawling, massive cities. Sure, there’s pleasure that can be gained from, say, recreating gigantic regions that seemingly never end, but sometimes you want something a little different. I wanted SimCity.
SimCity forced me to use my limited space in the most effective way possible. I had to determine how often I’d need to send out my public resources. Which city needed outside health care? Was it worth designating a region as a gigantic trash dump? How vital would public transportation be throughout the region? These are questions I constantly found myself asking, ones I absolutely loved attempting to answer.
Of course, there’s absolutely no defending the game’s technical issues. For me, SimCity is will always be a great idea floating on top of an steaming pile of… well, you know. Still, that didn’t stop my personal enjoyment of the game, though, to the tune of approximately 200 hours within a month.
I do find myself going back every now and then and seeing how things are. There are plenty of hints of what could have been, but that’s not what I focus on. Instead, I sit, peruse my cities, and think “well, at least I have fun playing.”
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how Warlords of Draenor, the newest expansion back for World of Warcraft, is bringing the game back to its “glory days.” When people say this, they’re generally talking about the age of the vanilla game and its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. It’s a period that a lot of players look back on and go “Yeah, I miss that. I wish Blizzard would return the game to that type of state.”
I say “No.” Blizzard should absolutely fucking never return the game to that type of state.
Most MMOs on the market seem to fall into the same pattern: the game is announced, the beta test is announced, the game launches, and it’s forgotten until the free-to-play transition.
Prior to the (according to critics, anyway) successful launch of Warlords of Draenor, many wondered when World of Warcraft would join the free-to-play ranks. “Juggernauts” such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, Age of Conan, Tera, Defiance, and others have transitioned to the free-to-play model. Maybe none of these MMOs ever came close to claiming the throne resided by Blizzard’s behemoth, but it’s still a trend that’s hard to ignore. When (not if) Elder Scrolls Online goes free-to-play, the reaction will be a mixture of lack of surprise and wondering where everything went wrong.
The same turn of events were widely expected after the Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft was released. Subscriber rates were down, alternatives were found (I miss you, Final Fantasy XIV) and other games on the market were too good to pass up. Why would I, someone who hadn’t played World of Warcraft regularly in quite some time, ever considering paying to play again?
Warlords of Draenor, that’s why.
It’s as if Blizzard saw a shrinking subscription rate and used it as motivation.
The plateau effect, where a game reaches the highest playerbase possible before embarking on a never-ending downward trend, is a real thing. Save for a short burst following the release of Mists of Pandaria, WoW‘s subscriber rate had been falling since Wrath of the Lich King. That quick uptick for after Mists of Pandaria‘s launch was soon followed by a sharp decline, moving from ten million subs to eight million subs in the span of half a year. Six million is still nothing to scoff at, but it was cause for concern. Had Blizzard ran out of ideas? Were they too busy focusing on new projects such as Overwatch? Was their time at the top really at an end? Was the best way to bring back the playerbase a free-to-play model?
No. As it turns out, the best way to bring back old players is to improve the quality of the game while playing to their feelings of nostalgia.
You don’t need to flash a big sign saying “hey, you can play this game without paying us every month anymore.” There’s no need to offer bonus incentives that allow you to replay content over and over again. You just need to make a good game. That’s what Blizzard has done with Warlords of Draenor. It’s a damn good game and I seriously hope they can keep it up. If they do, expect that subscriber rate to continue to hover around ten million.
If that’s not the case, then hey, even at six million subscribers, times $15 or so a month, and that’s…
Let me do some math here…
$90,000,000 in revenue from the subscription rate. In other words, approximately ninety million reasons to not go free-to-play.
Hopefully, they’ll keep putting out quality content for their subscribers.
With World of Warcraft’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade, the Caverns of Time was introduced. This dungeon hub was designed to throw players into famous events throughout the franchise’s history — helping Thrall escape prison in Old Hillsbrad, having a first-hand account of Arthas purging the city of Stratholme from the plague, etc.
2014 was supposed to be a banner year for video games. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were both turning a year old. There were big budget blockbusters were set to appear during the holiday season, most of them unhindered by previous-generation counterparts. This year was all about the big boys, with apologies to the Wii U, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The new generation was patiently awaiting its killer apps.
They arrived, but not as intended. [Read more…]
I don’t know about you, but I really like paying Electronic Arts five bucks a month for unlimited access to their games.
Ever since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard has been messing around with a delicate balance inside World of Warcraft.
Both vanilla WoW and its first expansion, The Burning Crusade, were gigantic, featuring more content than you could ever hope to get through. However, some of this content was locked away, hidden behind walls of raid tiers, lengthy quest chains, and hundreds of hours of game time.