Friday, July 29, 2011

MMOs and Mogs Aren't Great Friends, No

We're just going to ignore the irony here, in that MOGs can also stand for Multiplayer Online Games, since we all know that I mean me.  Mogs.  Anyways, MMOs are, more or less, uncharted territory for me; be it limitations with my hardware or simply my eternal gripings with my terrible internet, they're just things that I have not really gotten to experience.  The above pictured WoW is, in fact, not something that will run on my computer.  Let that sink in for a moment:  WoW, the game that's more or less been made to be runnable on just about everything will not run on my computer.

Regardless, I'd like to think that I don't buy into the 'stigma' attached to the games, I respect their existence, but they're not something I can dip my toe into to test on the whole.  Not that I've honestly wanted to anytime in the past, though.  Sure, I got the urge to play WoW when it started to get big (and then never stopped), Guild Wars always intrigued me for being something that seemed to 'step to' the big kid on the block and not get knocked flat, and the Super Hero MMOs out there have their own allure of course, since who doesn't want to play a super hero?  Especially one that you can flesh out yourself?

About my only dip in, which is something I can confess here, is Maple Story.  A year or two ago, my girlfriend and I were looking around for things to do together, since we're doing the long-distance thing, and, being that we both do indeed game, games just sort of happened to come up.  But it's not like we were looking for something to buy, as I couldn't run much, and who knew if we'd even like it.  So a quick decision to try the Free-to-Play Maple Story came around.  And you know what?  The game isn't bad.  It's not something you'd really want to play alone for the majority of the time as, eventually, it does descend into a pure grind-fest (which, admittedly, if you have nothing to do is a nice way to pass the time alone) but it's something that offers a neat experience, especially when you play it with others.

And if anything, I believe my dip into Free-to-Play may have just spoiled me on 'the big boy' MMOs, since, hey, I got a mostly fun gaming experience out of something that I didn't have to put a dime into, despite cranking out three or four characters to mid-tier levels.  It wore out its welcome eventually, of course, but before then it was, well, it was gaming as one could expect it.  So, while the pay-to-play games might naturally offer more 'richer' experiences, what's to say they won't eventually wear out their welcomes to me as well?  Most MMO gamers complain of the jetlag eventually and have to put down the mouse for a while before they think about playing again, after all.  (I have no figures to back this up, just personal anecdotes.)

However, the upcoming Star Wars:  The Old Republic and Phantasy Star Online 2 have firmly kicked me out of my "Ehhhh, not really interested" mindset and put me firmly on the path of "WANT", though my reservations still stand.  Clearly, before I could play either, I'd need a new, better computer which may or may not happen in the near future, and I would still feel my internet deficiencies would get in the way, but would likely deal with it.  (After all, I play PS3 games online, I imagine it'll only be marginally worse)  But the real problem sticking between me and these two games is whether or not there will be subscriptions.

And that's a concern in many different ways, honestly.  Neither game has offered an idea for what you can expect to pay to play for the games (Aside from the initial purchase price of SW: TOR, which was announced recently) and though PSO2 is way off on the wayside yet, SW: TOR doesn't have that same luxury.  We've seen all types of games live and die in the recent years, and they've all offered different subscription types that don't seem to indicate what the 'right' thing to do is.  We all know World of Warcraft uses the, what now seems standard, Money/Month formula (In WoW's case, there's variations, but $15 for one month is the standard, more or less).  APB, which we all witnessed crash and burn in spectacular time, offered a variation on the Money/Month formula by letting you purchase 'hours', or simply pay for unlimited time for one period of 30 days.  And then you have Hellgate: London which offered a 'lifetime subscription' for a one-time cost of $150, but then ended up shutting down their servers in January of 2009.  Which certainly signaled the end of the lifetime of the game, but certainly not the players, nor their interest, nor their 'moneys-worth'.

It'd be the cases of APB and Hellgate that would make me wary of parting ways with money for the simple pleasure to play a game for a certain time inbetween server startup and permanent shut-down.  While I wouldn't exactly worry about it too much in the case of Star Wars:  The Old Republic (which might just be blind faith on my part), I'm not exactly sure if I'd be willing to pay Sega every month to play PSO2 if just because of the relationship Sega has with....well, any country that isn't Japan.  It's just the one stigma I've picked up, I suppose:  if I pay $60 for a PS3 game, I get to play that as long as I want, and as much as I want until either the PS3 breaks or the game disk gets damaged, too worn to play or anything similar.  But I can go pay $20 for the WoW Battle Chest, Install it, put in $40 or so extra, and only get about three or four months worth out of the game.  (After I hit level 20, of course.  Since it's Free-to-Play until then now.)

I sort of touched on it in my PSO2 post, and I guess it can be applied to non-MMOs as well, now that I think about it.  How much gametime equals $15 a month, was the question I posed then, and thinking on it now, there's really no definitive answer I guess.  Enough is the answer.  So, hey, maybe I'll find the 'right' amount of gameplay with SW: TOR or PSO2 when they come out and I get the chance to give them a spin.  If I get the chance.  We'll just have to see, I guess, but at least I'm willing.  The only question is, when it comes time, will my wallet?

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