Cry of the Ravens

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So the recent news about TSW was aired for all to see in the investor note, it told everyone that the game had hit two main problems. Firstly that the performance tracking sources (reviews) scored the game lower than expected. Secondly that the financial scenarios for the game were unlikely to be met within the next 12 months post launch.

Reviews

I really dislike how review sites have become so instrumental in companies/share holders perceptions of games, yet I know of very few gamers who would reference score such as MetaCritic when it came to making a judgement on purchases. I often worry that we could see a re-run of the DarkFall fiasco but then you read a bit deeper and find contradictions appearing within the same review, this kind of thing it’s a sign for me to close the browser:

“the intricate combat system needs better documentation”

“The combat is your usual MMO button clicking while waiting on skills to refresh”

It does kind of feel like being given racing horse tips from an old drunk man who decides to “befriend” you at the local pub. I find it difficult to take reviews blindly without knowing more about the reviewer, their gaming origins and other examples of their work. Each person gives reviews based on personal preference and experience and that’s what makes them unique and ultimately tricky to try and reduce down into an overall score.

Perhaps I’m too biased to understand how these things work but I do know that the real life gamer reviews in my RSS feeds have been fair even by those players who have decide not to purchase the game at this time and those who never will, but that leads me nicely into my next topic.

revenant

Expectations

FunCom were very unlucky with the timing of the game launch and many gamers seemed to have a decision to make, purchase The Secret World or pre-order Guild Wars 2. Going up against a known title with a completely new IP and different game mechanics wasn’t going to end very well.
Throw the fact that World of Warcraft has been slowly drawing players back in preparation for it’s new expansion that has been in Beta and it could be considered very bad timing indeed.

A number of folks during the beta weekends seemed to be put off by the fact that EA was linked to the game, of course they are purely the publishers but the vibe about the link was certainly something i picked up on as a bit turn off for some.

I have to that I like may other gamers are watching our gaming expenditure alot more give the economic climate and if it were 6 years ago we would have bought into a new MMO and kept a secondary one on the go too but this isn’t the case anymore.

Player base Dilution

I have been pondering if Funcom may have been a little naive with the expected population figures for TSW. Just comparing the MMO landscape of 2008 when Age of Conan launched to that of the here and now, it’s clear to see that a great deal of things have changed.

The number of MMO Games is increasing as companies choose not to close them but opt for the payment model shift. Previously a mass of players would suddenly have to hunt for a new home when a title closed, now players can remain active in multiple MMO games, paying small amounts and spreading their time between them all.

My experience

I am really enjoying the game and I’m pretty certain that I made the correct decision for me between TSW and GW2. FunCom are rumoured to be looking into layoffs as a result of these recent figures and I hope that the game/support/community doesn’t suffer too badly as a result.

On the plus side the second content patch has been announce for August 28th and it brings a new auxiliary weapon system, a paraplastic surgery (barber/Facemaker) for redesigning your avatars face and a chunk of story content too. For some the content maybe coming too fast, for others it’s not an issue, some are looking forward to the challenge and changes due to arrive.

The game has recently been made available on Steam which could be a good move but currently if i try to view it I get the “This item is currently unavailable in your region” message.

In case you missed previous free weekends, you can sign up and download the game right now for a free 3 day trial.

3 thoughts on “Cry of the Ravens

  1. I was also surprised by their expectations and I have trouble understanding it. It has all the makings of a slow rolling success, not a stellar burn the candle on both ends hit like SWTOR.

    The beta weekends, the first couple of weeks after it went live and all those online reviews said mostly one thing: very nice game, very nice concept, but there are many things that people need to get used to, like understanding the ability wheel. But once this barrier’s been overcome, people will settle in and probably play the game for a long time.

    Of course there was also a good number of bloggers saying that the game’s not for them, but they will dwindle with the number of free trial weekends.

    • Thanks for the comment Feliz, I agree with the slow burn comment completely.

      People are wary of new concepts especially when the differ wildly from what’s is already on the market, as you say once this barrier is overcome with things like guides/ tutorials or even blog posts, I think we may see at rise in population over time.

      I’ve come through the whole experience feeling that Gamer blog reviews are far more balanced versus the professional reviews. I’ll use this example: when a bugged quest was encountered gamers would raise a petitioned and Funcoms customer service appeared sharpish (in my experience) and resolved it for that player when possible.
      The professional reviews just seem to encounter bugs and rather than get it resolved they use it as another bad point about the game for use in the review.
      I’d love them to show me an MMO that released without bugs that appears to be acting as a benchmark.

  2. Cracking post Gromit!

    Personally I don’t pay much attention to reviews these days. Not for games anyway. I’ll read the Daily Mail’s film reviews and then go and watch all the films they hate, but I find game reviews too random. As you say, personal preference is such a huge factor in weather or not you like a game that even two people with similar tastes can have wildly varying opinions on the same game. And besides, there are so many options to “try-before-you-buy” these days what with free weekends, F2P models etc etc that gamers really don’t need to rely on the opinions of a “professional” reviewer any more.

    As for TSW itself, yes I think they were a bit optimistic in their predictions, and you are right, their launch window was unfortunately timed. But it’s a solid enough game, it seems to be being well supported and there’s never really a lack of people online if Agartha and the general chat tab are anything to go by. The modern day setting should be enough (coupled with the fact it is a good MMO) to keep people playing even if it’s not in the numbers they had hoped. And hey, these days MMO’s don’t die, they just go free to play :)

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