I recently stumbled upon an article posted by Brad McQuaid, who is currently the Pantheon MMO as Chief Creative Officer at Visionary Realms. Brad is a veteran of the scene. He started in the video game industry in 1989 and was the key designer of EverQuest. He later co-founded Sigil Games Online before switching to Visionary Realms in 2014.
Find Your Niche
In his lengthy explanation Brad weighted in on the market in general and why he thinks MMOs have lost much of their original features due to catering to the mass-market. He explained that it doesn’t make tons of sense to create such “MMO-lite games” in an already crowded segment. Instead you should go out, find a specific target audience, and “make the best damn game” for them.
It’s obvious that Brad is trying to advertise their way of doing the Pantheon MMO. It caters to hardcore and oldschool PVE players that like cooperation and socializing to matter. But I think even generally you can agree on the fact that most MMOs nowadays are watered down. In their task of becoming the next ‘WoW’, they largely feature the same stuff. Grind, dailies and RNG is common, true gems with unique mechanics rather rare.
Neverwinter Missed Its Chance?
That’s where we can discuss about whether Neverwinter missed a chance. The game neither features a competitive PVP nor challenging PVE. And while it’s ‘D&D’ and we’ve surely taken the right steps lately in terms of story-telling, it’s still not really a game for the RPG or lore crowd as well. It’s safe to say that Neverwinter is indeed one of those “watered down” titles that tries to cater to the mass market. It’s what PWE does as publisher, and what the Cryptic devs acknowledge when they say they have to keep the game running first before introducing innovative features.
And that’s really a shame because you gotta think NWO has the potential to escape from the masses. It has this action combat that is perfect for a deep PVP game. And the background of D&D that could make it appealing for fans of the franchise to bring their story to an MMORPG. Yet PVP is a shell of itself and the Foundry is gone. On top of that, PVE players mourn the loss of those early hard dungeon challenges.
Should Neverwinter Pick Its Spot?
Following Brad McQuaid, the question is whether the game should pick its spot and then roll with it. While that would exclude some “casuals”, wouldn’t it make for a better game? It’s getting even more legitimate when you think about Cryptic being a small studio. With only so many resources available, it’s hard to do everything at once anyway. This leads to PVE players complaining about missing dungeon updates and PVP complaining about… well, everything. A focus on either PVE, PVP or ‘D&D’ would concentrate the devs’ work and improve one specific area all the time.
I believe this is indeed an interesting topic. Neverwinter currently is main-stream, and one of those “gutless” and bad business models Brad McQuaid criticizes. I’d love to hear your opinion about this. Should the game become more specialized or do you like your casual MMO-lite experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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