Brad McQuaid of Pantheon: MMOs Are Too ‘WoW’, Mass-Market Nowadays

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.

That’s the big hump I think the MMO genre really, really needs to get over. In the ‘post-WoW’ world the genre really moved towards trying to become even more mass-market than WoW itself.

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.

The only difference is that there are already plenty of MMO-lite games like that — already many that have been launched, and then many more still being worked on. And from a business perspective it really doesn’t make sense for us to go and try to compete in an already well-served segment of the MMO genre.

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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j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter inspired by the DPS builds of Envy and Rokuthy, he has built up ALTs of all classes and finished Module 5 with five characters in full legendaries and BiS/near-BiS level.

7 thoughts on “Brad McQuaid of Pantheon: MMOs Are Too ‘WoW’, Mass-Market Nowadays

  • October 2, 2017 at 8:21 am
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    I’m not sure how many pve players are actually mourning the loss of the hard dungeons unfortunately. I’ve seen far too many players complaining that the dungeons we have are too hard and that they should be changed so that the first boss is something you can put on auto farm for good loot (like ring farming the first boss of the old CN). It is sad really, people scream for months about not having anything challenging to run and then when it arrives they don’t want to play it.

    Of course, the experience gap between what a dungeon is like for a BIS team of players who know what they are doing and a group of casuals is huge, it’s almost like they are doing 2 different dungeons.

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    • October 2, 2017 at 9:38 am
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      My complaint about the difficulty in dungeons is that many bosses have “cheap” tactics that if you don’t burn them fast enough, your team will absolutely wipe.

      For example: The turtle and the stacks it gets when it slams. Orcus in Tong with running out of temp HP. Last boss in Tong with the souls.

      Compare this the the last boss in FBI where you can avoid the insta kill hit by hiding behind the ice or 2nd boss in Tong where if you don’t burn it fast enough you can target the dwarves.

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    • October 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm
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      What is sad about it? I am one of those people asking for making the first boss not as hard as the other bosses, and if necessary, beef up the difficulty of the remaining bosses so that the overall difficulty remains the same. If you only do the first boss, you don’t finish the dungeon and you don’t get the big prize. That should go without saying. What is wrong with making the first boss one in which “casual” or “average” teams can build confidence in a dungeon that, to them, is extremely hard, and still be rewarded at least a little bit for their efforts?

      Let me put it this way. What percentage of TONG-eligible players (i.e., meeting minimum IL requirements) do you think can actually finish TONG? Whatever that percentage is, say it is 20%, what do you expect the other 80% to do?

      Reply
  • October 2, 2017 at 9:00 pm
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    My $.02, only a small portion of NW players are clamoring for PVP. I mean talking about not being a MMO, in the tabletop D&D you would almost never fight against another player, it was always against NPCs. When you introduce PVP, all of a sudden the game becomes one about balance. Even end game dungeons become about getting that perfect balanced teams. It become numbers and min/max. It discourages “weaker” classes or races that might be fun to play.

    Personally what I would like to see is more character classes with more diversity (the spell casters in this game suck). And I want to play a whole party, not just me and some lame companion. Let me organize my own team of five and let me play any one of them while the others run off a AI that I can tweak with some simple settings like “hang back” or “tank” or “mostly heal”, etc.

    Talk about a game that I have not seen out there and it gets you closer to D&D.

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    • October 4, 2017 at 4:34 pm
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      That’s called a single player rpg, and there are many of them. MMORPGs are for grouping with other people.

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  • October 3, 2017 at 1:17 am
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    I actually think the difficulty level of the end game dungeons and skirmishes are fine what i’m finding frustrating is the lack of choice and stuff to do in the end game. I used to play much more on my main toon, now though i’ve started working on some alts simply because there’s bugger all to do. Bring back the Foundry and maybe let the aurhors give away a blue salvageable loot for 2k AD’s, that would certainly get peoples creative juices flowing and hopefully we’d get a ton of good new content to play.

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  • October 3, 2017 at 2:26 am
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    I think Neverwinter’s PvP is terrible and I will not play it. So it really annoys me when pve mechanics and powers are nerfed to make PvP players happy. I understand where mcquaid is coming from.

    Reply

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