…if MMOs come to consoles? Over at VirginWorlds.com Brent assesses the situation and surmises “we have no problem.” He mentions that Everquest Online has been a console title for years and it is inevitable that other titles will come to the console market. In fact, some newer MMOs are being released primarily on the console and the PC is the secondary platform, states Brent. These comments and the article came in response to The Common Sense Gamer’s assertion that the console market is much like the World of Warcraft population. Game Informer reports in the April print issue that The Burning Crusade sold 2.4 million copies in North America–and that was in the first 24 hours of its release. There are a huge number of gamers out there, as Blizzard has demonstrated. Whether the genre becomes a console mainstay or continues being a PC-specific activity, we are going to see increasing numbers of players.
I have to agree with TCSG’s assessment, however; both the console and the WoW population are ones I do not care to game with. The console market will be a problem for MMO gamers, but I also realize we probably don’t have much choice either. The game manufacturers will seek to put their product in front of as many paying customers (and they hope, subscribers) as possible, and tapping into the console market will help them do that. However, I decided some time ago that the “time sink” and the raid system alone is not enough to keep the “asshats” out of endgame guilds or from generally hindering the enjoyment of the game for normal, sedate, and mature players. WoW is full of people who are experiencing their first MMO and making the mistakes anonymous, selfish people make when there are little to no consequence to their actions, as I wrote late last year. Further, games like Everquest II have brought their leveling system into line with WoW in order to compete and allow for a much greater degree of solo leveling than was common just a few years ago, helping people with no social skills move towards the endgame more easily.
However, there is a distinction between the “loot whore” or the overbearing gaming know-it-all and what the above two posters term “asshats.” In my Clan gaming experience (in [OgV]), beginning with Battlefield 1942, the mod Desert Combat, Battlefield Vietnam, and most recently Battlefield 2, we had a different term for the ignorant and generally malicious FPS denizen who team killed for vehicles, hacked to advantage, and unfortunately, put racist, profanity-laced comments over the in-game channel—that term was “Smacktard.” The connotation that this player is developmentally-challenged applies—they haven’t learned to play the game, and probably won’t because playing by the rules is boring for these extroverts—they need to ruin the game for other players in order to enjoy themselves. I normally “fragged” with the server admin panel up on my laptop so I could ban them without alt tabbing out of the game. Persistant worlds in games such as Neverwinter Nights also suffered from hackers and unscrupulous players.
I do not have admin permissions on Crushbone, unfortunately. But this is a problem we don’t have to confront on our own, however. We have established guilds, a network of online friends, and a manner of playing that suits us—it is a social experience, which is why most of us continue to renew our subscriptions. If we want to induct new players into the gaming etiquette specific to your MMO, we have to demand these players conform to our expectations if we group with them and certainly if we guild these players. New blood is an asset to games, and more players means a dynamic economy and a lot more choice in grouping and the marketplace. I must admit part of my decision to leave WoW, with both my accounts, was the belief the bad elements of the population would never learn to act like mature individuals and either I would need to join them, or get out—and I chose the latter.
Fifteen years ago, during the heyday of the MUD, MOOs, and MUSHs, you had a healthy “asshat” population, even on a server of 300 players. This hasn’t changed. Human nature is static–people have been acting like fools since we came together online–if I searched my memory I could probably come up with examples of this type behavior from my BBS days in the 80s. We have always had to deal with these people online, and in daily life as Brent points out, if we have any social interaction at all. However, we tend to remember the bad experiences we have online, and sometimes the view that “all” the other players act that way overwhelms one’s sense of community in a game.
If I evaluate the MMO market objectively, and step back from my personal experiences over the last twenty years, I agree adding a large number of subscribers can be an asset to MMO gaming, though it will undoubtably have a detrimental impact in some areas. How will it work in my current game of choice, Everquest II, if SOE ever decides to put it on the console market? I don’t know. I am not sure how the title would sell, as I am not a market analyst. I do know if I encounter “asshattery” I will try my best to redirect such behavior and help the newbie have a successful experience ingame. I may fail, but if enough players join me in demanding a certain level of play, I think all but the most recalcitrant “asshat” will have to conform, and we already have a goodly number of those type of players, on gaming rigs I’ll never afford, I’m quite sure. In the last word, I will not stereotype the entire console-owning population as “smacktards,” but adopt a wait and see attitude. I think we will all be in for some suprises.