13 March, 2006
Stumbling around doing some research last night, I came across a very interesting article:
Online Gaming: Why Won’t They Come? by the infamous Jessica Mulligan.
The article’s date is February 27th, 1998, which is even before I started working on Meridian 59 (which is referenced in the article.
Now, I hate to pick on Jessica too much; she’s a brilliant woman that has a lot of experience behind her. Yet, it’s interesting to see her words come back to haunt her in the post-WoW era.
Now, I’ve said before that Customer Service doesn’t matter in these types of games. There are other things that are much, MUCH more important to the success. I think one of the most important is branding. UL is widely considered one of the first big commercial successes in the area, and I think that’s largely due to the Ultima brand. WoW has similarly broken all records, and I think you can attribute this success to the Blizzard and Warcraft names. Yet, if you look at the history of these games, you’ll see a long record of very poor customer service. You can find no shortage of discussion about poor customer service in MMORPGs.
Of course, branding is not the only thing that lead to success. EQ managed to be quite successful without a brand (and with what was widely considered terrible customer service, even though their CS team is highly organized and efficient). On the other hand, Star Wars Galaxies had arguably one of the most significant licenses ever and the game was not considered a significant success.
Anyway, it’s interesting to find old articles like this and see how well the stand the test of time. I’m sure in 7-8 years people will go look at my early blog posts and laugh. (I’ll bet Jessica is bookmarking them to do just that, if she reads this.) When industries go through serious states of transition, there will always be incorrect predictions.
Some interesting things to think about.