If It Smells Like Spin

An interesting post by Green Armadillo over at PvD about player motivations. Mysterious player motivations actually. In it GA references two games and recent comments made by those responsible for them.

I don’t want to get into debates about the merits of these games or systems in this post, but I do want to talk about why these comments don’t ring true to me.

First of all these comments are coming from two veterans of the computer game industry, and not just that these are guys that have been in the front lines of game development for many years. We should also consider that they have worked on some of the biggest and most anticipated games to date; they’re not lightweights. They’ve been around the block a few times. They are the cream of the crop.

Game developers, and particularly MMORPG developers, have known since the first MMOs, that players have a tendency to rush to the level cap. MMO players consume content like a zombie consumes brains. How many games release one day, then two or three days later have players announcing they’ve capped.

How many articles and blog posts have we read about players complaining that a game has no high end content because they’ve rushed and run out of content well in advance of what the developers planned for?

And look at auction houses with the millions of words written about them. How we see players aggressively pursuing the market, and engaging in trading practices that would make the NYSE blush or proud depending on who was running it at the time.

Right from the start of MMO gaming, players have looked for ways to make their characters as effective as they possibly can be. Asheron’s Call players may be familiar with such things as 10/100/10/100/100 (I think I got the attributes for a mage correct there.) Players will min/max to make the right character, even if more distributed settings will create a more well rounded but weaker character.

So to hear a pair of veteran game developers, in 2013, say they underestimated what players would do with the long standing and well understood systems they were putting in their games…