Setting Expectations

Jewel has a post on the apparently bad vibes on the TESO Collector’s Edition.  I put in a few comments and that got my wheels spinning for my own post. Related to that original post, know that I never by a CE. I haven’t bought a box for a PC game in nearly 5 years.

I mention the project I’m on from time to time.  500,000 users are there so setting expectations is so vitally important for success that I would say it’s above and beyond anything else.  If you promise the BMW and deliver a Ford, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Gartner Hype Cycle

Absolutely every single product goes through this cycle.  The only difference is how high the peaks and valleys become and how long you stay there.  iOS is in a valley right now, android in a peak.  WoW, at the tail of of an expansion is in productivity mode but WoD news is restarting the cycle on the way up to a peak.

First, a flashback to 3 previous big name games.  Star Trek Online, Rift and Star Wars TOR.

Star Trek Online

Had a closed beta, massive NDA up until a month before launch.  Stress tests and open betas meant the game was largely unplayable for the masses before launch.  The hype machine was on though, so most people were at a peak when the game launched.  A month later, the valley appeared.

Rift

This had no PR for a long time (and a name change) then it decided to do a near 3 month open beta.  Word of mouth was extremely positive and the peak was sustained well after launch. I know I bought a year’s sub because of that beta and the positive hype from other players.  People were able to explain the Rifts, dungeons and player customizations to other players.  You knew what you were buying.

Star Wars

Super hype machine here.  Remember those videos?  Super closed beta (I was in it), massive character wipes, very little word of mouth on the game.  The game launched at least 2 months early, hit the peak in the first couple weeks and then hit the valley.  They had an over 90% server consolidation before month 6.  No one who bought the game really had a clue as to what they were getting into, other than Star Wars!!1!

Now for the two next ones.

The Elder Scrolls

There is no hype machine here.  If anything, word of mouth and community engagement has been abysmal.  The recent grouping video aside, what has anyone seen that would say “I want to play that”.  Beta is ongoing, many people did the stress test.  There’s a huge NDA and the game is launching in 2 months.  There doesn’t seem to be a peak for this game and that’s a real shame.  There’s a bunch of new ideas, new playstyles but the general vibe is so darn negative and Bethesda has done next to nothing to fix that.  If you asked me what there was to do in the game, I would be very hard pressed to say anything other than PvP right now, because I haven’t heard or seen anything else.

WildStar

Pretty decent hype machine here.  Up until the holidays, there was a weekly reveal with video.  Now it’s more sporadic.  Closed beta is active but the NDA only covers 15+, so it’s easy to find a stream of the game or data.  General player vibe is very positive.  There are AMAs, discussions with the developers, integration into a bunch of fan sites which is doing a decent job of hype.  I know there’s going to be guilds (with a different set of mechanics), dungeons, raids, PvP, housing, warplots, costumes, character diversity, 4 alternative paths…I can do these things from start to finish.’

 

Clearly, I am aiming more for WildStar to succeed here because I have a better understanding of expectations and people playing the beta are having fun.  TESO still has time to turn things around.  Drop that NDA, get people playing, get the videos out, get the AMAs.  Do something people, there’s a tremendous opportunity here.

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