Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MindArk The Monopoly

Once upon a time there was a game called Project Entropia. It was a brilliant concept that allowed players the freedom of exploration and other activities without being committed to a subscription-based MMO. Some gamers didn't approve of their credit or debit cards recurrently being charged every month in order to play an online game. Some people worried that they may not have enough money in their checking account at the time that the next month was due, and those that had enough funds in their account to pay for a full year may have not felt comfortable that they were going to stick to that specific game for a full year. PE was a breath of fresh air for many, because it allowed one to play for free, or deposit an endless amount of money. When you weren't able to deposit, you wouldn't get your account locked as which occurred in subscription-based games.

A brilliant concept bred into a full-fledged Sci-Fi MMO, and attracted players from all over the world. The graphics weren't very impressive (although not awful), and the gameplay was on par with what the consumer wanted. People seemed to be sufficiently entertained with the few activities which they could perform in the game. Many futuristically believed that more was to come in terms of professions, and it was just a matter of time before PE was going to explode into a diverse population. VU 10 for sure was going to be the silver bullet which brought players in the door. MA dangled VU 10 in front of everybody's faces for years and swayed people into believing that it was bar none the future of the 3D internet. Fast forward to today, and the whole concept of the 3D internet hasn't flourished. Many people don't have any desire to be in a 3D universe (real life is satiating enough for them), and they would rather prefer a 2D internet experience. The technology that is inexpensive which you'll find in today's budget PC's and tablets don't have enough computing power to run a game as resource intensive as EU. I've scratched the idea of the 3D internet off my list a long time ago. I thought it was bullshit every time MA tried to tout EU as having an inordinate amount of potential being the future of the internet. And even if we did live in an age where the technology encountered which was commonplace at that given time (in a normal consumer's home) was capable of running a game such as this, I'd believe it when I saw an actual widespread interest in the aforesaid.

Since the 3D internet didn't prosper, the next idea was the planets. What a brilliant idea it was for MA to back into the caliginous crevices of the moonlight's shadow, and dump the player base into the lap of an unknown element. That first unknown element happened to be a company called SDS. The community as optimistic as they could be, hoped that change was coming. More propaganda came down the pike, and people bought it. One thing about marketing is that a myriad of people will buy whatever they're being sold. It's just a matter of the correct approach. MA knew what they could get away with while maintaining their profit margin, so they disregarded the player base by using the planet partners as a new front. Essentially it was just more red tape.

Fast forward a little further, and SDS couldn't make their payments as agreed upon according to the contract between the two companies, which resulted in a takeover of Calypso by MA. We're back to square one in a sense, just like the old PE days when MA ran Calypso. This is a very bad thing for any potential future planet partners (should there ever be any more), because it makes MA look like a company which makes irresponsible business decisions -- selecting a company to run their most popular planet that failed in a relatively short period of time. My guess is that it's a matter of time until the player base is jettisoned and dumped once again. The new distraction is currently space (of course MA wants you to focus on this right now), and MA (being the monopoly that they are in the niche market which they're in), just as which was performed with VU 10, will dangle new things in front of our faces while charging ridiculous premiums to be entertained.

Is the planet partner concept going to fail or prosper? Are Next Island and/or Rocktropia failures? What's the future of Planet Calypso? Will there ever be any type of gameplay besides crafting, hunting, mining, and sweating? Who knows? I crown MA the king of being inscrutable. They sure do a damn good job at it, and I can tell you one thing -- until some real competition comes around, we shall remain MA's whipping post.

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