I’ve started noticing a trend in certain video games recently. Developers appear to believe that if you release a multiplayer online game they will maintain an extremely high player base if they release tiny bits of DLC throughout the following months of release. While this can be a noble goal in the case of certain games in which this DLC is free such as Monster Hunter, or Splatoon; in other cases such as the one with Evolve (which the entire game with DLC (aka season pass) costs about 150+ USD) it works as a way of milking the players of their hard-earned money (or parental units money’s). I fear that in the misguided attempts at extending the life cycle they are completely missing the fact that gamers are usually a fickle group.
Depending on the genre of a game we can sort of determine its peak life cycle. Where as an FPS like CoD or Battlefield usually peaks until the next sequel comes out; a game like WoW can maintain a steady base of players for 15 years. Most game companies, however would kill to get that kind of steady base of players in their game series. It’s not very easy to keep the attention of players when newer and shinier games are coming out on a regular basis, and easily we are lured by the promise of greener grass on the horizon. For the most part a game reaches its peak after a few months on the market, where after that event happens it takes a nosedive straight into the small, but dedicated loyalist faction of players.
Most companies would kill to get these kind of numbers, and go figure this is a MMOFPS (combining two of the most long-lived genre)
Take for example the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate game which was released in 2013 February, this game peaked at an average of 6k players throughout the day with 16 servers available 3 of them A, B, and C almost always being packed and the rest of the players divided amongst the remaining 13. The game was utilizing the on-disc locked content which was unlocked every so often throughout the month. While this was extremely great during the peak times, since it gave players a chance to test out their skills against more powerful versions of their already strong monsters. It did not deter the player base from dwindling down as time went along. In fact if anything it just created apathy amongst the player base that is not hard-core towards the series. They recognized that the only difference in these was that they were more difficult, and often times the more “fun” oriented MH players seek a balanced mixture of challenge and enjoyability. You take away half of that aspect, and the player instead loses complete interest in the game and ceases to continue playing. Hard core players of the series know this as the cleansing, where the remaining few are grouped into distinct, but similar categories (I’ll speak about this after the article is finished)*. But, Capcom did not seem to learn its lesson with the first time it attempted this tactic in the series (Tri on the Wii used an event type locked dlc in which depending on the week you could play a different quest, and it was a nightmare).
When moving on to MH4U we realize that Capcom had not changed much with the server system, the only difference is that you can’t see how many players are online at any given time now. While the fan base has grown quite a bit with the series sales being as following:
|Year||Title||Platform||Sales (in Millions)|
|2005||Monster Hunter Freedom||PSP||1.30|
|2007||Monster Hunter Freedom 2||PSP||2.40|
|2008||Monster Hunter Freedom Unite||PSP||3.70|
|2009||Monster Hunter Tri||Wii||1.90|
|2010||Monster Hunter Freedom 3||PSP||4.80|
|2011||Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate||3DS||2.50|
|2013||Monster Hunter 4 (Japan only)||3DS||4.10|
|2014||Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate||3DS||3.00|
The game had finally reached mainstream audience (in the U.S. at least, the less we speak about Japanese hunters the better), and for a little while that worked out really well. You could see a bunch of new players that were starting to hunt for their very first time, and veterans that were complaining about carrying this nooblets so aptly named scrubs. It was wonderful to see new hunters becoming skilled, while the rest would just be content to simply move to the next rank despite not learning a single thing. The game was releasing the “DLC” every month on the first Friday and for the first two months excitement was at its peak (you could tell because of how much buzz there was around the MH pages), but it wasn’t clear how many players were actually in the server since they removed the ability to choose which one you wanted. But, once March and April passed by it seemed like players were moving on to different games, suddenly the game wasn’t looking as popular as it once did, forums for the games started slowing down a bit, and once again the ones remaining were the dedicated fan base that seems to love this series as much as I do. It’s hard to avoid this type of event happening, the games are fun, but after a while even the DLC being released starts getting repetitive, and in all honestly the MH series are a Completionists wet dream (maybe nightmare) because only the truly dedicated will achieve the goal of doing every little thing in this game.
But, therein lies the problem, the majority of video game players are not completionist types whose goal is to play 3000+ hours in it. Most gamers don’t care about getting every single armor, weapon, rank, quest, title, achievement done in Monster Hunter or any game series. At least it’s free claim the fanbase who still plays, but that’s not a good point. The game contains all that information already, it should have been unlocked from the beginning, we are not interested in playing a game that is 5 months old scream those who have already quit playing. I have to partially agree with them, it doesn’t make me very happy to have to wait for something that was already paid for.I’ve used Excel to draft up a sheet of interest in this game based on the views of each video for the month that they released DLC and the results were not surprising actually. I will give Capcom this though, at least we didn’t have to pay extra to unlock this content, unlike the new IP Evolve (in which you paid in advanced).
Despite the peak in July it was going down from the beginning.
Yes, Evolve a game series where you play as 4 hunters with various different types of weapons that serve different purposes in order to kill a single monster target (did anyone else get a strange feeling of Deja vu here?). It was released 4 days before Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was released here in the U.S., and had a relatively good sales margin with 2.5 million copies shipped worldwide. The hype around this game during release time was huge despite the controversy surrounding the game’s price tag of 235 USD (without tax). It sold rather well, and the developers Turtle Rock intended to release DLC regularly in order to keep the game alive for as long as possible in spite of the concept of this type of game showing that players tend to drop faster than flies. But, the difference between this series and MH is that the latter has already had an established and extremely loyal fan base formed; as a new IP Evolve did not have this advantage and as such the player base dropped almost instantaneously. But, don’t even take my word for it, look at these screen caps that a friend of mine took specifically for this article:
only 500 players on average are active, also thank you Jon Irenecus for the picture. If you notice here the trend shows than on average most players drop between the first 2 months than they do at any other point afterwards.
This trend is so bad it went straight into the negatives.
Those are not good numbers for an FPS type franchise. They aren’t really good numbers for any franchise, MH3U has 300 on average every day and that game is 2 years old already. It’s sad to think that some people paid half of the bi-weekly minimum wage salary to play this game. It’s an aberration, and the company that made this game actually seems to think that this is a long-term IP. I certainly hope their next game in the series is less pricey or at least they release the DLC for free because this is not a good trend. Companies need to realize that certain games have a time line on them from the moment they are released, instead of artificially trying to prolong the life of these games they should release them in full so that players can enjoy them to the brim from the moment they arrive. It is unfair and dishonest towards the players who already paid money to play these games for them to be incomplete or locked behind a simple code that has less than 1kb of data.
We shouldn’t have to wait for what we paid for, that is not how this relationship should work. But, game companies don’t seem to have a firm grasp on this concept, every time players ask for something they seem to do the opposite. They want to keep their games in life support despite the evidence showing that this doesn’t do much to deter the fallout of players in the following months. I’m really getting tired of being treated the way we are as consumers. Video gamers raised a ruckus when that whole “gamergate” debacle happened, but nobody seems to give a damn when we’re constantly getting screwed by companies in order to milk us from our hard-earned cash. It is sickening to see, how we get upset when we’re stereotyped as a generation that lacks in the priorities department; when it’s very clear that this assessment is correct. I’m tired of saying this, but we need to band up and strike back with our wallets, show these companies that we will not pay for their screw ups any longer.
As always this is Dash The Bomber Signing out!
** I wanted to explain the types of major players who play MH after the horde has been cleansed**
- First we have Elitist, this is the type of player who will kick you from a room for wearing armor or weapons that he doesn’t like and yells at you the words “Git Gud Scrub” despite not realizing that you might have some merit and deserve to be given a chance in order to test your mettle. This type of player takes pride in this trait and has been known to treat other players badly if they don’t perform to their “standard” (these type of players might also be part of the second category as well)
- Secondly, we have the completionist players who have to get every armor in the game and weapon to the maximum level, these are the players that you see farming a quest continuously for hours as if it was a job and will continue to do so until their mission is complete. They aren’t mutually exclusive with Elitist, but they have been known to be more patient since their objective is simply to farm and they don’t care who helps.
- Finally we have the late to the party players who bought the game long since the first wave of new players died off and are starting out now. These players have a tendency to be carried by experienced players who are on their third and fourth character by now, and simply exist to wander around in various pieces of equipment that don’t provide any sort of skills because they think they look cool and want to move on to the next rank as quickly as possible. They are recognized by their ability to get knocked out three times in a battle while being told to “git gud” and their lack of common sense. They are very amusing to watch from afar in their natural habitat.
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**** The blog itself is copyrighted to the author****