My thoughts on the Warner Brothers acquisition

April 25, 2010

There is a new poll over at Casual Stroll to Mordor that I enjoyed. They asked for comments and I went to town. I enjoyed reading some of the responses, and left my own:

Q: How do you feel about the Warner Bros acquisition?

A: (poll answer) Worried. I don’t want my game messed with. (38%, 37 Votes)

My reasoning for the answer? Its simple. I am worried about too much popularity destroying the game’s community and its culture. There is a clear reason why large corporations are interested in gaming platforms right now. All you need to do is look to how much money Activision (via Blizzard’s WoW game) made in four hours selling what is now known as ‘The Sparkle Pony‘. $2million in four hours is a sum no one can resist.

Celestial Steed

What Blizzard does best is market their game to the new gamer. The casual that doesn’t have the greatest gaming rig, and maybe has only tried a few PC games, or due to time restrictions, has limited playtime – and thus, limited online experience. This huge market demographic has quite a bit of discretionary income to spend in subscriptions and occasional vanity purchases.

Up to a certain saturation point (and we have yet to get there in LoTRO, I agree) the community is fine. Relatively polite gaming and community enforced standards of play mean a civil environment in which to enjoy our favorite game. But attract too many ‘casual’ regular joe’s who have limited experience being in a relatively anonymous online environment and you will have the problem that the World of Warcraft community is suffering from. They call it the GIFT.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that getting more people to play LoTRO will be good up to a certain point. The game could honestly use more players. Also there is quite a lot of money to be made from sustainable subscriptions and offline merchandise that hasn’t been explored by Turbine as of yet. But the flip side of the popularity coin is all the new-to-gaming ‘GIFT’ers which will also want to play this game. A surge in popularity aided by the undeniably more wealthy WB marketing department has the potential of attracting so many new people that online behavior spirals out of control (as it did in WoW) and we end up with chat channels obstructed from usefulness by griefers and forums ruled by trolls and grand standers.

Without proper precautions (and I seriously doubt WB inc., sees past the revenue potential to properly understand this complex problem) you have the sort of environment that is plaguing WoW today.  I would hate to see that happen to LoTRO.

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