Friday, June 19

Good Stuff

Since we're sharing newly found blogs now, I'll add my own :-)
Yesterday from the Symptoms of a Greater Cure posted the following in an article:
What it comes down to most specifically is that of a competition between two fundamental business concepts, that of the creation of a product, and the running of a service.
This creates a secondary battle between placeness and gameness. You see, the goal of a product driven business is to release the initial game with a certain amount of stickiness, hopefully full on addiction, to pay the intervening time frame until you can release another product. The goal of a service driven business is to create a 'place' that people want to be, and then to use that place to sell products, advertise, and/or charge admission. While a service may benefit from a more addictive style as well, it's single most valuable asset is positive word of mouth, and putting that in danger for a little more stickiness could cost you everything.
I think this is a really good distinction. From my own experiences, it's very easy for a development studio to think of the game they're going to release as a product rather than a service. Many mistakes can flow from that conception. Of course, some games are really more producty than servicy in a good way. I.e. Guild Wars, whereas others seem to have found a great balance between product and service, mainly the EverQuest franchise. And some franchises like Second Life and There! are all servicy, but very little gamey.

This might be more distinctive of "what's wrong with MMO's" in general than gamey vs worldy discussions. Then she goes on, after explaining audience types for products and services in Barttle's archetypes.:
The simple fact of the matter is that everything in the MMO genre is a service, but are being given the treatment of products. Those who make WoW-a-likes are banking on people wanting more of the same product, which is a complete fallacy, since they are trying to create a competing service. It's hard to blame them too much though, since it was WoW that was continuing on the mistake in the first place. I tend to believe part of the reason for WoW's success was primarily because they improved on the fundamental experience they were giving to their players compared to most games released before it.
I think she's really on to something here, albeitI think the terms 'fact' and 'everything' could have done with a bit of softening. The F2P MMo's are already more Servicy than Producty mainstream Subsctiption based MMO's. But I think that's really due to strapping serive ontop of a product rather than really making a service to begin with.

Anyway, you should read the whole piece and then post your own thoguhts here :-)


  1. I was mostly thinking it is a very pretentious blah blog. But there is some truth hidden in there too.

    An MMO is definitely more a service than a product. But the whole concept of paying for services (and even making money from services is still a bit lost on most people. It is probably the main reason I left Kenya, but that is a whole other story, and more about pepole not liking to pay for services.

    The issue in MMO world is that developers (and their investers) don't really like to be the service providers. It a lot easier to make a new shiny, and than to keep an old shiny shiny.

    The difference between product minded and service minded might be quite big, but in the end it is still about making a compelling game. How the developer treads it after it puts it out there might have some impact on its success. But it needs to be something decent/solid to begin with.

    So which game design ideas could be made more servicy less producty? Because there is where it all starts. I am thinking along the lines of Hero Engine's GM events, custom arch enemies. Or maybe further links between online and offline world. Dare I say twitter your online adventures?

    A problem I have with a lot of these ideas is that what I personally like is far from what the majority wants. I am think I am a really niche market. (Just like everybody else, right?) So it is sometimes hard to say what I like versus what I think would bring in the most people. So I'll stop now.

  2. *Grin* Sometimes you have to look beyond the ego to the briliance that feeds said ego :-)

    Aye, I think most developers, and publishers too sadly, are too product driven. In the case of the devs i can understand. Most of them have been making products sometimes for a few decades prior to making their first MMO.

    I do think stuff like Hero Engine and other middleware facilities will create a space where devs can spend more time working on the actual game rather than the infrasturcture. But you need leadership with a clear vision that incorporates the difference between delivering a product and facilitating a service. Normally only the Live Operations team understands the latter.

    When you say Twitter your online adventures I'm immediately reminded about the article I (hope I shared) about EA eyeing the Facebook / myspace games market. And I'm not sure you're really that different from the mainstay of gamers. You're a unique individual ust like everybody else, true. But you're still secretly part of a demographic as well. Every group we tend to identify with a single term is made up of unique members too.

  3. Oh, and I wasn't camping. I get off work in 3 minutes and was doing a last scan of important browser tabs :-)