Let me start by sharing with you what I don’t do:
- I don’t buy every new MMO on the market
- I no longer feel a strong interest in playing on the first day of Alpha
Much of this has to do with acquired skepticism.
A decade ago, I used to get super excited about upcoming MMORPGs. And then I experienced those games losing their playerbase in droves while the developers/publishers failed to meaningfully address the concerns of the community.
This happened with Warhammer Online, Aion, Allods Online, RIFT, and SWTOR. The collapses of WAR, RIFT, and SWTOR were particularly personally disappointing to me, because I saw so much promise in each of those games. WAR had epic battlegrounds (aka scenarios) and RVR, and you could level up through PVP. RIFT had the most flexible class customization system ever – for a given class you could choose 3 out of 9 talent trees – and the battlegrounds were superbly designed. SWTOR was so much fun and felt epic – the writing and aesthetics were immersive. All of those games “failed” for reasons I won’t belabor here.
What I realized through those painful experiences – because I was often a player who hung around after 80% of my guild mates and community had left – is that players are extremely fickle and that developers for MMORPGs often bit off too much scope in terms of both PVE and PVP. Very few games have staying power, which is why the multi-year success of games such as LoL, Dota 2, WoT, and Overwatch has been encouraging, even though I don’t play the first 2 titles. But those games are MMOs not MMORPGs, and the only MMORPG to meaningfully sustain a player base is WoW, and I highly doubt Blizzard could launch another MMORPG IP with such sustained success. WoW is self-sustaining because it has them most content and biggest community. Some would argue GW2 has had sustained success, but I would argue that it has more of a loyal niche community.
So that brings me to the question in this article: is it worth your time to Alpha test?
For me, the answer is now no. Even after I became a skeptic, I was burned by the collapses of WildStar and Armored Warfare. Carbine launched with a very dated subscription model, and the move to F2P came too late to be relevant. AW in my opinion offered a better experience than WoT (no cheesy pay-for-advantage mechanics, no crew grinds, less RNG) but wasn’t meaningfully better to prevent players from going back to WoT, and eventually I went back to WoT because the AW player base was functionally dead.
Aside from playing WoT, I have tried the following games in the past 2 years:
- Total War: ARENA
- The Exiled (formerly Das Tal)
- Gloria Victis
None of those games held my interest, but it’s partly because WoT is a good game and I’m still holding out hope for a great MMORPG. The MOBA-style games just don’t do it for me, although I did really enjoy Overwatch which is a MOBA/FPS hybrid. I don’t play Overwatch because my aim sucks and while I’ve gradually improved it I’ll never have the aiming skills required to perform well. In addition, I miss being able to spec or build my character the way I want to support my preferred playstyle or interesting mechanics.
I have been waiting for 6 years now for Camelot Unchained (CU), which is what spawned my writing this article. CU now has limited windows of testing, but at this point I’m unmotivated to be a tester. I want to play a game where my progress is permanent, because re-grinding is tedious and onerous to me. When the game reaches a Beta stage with regular play times and no character wipes, I’ll play it, and if it’s good enough, I’ll blog and YouTube about it.
EDIT (2018/07/31): I just received the following email from City State Entertainment, the developer of CU:
How does one start an email that one has been looking forward to for far too long? Do I start with all sorts of gushy sayings? Do I start with some nice piece of art from our talented team? What about one of my long and detailed descriptions? Or, do I start with something short and sweet. Hmmm… How about this?
OMG, we are actually, truly in Beta 1!
Beta 1 starts in less than an hour. Simply huge :)
EDIT (2020/05/20): I was just reading this post and felt compelled to add that Mark Jacobs, head of CSE, announced earlier in 2020 that they were shifting focus from CU to a PVE game called Colossus. Redditors posted how misled they felt 😡. It’s been 7 years since the Kickstarter and it’s unclear when CU will see the light of day. Had I known this would be the outcome after 7 years, I’d never have joined the Kickstarter on principle.