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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Battle for My Gaming Time

Never before in the history of gaming has the competition been so fierce among so many different games. Back in what many still call the golden age of MMOs, late 90’s to 2005 a player had a mere handful of titles to choose from. The clear winner of that era is World of Warcraft and it is still the industry leader today. However times are getting tough for the once unstoppable gorilla of gaming as Blizzard has recently seen their subscription numbers dive significantly for the first time. Many will blame the direction the game has taken for this, but I believe it has more to do with choices available than anything Blizzard is doing wrong. To prove it I submit to you my email inbox.

Over the past several months I have received no less than 40 emails from games I used to play. By far the biggest two contributors to this total are World of Warcraft and Star trek Online. A former player of both titles, I have received emails requesting my imminent return and many olive branches of goodies have been propped up to entice me back. STO flaunted their new Free-to-Play format and then sent subsequent emails describing all of the new and wonderful features they have added since I left. World of Warcraft has equally been throwing the deals my way as they have now offered me four separate free time periods for my return. When I heard about the buffs they enacted for the Scroll of Resurrection feature, that allows players to bring back former players, I was surprised at the steps Blizzard was taking to recover their player base. Things like free Cataclysm expansions, instant level 80 for one character and free character transfers are perks this game would never have given out in the past. 

Several other games have sent me emails in the hopes that I will return to their games and most curiously I also received an email from Battlestar Galactica Online that urged me to log back in and report for duty. The only problem here is I don’t ever remember playing this game or even signing up to play, but they seem to remember me from somewhere so maybe it’s just my faulty memory rearing its ugly head again. 

Well the point of all this rambling is to convey to you, my readers, the urgency that gaming companies are feeling to grab as much of the gaming community as they can. New titles are being announced all the time and the number of games available to play is staggering. When even a gaming Goliath like blizzard enters an almost panicky mode of player retention, one has to wonder if things are getting a little TOO crowded. Many will contest that this is good for gamers and for the most part it is. More titles means more choices, but there comes a time when a market can reach an over saturation point, where supply outweighs demand. When this happens, many suppliers of our gaming needs will find it hard to stay open without enough paying customers.

Contraction of game makers is almost inevitable at this point, the only question left to be asked is which ones will stay and which ones will go. I just hope that it isn’t one of my preferred titles that gets the ax, but then again by that time I’ll probably be playing something else.

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