April 26, 2007

The Death of "The Vision"

I helped propagate the rumor that SOE was poised to purchase Vanguard from Sigil that was started at EQ2Flames.com. Some people doubt the rumor, and some people agree with me that it is a very likely outcome. If I was a betting man, I would be putting money down on this one. There is no way in financial heaven that Sigil can foot the bill any longer, even with SOE's help. Vanguard is just not pulling down the subscribers that Sigil needs to survive financially. Vanguard was not a cheap title to produce, unlike some other second-rate MMORPGs that have managed to survive with few to no subscribers.

Over at Cuppytalk, the question is being asked: SOE TO BUY VANGUARD? BIG WHOOP. Actually it is a very BIG WHOOP; one that seems to be ignored by a lot of casual observers of the situation.

On an immediate level, SOE purchasing Vanguard most likely means that two things will happen to Sigil. First off, Sigil will most likely dramatically downsize their company. Secondly, a small segment of lead developers will most likely be picked up by SOE to transition Vanguard over to SOE. I suspect the MMORPG industry will be having a sudden surge of resumes floating around sometime soon, and it will signal the start of the truth behind this rumor.

What this means for Sigil's head man, Brad McQuaid, is yet to be determined. Most likely, this signals the end of "The Vision". I seriously doubt SOE would hire McQuaid back with his now proven record of "not getting it". Even if SOE hires McQuaid to stick with Vanguard; it is very unlikely that his "vision" for the game would be followed. Vanguard needs to change and if SOE is going to throw down the money, they are going to do things their way.

As "The Vision" dies in the mess that is Vanguard, I sincerely hope that it signals the death of the old way of doing business in the MMORPG market. We really needed a big, AAA title to fail miserably trying to follow the old "release now, fix later" mentality. World of Warcraft slammed open the door on this market, but the old standbys just didn't believe that anything had changed. People like McQuaid believed, and probably still do believe, that there are just more MMORPG gamers in the market looking for "The Vision". World of Warcraft proved there was a massive market for MMOGs. Vanguard proved that the expanded player base was not a fickle coagulated blob looking for the next great game. Vanguard has shown that the days of Everquest are gone; forever.

I hope that people realize how big a of a deal this really is. Games require money, and having a multi-million dollar title fail miserably is not encouraging in the least for any perspective venture capitalists out there. Less investment, means fewer games and less innovation (aka risk). At the same time, this grand failure, cements the start of a new line of thinking that all MMOGs of the future will benefit from. There is a template to be followed for success, but it is still up to the developers to deliver on the product. BIG WHOOP that SOE is buying Vanguard. BIG WHOOP that Sigil is most likely done. BIG WHOOP that the business of MMORPGs is changed forever.