Enough with the armchair quarterbacking and back-seat driving regarding MMO features at launch or even at the early stages of a game.
I do it myself, wondering why X feature, which is well known to be a popular one, or Y feature, which That Other Game has aren’t in my current game of choice. How could Rift and SWTOR possibly have released without guild banks, didn’t they know that we’d want and need them?! The answer is that yes, I think all of these missing features are well known as desirable features and that any good MMO will have them, eventually. The key word here is eventually.
Yes, I believe that game developers create lists of game features and pay attention to what other games have added over their many years of development. I think they analyze most requested features and learn from games that have gone before. People refuse to acknowledge the “many years of development” part of the equation. There is a finite amount of money available to create a game. That money gets spent making a playable game, not making a game with 5 years worth of development time spent adding quality of life features and other non-essential content. That’s right, I said non-essential. I think we as players need to look closely at what is essential and what we just want and think we should have right now.
We have to stop arm-chair developing game content. If a game is good and lasts, then we can expect that money will be spent adding all of the features that make MMO players happy. Frankly, the game has to persist and make enough money to provide an incentive for putting more time and money into developing those features. To expect a game to release with all of the features other companies spent years coding is unrealistic. Sure, they aren’t re-inventing the wheel, but they are still paying people to write the code, test the code, integrate the features, create the UI to interact with them, and all the little nit-picky parts that go into making a feature actually work within a game.
Yes, I think guild banks are a no-brainer where an MMO is concerned and I was very surprised when Rift and SWTOR didn’t have them out the gate. However, not having them didn’t stop me from playing their games, didn’t stop their games from functioning, had nothing to do with how my class or story played out, didn’t interact with any of my quests or NPCs, and were not essential. I’m glad they got added later, but I would not have traded a guild bank for being able to ride a speeder. No way! I’ve considered some of the things that other games I’ve played managed to add to their games, many years into their games being profitable, and I find I’d rather have more content and events than guild perks or web tools.
I think we as players need to get over the expectation that a new MMO should have a fraction of the features that some other games have added over time. We should instead expect that like those other games, we’ll get new features and quality of life functionality once the game bugs are worked out, the new content is added, and the games make enough money to fund the hours of coding time spent putting them in. They don’t magically appear just because we know they exist in another game.
So sure, we can be disappointed that dollars didn’t go into them, but we shouldn’t quit a game or call it junk over non-essential features. As we are seeing from bored end-game players in SWTOR, content is greater than features. Content locusts only bitch about the features when they’ve devoured all the content. If you quit a new game because it didn’t have all the features at release that the game you played for many years (and got bored with despite all its shiny features) had, you might want to re-think your expectations.