REBUTTAL TO: Heath Hindman is Lying to You.. Ok, Not Exactly
Doug Hill's rebuttal to my editorial is certainly a well-written,
thought-out, intelligent piece of work. However, certain points have
holes in them, which I will address here.
The biggest flaw I saw was the suggestion that the 60,000+ beta
accounts may not have been enough. Mutable Realms was actually
expecting less than that number, proven by this statement clipped from
an email MR sent, "Because of the enormous number of beta applications
that we have
received (more than 60,000 at the time of this writing), we will not
enable all beta accounts on January 1 at once. Instead, we will only
enable a number of randomly chosen beta accounts every day, starting
January 1." This does not add up when compared to the claim made in
Mr. Hill's rebuttal when he says, "There is a real argument that
testers were NOT enough players for investors to have faith in the
project continuing." MR was not expecting what they call that
"enormous number." If these investors were still cool with moving
forward with those low expectations, what could have been wrong? Is
there suddenly some new business idea that having more customers is a
bad thing? Why would they be scared at seeing more interest in
On the same note, I must point everyone to this picture, taken from the beta 2.0 test. Then
take a gander at this one–the fact that the names were left turned on
for this screen adds a nice touch to my counterpoint. Those aren't
NPCs, folks. Those are beta players. They weren't "lost" or
wandering around not able to find anyone with whom to adventure. The
claims of not being able to find fellow adventurers doesn't add up
with the photographic evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, I didn't
see complaints about this in my casual searching for information and
opinions on the game. Lack of players? Hardly.
One must also remember two other important factors. For one, the
client had to be obtained via FilePlanet. People hate FilePlanet. I hate FilePlanet. Heck, if I were the guy that runs FilePlanet, I'd sleep with a loaded gun under my pillow in hopes I might roll over wrong and fire it.
Had the client simply been downloadable from the official site, many
more beta accounts would have been created. Second, this number was
achieved with no advertising at all. Never anywhere did I see an ad
banner or any sort of promotion for Wish. Sure, the team members did
interviews with game sites and things like that, but the outreach was
so minimal on their part, it's almost ridiculous. Now perhaps they
were waiting until further along in the beta test to do things like
this. If so, that seems like a bad idea. Why not get people excited
for your game as soon as possible, at least to distract them from the other MMO giants out there? I see plenty of other MMORPGs advertising their beta events and such. It's not a rare practice. I don't know much about
advertising, but that seems only logical, and other, alive/successful
MMOs have followed this pattern.
There was no "lack of interest." Plus, the potential for increased
interest was sky-high. On various message boards, I saw the game
described as "My number one game," "The best game I've ever played,"
and "The one [MMORPG] that could finally pull me away from Ultima
Online." The positive word of mouth from the beta test and which
would follow after the commercial launch would have lead to plenty of
subscribers. Any "projections" based on any "data" that MR would have
you believe point to negative reception from the MMO market are
If these player numbers, which are very high; not low, as stated by
Mutable Realms themselves, are not enough to sustain the game once it
goes commercial, why would they make an announcement to the contrary?
First, the number was "enormous," exceeding company predictions. But
now the numbers are supposed to be a factor in the game having
negative subscriber projections? Those two ideas, when combined,
don't make any sense. If it takes so many subscribers to carry the
game, why were they not prepared for the 68,000 that entered the beta
test? If MR is not lying, then they certainly suck at business.
Tying this into another point from the rebuttal, I wonder about these
investors. If they pulled out, why did Mutable Realms not seek new
ones? Or, at the very least, why not simply say "We ran into funding
problems," if they feel like remaining non-specific while still
delivering truth? The company doesn't have to spill all the details
if it doesn't want to, but how about something that isn't so
debatable, so shady? Probably because it involves a lie or two.