Darkfall: The Destiny of Indie MMOs?

You know, there’s a lot of great things I’d like to say about Darkfall. Like, how they’re setting a new precedent for patch releases and content upgrades. How they’re the premiere competitor for any MMO company releasing patches. How they’re more of a true MMO than any of the current crop of Disneyland games overwhelming the market. Unfortunately, I can’t.

The fact is, no one really cares what Darkfall’s up to. It doesn’t matter that they’re introducing systems into their games the likes of which we’ve rarely seen before. It doesn’t matter that they’re taking existing systems and features and making them their own. Or that it’s perhaps the best sandbox world this side of EVE. Not one bit.

I honestly think that if a game like LotRO or WoW were to introduce naval combat or a working weather/season system, it’d make the news for every big MMO site out there. If Blizzard started cranking out meaningful patches at the rate Aventurine is, well hot damn, we’d have a new industry standard.

People write it off for two key reasons: it’s a PvP game and it’s made by a small developer. I think that most places, especially outlets for gaming news, throw the game out right off the for the sole reason that smaller amounts of money will be invested into it. Never mind that that doesn’t make much sense, just look at the facts. Darkfall is up to very interesting things and the amount of coverage it’s gotten has been miniscule at best.

There’s a lot of really interesting up and comers out there. The fact is, none of them are “AAA” and are therefore destined to earn less. At least initially. And a game that earns less generates fewer page views for the companies that run our news sites.

By following that logic, any indie game that intends to go somewhere had better have a big marketing budget available for after they launch. Sites like Massively will tear upcoming games to bits with the amount of coverage they’ll provide but once the game launches and performs as expected, the amount of articles plummets to sad levels. The MMO explorer is then forced to Google fan pages and blogs, which isn’t the most consistent resource for any company with something to sell. Sometimes that reader might find a great resource in the battle reports from someone like Syncaine. The next person might stumble across the boundless cesspool that is Darkfall Goons.

In my opinion, even the best, most cliché, indie MMO is probably going to stay that way. They’ll have a small audience and smaller reporting across the net. That’s one key reason why developing an MMO is a risky endeavor unless you’re a multi-billion dollar company. Hey Aventurine, pool your money together and hire Ozzy. Maybe if he’s on board some of the more touristy writers will jump back on board.

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