Mechwarrior Online: A Postmortem

When one goes into a game in which the title includes the term “online”, there are certain expectations to be met. A baseline, if you will. Though there can be vast differences in many aspects of the gameplay between one and the next, the online bit carries certain implications with it. That you can easily play with friends, for instance. And increasingly these days, that you can use in-game voice comms to work with your team or other players. These are a couple of minor examples, and they’re on top of any other promises being made for the game. 

So what happens if these basics aren’t met? Mechwarrior Online is kind of a good example of this. In this online game based in a universe where grouped tactical units are common (as are rivalries between them), you’d think there’s the perfect opportunity to integrate a feature to let groups band together, chat with one another, go into conflicts together, etc. MWO was going to have a feature for that they called Community Warfare. It would include all of this, as well as chances to hold territory and whatnot. Originally promised for October of 2012. It is now December of 2013. You can group with a couple of friends… four is the max… going into a match. But that’s it. There’s also no built in voice chat. Nor, in fact, is there out-of-match text chat. 

Take a moment to let that last one sink in. Mechwarrior Online, and there’s no sort of chat functionality outside of the match itself… at which time you’re trying to pilot a 20-100 ton war machine anyway. 

They’d said that these updates would happen after they installed their new user interface, referred to as UI 2.0. Ok, that might make sense. UI2.0 did eventually roll out in October of 2013… without ‘social features’. No chat. 

Oh and they official launch of the game was September of 2013. This isn’t some beta test anymore. They consider it live. Mind boggling.

There’s also been a huge stir in the past few days as they rolled out a new package. They’re letting people pay… I’m not joking… $500 each for a new mech with a gold paint job

This has caused significant backlash. But not too much, because the stringent rules for conduct on the forums explicitly prohibits talking back about the game

So we’re missing certain basic features, that were promised, after the game has gone live, while players aren’t permitted to bitch about it, and oh by the way can you spare another $500 for a new mech. This is an excellent example of how not to build a community.

I worry that Star Citizen will go the same way.