Mikhalia the Picky wrote:
I'm sure Starcraft II was picked up by people who played AoE3 or EE2 or even Warcraft 3, but SC1 players were the target audience. Similarly, grand theft auto games are aimed at a certain type of audience as well.
Not quite the same thing though. None of those games are subscription-based, so the only source of revenue is box sales - thus the only way to draw revenue from players of previous games is to make the new one appeal to them enough that they switch over.
FFXI and FFXIV on the other hand ARE subscription-based, and the revenue generated by subscription fees far outweighs that from box sales; so from a purely business standpoint the best option is to continue running the older game and developing content for it (if need be, even updating the engine and redoing the art assets - something other older MMOs have done, sometimes several times) while targeting the new game at a different audience.
FFXI is, after all, SE's single most profitable product; the company's online division overall runs a profit margin in excess of 60%. When the cash cow is mooing happily, you usually don't want to sneak a side of beef off of it.
I agree, aiming to attract general MMO players is bound to fail, there is no loyalty among the majority of them and they leave MMO's when something prettier comes along. Aion, AoC etc are all dying off due to this. Aiming the game at an established long standing playerbase FFXI had while trying to get some extra people into it will play off better.
It has less to do with fickle players and more to do with bad design decisions and technical problems.
First, mandatory open-world PvP RPGs are a fairly small niche in North America (and a slightly larger niche in Europe), despite how vocal harcore PvPers can get - even in WoW, the majority of servers are PvE and PvE servers have higher average population. (South Korea, on the other hand, loves PvP; Japan is rather "meh" on the entire concept of MMOs right now.)
Second, any game trying to compete with WoW is going to fail at it. WoW is enormous, pulls in absolutely obscene revenue, and currently has nearly a decade of active development behind it. Very few companies have the resources to even hope to challenge the behemoth successfully - certainly not Funcom or NCSoft. Likely the only upcoming MMO that even has a shot of dethroning WoW is SWTOR, which has a strong license and is being bankrolled by EA.
Third, I don't really think AoC can really be said to be "dying", at least no more than FFXI is "dying". Yes, they drastically reduced the number of servers a year and a half ago, but the population seems to be stable now, and they just released their first expansion three months ago - clearly not as successful as they had hoped, but apparently popular enough to maintain (certainly, no one makes and expansion for an MMO that is on the brink of death).
Aion just had a massive server merge on North America and Europe; it's still to early to tell if they're finding the right size or if it's an omen of future shutdown in those regions, although the game is still doing quite well in South Korea.