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Article: Dreamlords R.I.P. October 2007

By Admin on 2007-11-25 17:05:06
Homepage: www.mmorts.com email:admin at mmorts dot com

Was I the only person who read the October 12 announcement on dreamlords.com and went WTF?!?

it hasnít been an easy decision but after much consideration we have decided to let Dreamlords rest for a while.

They say it is a rest, I say rest in peace. 249 days and gone. 8 short months. Spectacular failure.

What Went Right

For me watching Dreamlords introduction to the gaming public, I thought it had a lot going for it with a big potential to be the first commercially successful mainstream MMORTS. Something people actually might have heard of if I mentioned it in conversation at work (I work with a lot of gamer geeks.)

It was the first professionally produced MMORTS game - not to say anything against the indies - but indie games have a look, and Dreamlords didn't have it. It looked like a commercially produced "A" grade game where someone had put some serious money into its development.

It also had a marketing plan behind it. Nothing overly flashy, but the kind of common sense things that build advance buzz for a game without spending millions on TV spots and that for whatever reason, none of the other MMORTS games to date have really done successfully.

The folks at Dreamlords went to a lot of effort to build a community around the game in advance of the release. They had forums where you could discuss the game, were constantly pushing out tidbits about the development prior to release to entice the community, and even went so far as to have a contest and implement community designed monsters into the game through www.dreammonster.com.

They went to the last real e3 (before e3 also committed suicide) and got quite a bit of press coverage. I even saw a review on television. Television! No MMORTS before it had managed such an amazing feat of mainstream marketing success.

The Decline

That was where things seem to have started to fall apart. The reviews just weren't that stellar. Netting a 46 on metacritic with just 4 reviews is bad if you're looking to make a living selling your game. They got quotes like "there's simply no reason to play Dreamlords" and "man, this game is boring!" That's gotta hurt.

Clearly they were initially confident about the game, no free trial, you had to pay for the game at retail, they were going for it. Guys, even World of Warcraft gives you a free trial. That lasted five months. I'd like to know what the subscription numbers were like during that period.

The October announcement had a couple big surprises in it. The first was that they were shutting down the game. Seriously. They spent all this money to make the game, and the people who worked on it put their hearts and souls into its creation, so the decision not to wring additional money out of it is remarkable. Really, really remarkable. They could have let the game run, reduced their customer service levels, automated everything, and people probably wouldn't have noticed for quite a while. Co-located servers aren't that expensive to run. But they didn't - so kudos to them for that. Probably not the smartest move if they're looking to recoup their investment, but hey, I don't have access to their finances -- maybe there were so few paying customers that shutting down was the cheaper choice.

The other surprise was the fact that they are planning to work further on the game and relaunch. That's clearly some fantastic thought going on.

In the End

From what I can see, despite making a considerable investment, and doing a good job of marketing, the game itself was weak and Dreamlords just didn't develop a user base sufficient to support the game. That's really unfortunate.

Hopefully other upcoming MMORTS projects can learn from them and duplicate their successes while avoiding their ultimate failure. We need to pay attention to others' successes if we are going to grow as a genre.

They say they'll be back. I doubt it. There are no second chances. The gaming public has the attention span of a fruitfly and a good memory for bad games.

What did you think of the announcement? Add your comments below.

By SDonoir on 2008-06-25 12:05:51
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Looks pretty good now. I think they took their time and revamped it so it would be a success.
By BraveBrain on 2008-08-21 18:23:32
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Yeah, the Reawakening looks ok, and free to play is doable, although on the Locpick server you have to subscribe to be able to make full use of the market. AeriaGames has licensed it for the US market, so players now have two options; http://www.dreamlords.com (Lockpick server) and http://dreamlords.aeriagames.com (AeriaGames server, currently in closed beta for a few days/weeks more).

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