It’s hard to really think were Red 5 is going to be taking Firefall in the future. They have their plans of course but, as with most mmo development schedules these things rarely work out the way they are supposed too. There are so many variables to account for that sometimes aren’t apparent until either bugs pile up or players descend on it. Beta is Beta and all that but so far I don’t have the trust enough in Red 5 to follow along with their plans as there have been a lot of very dramatic changes over its development cycle that would have set it back in terms of content.
I like many of the changes that did happen but it’s still a worry that important updates will be delayed due to the whims of a few. They are a rather small company as well which will make the development cycle a little longer and where short development cycles on updates are becoming almost a standard in the industry you’re going to be compared to that regardless of your company’s size. In a war of content that all new mmo’s face it seems the games that churn out the most, regardless of quality will prosper.
In saying that I am mostly happy with the game as it is now. The combat is fun, the world invites exploration like none other I’ve tried, and the crafting system is both in-depth, complex, and encouraging of an economy. It has a very solid base of a sandboxy game. I’m not delusional though as I’m well aware that Firefall has a lot of issues in its current state. Bugs, lag, content lacking, excessive grind, lack of direction and a lot more other complaints and mostly these are all pretty true. These things may get worked out in time, they may not – it’s all an unknown at the moment.
These things don’t worry me too much though. Mmo’s often take a decent amount of time to mature and are always a bit sparse on content at release. Mmo’s live and breathe more on their mechanics and while Firefall may be a bit less developed than most it definitely has more potential built into it. The part that worries me is that it will always be a niche title. In the great world of mmo’s I don’t imagine there is that much demand for a mmo fps crafting sandbox… That’s more than just being niche.
I’m more than ok with Firefall being a niche product as it is tailored toward specific interests rather than being some sort of watered down approach to appeal to more. Weirdly enough it fits my tastes rather well with its cell shaded aesthetic, shooty gameplay, focus on events and interesting crafting but it’s always going to have only a smallish population. Now there is nothing wrong with being niche as long as you align your perceptions of it during development. There are plenty of niche mmo’s out there doing reasonably well but there is also a rather large graveyard of titles that dreamed too big.
I don’t know which category they fall into. Firefall has been in development for a long time, the graphical qualities are quite high which might mean their development costs are too much to recoup in a reasonable time. Are the developers, company and investors comfortable with it being more a long-term investment to recoup their money or are they after a short-term boost to funds and earning a better return on their investment elsewhere.
If it was a subscription mmo I would be happy it could pull in 50-100k players as that would probably be a enough to recoup costs, pay overhead, and look to the future but as a ftp title I think it’s future is far more unknown. It doesn’t have any mainstream appeal as it is so aiming for the whales in an already small pond isn’t going to work so I really wonder how a sandbox this small will sustain itself over the long-term. If I see lockboxes in any way shape or form though….
I hope Firefall does do well. It offers enough that it feels different from the pack which really is something to praise in this age of mmo gaming.