Joymax announced that Digimon Masters Online, the free to play Digimon MMORPG has now officially gone live and hit commercial status. This was meant be a great piece of news that I was looking forward to writing, but I’m not. Some readers may remember the preview I did of DMO in the Pre-CBT event, things were hopeful and I was happy with the small glimpse I had. Turns out that small glimpse wasn’t just a look at the early game, it was the whole game; nothing has changed.
Digimon Masters Online Goes Live; Hopefully Not For Long
From Pre-CBT right through to the official launch the only new thing the game has to offer is a cash shop, which seems to be required if you want any decent DigiEggs. This is the first of many problems and it is only fair that I explain what went wrong from the beginning, allowing you to make the decision whether this game is worth your time or not. During every beta there are issues and lots of them, if there wasn’t then there wouldn’t be a need for these tests. Internal testing allows you to test your game in any state, consumer impressions don’t matter just yet. Once a developer goes public with their testing, reaching out and inviting their potential customers, it becomes a first impression of what is to come.
Your first impression matters a great deal but this doesn’t mean your game has to be perfect by beta. There is one thing a developer can never predict and that is what is going to happen when their test servers go live and players with all different setups start flooding the server, no amount of internal testing will reproduce the kinds of bugs that are found in this scenario. What makes a good first impression is how well developers handle these problems and communicate with their testers. Normally you might see a developer fall behind on some small key aspects in a beta, but Joymax made failing at it an art form in itself.
The Closed Beta Test (which anyone could join, believe that is called OBT) was coming up and a lot of us were excited, August 10th comes and as soon as the CBT goes live it is shut down for emergency maintenance. Joymax tells everybody that there was an error that they needed to look at, then went quiet until the 21st. Eleven days players waited with the only contact being a vague message about some error, and acknowledgements of errors being received. It’s great that you have acknowledged there are errors, we are kind of expecting that but in this day and age that level of communication just doesn’t cut it. Players go crazy if you tell them you will update them in an hour and are late by two minutes, how upset do you think eleven days is going to make them?CBT was then skipped and the game went into Open Beta. Major error, then ready for Open Beta without testing.
Okay so Joymax didn’t exactly execute the greatest beta in history and a lot of the outrage could of been resolved with a few sincere messages keeping players up to date. I managed to get past this frustration and take a look at this new Digimon MMORPG for what it is outside of the poor efforts of the company handling it. It has everything you would expect, you complete quests, explore zones and collect Digimon. The game begins to fall to pieces once you realize these small boxed in zones and dull towns are all the game offers, the story drawn from Data Squad is poorly translated and there is no epic Digimon battles between players.
Being the first real implementation of Digimon in an MMORPG format and recreating the world in a half decent manner made me happy to recommend the game to a fan of the Digimon series. This recommendation was made above all these problems as I could see that there was something of value here to a die-hard Digimon fan. This recommendation how now been lifted since Joymax has broken what I consider to be the first rule when creating a game, don’t stop new players from playing your game. To handle the amount of players entering the server in OBT, Joymax implemented a time limit to how long you could play. Players could play for 3 hours, then for the next 2 hours after this they would receive a 20% XP reduction and once the full 5 hours was up you received no loot or XP. This time limit remains for the official launch of Digimon Masters.
If your server is constantly full then you obviously need to get more, if those new ones fill up then more again it is! If due to budget another server isn’t feasible, don’t commercially launch your game. This move isn’t because the game is ready, it’s because that cash shop needs to be live and earning revenue. Who wants to spend 3-5 hours in a game before being forced offline until the next day? This is made worse by the fact that the game is a complete grind, drop rates are atrocious and your time limit is wasted on killing the same digimon over and over. I would really like to know Akiyoshi Hongo’s thoughts on what Joymax has done with his creation, because frankly I am not impressed with the result and I doubt you will be either.
If you are still interested, visit the DMO game page to find out more!