Never Buy An MMO On Steam

ffxiv screenshot
This has always been my rule, to avoid issues. Two days ago I broke the rule and bought FFXIV:ARR on Steam. This stupid kitty is already paying the price.

Today I bought the expansion (Heavensward) on the SE website, and they refuse to register the key they gave me. I have to buy the expansion and all subsequent expansions on Steam now, apparently, or re-purchase the main game.

This might be my first real problem with a game purchase, unless you count Daikatana (nearly unplayable), or the original (nearly unplayable) launch of FFXIV, for which I paid full price. Congratulations, Square Enix.

I went to FFXIV this week because I finished Skyrim plus Dawnguard. I’d planned to try Elder Scrolls Online again, since they are adding nameplates and making grouping “less painful“, among other things.

(The wording of the Massively article title is appropriate.) So I cleared 55GB of space on my SSD to install ESO, and 55GB was not enough. I’d totally forgotten about the 100% voice-over.

A 100% voiced MMO is like watching a badly lip-synced animated movie based on a book that was never published. It just can’t get the lore and characters across. Elder Scrolls has the in-game books, but they are mostly disconnected anecdotes.

If no connections are made or reinforced in the player’s mind (building on what he or she already knows) then an opportunity is lost. Imagine a novel that stops and tells little stories on the side periodically about random people elsewhere in the setting.

It’s going to be hard to read, even if lusty Argonian maids are involved.

Even the most silly side quest can strongly develop the characterization of a place, a race, or a character. All content should tie into the main stories or characters somehow, some way, just like in a well-crafted novel.

I’m having fun with FFXIV:ARR so far. It’s quirky, creative, story-based, and greatly improved. I can play any classes and jobs on one character. They have nameplates. They have a functional Auction House.

FFXIV originally launched with a far worse auction system than Elder Scrolls, but the (replacement) devs had the sense to fix the issue, instead of stating that they will never, ever add a real auction house (Elder Scrolls).

Despite repeated player crying, begging, and quitting since launch. I’ve seen a few players say they won’t come back unless there is an auction house. That’s just one of the tick boxes for this kitty.

Skyrim/Dawnguard Writer’s Reaction

I really enjoyed Skyrim after installing the right mods. Dawnguard was a very impressive DLC. My overall impression of Skyrim was that I wished the companions were fewer and better, and the story was more about my character and choices. Dawnguard nailed all of that.

The character of Serana was excellent in her role as a vampire storyline sidekick. This is a really effective plot device, also used to great effect in LotRO with Nona (and then abandoned, inexplicably.)

Serana’s comments and banter add great flavor, although she sounds too sweet and mild. This is surprising because the voice actress, Laura Bailey, also does Jaina Proudmoore in WoW. Jaina’s more commanding, arrogant tone that would have been more appropriate for a vampire princess hundreds of years old.

The transformation of the player character into a vampire, the childe of Serana (the option I chose at the end after taking Castle Volkihar) also has a silly zero seriousness.

“Oh, you want me to make you a vampire? Ok, if you’re sure! Get ready!”

It was the same as getting married in Skyrim. Maybe the devs were targeting the lowest common denominator, which is apparently a ten year old playing a Nintendo game. In both cases, some sort of meditative ritual quest wouldn’t have killed them to implement. Maybe their enormous pantheon became the problem.

Another observation is that Skyrim overall focuses heavily on the vampires, werewolves, rogue, Daedra, and werewolf factions, while neglecting the good and light factions. I really enjoyed the spiritual path quests in Morrowind (Tribunal, Imperial Cult). Maybe I somehow missed the Skyrim priest and paladin-themed quest lines.

Skyrim as a whole was a scene of universal violence and corruption, with everyone trying to kill everyone else. The moral grey areas are fertile ground for great writing, but the darkest shadow can only be found by contrast with the brightest light. I kept waiting for the titular “Dawnguard” to flesh out and ascend to greatness and holiness.

You get new skills, a new and powerful transformational form, and new combat modes for being a vampire, but you get nothing for being a Dawnguard. The imbalance is awkward.

I’ll probably play ESO when I transfer my backup hard drive to my main PC, something I’ve been putting off for a year. For now the kitty will see what FFIV brings.


About Silverangel View all posts by Silverangel

7 responses to “Never Buy An MMO On Steam

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

    I bought Rift on Steam way back in the day and immediately wondered why I bothered. But at least Trion kept their accounts completely separate from Steam so I was merely being asked to log in twice in order to play. I quickly removed Rift from Steam and never the twain did meet again. But it made buying an MMO on Steam seem silly.

    I found out later that I got lucky. I’ve had friends who have bought other MMOs on Steam only to find they are stuck going through Steam for everything.

    It isn’t that I dislike Steam. It is just that MMOs are pretty easy to buy digitally and independently, so why would you entangle them with another service?

    Hrmm… not sure I have a comment on the rest of your post… which would seem to be the bulk of what you actually have to say. Just like me to pick one little issue to focus on!

    • Silverangel

      The confusing thing is that I have a direct download for the free trial, and they let me register a steam code for it. So it seems fine to run without going through Steam. They won’t take another non-Steam code though.

      So why Steam? It was 33% cheaper. This kitty pounced on the deal and didn’t brain enough. 🙂 Still waiting for a reply from customer service. Not expecting much. I’m having fun though! Thanks for the note!

  • Isarii

    Glad I swung by to read this. I’m hardly unique in preferring to have all of my games sitting under Steam’s almost monopolistic distribution umbrella – it’s simple and easy, after all – but just by pure luck, I’ve never actually used it for an MMO before. Now I don’t think I ever will, lol.

    • Silverangel

      I’ve heard so many anecdotes of people having issues with things not working properly whether at the account level or installation level. If you haven’t, then as Wilhelm suggested, there is no great reason to start now. Square Enix did refund my money this week, to their credit. So I’ll buy the expansions on Steam instead of starting over, hopefully it will go ok.

  • wumpus

    Of course, the free ones presumably make more sense. I know I reloaded LOTRO on Steam (don’t ask how turbine loads software) only to find out my server was shut down. Uninstall LOTRO.

    Speaking of Turbine, DDO did all the voice work via narrators, I mean “dungeon masters”. This allows having plenty of voice work (because even PC gamers won’t read the screen) while not requiring *everything* to have voice, and making the lack of voice some places obvious. Somehow I don’t think any of the great parts of that game will ever make it to future games (at least intentionally).

    from last post – Blizzard debt. What in the world is blizzard doing with [large amounts of] debt? They have the [gaming*] world’s biggest IP fully developed already, they should have been paying that down the last decade or so. – Ok, having thought about this I realize that by MBA-logic, the ultra-profitable company is where you shove the most money, and if it that debt costs a dime less than the money expected to be made on it, so be it. MBA-logic doesn’t work long-term (and CEO/Wallstreet-logic implies that they should take on even more than the MBAs dictate in the name of “growth”).

    /I’m still lost, orbiting Kerbal. Mostly MMO-free for awhile. Might change if GPUs and VR sets ever get designed for each other and have nifty software.

    * I suspect it compares well to Star Wars. Monthly access fees add up fast.

    • Silverangel

      Blizzard merged with Vivendi in 2008, then bought themselves back from Vivendi in 2013. My assumption is the debt was incurred via this transaction somehow, but I honestly am not sure. The DDO dungeon master feature is really unique and cool. I like it. So sorry it took so long to respond, wumpus. I fielded your comment during work hours, then the time slipped away from me. Still coping with health problems and ongoing pains. I go back to the doctor for another procedure tomorrow. Hope all is well in your world.

  • Anke

    I feel WoW is a zombified MMORPG by todays standards, and I was entranced by it for the first, um, 5 yrs. Now, it seems so behind the curve, and feels it so in front of it. I have found no game nor guild since Vanilla WoW that has matched that zeal and fun. I have started BDO which mayh be the 2016 equivalent in that it is kinda ground breaking in its depth and sand boxy equivalents. I will look forward to your thoughts.


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