I haven't been keeping up with the MWO community for the better part of the last week, so today I logged into the forums and checked Reddit only to see the community erupting with anger again. Apparently PGI has just announced their new game with the hashtag "A universe to explore". There's only little info out there, but from the images and PR release, it looks like a game going after the success of Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and such. I usually try to stay away from "game politics" in this blog because I want to focus on what's good and enjoyable, but this time I'm going to make an exception.
When they first announced the Clan pack(curiously enough, on a Friday again), the community reacted in a similar way. The game seemed to be on a hiatus at that time with patches only bringing new 'Mechs and nothing else. The community felt it was ridiculous to ask a lot of money for Clan 'Mechs, while the game was nothing more than a barebones deathmatch game with a lot of missing features and content. People felt that PGI was "cashing out" while exploiting the Clan nostalgia of the current playerbase.
It was all kinds of terrible for them, as they had to sell these packages to the angry community itself, not to a new audience. This forced them to ramp up the development and come up with the Plan. People saw that a lot of the features/content/bugs were being worked on, and we enjoyed a plethora of feature/balance patches until the Clan pack. They actually delivered their promises and on time. It was really the golden era of this game and they actually convinced almost all of the community that this game was a good investment after all. I've even seen the most negative/skeptic people about this whole Clan deal in Warhawks.
Now, this new game and we face the same crisis again. Only this time, the crisis is more existential. With a new game announced, they don't have to convince their existing player base. They can start anew, with a new community depending on what genre the new game is. They can quietly ramp down their support for MWO to life support levels and the community wouldn't have any leverage, other than badmouthing PGI. Which in the case of Hi-Rez, did have little effect.
Though, that is the worst case scenario. Why is the outrage then? It's because people feel even after two years, the game is still not at a level where they can say "Ok, PGI did a great job. I'd be okay with them moving on to a new game.". People are still waiting for things from small(robust netcode, collusions, proper weapon/mech balance) to big(a proper metagame, Community Warfare, integrating MWO with fluff). The feeling is again "This game hasn't delivered what was promised to me!". After last spring when a lot of features were delivered, people went ahead and bought Clan packs not just to play with their shiny Clan tech toys, but to accelerate the development of this game further. They wanted to see this game become the epic MechWarrior game they wanted, with the players shaping up the future of the Inner Sphere.
What would be the best way for PGI to deal with this situation? I'd say give use a clearly defined roadmap extending way into 2015. Currently, anything after the proper release of the CW is pretty dark and that's just months away. Assure us that critical but missing parts of the game are going to be fixed no matter what(netcode, collusion, desyncs) and the game will have a proper metagame content to keep the community busy even without PGI's interaction.
Though again, with a completely new game, they don't have to. That's what concerns me a lot.