“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them […] by the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” –Steve Jobs
Which certainly has a ring of truth with respect to World of Warcraft’s success, and is possibly why it is failing to delight its players now.
“Like many high achievers, Burrell likes challenges so much that he actually seeks them out and consciously creates them”
“Why intentionally ‘make a mess?’ So you can get really good at ‘cleaning up!'”– Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld
Although EVE Online may be the one to have apologised to its user base for losing sight of what makes the game great, it’s still worth any MMO developer remembering why MMO players often become passionate about a game: the truly great moments in MMOs are often not about the challenges you create, but are instead about the challenges that you enable the players to create.
Let your players make a mess, then give them the tools to clean it up.
Really? It’s been my experience that if you give people the ability to make a mess, they’ll do so by putting into a bag, lighting it aflame, then ringing the doorbell of their fellow players while running away giggling. The people who get stuck scraping the mess off the bottom of their shoe eventually come to think of this behavior as “not fun”.
Even if you let players make messes for only themselves (which is difficult, given the multiplayer nature of these games), then you often have to worry about the player realizing that they made the mess, and not the game. Many will still blame the game (and by extension, the developer) for most of the messes.