In a recent interview with [a]listdaily, Star Trek Online executive producer Dan Stahl and Perfect World Entertainment vice president of business development and corporate communications John Young talked about MMOs in general, ranging from topics like Star Wars: The Old Republic going free-to-play to the progression of PvP in Star Trek Online.
They eventually touch on the subject about the latter game earning lackluster reviews when it launched back in 2010. Stahl said that reviews just don't do MMOs justice.
"MMOs are designed to grow over time and get better with every major release," Stahl said. "It might be better if sites like Metacritic could find a way to rate MMO’s by releases instead of just the initial day one. There are plenty of MMOs that have made huge strides since days one and some that have even gotten worse. Until then, we will continue to offer the game for free and ask for people to try it out and decide for themselves."
As one who formerly wrote reviews for all genres, publishers want these reviews right off the bat. It's a gamble for them really: give journalists the code early so that they can evaluate the game prior to launch. Thus, if it's stellar and mind-blowing, then the publisher will ride on that publicity at launch which in turn convinces you the consumer to buy their product. If it's mediocre, they'll use a sentence or two that actually spins a positive light in adverts. If it's a bad review, publishers naturally won't refer to it at all, and may even refuse to use that reviewer or outlet again (been there done that).
Even for MMOs, there will be reviews at launch, good or bad. But as Stahl states, these are games that evolve over time. Like children, they grow and mature, growing in size. Publishers really don't want a second review for these games even though Stahl is correct. If there are any revisits done, it's by the reviewer or site's own choice, and generally don't get noticed.
The interview also touches base about the Star Trek MMO going into free-to-play mode. Stahl says it's a perfect fit because the franchise itself – even the Star Wars IP for that matter – promotes a "hobby" business, meaning fans will purchase collectables based on their desire and budget.
"When you consider that there are people who may want to buy Spock's eyelashes for $1,000, it is clear that Star Trek is their hobby," he said. "The nice thing about a hobby is that you spend what you want to spend. Some people will watch an Oakland Raiders game from the luxury of their couch while wearing their sweats. Having an Intellectual Property like Star Trek is awesome for a F2P MMO because it brings with it an already established mix of fans that might not exist if you tried to build a space MMO concept from scratch."
To read the entire review, head here.