No, it's not an MMO.
But I think I might see where SD is coming from.
Development costs manhours, which must earn $$.
They love the game, but are still in business.
We love the game too, and we want it to survive as a MP experience (at least I do, very much).
From the game perspective, that probably will require more players and an interesting platform to attract them.
There are also probably some important esport considerations, which would seem to be highly relevant if the RTS MP experience is going to survive in a big way.
For example, it really won't make sense from a ladder perspective if every match is not on a similar platform.
This is the key though: At the end of the day, the desired game features need to be money makers for the features to become development priorities. You just saw the tangible effect of this when the replay feature was bumped.
There is no point/reason to get angry at SD for this.
They need to face reality too.
They need to pay the bills, keep people employed, and keep their lights on.
If they can manage to do that, then we are happy too.
At least I am.
So, the proposition is that you pay $2-$3 per month TO ACCESS THE MP CLIENT.
You wouldn't need to do anything more than commit to paying $2-$3 per month, with one-year commit periods.
You WOULD NOT NEED TO PURCHASE A WHOLE EXPANDALONE TO GET ACCESS TO MP.
You just would need to commit to the $2-$3 per month, on an annual basis.
You pay $2 for one video rental on amazon (equivalent to maybe 1-2 hours of entertainment).
You pay three times that for Netflix.
You pay seven times that for WoW.
You pay five times that to go to a movie (again, maybe 2 hours of entertainment).
... never mind whatever it costs if you go out to eat (you probably end up tipping more than that for the person who merely brought your plate to you).
You pay these costs, and you don't even think twice about them, and you don't complain about what you are really getting in return.
(I mean, Amazon, sure, but netflix?! Seriously?! )
In contrast, we're talking about a game that you will play for many, many hours (coming from a person who has payed thousands of games of starcraft, quite literally).
That $2-$3 that you would otherwise never miss could potentially give you unlimited access to ALL of the MP content, and put everyone on the same platform.
SD potentially walks out very happy, because they now have a little predictable monthly income, and a good reason to enable all MP users to have access to the latest greatest content (the users will have paid for it, and/or will be paying for some of the ongoing development).
The MP community then represents a potentially bigger value, rather than just being 3% (or 2.75%?) of the community.
You also would be lowering the threshold for new players to become engaged (just agree to start paying $2 per month, and you can immediately have what every other MP user has).
Moreover, the players who do MP are now "in the club" and they can receive a discount on other products (because they have already paid for some of the code).
From the Dev perspective -- if I may be so bold -- this would also simplify matters a great deal, probably.
You wouldn't have to worry about embedding all those "if statements" to determine if someone has the expo in question.
You only really need one "if": does the player have access to MP.
Everything else is just consistent across all players.
This would also probably translate into more efficient code.
Meanwhile, for players who actually care about the campaign/story, and/or who enjoy 1 v. CPU skirmishing, they could still purchase the "expandalones" and DLC (possibly at a discount if they are in the "MP club"), and they can continue to play offline in an unlimited fashion to their hearts' content.
The only thing that changes in my proposition is the way you get access to MP.
I guess the proposition really changes Ashes into more of a franchise, in this respect, where there are different products and options all bound to the same engine that can continue to evolve and improve as code for each product enhances the possibilities/features
... all potentially feeding into the MP experience.
I don't know that Ashes is an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online)experience -- yet -- but it is surely at least an MO experience.
I would surely like it to become MMO in the sense that there could be a lot more players, and a unified user community.
Honestly, seems like a no brainer to me.
Wots the alternative outlook?
SD does not receive substantial compensation for MP.
With 95% of the players being more interested in single play, I can't help but assume the business reality would drive the game in that direction.
MP will suffer.
User community will stagnate.
It will just happen slowly and over time, because SD seems invested in Ashes as a MP experience (or at least Oxide was).
I mean, they are already making references to adding diplomacy.. geeez.
And it isn't like MMOs are the only ones to use the SaaS model.
I hate to sound corny, but "everyone is doing it."
If you are actually thinking that only MMOs apply the SaaS model, you need to look very closely at the pro software market.
Just look at what Adobe has done with CC.
It used to cost ~$800 per year to stay current with CC.
Then adobe said "let's just do $35 per month" for a constantly updating cloud platform.
Users pay the fee, and get access to EVERYTHING that is the most current.
Adobe walks out happy with stable income, and can continue to make their product that much better.
Users work from a codebase that is being actively supported, delivering all the latest features they really want.
The price ends up pretty much the same, and everyone wins.
What I am proposing is more of a hybrid model.
You would just be paying for the MP bits.
The single player skirmishes and campaign would still be sold as one time investments.
I'd be curious to know what BW and the devs think of this proposition.
Would it work for them?
Would $2-$3 be "the number"???
Or would it need to be more???
(NOTE: There is of course a limit to what would be "worth it.")
And of course, there is also the question of what would be done with the folks who already purchased the base game.
I'm not sure you could discontinue MP for them without raising hell (and possibly class action issues, who knows).
So my thinking would be to just let those players keep what they have...
SD probably isn't obligated to add to the legacy platform, and they probably won't have to support that platform forever, just maybe a few years.
The community of players on that platform will inevitably shrink.
SD would just need to maintain like blizzard maintains Wings of Liberty.
And as for the rest of us...
We can essentially put eight quarters in the parking meter.