Disneyland is my favorite place in the world: bar none. Ever since I was a wee lad living in the Southern California suburb of Redondo Beach, I’ve been fascinated with the place. In many ways, I would consider myself a Disneylandian-Historian. But enough of me stroking my Disneyland-E-Peen, I think there are some very important comparisons we can make between the opening of Disneyland and the release of most modern MMOs.
Let’s go back in time: The day was July 17, 1955, the day Disneyland first opened to the public. Walt himself uttered those famous words: “To all who come to this happy place, Welcome. Disneyland is your land…” etc. etc. etc. i It was a scorching day, and there were twice as many people in the park than were expected to show up. Due to a plumber’s strike the park directors were forced to choose between bathrooms and working water fountains ii Parts of the park were unfinished, telecasts were slapdash and wires were strewn about the park.
Long story short, it was an unmitigated disaster. Combined, 17 million dollars ($49,172,705.36 in today’s money) were put into the park, and right off the back people were writing it off as Disney’s greatest failure, the thing that could potentially bankrupt the company. Yet here we are today, with Disneyland being one of the most visited parks in the world. It continues to be such a massive source of inspiration to people like myself.
So why did I just relay to you the crappy origins of Disneyland? There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between Disneyland’s beginnings and modern games, especially modern MMORPGs. For example, let’s look at a game like Marvel Heroes. When it was first released, it was just plain not a good game. It was bland, repetitive, had a limited selection of heroes, and to get new ones almost always required money or infinite patience.
Marvel Heroes today is much, much different than it was when it was first released to the public. The way you get new heroes has been changed to a regularly dropped currency, the starting heroes have changed and become more varied and fun, and in general gameplay has been made much, much more fun.
The Elder Scrolls online also came out this year, and if you’ll recall from my review I didn’t think it was a very good game. I also said however, that with some changes it could become something wonderful. So next time an MMO comes out and it doesn’t seem very good, just keep Disneyland in mind. It might not be good now, but with some time to grow and a “Walt Disney” that wants to keep it alive, the game could very well become a place you’ll want to come back to over and over again.