What is Going on with New World?

The MMORPG enjoyed a spectacular launch, but has quickly faded away- what the hell happened?

Posted By | On 06th, Jul. 2022

What is Going on with New World?

The gaming market is littered with MMOs that launched with great ambitions, with dreams of touching the same heights as genre giants like World of Warcraft (or, more recently, Final Fantasy 14) and perhaps even exceeding them- but ultimately failed to. The MMO is perhaps the most brutal, most relentlessly tricky genre to find success in- it’s easier to fail here for games than it is to fail anywhere else, and it’s no surprise as such that as time has gone on, significant new MMO releases have grown increasingly infrequent. Why invest copious amounts of money in a game that has an almost negligible chance of enjoying a good launch, much less enjoying sustained success over a long period of time?

Of course, some games have looked like they might just do that. Some games have had the right pedigree, have made the right promises, have looked like they have appropriately big budgets and might just have the right backing. One such game was New World, the massive MMORPG that Amazon Game Studios was hedging most of its bets on. From the big budget and massive development team attached to the project to the hype it was generating before launch to how it was promising to deliver something truly unique and exciting to help set it apart from others in the MMO space, for a long time, it looked like New World may very well have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with genre giants in a way very few other games had been able to.

But of course, as we now know, things didn’t quite turn out that way. Though New World certainly got off to a good start (to say the very least), things quickly took a turn for the worse. Amazon showed its inexperience with game development and handling a massive live title, made changes in the months to follow that weren’t exactly for the best, and all of that put together has not been great for New World’s health.

As things stand right now, the situation isn’t exactly dire – New World still has a decently healthy player base, even though it’s barely even a fraction of what it was drawing in in its early days – but it still feels like the game has very quickly petered out with a whimper. While once many had predicted that it would be counted in the same breath as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14, it now feels like New World is destined to join the long and ever-growing list of MMOs that aspired to great heights, but failed to make good on their promises.

So the question is- what the hell happened?

Well, in the beginning, things looked peachy. New World drew in over a million players in total at launch, and on its first day, crossed 900,000 concurrent players on Steam, and viewership on Twitch was through the roof. Those are ridiculous numbers by any metric, and New World sustained these figures for several days to follow. For an MMO to get off to that kind of a start can only be a blessing. From that point forward, the situation was very much in Amazon’s favour- though as it quickly became clear, they weren’t exactly prepared for it.

New World

Within days of New World’s launch, cracks started appearing on the surface. To be fair, there was plenty that its many, many players were absolutely loving. The combat, for instance, was hard not to have a blast with. While MMORPGs have a reputation for unengaging and slow combat, New World’s combat was very immediate and action-based. The game also offered a large and beautiful world (on the surface, at least), and on paper, its PvP-centric approach and its player-driven economy were just a few of its many highlights that promised to help the game stand apart from other MMOs out there.

But what are the two words that haunt the nightmares of every MMO developers? Server issues. New World had those in abundance at launch. Yes, the massive crowds it was drawing in was a big positive- but it was very much a monkey’s paw situation. People were having to queue up for hours before being able to get into servers that would allow them to finally allow them to play, and the servers themselves were so unstable and unreliable that once somebody did finally get it, there was a very good chance that they would quickly be thrown back out and sent back to the back of the queue, leading to another hours-long wait. Amazon tried to quickly fix issues by setting up new servers, but clearly, it wasn’t being done fast enough, because New World was bleeding players.

Those were just temporary, initial problems though. The far bigger issues came with the game’s core design itself. For instance, the main campaign was kind of a drag. It was far too repetitive, tasking players with activities and combat scenarios that didn’t offer too much variety. For many, that wasn’t much of an issue, because after all, the meat and potatoes of any MMO is the endgame- but New World’s endgame was similarly disappointing. They were far too sparse and far too unengaging to hold players’ attention, which is like the biggest sin any live game can commit (though you wouldn’t know it from how common the problem is).

New World_09

Then you had New World’s two biggest flagship features not working out the way Amazon had intended- its player-driven economy and its PvP-centric nature. PvP was a classic example of something sounding great on paper but not being properly executed. Massive large-scale wars that would be decided by players and players alone sounds like something you’d want to participate in, but as it turned out, actually being able to participate, much less make any real meaningful difference, was a non-starter, especially in your earlier hours with the game.

The player-driven economy, meanwhile, quickly crumbled. Not only were players routinely finding exploits (and then more exploits to get around fixes for those initial exploits) that completely messed with the game’s economy, it was also just imbalanced at its core, especially when you got to high-level areas that, as it turned out, had trading posts with next to no activity. Amazon eventually fixed the issue, sure, but the fix came at the cost of everything that promised to make the game’s economy unique.

Between launch and now, New World has been hit with server issues, it’s lost some of the things that could have made it unique and exciting, and it still hasn’t fixed problems with its campaign and its endgame, which, despite updates, remain far from varied, packed, and exciting enough to hold anyone’s attention for too long. If we look at numbers, New World has seen a sharp decline. Currently, its monthly average of concurrent players on Steam is about 15,000 players, which isn’t bad by any means- but it’s a massive fall from where the game started out, and when you compare it to other live games and successful MMOs, those numbers aren’t anything to be proud of.

New World_11

It would be rash to say that the situation is unfixable- that’s far from the truth. At its core, New World has solid mechanics and solid ideas, and if Amazon were somehow able to find a way to execute those ideas without messing up the game’s balance, things could turn around very quickly. But then again, with the developer focused on fixing other issues as well as providing a consistent stream of updates to get players to stick around, that’s easier said than done. And that’s where MMOs usually die, after all- the post-launch phase. Will New World be another one of those, or will it be able to get back to its best and turn the ship around for itself? That remains to be seen, but given the current situation and given Amazon Game Studio’s own spotty track record, it’s hard to be too optimistic right now.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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