New World: Why Amazon’s MMO is Already Losing Streamer Support

New World's closed beta is over, but the debate over the game's streamer experience is just beginning.

Amazon's New World
Photo: Amazon Studios

As New World‘s closed beta comes to an end, we’re left with the undisputed conclusion that Amazon’s upcoming MMO has the potential to be the company’s biggest game yet. New World has been drawing a lot of attention from genre fans and casual players alike, and, whether you want to hear it or not, a lot of that attention can be attributed to the influence of major streamers who helped generate quite a bit of hype for the title during its earliest days.

To be fair, the streaming community’s early embrace of New World wasn’t entirely organic. Not only did New World‘s developers implement a variety of streamer-specific features in the game (which is hardly a surprise given that Amazon owns Twitch), but some streamers may have been paid to play the game during its closed beta period. However it happened, it’s clear that Amazon is counting on streamer support for New World‘s August 31st launch.

As it turns out, that could be a big problem. While New World make a big splash in the streaming community when the game’s closed beta started, it’s becoming clear that the streaming community is divided regarding the game’s long-term prospects. That normally wouldn’t be big news to most people, but given that Amazon is clearly hoping that streamers will help them sell this game, their concerns may end up impacting the MMORPG’s short and long-term prospects.

More importantly, a few of these concerns aren’t just limited to New World streamers. In some ways, New Worlds‘ streamers may instead be speaking for some of the game’s players who just don’t have as loud of a voice…

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New World’s Territory System May Not be Balanced With Streamers in Mind

It’s nearly impossible for studios to fully account for the presence of streamers in their games and the ways their presence will fundamentally alter the “intended” experience. For instance, if you happen to queue into a Call of Duty: Warzone match that a popular streamer has also queued into, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll be dealing with more hackers as well as supportive fans who “stream sniped” their way into the match.

When it comes to New World, though, streamer influence is already causing some unique gameplay issues that could prove to be difficult to balance without significantly altering the game’s PvP systems.

New World‘s biggest streamers tend to attract large crowds of in-game players, which shouldn’t surprise anybody. Much as it is in World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14, and other popular MMOs, streamers are often followed by players willing to help them out on quests, destroy their enemies, or even just give them money and items. It happens all the time.

One of New World‘s biggest draws, though, is a PvP-focused territory and settlement system that allows members of the game’s various companies to effectively control parts of the map. Territories can be purchased for 100,000 coins (which is a pretty high price in the early parts of the adventure) and players can take control of currently occupied territories and settlements through New World‘s “War” system. Basically, if you get enough people to work together, you too can “own” a piece of New World.

Maybe you already see the problem. Streamers practically come with a built-in army of players who are more than willing to offer the resources and PvP support needed to control territories. Not only does this potentially eliminate what is supposed to be a big part of the New World social experience (getting players together to contribute resources, defend territories, elect leaders, etc.), but it means that bigger streamers can theoretically take over servers with relative ease if they choose to do so.

“Theoretically” is the word to keep in mind here, though, as it turns out that this process can be just as miserable for streamers as it is for non-streamers. See, it’s basically impossible for the most popular streamers to play New World the “intended” way (at least while they’re streaming). The “average” gameplay session can quickly become all about them (whether they want it to be that way or not), and it turns out that a legion of loyal viewers isn’t always a good thing. Smaller, more organized groups can often accomplish things that larger armies of comparatively unorganized players (or even just trolls) cannot.

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Of course, a streamer’s ability to utilize a small army of fans is really dependant on their ability to play with those fans in the first place. That brings us to two of the bigger streamer-related New World issues at the moment…

New World’s Technical Issues Are Limiting Its Large-Scale PvP Battles

Many of the biggest and most common complaints about New World‘s closed beta were related to the game’s technical issues and server stability. While glitches are to be expected from any beta (and most modern games at launch), New World‘s beta servers simply struggled under the weight of the game’s popularity. Many players reported getting kicked from the MMO outright, while many more experienced slowdown and other technical issues that prevented them from being able to properly play the game.

As you may imagine, many of the biggest streamers who broadcasted New World during the game’s beta encountered severe slowdown, server crashes, and more than a few of those aforementioned-game breaking issues. Such things will happen when you have dozens of people constantly following you.

While you can imagine how annoying it is for streamers who aren’t able to broadcast their New World gameplay because the servers can’t support their social scene, it turns out this is one of those problems that is affecting other players as well.

If you are on a high population “streamer server” you are theoretically just as vulnerable to crashes as they are when large groups of people gather in one place. That’s really bad news for a game that promises the ability to wage large-scale PvP wars with other players but currently seems unable to provide a consistently stable version of that experience.

What’s worse is that the New World beta utilized a kind of “teleportation” system designed to limit who could participate in certain types of PvP battles. It’s not clear what the future of this system is, but during the beta, players would often be kicked out of battles and transported to nearby towns if there were too many people of varying levels in one place for too long.

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All of this is to say that even if you accept that some New World servers are going to essentially boil down to streamers vs. streamers or streamers vs. everyone else scenarios, it’s still not entirely clear at this time whether everyone who wants to participate in such battles will consistently be able to do so. For that matter, it’s still not clear whether New World‘s servers will be stable enough at launch to ensure even non-streamers will be able to organize the kind of massive conflicts this game should be uniquely able to deliver.

PvP Scaling Has Divided the New World Community

New World utilizes a form of “PvP” scaling that is not only somewhat unusual for a game of this type but is honestly a bit of a mystery at the moment in regards to how the whole thing actually works.

Basically, there are systems in place in New World that ensure an extra degree of balance in world PvP situations no matter what level PvP participants are. So, if I’m a level 10 player and I attack a level 60 player out in the world, the game will “balance” us a bit so that the level 60 player doesn’t automatically beat me simply because they are 50 levels higher.

It’s not entirely clear how this system works at the moment (or how these mechanics may be tweaked in the future), but in its current form, the idea seems to be to allow higher level players to utilize additional skills but not benefit quite as much from their higher levels/better gear in such a way that these conflicts are essentially resolved the moment they happen.

Again, the whole thing is up in the air at the moment regarding the specifics of the system and its future in the game, but, on paper, this is a way to ensure that PvP battles are more skill-based and not quite as dependent on gear and levels. It’s a fascinating attempt at solving a problem that has plagued other MMOs for quite some time. It also doesn’t seem to apply to every PvP scenario, which means that high-level PvP players can enjoy a more “traditional” experience in their battles against each other.

However, there are some players who already hate the very idea of this system, and it shouldn’t surprise you at this point that streamers appear to be the loudest voices in that particular outcry.

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While there’s always been a bit of a “git gud” issue in these scenarios (just look at the controversy over Warzone‘s SBMM system), it should be noted that the controversy in this instance isn’t entirely limited to streamers complaining that they can’t kill lower level players for content and an ego boost. Some non-streamers have pointed out that the idea of a PvP system in an MMO that doesn’t always reward players for leveling/gearing their character by offering noticeable power advantages is…unusual. Some have argued those advantages are meant more for PvE scenarios rather than PvP situations, but in a game where PvP is the biggest selling point at the moment, it’s admittedly a little odd that the impact of your leveling efforts in PvP is, at the moment, comparatively limited when it comes to such conflicts.

Streamers and non-streamers are also pointing out that this system means that a gang of low-level players can actually do a surprising amount of damage to smaller numbers of higher-level players (even if the specifics of how scaling affects this tactic are, again, unclear at this time). That’s arguably a more “realistic” system, but it does potentially create additional balance issues that could make things quite difficult for some PvP players. Obviously, that’s a bigger deal for streamers who are typically “targeted” by such mobs of enemies, but this topic really does seem to be dividing the larger New World fanbase in the early days of the game.

New World’s Public Voice Chat Might Be a Mistake

New World features a public “proximity chat” system that works about how you’d expect it to work. With this feature enabled, players are able to talk to each other out in the world regardless of whether or not they’re in the same party. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Well, it can be, but anyone who has any experience whatsoever with video game voice chat systems knows that things can turn ugly quickly. While that’s bad news for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the occasional high-pitched screams, blatant racism/sexism, or even just other players using an open mic as their personal radio station, it’s especially bad news for streamers who are often simply unable to use this feature due to content concerns. Theoretically, a Twitch streamer could even get banned if they upload a clip of someone playing a licensed song through New World‘s voice chat.

That might be an extreme example of the problem, but it’s one of those issues that highlights a much bigger problem: it’s often safer to avoid using this potentially beneficial feature entirely than it is to risk using it.

Amazon may be banking on streamers and content creators to help sell New World, but unless issues like this are addressed in a way that lets the most popular streamers actually broadcast the game and showcase it in the way it is intended to be played, then New World‘s August 31st release date could be much quieter than the MMO’s red hot beta.

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