Community Soapbox: Are the days of the MMORPG numbered?

EverQuest

By on August 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm

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“Crafting an experience that complements the game without overwhelming the wallets and expectations of their customer base is well and truly dead in 2013.”

Boycotting DLC: Why we need to stop paying for extras we should have got in the first place

No-one is really sure where MMORPG gaming is going, but it is clear that the conventional MMORPG is coming to a end. Slowly but surely every year titles are more and more bland, less interesting, cookie-cutter and just downright abusive to the MMORPG playerbase.

Is this a good or bad thing? Let’s take a look.

Defining success is a matter of opinion. For me, I don’t see where the MMORPG industry has gone over the past 10 years as an ongoing success. From a business point of view, it certainly seems to be a booming success — and one that no one really saw coming, as pointed out by The New York Time magazine 15 years ago when it claimed that there would only ever be a total of around 200,000 people willing to play any one title at a given time (mind you, back then there were only four MMORPG titles to choose from and each one catered to a certain niche which covered all aspects of gameplay that we see today).

The issue here is how they have handled the technological advancement of the MMORPG. It simply hasn’t gained the momentum to become as huge and mind-blowing as it should — sure graphics are better, but what else? Eye candy just doesn’t cut it long term, and the industry is feeling the pinch (or should I say eyesore). Genres like single player ARPGs, FPS’ and RTS’ have taken off, with huge advancements from what they were years ago. MMORPGs have plateaud.

I, unfortunately see the MMORPG industry as a stagnant mess, a cesspool for companies to abuse us knowing full well that most people out there are simply too blind to see the forest through the trees. The sad thing is that it matters not whether we as gamers boycott the industry, in hopes to push it to new heights. Even if we did boycott en masse, what will it achieve? Nothing, because they will just shift their attention to consoles, app-based games, flash-based games and the stinking cesspool of DLC and F2P cash grabs (like Neverwinter, for example).

Currently, companies are so focused on profit that they are stubborn enough to say, “Well, the life of MMORPG’s have come to an end! Time to focus on online ARPGs with cash shops and DLC!”. They will simply wash their hands of it, because while it may very well be the next growing trend, I still believe there is a Massive Multiplayer Online community out there who wants something more.

This has a compounding negative effect, and one that will scare any company and investors off in the future in an attempt to possibly rebuild or release any future titles. In my opinion, those of us who have grown with the MMORPG industry over the time, damn well deserve something better then what is being currently fed to us at an alarming rate.

Do not take me out of context — I’m sure no one wishes to go back to the days of grinding five million monsters to gain a level, or corpse runs where if you didn’t retrieve your corpse, it was deleted from the world. Although these events were very character-building, the point here is simple: content is king. The sheer lack of content on title releases today is what is killing this industry. Title after title that gets released has minimal content and they continue to ask for premimum costs for access to these titles or in-game features — features that have at best 20 – 30 hours worth of gameplay, some not even that.

Where will true MMORPG gaming go from here? I see its death and demise. One can argue that just because a game has an online AH, the game is a MMORPG. That because we can chat in open channels, that is what defines a MMORPG. That because we can make a group of 2 – 5 people who don’t even need to communicate with each other on any level, this is a MMORPG.

But if we can join a server with thousands of online players, and not be required to interact with them, ever, is this even still a MMORPG? Where is my MMO experience? Where has the massive part of online gaming today gone?

To me, these examples are not true MMORPGs. They are cash grabs, money making machines with no depth or soul to them. They are nothing more than small scale online RPG’s with a hint of social interaction if you choose. There is simply little to no need to even group, or join a guild, to gain access to the MMO side of things, and it is fast becoming a guild leader’s nightmare just trying to keep people together playing.

Those of us from the late 90′s and early 2000 can remember being lost in a virtual world, meeting people along the way to a fantasy based adventure of a lifetime. There were no maps beside scribbling your own, no quest logs other than the ones you kept for yourself, not knowing the level of the enemy, just good old trial and error leading the way.

Now while these experiences are simply not for everyone, those experiences can still exist in new forms today. It just needs the right company to step up to the plate and take the challenge of bringing it to the millions of players who are wandering, directionless, lost in the virtual world looking for that next best thing.

One size does not fit all unfortunately, and that is something these companies fail to recognise. Can we all get along, peacefully and harmoniously? We are human, let’s be real with each other here — so no, we can’t. Maybe it is in these companies best interest to go back to when niche games were king, to return to games designed and created for a specific audience? Is this new company Molten going to be the saviour? Will Sony Online’s new baby EverQuest: Next be the saviour?

The Kickstarter model has worked and paid off for a lot of other diehard gamers in their genre of choice, proving that it doesn’t always take a producer/developer relationship backed by a bunch of investors who want their return yesterday. They have also proven that they can release content which shadows most big developer attempts today at a 1/20th of the cost.

What’s even better about this is that the gamers are the ones who determine the games’ progression based upon ideas from the team who heads the project. They either like it and it goes in, or they don’t and they go back to the drawing board.

The truth is that until a company grows the balls to do something truly innovative, imaginative, unique and creative to get peoples interest back in to this market, it will continue to slowly die.

Who will step up and take the challenge?

14 comments (Leave your own)

Everquest Next is taking an interesting risk, not to mention making some bold claims. It is what the genre needs at the moment – to approach games differently. Some of my fondest memories in MMORPGs are what they have done differently – Horizons (community building), DAOC (R vs R vs R) and even Vanguard (diplomacy) come to mind. Eve of course is also another great example from a sci fi perspective.

What we don’t need is more of the same games – like Rift, WoW and Everquest 2. The skill/level grind and raid approach with token side mechanics. That’s why I couldn’t even give Wildstar a look.

 

The days of WoW mmos are numbered. It is only a matter of time before a new technology or an innovative system is made to improve the genre.

 

MMO’s arent dying, developers just refuse to launch finished games that contain actual end game content. If there’s nothing to do at max level then your game will fail, there needs to be content and some of it needs to be HARD.

 

nekosan: MMO’s arent dying, developers just refuse to launch finished games that contain actual end game content.

It’s not just this its that developers refuse to go in a different direction to WoW the following the WoW formula just doesn’t work you can’t complete with them.

nekosan: there needs to be content and some of it needs to be HARD.

it depends on how you define hard, it needs to be challenging but if like many people you define hard as amount of time required to down the content I disagree.

MMos aren’t going anywhere they’re just changing

 

I am definately sick of over priced stuff in free to play games. IMO I should be able to play on about $15 bucks a month, which is what I would of spent otherwise. I’m not going to fork out $60 for inflated prices.

 

I think star citizen is taking a good step towards being the future of mmo games. Its the highest crowdfunded game in history (currently at $15m and growing). They are doing things different to the standard mmo model (eve for example) and IMO its exactly the change needed.

 

I noticed you showed an AC1 pic there. TO me that was the hieght of MMO’s. AC was complex MASSIVE in content an diversity, an req you to think for yourself. It was the birth of the “Superclans” (in Epik we had 5000 members), an we were not the biggest in AC.
Then you had DT server, Bloods v Crips… massive politics an wars… After AC an Daoc I think things started to go south in a hurry.

 

Not often a whole new entertainment medium comes along, publishers got all excited at the numbers wow was getting and didn’t realise that this was largely due to most the worlds population was still gaming newbs and just getting into it for the first time.

Lots of early awe and doing it because everyone else was, now the numbers are dwindling mainly because the people left playing are the core audience who will be playing in years to come anyway. New players are coming along only because they hadn’t been around during the initial hysteria, whereas a whole generation of people who all started playing at the same time (relatively speaking) have already had their fill and are moving on to something else.

It takes a while for something to filter from early adopters to being done by most the population, PC gaming has well and truly past the early adopters phase of the 90′s Its not what it once was but its a long way from dead.

 

great article. SOE new everquest is an interesting idea, but MOBA’s are the future and they are free to play also

 

Umm, not to put too fine a point on it but there are other products, just no one pays attention to them…

The Repopulation for one. It’s reminiscent of SWG in scope/size, is trying to emphasise research (eg. you have to actually read the quests to get the gist of what you are doing, not just follow the glowing GPS arrow).

You have F2P models like Rift. Even if you don’t like the game, the model is a far cry from cynical cash grabs like Neverwinter Online.

Then there are others. Mortal Online and Embers of Caerus, for example, which are aimed at the hardcore low fantasy realism crowd.

The other thing I think the soapboxer is missing is that most of us aren’t MMO virgins anymore. To follow that analogy, most people who played UO and kept on with the genre are leathery cougars by now. We have more options now than ever before, we have Steam libraries full of unplayed games, times at a premium and most of us, a lot of whom probably work and have kids, just want instant fun rather than a deeper experience. Factor in the booming demographic of new players for whom Candy Crush is the height of gaming fun (ugh…), is it any wonder a lot of new MMO’s are designed to soak you for cash for a couple of weeks then discard you like a used condom?

They say we get the government we deserve, well, we also get the games we deserve. However, there are a few dev teams swimming against the flow, struggling to turn out unique and challenging products that aren’t designed to appeal to the crowd (and are far better for it). We just need to be willing to give them a chance.

 

The other thing I think the soapboxer is missing is that most of us aren’t MMO virgins anymore.To follow that analogy, most people who played UO and kept on with the genre are leathery cougars by now.We have more options now than ever before, we have Steam libraries full of unplayed games, times at a premium and most of us, a lot of whom probably work and have kids, just want instant fun rather than a deeper experience.Factor in the booming demographic of new players for whom Candy Crush is the height of gaming fun (ugh…), is it any wonder a lot of new MMO’s are designed to soak you for cash for a couple of weeks then discard you like a used condom?

Hear, hear, good sir! My theory is that your first MMO love will never be surpassed, because it takes you in so deeply that you just can’t get that connection with another one again. For me it was WoW, and although I’ve tried most of the other big ones since then I probably haven’t got to half the amount of hours I sunk into WoW. For some it was Ultima or Everquest or DAOC, whatever, but now it would take a REALLY special game to hook me again.

The other point I would dispute is that MMOs are stagnant and nearing death as a genre – as compared to what? Compare online shooters for example, they seem to be going the same way as MMOs. eg. Planetside 2 is just as much a cash grab as Neverwinter. Have we really advanced from the good old Counter Strike in that genre? And why are MMOs held to a different standard? I think one answer is that everyone has a picture of their ultimate MMO, and when they compare new ones to that picture they tend to come up short, and hence be negative about new MMOs in general, just because they don’t fulfill their fantasies of what the ultimate MMO should be. Once again, we’re going back to love analogies. You can’t bang supermodels all the time!

 

zakynthos:
great article. SOE new everquest is an interesting idea, but MOBA’s are the future and they are free to play also

You’re joking right?
MOBAs aren’t the future. They’re simply another section of the gaming market and they aren’t MMO’s really either, they’re lobby based multiplayer games, nothing really massive about them in scope.

But they’re far from the future, their fate has already been decided because League of Legends did a World of Warcraft Riot was in the right place at the right time with a decent game. I remember LoL early on, you could hardly get a game because either Adobe Air crashed or there was no-one to play. At this point whatever Riot or Valve decide to do with the genre is pretty much where it’ll stay for the next 5+ years, don’t expect much change.

**Edit: This is of course my opinion, just thought I’d point that out. **

 

SoE’s EverQuest Next is a very good looking game, how ever, they need to be careful on how they plan on removing the holy trinity with in MMORPG’s, we have seen how this worked for a few games that attempted it.

Thats not to say that EQ Next will be a failure, we need to wait and see what it will be like.

I made this thread before the debut of Everquest Next, so once I watched it, I was pretty excited to see where it goes.

Will it be a winner? Won’t really know until more information is released about it.

Awesome replies guys by the way.

 

sifter132: most people who played UO and kept on with the genre are leathery cougars by now.

I’m glad you said most, I regularly use skincare products to ensure my skin tone remains as pristine as Firiona Vie’s flawless bum cheeks.

This brought back memories for me. As a veteran of RPG’s and now watching my own children grow up, I often reminisce that the beginning for me was actually when I started to read books at an early age like Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles. This sparked the imagination, you would build up a vision of the world in your own mind in intricate detail which really fueled the migration into D&D board games as a teenager/young adult with friends and family, again, a gaming environment that was never the same twice and evolved as the game was played.

It wasn’t until owning a PC at home became a more affordable option on a large scale that we started to see other individual’s interpretations of these worlds put into something concrete, a fantasy world that that by and large remained static, but at least allowed us to own our character and interact with others within it. Since those early online creations (including UO, Everquest and beyond), we’ve seen some amazing world’s released, but they’re largely still static, just prettier and more realistic thanks to advancements in graphics processing power etc. You start a toon, you experience all of the static content then you sit around twiddling your thumbs until the next release of content or the next shiny static world is released.

I think that is probably why the veterans are now at a stage where they feel the MMORPG industry has reached a point of stagnancy. Their imagined worlds have been trapped in their minds, not in the online games they play, and that is why I think SOE’s foray into Everquest Next Landmark is a master stroke. By providing every player (not just a small team of dev’s) with the tools to create those world’s from the books we read as kids and the D&D board games we played as young adults before MMORPG’s came along, we can finally immerse ourselves in something that interests us and can be created, evolved over time as our imaginations permit and then shared with others to enjoy. There is no reason now why we shouldn’t be able to enjoy gaming once more, ultimately we will be responsible for creating the worlds in which we play, and that is why I personally see EQN Landmark as a mini revolution in the MMO industry. You can never satisfy everyone, but now there are less reasons to be dissatisfied about the online worlds we play in by enabling us to share our imaginations with the rest of the online gaming community for free.

 
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