Community member Taemek argues that MMORPGs are slowly strangling to death.
By taemek 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.”
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?