Is the idea of the “Big MMO” Dead?
Blizzard's Titan is no more. And with it could go the last hope for the resurgence of the “next big” MMORPG.
Sure, EverQuest Next is still out there, and there are other MMOs in development that have a big budget and lots of promise, like Star Citizen. But the days of the all-inclusive, draw-everyone-in – and maybe, if you're lucky, hold a candle to World of Warcraft's success – might be at a close.
At this time last year, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn had just (re-)launched, and The Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar were both imminent. That's three AAA MMOs all launching in the span of a year. A year from now, will we have even one more big MMORPG launch like those three? Unless EQN really ramps up development, I think that's unlikely. Games like Landmark, Black Desert Online, ArcheAge, and the aforementioned Star Citizen might all have high production values and be very good, but they aren't designed to draw in that huge, mass-market crowd. Industry veterans, including former Red 5 Studios chief Mark Kern, share this opinion, which seems to be pervasive following Titan's shuttering:
I really believe the gigantic MMO model is dead. That's why we are doing a modder driven, procedural, sandbox and retro MMO. @Mekentertain
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) September 23, 2014
I even think those kind of games are going to be a bit of a rarity. Even a niche MMO, aimed at a smaller audience, is still an MMO, carrying with it all the expectations, implementation issues, and post-launch trials of their bigger counterparts. There will be queues, bugs, imbalances, people raging on the forums... and, most importantly, the risk that even a game with a relatively small budget (for an MMO) could fail utterly and sink a company.
Instead, what we're seeing these days are smaller, less costly, and more user-driven games dominating the market. Blizzard knows this as well as anyone, with the success of Hearthstone, which was designed and developed by a small (by Blizzard's standards, at least) team. Other games, like DayZ, Warframe, and various MOBAs all have limited forms of MMO-like gameplay, but in having such a narrow focus are much cheaper and quicker to make and represent a lesser risk but carry with them the potential for nearly identical rewards.
I think gamers' expectations need to shift, as well. ArcheAge is a perfect example here; sure, on the surface, it looks like any other MMO, with avatars and quests and crafting and PvP, and so on. But it's not meant for the typical MMO player. That won't stop a lot of people who do want the “typical MMO experience” from being upset that AA doesn't offer that and thinking that it's “overhyped” because it doesn't deliver on those exact points. Then again, if a game's marketing team doesn't try to paint its game as something for everyone – not necessarily an issue for AA, but pretty common with other games – that might happen less. Chicken, meet egg.
The emergence of free-to-play, across all platforms, has probably also had an effect. Having so many games available for nothing, or close to nothing, reduces the chance that we'll want to spend four to six hours in any one game, and so fewer games are offering the kind of experience where you need to spend that long in the game to enjoy it. They know they have to hook you quickly to get you to spend on their games. A typical League of Legends match might seem long when it runs 45 minutes to an hour... but, really, how much can you accomplish in an MMORPG in that same amount of time? That seems like barely enough time to do anything, at least to me.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. As I said above, you'll just have to accept that many, if not most, online games just aren't for you. Ideally, that means people won't get on forums or comments sections railing about how 90% of games “suck” because it doesn't match their tastes, but I won't keep my hopes up.
But if enough people can get over that, they might find that those games that do meet their needs are much more focused and keyed to push their “fun” buttons, without having to wade through all the stuff they don't like in a game. How many times have you said “I love the PvP” or “I love the action combat” or “I love the story” about an MMO and followed it up with “but the rest of the game drives me nuts”? Ideally, you'd find you like three or four things and instead of trying to find one game that has them all, find four games that each specialize in one of those elements. Hardcore space sim, casual MOBA, military shooter, anime-style MMO... there's no reason all of these kinds of games can't co-exist, and even thrive, by appealing to their chosen audience. You just aren't likely to find all of those in one game any more.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
💣 Feature | EverQuestions: Our EQ Next Q&A With Dave Georgeson
We got a good deal of EverQuest Next info at SOE Live, but, as always, there's more to know!...By Jason Winter - 8 years ago
You May Enjoy
Fortnite Creators Could Finally Be Paid For Their Work In 2.0 Patch
According to a leak, players would get paid based on the number of engagements their islands receive.By Matthew D'Onofrio - 1 week ago
Wizard101 Introduces New System "Rate My Stitch" In Today's Update
Official competitions and rankings are now live for stylish players to participate in.By Matthew D'Onofrio - 1 day ago
Pre-registration Is Open For XLGames’ Blockchain MMO ArcheWorld
The game is leaving Asia and headed West.By QuintLyn Bowers - 2 days ago
CCP Games Announces New AAA Game Built Around Blockchain Technology
The company has received over $40 million in funding from an American venture capital firm.By QuintLyn Bowers - 1 week ago
The Rubber Ducks Return To World Of Warships
Once again, the annual April Fool’s event is back.By QuintLyn Bowers - 1 week ago
💣 Feature | Blasting Waves Of Dinos Was Damn Fun... But Will The Rest Of Exoprimal Be? - A Open Beta Test Review
Exoprimal's beta was damn fun but VERY limited. Here's some early thoughts.By Michael Byrne - 1 week ago
the other reason is mmos aren't doing anything new. they aren't 'next gen' by any means. why? I again make mention of my first point, money. it takes money to get creative and means risk. so they don't bother.
then we have Star Citizen. Chris Roberts actually addresses these things, which is why he went the route of Kickstarter. He couldn't get a company to do what he wanted to do, so he asked the gamers instead. thankfully enough players believe in his vision and want the 'next gen' mmo. he is taking serious risks technically by being very ambitious with what he wants the game to do. yet he has limited his risk financially by using Kickstarter.
in my opinion, if you want mmos to grow and evolve then you should want Star Citizen to succeed. whether you want to play it yourself or not. the future of mmos will either quicken or slow to a crawl based on its outcome.
I think there is hope for T H E mmo in the near future. Personally, I think players like me are the reason why huge games like WoW broke. I've never played it, although I knew it would be good, but the subscriptions and payments were just ridiculous for.
WoW just did not gain in fans, partly because subscriptions are just a impossible for younger gamers (Kids). And then the playerbase shrinks since there are no newcomers.
I definitely dont want to advertise, but I think Skyforge is capable of taking the "all-inclusive" mmo title. The developers have invested a huge amount of time to adjust it for every player(atleast it seems like it). And the graphics are glorious. So far, the game seems flawless. But, it all depends on how the game gets advertised...
Would be interesting to say what would have happened if Activision wasn't involved.
Like insta kill, its a strategic pvp that has brough many peolpe too WoW. and they do a great job with diablo and starcraft. thats why others cant create sub-mmo and they suck!
the MMO's built for PvP only like most MOBA's, shooters, and fighting games do not attract the dungeoniers or the adveturers which cause the game to be underpopulated and not make much money thus they fail eventually because PvP players make up less than 20% of the gaming community, the rest look at it as a way to kill time not to be the main focus of a game.
Archage is failing for 2 reasons.
1. it has no advanced structure the entire game is go from point A to point B, kill a few enemies, repeat. there is no dungeons, there is no other type of missions, there is no challenge or fun. It's a copy/paste of a game from 1990 with better graphics.
2. gold farmers/bots overrun the game causing big lag and queues for log in. with the inability to get into the game many just give up.
If game companies get a clue and tune in to what we are saying and stop repeating the mistakes they are making... then MMO's will come back to popularity.
Its to much of a risk. Should wait like 5-10 years until there is demand for new true next gen mmo.