Is the idea of the “Big MMO” Dead?

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor


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 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.

Share this Article:

In this article: Blizzard, Titan.

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor

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.

More Stories by Jason Winter

Discussion (18)

Starrae 9 years ago
Okay there is a lot of truth and false with all the replies one WoW in my opinion has its fault with comparison to other game the pvp was horrible when it comes down to it there was no equal when it game to class even when they balanced out the classes all they are doing is just adding things that really doesn't need to be put out there Rift went f2p because it didn't have enough fan base to keep it p2p which I like there pvp better then WoW because it made the classes equal damage. Elder Scrolls Online SHOULD NOT BE P2P because there is not enough content to play on it and there are a lot of f2p MMOs that are actually better looking and gameplay. I am not saying Blizzard is a bad company they had great past time games and they CAN make better gamed just don't rush it and come out with something that no game has instead of a grind fest MMO click and more click but yeah new p2p games are actually not coming out with good content but there are some good f2p mmos I have to say the p2p franchise is getting kill by f2p mmos.

Rubyfire 9 years ago
For a free to play game, Archeage-Triton sold lots of Founders packs for upfront profit before the actual launch and we know how that went....But it just goes to show that gamers are looking for something "new" all the time. Content is the important part, even in old mmo's like WoW, updating with new content all the time is what keep's people logging on and the social aspect of the gaming community is another very important part as well, who wants to play a game where assholes out number the nice people just looking for a fun gaming experience :-)

tolshortte 9 years ago
the idea isn't dead at all. the problem is a large portion of players whine non stop about game pricing these days. almost every new game over 20 dollars is flooded with 'omg wtf too much' posts. its sad really. so the large for profit companies see too much negative to try it.

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.

evil rofl 9 years ago
Before getting to my point, I want to shout out that I have read all of the above comments.

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...

Jellopy 9 years ago
Not sure my post went through or not, it never showed up. I notice some topics filter me out. Am I in timeout Spunks?

Jellopy 9 years ago
My take is the idea of one mmo taking the crown is as dead as games sticking to a single genre. There are too many that do things so rapidly different from one another for everyone to agree to just one. I know this isn't the place to drop the WoW bomb but the time it was released there really was no serious innovation in online gaming, it was a fluke that it managed to grab that much notice as it was a point when other innovative titles were gearing to be presented to the public and because of the hype many went under the radar or that might've been a different affair as well. The only thing that can keep a bulk of people glued in one community in mmos is peer pressure with the differences in what we enjoy as gamers and as we see community features coming around to be as sophisticated as the game content its self that will change, the concept of integrating social network feeds id helping on this but it has a ways to go. I don't think we will ever have another time we see a solitary game captivate that many gamers again.

Key 9 years ago
Its not because the model is dead, its because all the recent mmos are the same copy paste shit, there is no originality since WoW became a thing( not saying WoW was the first it was just the one who hyped mmorpgs).

Annonymouse 9 years ago
Not so sure if the idea of the "Big MMO" is dead. I think the idea of Blizzard creating a new IP is dead though.

Would be interesting to say what would have happened if Activision wasn't involved.

volfie 9 years ago
only true mmorpg that going well and devlping in good way and still pulls alllot of players is Guildwars 2 after 2 years naw it stays true all way! new idees and improvments and lack some end content but game has so mutch offer so it never gets old! and expantion on its way that probely be f2p for client owners recoment gw2 allot. and rest of MMORPG out there need years of improvments what i wuld recoment look forward 2 is City of taitans if u looking for good next ge/mmorpg and thay still in no hurry so we can get good gap in industry to see improvments.

View 1 reply
Valenzy 9 years ago
BLIZZARD always improves their game , and in fact what has WoW and other dont have isnt the PVE content, its the pvp that makes a diference, i play wow and played F2P games and soon i discovered that ALL are PAY TO WIN P2W. Unortunantly they suck, and wow pvp its pure skills, while in others mmorpg or sandbox the pvp can have like buffs from the cash shop, and stuff that is quite anying. Theres is more, the pvp arent like in Perfect world or others games tht is 1 hit and 1 kill
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!

MMOfanforlife 9 years ago
to be honest Blizzard should have never gone with the MMO crowd they are in over their heads they should have just stuck to ARPG like Diablo and Starcraft and just left MMO's to those that know what they are doing... they started out great with World of Warcraft but then every time they wanted to make "improvements" it favored balance for pvp and killed the PvE side of the game alienating 80% of its playerbase and killing the game for many. most MMO's fail because of this same reason they try and please everyone at once and that is impossible because what works in PvE does not work in PvP and visa versa and until companies figure that out every released MMO will be a failure.

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.

View 1 reply
NOBAMA 9 years ago
I think so for now. The market is flooded with MMO and so many free mmos now. With the failure or SWTOR, ESO, RIFT, and WILDSTAR I think its safe to say big publisher MMOs are dead.

Its to much of a risk. Should wait like 5-10 years until there is demand for new true next gen mmo.

View 3 replies
Obamacare 9 years ago

Read Next

You May Enjoy