Seeing Both Sides

There’s been talk around the blogosphere for quite some time, about the supposed death of MMOs (I have been the Harbinger at times), how gamers have grown and therefore have less time and want more accessibility, but also for innovation to take the genre into new directions. I can see the various sides of the debate, and all arguments have merit. But where do we end up? How do we collectively agree, or agree to disagree on what the “next big thing” is? Eri takes a look at how the survival genre could be a stepping stone towards what a new MMO kid on the block could be. She also made a recent post on how the MMOs of the future might be influenced by open world sandbox games. A little while before this, there was a great discussion over on Gaming Conversations where Braxwolf asks, “What do Gamers really want?” Finally, Murf made an excellent comment on Roger’s post about the future of MMOs, in which he said:

To me, MMO just means Massively, Multiplayer, and Online. Massively only loosely equates to a sense of on-going community, while multiplayer and online are largely redundant now that every game is multiplayer and online. The MMO identity hasn’t been lost because the name has been muddled, but more because the identity of these games has become far less unique. Every game is online now, and most have communities attached that effectively render these games “always-online”. Plus, even console games get regular patches, so the content stream isn’t even a unique factor anymore.

The only thing left for MMOs is their persistence in the sense of having a living, breathing world to occupy, but we’ve gotten plenty of offline sandboxes that approach similar levels of “live in” feel with Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

These days, a MMO is just a co-op RPG with a higher server cost. The days of making ‘virtual worlds to live in’ are pretty much gone.

I can see all of these points of view, and it’s mainly because I don’t devote my life to any one MMO. I have learned through various cycles of game play that I have gone through, that F2P and B2P models can and have found success. I know that being able to jump into a game like LoL or a Rogue-Like for a few minutes or an hour and still make some progress is fun for me, and nicer than having to devote four straight hours to raiding. Again, I’m part of that generation of gamers who have grown into 30-somethings who have other things they have to take care of. So they (we) want that accessibility of being able to jump in and jump out, but also still be a part of a world that is larger than themselves on occasion. That means the current market of MMOs will need some innovation to capture the hearts of a generation of gamers who have grown into new people throughout the years.

I look to Crowfall to bring parts of everything together. The game feels like it could be a sandbox. It has that notion of being able to jump in and jump out for an hour here and there and still be able to accomplish goals. It feels casual and hardcore and has options to increase or decrease the difficulty dependent on rulesets. For similar reasons, H1Z1 feels like a winner in the sandbox survival genre, minus the feelings of loss that Eri describes. Of course, that is found in Ark as well, with some RPG systems in place that could easily lead to that MMO feel, but has the issue of your stuff being destroyed while you’re away.

Today I was over at a friend’s house and I was playing Grand Theft Auto V on his PS4. I’ve made my point in the past that each new GTA game feels pretty much the same and have expressed frustration with the fact that other games like Saint’s Row et al, have kind of ruined the experience to a degree, much like the countless WoW clones over the years have watered down the MMO pool. However, I was actually having a lot of fun playing GTA V today, and I really think it’s due to the amount of options given in the game at this point. There are the story missions, and the ability to run around causing havoc, that’s nothing new. But the ability to also find new costumes, houses, entertain yourself with mini games, or jump online to play with friends all gives you the tools to make the experience very MMO-like. It feels like GTA is starting to meld into that type of world, and between this title and other survival games, we’re seeing a push for the sandbox that might not have the traditional MMO trappings but still feels like a turn for the better. Rather than every single title trying to copy other’s success, we’re seeing every developer make a push into newer territory. Each seemingly building upon tenants of the past, yet adapting to current crowd’s tastes. It seems like people want to play something immersive, but with options and the ability to drop it on a whim if something else comes up, or to at least make progress in short sessions.

However, it comes down to that simple fact that gamers don’t really know what they want until you put the product in front of them. Some will like it, some won’t, but either way you’ll have the options to try a multitude of things. Games like League of Legends and Destiny aren’t MMOs per se, but they are viable options to dump similar amounts of time into over the long haul, but can be played in shorter outings. I think this is the way of the future, even if MMOs don’t completely adapt they will have options for people who have game ADD.

This time I make the run with Eyes. Doing better on average but still dying too soon.

#opinion #mmos #gaming

3 thoughts on “Seeing Both Sides

  1. Thanks for quoting me. I think you raise a good point with the GTA V comparison. Perhaps MMO is really just a metagenre of evergreen games that we feel reward for playing constantly, frequently, and gives us a sense of greater community? Maybe the grind and the fantasy aren’t so important after all.


    • I don’t know what the issue is, but it’s clear that people have gone their own way. It isn’t about being part of the group who plays WoW or the group who doesn’t anymore. It’s more about finding your niche and/or finding enjoyment in the things you play.

      The simplistic, grindy nature of Diablo hasn’t really changed since the 90’s, yet I can’t keep from revisiting it. It has an endgame that is similar to that of MMOs, but is random enough to keep things fresh, similar to how a rogue-like does. I really think Crowfall might be on to something given the resetting world that gives you something new to check out fairly regularly. I also think this is why MOBAs and other genres (even Early Access games to an extent) are seeing a rise in popularity due to the ever changing nature and more regular patch schedules.

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  2. definitely agree in that we won’t know what we want untill we get it – we might have an idea but it takes actually experiencing something to realise


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