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Updated: 15 Apr 2019 18:02
MMORPG's: A Dying Genre?
The best years are behind us, and this saddens me. Over a year ago I saw the cancellation of my first MMO love: Asheron's Call (AC). It was tossed to the side with extreme prejudice and with no regard to a loyal, yet well declined fan base. And gone too, were the promises of releasing AC code to the public to enable the community the ability to run their own servers. Turbine was sold to Warner Brothers and now they focus on mobile games (pukes). The one Turbine game that was still popular enough to be profitable, LOTRO or Lord of the Rings Online, was sold to Standing Stone Games and despite the plural in games, their only title is LOTRO, a game they had no involvement with until the day they purchased it.
Do I sound a bit sour? I've played plenty of additional MMO titles since AC and to be honest, I only rarely logged into AC in between other titles but lately I've really been missing it. In searching for other titles, I've not been able to satisfy my thirst. This phrase is the one that springs to mind:
Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
There are tons of MMO's, most of them are junk and the few decent ones, made by Triple-A developers, don't seem to offer anything new so I quickly get bored with them, even when I do give them a chance. Many newer titles make outlandish claims like "non-instanced"… yeah, just like the original MMO's, and "huge world", but not as huge as the early MMO's, and the ever popular "new sandbox feature never seen before"… except that I can literally list major titles that not only did this, but did it way better, and then I can list all of the other subsequent MMO's that copied the same feature. And when this is brought to the attention of the false claims made by a developer or publisher, I'm met with the usual, no comment. No one likes to be called out on their bullshit, especially when that bullshit is cutting into someones profit margins.
Kids on Steam don't know what an MMO is
Then to make matters worse, huge gaming portals like Steam, allow for users to define games through tags and one of the most popular tags is MMO. Sorry, no. I hate to disappoint you, but Stardew Valley isn't an MMO because it allows you to play with up to 4 friends. Sure, they just added multiplayer, but it's not "massively multiplayer". The same is true for so many other titles in which young kids think that because they can play with up to 32 other players on a private server, that the game is an MMO.
But it's not all their fault, dishonest publishers do the same thing and mislabel their games because they want to pull traffic from people searching for "MMORPG's" and their poor marketing skills have them convinced that they can convert the wrong audience into an easy sale. Gamers unfamiliar with how to define an MMO see this and then think "oh, so this is what an MMO is".
Where lies the final nail to close this coffin tight?
Despite my views, the bottom line is this:
The interest in MMO's is at an all time low. In fact, it has just as little interest now as it did when the concept of MMO's was just being realized dating back to Meridian 59, Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, and Everquest. However, the reason it was so low then, was because no one had ever heard of an MMO before. I still have an interest in Browser MMO's too and for the longest time I was convinced that they would surpass application based MMO's. But they too have lived well beyond their peak:
The future doesn't look good for MMO fans. I myself have been sitting on a design for years, a design with truly unique features that I believe would breath so much life into the MMO market. But I fear that I put it off for too long and that there is simply not enough interest anymore, even with access to resources it would probably be a financial failure. If I could afford it, I'd commission a team to develop it, not for the money, but just for the fun of being able to play it. I don't really think that the MMO market will ever truly die, but it seems destined to fade into Oblivion to the point that they can never be massive again.