Working As Intended: The fate of the MMORPG genre

I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that this past weekend was a strange one in the MMORPG community, when gamers across the wide expanse of MMO worlds came together to collectively mourn, fear, rage, and regroup after a day that shook the foundation of the genre.

Daybreak, itself one of the founding studios of MMORPGs, finally admitted what many gamers already believed: that EverQuest Next, one of the few inbound classically inspired Western AAA MMORPGs and heir to the venerable EverQuest franchise, had been canceled after so many months of stalled development and media stonewalling.

And just a few hours later, we confirmed reports that dozens upon dozens of WildStar’s developers had been unceremoniously sacked in the wake of the cancellation of the game’s Chinese launch, which we’d presumed was one of Carbine’s last hopes for shifting WildStar’s downward trajectory. Even now, rumors contradicting NCsoft’s confidence in the game persist as gossip of a planned sunset seeps out.

Given how many letters we received this weekend on this subject, and having had a few days to think it over myself, I have a few words I’d like to impart about the fate of our beloved MMORPG genre.

wildstar1WildStar and EverQuest Next were already lost

This is harsh, I realize, and my heart always goes out to those who lose jobs in these messes, but I see no reason to think the genre will be affected by the loss of either of these games as much as people fear.

Based on what I know, I don’t believe EverQuest Next was dead the day Columbus Nova inked its deal to rescue SOE. I believe it fully intended to publish it if Daybreak could actually deliver something worth playing. But it does seem likely that last fall’s playtest may have been poorly received and that the decision was probably made around then to divert efforts to the existing franchise entries and finish Landmark for publication. When Russell Shanks says EverQuest Next wasn’t “fun,” I might mock the very idea, given that this is the same studio that once insisted “no one” wanted to be Uncle Owen, but I also believe him. I’ve seen Landmark; I know its many troubles were Next’s too. And more than that, I’ve become convinced the heart and soul of Next was ripped away last winter. EverQuest Next’s ambitions simply weren’t going to be realized on a beleaguered skeleton crew stretched thin over too many games, no matter how talented and overworked they were.

In other words, cancelling Next before gamers realized it was a fail fiasco riding on a disaster trainwreck spared Daybreak from shoveling good money after bad and spared us from several years of a tedious and entirely predictable news cycle. Is there a point to prolonging that agony, when no one’s actually losing a game home (or a job) over it? Do you want to be standing here three or four years from now talking about EverQuest Next’s subscription plummets, Daybreak layoffs, and the fate of the MMORPG genre with EQN tanking? That is the least interesting part of my job and the most unpleasant part of this hobby, so I’d rather avoid it. I wanted EverQuest Next as it was imagined so ludicrously via sand art, not as a smoldering clusterfudge.

Cancelling Next before gamers realized it was a fail fiasco riding on a disaster trainwreck spared Daybreak from shoveling good money after bad and spared us from several years of a tedious and entirely predictable news cycle.
As for WildStar, it was given three chances to alter its course: its free-to-play relaunch (the relaunch being the critical part, not the F2P), the Chinese launch, and the Steam launch. The first wasn’t strong enough, the second is canceled, and the third? They may yet pull it off, in spite of those sunset rumors. But WildStar’s problem is much deeper than its model, its territorial scope, or its platform. WildStar’s problem is that it tried to be Space WoW in a world where WoW still exists — even if it’s a shadow of its former self. That is not something Carbine can undo with an underpaid maintenance crew regardless of passion and skill. Carbine’s leadership chose the game’s foolhardy path before launch; it’s too late now for a full do-over, and NCsoft won’t give them the money or time to save it.

And if you don’t believe NCsoft would deal with WildStar so callously, I’ve got a superhero cape in Paragon City to sell you.

All of this is to say that both EverQuest Next and WildStar have been effectively “dead” for a long time now, and the sun still rises every morning. It’s tempting to panic over the fact that the last big western themepark to launch is floundering and the last inbound AAA themepark has now been scuttled, just as we panicked when Blizzard transformed Titan into a shooter, but our obsession with a “blockbuster or bust” mindset is literally part of the problem, part of why the genre bubble formed. If you were already counting those games down and out, nothing’s really changed. If you weren’t, then don’t worry: The only thing that’s changing is your perception.

Mead mead mead mead mead mead.

Historical perspectives on bubbles and busts

Like many of you, I began playing MMORPGs in 1997 just as the word “MMORPG” was enjoying its first minting. At the time, and notwithstanding those titles we’ve shoehorned into the genre anachronistically and posthumously, the world considered there to be only one MMORPG.

One.

And there was no reason to panic. We never felt as if the genre was on the precipice of abandonment, never felt ourselves standing on the edge of doom. Within a few years, we had half a dozen more western MMORPGs, the populations of all of which would have easily fit inside of World of Warcraft’s much-contracted modern population with room to spare. Each was relatively small, the largest peaking with far fewer players than the majority of the AAA MMOs that have launched in the last few years. We just forget about that because World of Warcraft reset the bar for what we consider an MMORPG success — so stop falling for powercreep.

“I can’t tell you how many times we were told that between [EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, and Ultima Online] that the market for online games was saturated and there was no room for Dark Age of Camelot or games like it,” industry vet Mark Jacobs quipped last week. “And, as usual, such projections were of course wrong.” There are now more MMORPGs than anyone can count, some coming and going before we can even mention them, as the market works its way through the post-WoW bubble. Make no mistake; our genre has been through these crises before. Remember the last year or two before World of Warcraft launched? Or worse, the few years after it launched when Age of Conan and Warhammer utterly bombed? The genre was a wasteland in those years if you weren’t a WoW fan or content with an “old” game, and yet studios decided to give it another go anyway, pushing into that 2010-2012 peak. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. Here’s Jacobs again, commenting on the state of themeparks, but he could as easily been writing about MMOs on the whole:

“[A]s always, our industry is a never-ending rollercoaster of fun and frolic. […] Themeparks will return, the only real questions are when, and whether they will have evolved to be a better version of themselves. And, just because this generation of MMO gamers are a little disappointed with the current gen of themeparks, there will be other generations to follow who won’t have the history of MMO successes/failures behind them. […] I doubt I’ll be in a position to try to make a next-gen themepark, but other people will and my guess is that a few somebodies will do a great job and maybe we’ll have a major success story. And when that happens, people will declare the indie/sandbox dead forever, just as many writers/publishers did when WoW dominated the industry. The cyclical nature of this industry is undeniable, especially to those of us who have been playing/making games forever.”

And he’s right — sandboxes, thought to have been killed off by WoW, came back. We have everything from Camelot Unchained and Crowfall to Star Citizen to look forward to, to say nothing of passion projects like Revival and Project Gorgon. Just those five games alone demonstrate a staggering talent, creativity, and quality to anyone willing to shun graphics snobbery or AAA puritanism. We must end squabbles over western vs. eastern, AAA blockbuster vs. indie niche, themepark vs. sandbox. MMOs that launch may not have every single thing you want in a dream game, but neither did the classic MMOs. Quality MMORPGs do exist. Go play them.

wildstar2

The genre’s going to be just fine

Online games are never going away. They are one of the most remarkable, revolutionary, and downright human inventions brought on by the ever-widening internet. Create a way to communicate and we’ll find a way to turn that communication into something fun, something imaginative, something that breaks down the barriers of time and space and lets us all be kids again. MMOs will shift and change, adapt and endure, and yes, at times, unbundle and then be bundled back together as the sum of their parts. We may never see as many massive-scale games as we did a few years ago. We’re clearly into a phase of lower-budget indies, many of them helmed by the original captains of classic MMOs, with a focus more on originality and individuality rather than mass-market appeal, not unlike the dawn of the genre nearly two decades ago. There may not be a dozen such games catering to you, specifically, at all times, but there will always be MMORPGs to play, so don’t ever worry about that.

If that’s too sappy for you, consider that the industry is obsessed with money. As our genre ages, so does its players — and our disposable income grows and grows. Someone will sell us what we want eventually, and everything old is new again.

I’ll be the last person to say I’m not worried at all about the genre; I worry every day, constantly wondering whether some event or other is the tipping point, the moment in time we’ll look back to and say, “Aha, that is when everything changed.” It’s absurd, of course; step back far enough and you’ll see dozens of peaks and valleys on a long timeline getting longer by the day. My worry is a selfish one. My favorite MMORPGs were already murdered, taken down by license bullshit and bean counters. Survival in this genre is rarely about artistic merit, and that’s something I’ve had to come to grips with in the last few years because I’m in this for the long haul, all of it, and you’ve got to take that longer view too. The genre will come back around again, and there will be games, studios, ideas, and yes, even journalistic outlets that may not survive what one commenter dubbed our “dark ages.” Many beautiful things are destroyed in a brush fire so the wilderness can begin anew. Yes, the cockroaches surely live on, but many wonderful new things are born in the flames, so don’t succumb to despair.

And we won’t either. I cannot say with absolute certainty that Massively OP will survive whatever comes next for MMORPGs, that we’ll still be here when the spiritual-successors-to and improvers-upon Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest and yes, even World of Warcraft are finally launched and our genre has its day once again.

But I’m confident that day will come.

The MMORPG genre might be “working as intended,” but it can be so much more. Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce in her Working As Intended column for editorials about and meanderings through MMO design, ancient history, and wishful thinking. Armchair not included.
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schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

paragonlostinspace mysecretid Ceder 
The “one size fits all” approach doesn’t quite work with me for a different reason.
I’m a completionist. I hate leaving a game without doing everything it offers, seeing all the lore and the story. But, at the same time, I decided that I won’t do anymore any activity, in any game, that I don’t find enjoyable.
An “one size fits all” game, thus, is nearly always going to make me frustrated. It’s bound to ask me to do activities I don’t enjoy in order to either see part of the story or to get a piece of equipment that is useful, sometimes even essential, for doing some other part of the game that I do find enjoyable.

It’s, for example, why I decided to not even give a chance anymore to any MMO that has organized raiding. For a number of reasons I hate taking part in raids, it makes me feel like I’m a powerless ant trying to swarm over some boring, oversized goon, and the organizational hurdles are just as frustrating as trying to herd cats. I might play a game with raiding if the raiding is truly optional, if non-raiders are able to see all the story elements and get all the rewards that raiders get without ever having to get into a raiding group, but otherwise I’m not going to even bother finding more info about the game.

Single-player games (on the PC at least) are no issue for me because I can always mod or cheat the games to remove whatever undesirable activity the game has while not giving up on any piece of content or reward. Part of why I’m playing far more single-player games nowadays, and thus far less MMOs; I can’t do in a MMO the same things I do in a single player game.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

paragonlostinspace 
Aye, Mark seems like a good guy. I didn’t back Camelot Unchained, because PvP really doesn’t entertain me, but I’ll probably give the game a look at some point after it releases, simply because of Mr. Jacobs’ history of contributing to games I have enjoyed.
I mean, Warhammer Online was probably the only online PvP I’ve ever actually enjoyed, because it was bound into the world and the story, rather than simply playing out as a treadmill of 24/7 “death tag” (“I got you! No, I got you! No touchbacks!) Yawn.

It occurs to me that if Warhammer Online had gone free-to-play, I would’ve supported them like crazy through their cash shop — I just couldn’t justify the open-ended monthly sub for a game I didn’t play every day.

For all its faults, I enjoyed the game, and I miss it sometimes.

But I digress, as usual, :-)

Cheers,

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Qarran 
Thank you for quoting eliot. In a world where it sometimes feels like the English language has devolved into five words, separated by “like” and “um” it lightens my heart to be reminded that the language can still soar, as needed.

Cheers,

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

mysecretid paragonlostinspace Ceder                                                        

 Great post and I agree with your points. :) The one size fits all just doesn’t work, in the end no one is really happy. At least that’s how I’ve felt for the past few years.

As an aside I did back CU (as did my wife as well) because I like what Mark is attempting to do. Having known Mark off an on going all the way back to the GEnie days and Dragons Gate I respect him and his passion.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

paragonlostinspace mysecretid Ceder 
I suspect, Paragon, that the “scaling back” of MMORPGs — in the sense that the big-money investors no longer look on MMORPGs as some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, and have moved on to other forms of gaming — may actually work in your favor, before all is said and done.

Big money means that “one size must fit all” and the formula insists that any MMORPG must appeal to the largest number of players possible at all times, to maximize profits, and keep the shareholders happy.

Now that the “profiteers” seem to be losing interest in MMORPGs and wandering off, I suspect the game genre will — in some ways — return to what it was before World Of WarCraft made everyone think that copying WoW would be a license to print money.

I already see “niche” online games coming back in various ways, and I’m sure you do too.

The idea is, once again, to make a game you think can find a sufficient audience of people who will love it enough to pay for it — as opposed to make a game with the expectation of making your publisher and your investors billionaires. :-)

So, we get online games like Elite Dangerous, and Crowfall and Camelot Unchained and (yes, even) Star Citizen, whose insane money-raising is — at least in part — because a lot of gamers want to see that sort of game made, even as the big publishers were convinced no one wanted such a game.

There are other games coming out that I’m forgetting, as well.

My point is only this — I think you have a better chance of seeing the kind of online game you would like to play get made in the next ten years, than in the last ten, simply because the profiteers have moved on …

… online games getting made now are more about finding a sufficient audience of people who like what a given game is offering, rather than trying to make the mythical “One Game To Rule Them All” (apologies to Tolkien).

In some ways, online games already seem to be shifting back to a more “niched” hobby, so the chances of you eventually finding a game which emphasizes the elements you enjoy have likely increased.

Even the idea of games which don’t enforce their terms of service seems like a product of “we must pull in as many players as possible, every quarter, to keep the shareholders happy” …

… niche online games, on the other hand, would be more interested in keeping the dedicated players they do have, so tolerating Johnny Sociopath, is not necessarily desirable, since success is now more than a mere numbers game.

Look, I’m no expert, nor a psychic — I’m just talking here — but I’m only saying don’t give up hope just yet.

You can’t be the only online gamer who wants the kind of online games you describe, and one of these up-and-coming indie developers may well be making the game that’s right for you — especially since they’re no longer expected to labor in the shadow of “big money expectations”.

Cheers,

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

schmidtcapela paragonlostinspace mysecretid Ceder I agree with your overall points and tone SC. :) Nothing really to add, just wanted to let know I appreciated and agree with the post. Anyhow off for a ride.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

paragonlostinspace mysecretid Ceder 
My perception is that the “elitist” label gets thrown around mostly when the roleplayers start insisting that their way is the “one true way”. It isn’t. Different players find fun in different activities, and roleplayers don’t (and shouldn’t) get to hijack the shared virtual space of the game just for their own enjoyment.
As many RPG rulebooks tell, the one true rule for RPGs is to have fun as a group. If your group have fun roleplaying the characters, fine; if you find fun in using the RPG as a tabletop wargame, go for it; if your group’s thing is to joke around and mangle the story in the name of comedy, that is perfectly valid. Even setting the game as an Arena PvP deathmatch can be enjoyable. I don’t have as extensive a story with pen and paper RPGs as you (I started only in the 80s), but I’ve seen very happy and satisfied groups playing in about every possible way.

That being said, intentionally disrupting roleplayers just for the lulz is something only a jerk would do, and I do think roleplayers should get the ability to set their own (instanced) spaces where roleplaying rules are enforced, with those that break those rules expelled.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

mysecretid Ceder paragonlostinspace The Judges Guild stuff while rough even back then was good material for building a campaign to be sure. Hell for that matter so was Arduin stuff that Dave Hargrave did back in the 1970s as well. Though more on the powerful side of things, I still used much of it for ‘base game building” ideas and material.

Here’s the thing, we had the choice as to who we played with and who we didn’t. I  avoided Monty Haul games and games where it was all about goofing off and not about really immersing yourself in the game world with your fellow players. 

 Sure we horsed around in between doing stuff, but while we were playing we did focus on playing and having a good time with our characters and each other. This same applied to how I approached running games by 1978 and onward until I stopped around 2000 to focus only on online gaming. From the start of the 90’s to 2000 I split my time between the two.

 The thing is we don’t have much choice online if game developers won’t enforce policy/tos, specially if that’s the case across the board. Turbine was the best at enforcing policy/tos and even their enforcement is rather half assed at best.

 So if we have no choice but to return to smaller “still around” text based online rpgs (mmorpgs) then we really have no choice. Doesn’t help that when it’s brought up “elitist” gets thrown around just because there are still some players who want to be immersed and in an interactive game world without Chuck Norris jokes or idiots trolling people with politics.

 I guess my real only choice is the one I’ve been doing more and more in the last few months and that’s reading. A full circle basically. It was reading books in the late 60’s and early 70’s that lead to tabletop gaming because I wanted to be a part of the story, interacting with it and being immersed. Which late to online at the start of the 1990s and apparently back to step one. C’est la vie.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Ceder paragonlostinspace 
Must agree @Ceder

I’ve been gaming for a long time, as well, tabletop and (later) computer, and this whole tension between “kill it and take its stuff” quasi-competitive, objective based gaming, and the more story-based role-playing gaming has always, always existed. It’s not a new development.

Even as far back as the earliest Gary Gygax “tournament-style” D&D death dungeons of one-save-or-die, versus the the Bob Bledsaw Judges Guild “building a campaign world” D&D story adventures.(see also, Dave Arneson)

I’m sure some of you already know that it was the early popularity of the Bledsaw support material which spurred Gygax first to option Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign as D&D content, and then to launch his own in-house Greyhawk stuff.

My point being, these two takes on gaming have always existed, with some form of mutual tension between them, and to suggest that, somehow, “gaming was great then, and now it’s all shit” is very much a reflection of personal perspective.

The only shift I can recall seeing is the shift in what the term “role-playing” means for some gamers. 
Back in the dinosaur times — at least as far as I was aware of it — role-playing was a broad term, which meant (at the very least) that one would attempt to play one’s character in a way which engaged the story, and didn’t intentionally conflict with the fiction of the world as it unfolded.
I’ve noticed that, in more modern times, role-playing often refers to a much more formal, conscious affair — where players gather in a game location and agree to speak and act wholly in character for X amount of time.

In this regard, this newer form of roleplay is almost like staging a play, and is often quite specific about what it will and will not allow. It’s a little too stringent for my enjoyment, but it exists.
Other that, the past is the present, in my experience. These design tensions always existed, and the legendary “golden age of gaming” will change, depending on who you ask, and what gaming styles they privilege.

Cheers,

Adri Cortesia
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Adri Cortesia

Thank you for this article :) I can fully understand your point of view.

TWAnderson
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TWAnderson

paragonlostinspace Celestial Thanks for the mention. 
Our publishing date is Dec. 2017, but passionate folks can get involved in the Early Access program if they don’t want to wait :) 
Next public build out on April 30th!

MesaSage
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MesaSage

breetoplay A Dad Supreme alexjwillis Barry Dollar  “And so many people here have argued that this is a good thing, that the
AAAs moving in and squeezing the market led to homogenization,
stagnation, and a bubble that’s bursting, that what we need are smaller,
quality games, for smaller populations, not pump-and-dump mass-market
clones by megalith companies who answer only to investors.”
Make sure to add that to your Quote machine thingy.  It belongs in there.

MesaSage
Guest
MesaSage

JakeDunnegan melissaheather The Segway is an interesting choice for comparison, because of the resurgence of these two-wheel gyro platforms that the Chinese are cranking out for a couple hundred bucks.  People are still calling them “Segways” even though they’re not close to the original.  As a two hundred dollar item, these may finally find their home, at least as fodder for Youtube fail videos.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Technohic I believe that’s called Crowfall…

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

breetoplay JakeDunnegan Oh! :) I agree- I mention in a reply above – I don’t think MMOs will ever die – conceptually, the idea is just TOO good, and too prevalent. They may change, and morph and branch into other areas (VR, mobile phones, consoles, etc) but online gaming massively is not going away. And yes, I know the first point will be the difference between a MOBA, a FPS and and MMORPG, blah blah – but as long as there has been humanity, there have been stories, and story based online gaming will never go away.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Tithian JakeDunnegan Well, they are certainly working hard on a persistent world. Once you have that, I don’t know how different it needs to be to qualify as “non-traditional” or not. 
No matter how you slice it, with some good ideas, there’s still a TON of money out there to be had, and the day of MMOs is far from over. I doubt they ever truly will be, until technology changes in some way. We’ve crossed the Rubicon on that one, and there will be no putting MMOs back in the genie bottle. <Insert other cool analogy here>

mysecretid
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mysecretid

Bannex19 
I blame Bannex19 :-)

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

Veldan Ket_Viliano 
That’s been my only issue with Firefox as well — I had to tell it specifically to allow Livefyre.
It occurs to me, Ket, have you tried uninstalling Firefox, and re-installing the latest version? Maybe your current Firefox installation has a corrupted bit of code, or somesuch? I think I got dinged with something like that once … it wasn’t the program in general, but the specific copy I was using.

Good luck,

corey1
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corey1

thatchefdude dragonwhimsy corey1 and further, I’d actually consider GW1 an MMO. If I remember correctly, the central town hub had a “massively” component to it similar to shard-tech, right? (Never played it but I think this part is true.) The questing and main areas were lobby based, but the central hub had tech where you could technically run into any number of random other people.

corey1
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corey1

thatchefdude corey1 Oh, I completely agree. Some games need to remain not-online in order to work for what they are. Shoehorning will never be a great idea.
But, (and this is what that whole quote sounded like to me at least) if they involve online connectivity as integral to the process of making games, it will inform and change their future designs in order for the online and multiplayer parts to fit in more naturally, instead of like it apparently didn’t in AC Unity.

Or, they could slap shit on like they did with AC Unity. Lol!

corey1
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corey1

Psychochild breetoplay “I think the main thing that will lead to a resurgence of MMOs is if we embrace the wider definition.  To realize that games are more than what is defined by one particular game. ”

Funny reading this, I was basically arguing, and responding to peeps who disagreed, this very point, lol.

GW1 is an MMO. Destiny and The Division are MMOs. MMOs may change but they’ll still be multiplayery and onliney and fun. 

Cheers!

corey1
Guest
corey1

thatchefdude dragonwhimsy corey1 I could agree that they aren’t as true to form as a more “standard” MMO is, but my main point is somewhat missed in arguing about those semantics.

What an MMO is might evolve, and might have already evolved, to include games such as The Division and Destiny. These games might not have the same types of persistent and open worlds as WoW or another, but they indeed are MMOs.

In Destiny you can theoretically run into anyone while in the open world. The tech only allows for X number of people in a single instance of the game world, but that’s exactly what a shard-based MMO does as well, just on a smaller scale. 

In The Division (so I’ve read, haven’t played myself) the PVE parts of the world function like Guild Wars 1, where only your squad and the NPCs exist, but in their endgame PVP-enabled zone, you can and do run into random other people. Again, the number might be more limited based on tech and the AAA shooter genre often using higher graphical fidelity, but the base idea is the same, in theory, as shard server tech in other MMOs.
Are we to judge what qualifies as an MMO based on the underlying technical capabilities of being able to see >= X number of people on your screen at one time?

To say that a sense of community is integral to MMOs is a weak argument, IMO. Is WoW becoming less of an MMO because people can group up and run a raid with randomly assigned groupmates without having to type anything? It might be a less appealing MMO based on what you want in an MMO, but WoW is still very much an MMO regardless of anyone’s opinion on how good or bad a game it is at any point in its lifetime. In that same vein, is someone who chooses not to type to other people less of an MMO player because they do not involve themselves in the community? Absolutely not. Sure, Destiny is lacking in some pretty damn basic QoL capabilities we’ve come to see as standard, but being able to chat hasn’t really ever been a mark by which a game is deemed MMO.

chosenxeno
Guest
chosenxeno

I’ll say what I have been saying since 2011. MMORPGs aren’t going anywhere. Developers just have to be smarter with their budgets and realistic about their products. Don’t go building a gankbox and expect to do WoW numbers. In fact, WoW numbers shouldn’t be an expectation at all. Build your game so that it only needs about 50k to 250k players. The Genre isn’t dead, but the age of the mega-population MMORPG is over. Not due to quality. There are just too many Niches being filed. I’ll say another thing I’ve been saying since 2011 WE ARE IN A GOLDEN AGE FOR MMORPGS. If you are looking for a specific type of MMORPG, chances are you can find it and there will be players like you playing it.

BigMikeyOcho
Guest
BigMikeyOcho

Well said. The genre will evolve and adapt, as it’s done for decades. Multiplayer games will never go away. The day multiplayer dies is the day the internet itself dies. Today, the MOBAs are bubbling, but tomorrow… who knows. MMOs may not currently be in the spotlight, but they are far from dead. Heck, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not really that big a fan of MMOs anymore, and yet I still have 5 or 6 installed on my hard drive that I play regularly. It’s a painful reality that, yeah, sometimes you have to prune a few branches off the tree so that the tree can keep growing and thriving.

Darkwalker75
Guest
Darkwalker75

Tithian 
You are right that games will release with flaws, its impossible to not have some flaws when you release.
But there is a big difference between releasing a solid game with a few flaws and the way the publishers has done it in the last 10+ years, where they release games in a more and more unfinished state, in many cases to the point where the game will not launch, crashes on launch or has gamebreaking bugs that means the player cannot progress anymore.

That a game releases with flaws(bugs) I cant accept and tolerate, what I do not accept or tolerate are games that are released in what is at best a beta state and far too often not even that.
Whats worse is that such problems are far too often not addressed at all or if something is done its just a half hearted thing that is little more than a band aid, and in most cases its left to the players to find solutions and workarounds for the problems.

I remember this being the case with ESO when it launched, you had quest related NPCs not spawning or you could not interact with them, which literally prevented the player from progressing because the game was designed so that you had to complete the main quest-line in order to unlock side-quests.
You could maybe find a few sidequests, but they were few and far between so players were left with nothing to do and no way to progress.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

breetoplay Serrenity oooh I didn’t realize that was the old guard :-)

Tithian
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Tithian

JakeDunnegan Star Citizen is not a traditional MMO though, the same way as Destiny and The Division.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Scarecrowe You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. I think the avalanche of comments, tweets, and blog posts from around the community say otherwise. :D

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Serrenity breetoplay Sadly, Disqus has all of Livefyre’s problems and then some. From the frying pan to the fire, I believe is the saying. :D
If and when we bolt, it won’t be back to the old guard.

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breetoplay

JakeDunnegan I mean that I can never be certain a company will live on in uncertain times, but I’m confident the genre itself will have its day in the sun again. :D

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Oh, and how can anyone declare the genre dead when you have something like Star Citizen out there with $100M+ out there gathering money on hope. Say what you like about space opera or questionable advertising methods (I personally have no issue with them) but there is obviously a wellspring of money out there for the taking if developers come up with good ideas to earn it.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Great article, Bree – did you mean to say that you can’t say for a certainty that MOP will be here, but that day will come? That’s kind of like saying you’re sure there will be a day when MOP won’t be here.. :( I’d rather you lie to us, you know, one of those “good” lies, that even if it’s untrue, there won’t be anyone around to care…  ;)
FWIW, my biggest complaint about gamers in general and naysayers about MMOs in particular – is that good grief but there’s a lot of complaining! (A negative against a negative is a positive? The irony of complaining about complainers is not lost on me…)
But your points are well taken. This stuff is cyclical and if you design a good game, regardless of the genre – (and if you’re really daring, you make up a genre! e.g. See: League of Legends) people will play it. These other games that have died are not specific to the MMO genre, they are specific to bad management and dumb decisions. And that happens to all areas of gaming, (the husks of other dead game line the virtual video game history wall). 
And the same could be said of other industries and other companies as well. If there’s one consistency in this life, the world, the cosmos, capitalism, technology, or business – it’s CHANGE. And you either adapt or you die. See: The Origin of Species.

One last comment – I’ve been watching MMO companies eat their own for years. Ever since EQ2 had to RUSH to launch,  just like they did with SWG, but in EQ2’s case, they had to beat WoW to launch. It killed them. The game wasn’t ready. They should have waited a year, maybe even stolen some ideas from WoW and attempted to beat them at their own game. 
SAME THING (history repeats!) when Wildstar launched after ESO. WHY, WHY??? Why couldn’t they have waited six months? Why try to steal ESOs thunder? I saw a mad rush of people leave ESO and go to Wildstar and after that – well, who truly goes back to old games? I have, and do, but it’s EXTREMELY rare. (LOTRO and TSW are basically the only two that I do, but I will be going back to ESO with the new DLC). But of the dozens I played for three months and abandoned? 
I believe Wildstar failed for two reasons – that ridiculous idea of having end game dependent on huge raids – even when all the other games have been moving away from that model for years. AND – launching so soon after ESO did. Oh, btw, TSW did the same thing – tried to rush to launch before the other big MMOs that year got out the door.
These game companies need to time their openings like the Hollywood movies do. Except, instead of looking for an opening weekend or month, they need a good six month window, if it’s a game that they sunk $100M into, like the Hollywood movies do.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Tithian “people will readily jump o their throats for not having AAA production values.” 
This is a little bit off-topic, but I think we are responsible for fixing that, as the community.  If we don’t want that kind of behavior, we have to police ourselves to let people know it’s not acceptable.  I agree it’s a challenge, and the most damning community members are generally the one who have the least understanding of these things.  
But really, if we want to fix this — it’s gotta be us, the community that does it.  Nothing else is going to change it.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

melissaheather You’re right. When you can get a VR set for $50-$100. Until then, it’s a fad. For recent examples see: Cell and then Smart Phones, iPods, PCs, Internet connections, et al. 
Once a technology has achieved affordability, it stops being a niche item, and it becomes a necessary item. For an example of the opposite effect, you can look at Segways, iWatch (or whatever the hell Apple calls it) or.. VR sets.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

CloakingDonkey Too often people ascribe the desire to make money as some (un)necessary evil that we could ignore. Fact is, all that money pumped into the genre is necessary to make the better games. It takes people, time and resources to put out a decent MMO. If you don’t believe that, look at all the GOOD games that have failed, ignoring all the bad ones that have. 
It wasn’t GREED that motivated all these people. You don’t put your heart and soul into games, like 99% of developers do, because you’re out just for the money. Hell, there are a LOT easier ways to make money and for investors to spend their money than on creating a game for a bunch of bitchy gamers. It takes a certain amount of love, self-deprecation and hard-headedness to get on the investing side of the gaming world.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

breetoplay Ceder Psychochild “MMORPG wasn’t invented yet” (paraphrassing) vs. the idea of MUDs – 
One could argue that a MUD was an MMORPG, particularly considering how Brad McQuaid and company came from MUDs ripped off their ideas (we still call monsters MOBs for the MUD term “Mobiles”- they were mobile objects, not stationary, et al) – BUT…

The key to the MMORPG component of the name isn’t the MORGP — it’s that first M – MASSIVELY. It wasn’t Doom with it’s 24 person games, or a MUD server that was considered “Massively” populated with 100. It was the idea of having THOUSANDS of people on one server. 
So, no, MUDs were not MMOs – they were simply online games. It was UO and EQ that truly put the first M in MMORPGs.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

CloakingDonkey ManastuUtakata Karl_Hungus 
Oh okays, passive aggressive “/shrugs”…

Serrenity
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Serrenity

breetoplay disqus seems to be the current favorite

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breetoplay

Ket_Viliano thatchefdude ellapinella Ironically, I will often flee to Firefox to handle certain admin tasks in Livefyre because FF handles LF so much better than Chrome, which I normally use.
Livefyre isn’t my favorite. Working on that problem.

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thatchefdude Siphaed disUserNameTake I don’t think we should mistake makework for fun just because we did it with fun people. As soon as people found more fun activities to do than makework, they jumped at the chance. Why chat while I grind something tedious when I can just chat in an external chat or social media, that’s the core of it.
The games that do best nowadays find ways to encourage different degrees of social play without mandating it. Everyone welcomes a fresh face in a game with generously shared harvesting and kills, for example.

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playerxx Who?

Serrenity
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Serrenity

FippyDarkpaw mvpeets I think the overall problem I have with the picture you paint is that I don’t think in your view there’s any room for gamers to play these games and legitimately enjoy it.  But lots of people do play them and enjoy them.  What would you have those people who like these games do?  
As for the Star Citizen craziness, that is by far the exception and mostly because VoldeSmart was throwing a tantrum.  
As for the development cycle / team size, the problem is one that I outlined in another post.  The software development environment is very different, and technology is changing/improving at a breakneck pace.  In today’s environment, if you take 5 years to develop a new game, you’re already behind and you run into WIldStar’s problem, solving a problem that hadn’t existed for years.  
This isn’t just a gaming thing – this is a development thing.  Agile methodology, shorter turn around times, and vastly increased customer interaction / feedback is all part of the new order of things.  In a lot of ways, gaming is still behind this larger trend into more open development and Agile methodology.  Many of the aspects you cite as problematic are actually deliberate and intentional by the developers.

CloakingDonkey
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CloakingDonkey

ManastuUtakata CloakingDonkey Karl_Hungus Oh I don’t give a damn how you construct your arguments at all as I’m not a coddled child and just fire straight back across your bow if you’re being too much of a bastard.

But looking back at some of our encounters and all your passive aggressive “/shrug” your insincere emojis and your general “I can’t even BLOCKED!!!” attitude you’re the last person in any position to get uppity with others. Except of course you don’t see a problem with that because you’re a giant hypocrite.

Also do make sure never to address anyone’s arguments and only divert attention, use ad hominem or claim you’re being attacked because I hear that’s how it’s done in internetland these days ;)

Tithian
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Tithian

If the hype surrounding the genre as a whole dies, it’ll be a good thing. Games launching with flaws is inevitable and we, the community, will crucify developers not making our ‘perfect’ game. Take a look at the articles discussing Pantheon, and a lot of comments will be about the graphics and animations being ‘shit’ – in pre Alpha footage. Same with Gorgon, it’s essentialy a 2-man team and people will readily jump o their throats for not having AAA production values.
Niche games is where the future of the genre is and the community needs to realise this. I mean we all know that during 2008 – 2012 everyone tried to make ‘The One Game’ that would please everyone, and failed miserably, even WoW failed to replicate its success with the current expansions. Both the genre and the community need to fracture and specialise; just like the other genres have, because right now there is an extreme pressure for devs to literally please everyone under the MMORPG banner.

Nakua
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Nakua

Hope more crappy themepark wow clones close down, so developers will start to make again fun old school mmorpg sandbox but with today standards, games like Crowfall, Darkfall (Nw Dawn), LIF, and Revival are hopefully just the beginning of a new era.
The mmorpg market is in a crappy state from years and need to evolve to the next stage.

playerxx
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playerxx

He is not in the position to say it’s bad even if it is.

mourasaint
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mourasaint

Nu-school MMOs like The Division and Destiny are keeping the genre alive, and the WoW reboot that I believe has been in the works since MoP will invigorate the genre like nothing else before it, including Vanilla.

Veldan
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Veldan

Ket_Viliano I always used Firefox for MOP, and it works fine, even with all my addons running. All I had to do is make sure none are blocking Livefyre.

Veldan
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Veldan

thatchefdude As great as I find Firefox, it doesn’t always work flawlessly for me. It’s definitely the fastest, and the most easily moddable with extensions, but I have issues. For example, imgur images never show up for me. I have to copy the link and paste it in a different browser to see them. Small but annoying stuff like that made me wonder a few times if it’s not time to switch to Chrome.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

A distinction is that you can believe MMOs are going to do well yet still think non-VR, PC-only MMOs are in decline. Raph Koster’s “An Industry Lifecycle” post from last June is great and on point.  

Even if no more Western MMOs are made, I think the odds are several/most of WoW, SWTOR, ARR, GW2, EVE will still be going in eight years.  Add in non-MMOs like SC & Destiny. (how many of WoW, SWTOR, ARR, GW2, EVE do you think will be running when 2025 starts?)

I have three problems with the crowdfunding will save MMOs:

1) The last numbers I saw were the KS video game (not just MMO) funding for the year was $14M. That is just dwarfed by what AAA studios used to spend. Carbine’s budget last month was about the size of the lifetime crowdfunding of CU (IMO currently looking like a crowdfunding success)
2) Decling/mature markets tend to consolidate and markets with high fixed costs and low variable costs tend to be winner take all.
3) The Repopulation a/k/a I don’t believe people. I was disappointed in the commenters complaining about the art of Repop.  IMO if you want EA/Blizzard results it takes a EA/ATVI budget which needs more customers than niche. Everyone says they want niche games.  I worry too many of them really mean “I want a niche, indie game as long as it has the production values and scope of a mass market/AAA game.”

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