Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.
For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.
With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.
In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.
In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.
It’s taken this long, but the Battle Bards have gone completely and irreversibly insane in the membrane! Today the team cracks open the door of the MMO music funhouse to see what off-kilter, crazy, and manic tunes may be found. WARNING: Once you’ve entered the asylum, you might find yourself a resident… for life!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 93: It’s a Madhouse! (or download it) now:
One of the most common questions that I’m asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, “Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?” OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.
The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.
So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I’m going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles — some of which are free and legal for the taking. You’re welcome; don’t mention it!
If you were ever to go to Vegas and place a bet that I would one day become a dedicated, passionate MOBA player, any bookie would probably give you 1:6,000,000,000 odds against. So go ahead and take that bet because if aliens scramble my brain and I start drooling over League of Legends, then you’re going to be richer than kings.
This is to say that, no, I’m not much of a MOBA player, fan, or even spectator. But when it comes to music, I’m always an equal-opportunity listener. And there’s some pretty great stuff out there for these PvP games, although I have to wonder if it can be heard over the frothing rage and screamed insults. One does hope.
Today I’m going to take a tour through MOBAs, both present and past, and pull out some of my favorite tracks to share with you. Then I’m going to go feed the enemy, whatever that may be, because it seems to tick off my team.
This week on the Battle Bards podcast, the crew branches out from the familiar territory of MMO soundtracks and into the wild, untamed regions of MOBA scores. With a survey of titles such as League of Legends, Infinite Crisis, SMITE, and Heroes of the Storm, it’s a musical journey that will rouse the fighter in all of us!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin Olivetti co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
We’ve got Episode 66: MOBAs for you after the break!
It’s become tradition to fare well the MMOs that sunsetted in the preceding year, but that wasn’t always the case. At the beginning of 2015, in saying goodbye to 2014’s sunsetted games, I tried to put that into perspective.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Vanguard’s early stumbles foreshadowed the changing MMORPG industry. In January 2007, when Vanguard lurched its way to launch, the genre was barely a decade old; it was booming, and it had never suffered hardship on a massive scale. In the west, we’d seen only three “major” MMOs sunset (Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond, and Asheron’s Call 2), and only one MMO, Anarchy Online, had “gone F2P,” though we hadn’t yet thought to call it yet because it was such a rare and new thing. In fact, it wasn’t until 2008’s first big wave of AAA, post-World of Warcraft MMOs launched and mostly flopped that MMORPG players gave much thought to the future of the genre and how WoW had reshaped (and possibly broken) it. Maybe not even then.
In 2016 and in 2015, sunsets are increasingly common, a result of market oversaturation, business model struggles, and changing gamer tastes and investment options. Let’s revisit the games we lost in 2015 and consider what their sunsets portend for the year ahead.
The first year of Massively Overpowered had its ups and downs, like anything does, but I think we had some pretty great content in there. Like, really great content. And now it’s my job to tell you several of the best pieces which you may or may not remember, and that’s hard for me to do because I work with a lot of talented people on this site.
My goal with this list, then, is to look back at stuff that wasn’t just good when it was written but still has plenty of bite right now, stuff that you can read several months on with all of the impact it had at the time. That meant that there was some really good stuff that wound up being just a bit too time-focused for the list. I also left myself off of the list as much as possible, before you ask. So what are some of the best pieces of last year?
I think it is safe to say without any malice whatsoever that Lord of the Rings Online
has firmly entered its autumn years.
Everything about the game seems like it’s slowed down. The last expansion, Helm’s Deep, is receding in the distance (as are all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films) with no expected further expansions to come. Turbine as a studio has weathered a hard year with the failure of Infinite Crisis, and updates for LOTRO aren’t coming as quickly or reliably as they once did. Chatter across blogs, Twitter, and Reddit shows that this once-favored MMO is not enjoying being one of the major players any longer.
However, all is not lost! Turbine is not only putting out updates but is creating the right sort of updates, consolidating servers and pushing the story forward. The strength of the IP and the loyal playerbase does a lot to prop up this title, ensuring that as long as the lights are left on, LOTRO has many more years ahead of it.
Let’s take a trip back through LOTRO’s big news of 2015 before examining the 2016 producer’s letter and speculating on what is to come.
Back in 2011, our former corporate overlords at Massively-of-old noticed that games like League of Legends were getting pretty damn popular and asked us to work them into the site. In order to incorporate them into an MMO blog without disrupting the existing MMO news coverage, we decided to put all of the news on games that may not fit the MMO definition into a new roundup-style column called Not So Massively. In the years that followed, the column kept track of dozens of online games in various stages of development, watched the MOBA genre mature, saw many games plod slowly into an early grave, and witnessed the e-sports explosion on a weekly basis.
It’s no secret that online gaming has been trending away from the persistent online universes of MMOs and into the shorter session-based gameplay of MOBAs, action RPGs and first person shooters. With gaming preferences changing, it wasn’t long before Not So Massively became oversaturated with news each week and began drawing more traffic than some of the MMO news. Naturally, we’ve now adapted and started rolling MOBAs and other online games into our everyday news coverage. As we hit the end of 2015 and approach almost a full year since Massively was reborn independently as MassivelyOP, I’d like to look back at the past year and highlight the top ten most surprising and controversial Not So Massively stories of 2015 in no particular order.
This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2016.
August began with the news that World of Warcraft had lost another 1.5 million subscriptions, dropping from 10 million in the months following the launch of Warlords of Draenor. But the month turned around when Gamescom brought news of Guild Wars 2’s free-to-play transition and Heart of Thorns raiding, as well as WoW’s Legion expansion.
It was also the month that Funcom started to look for a buyer, Smed started a new studio, and Infinite Crisis sunsetted. Check out the rest of August’s big stories and editorials!
With another year coming to a close, I thought it would be an opportune time to go back and give out flippant awards to some of the MMO and MOBA soundtracks that released in 2015. Not every game gets an official album release, of course, but if there was a new game on the scene, rest assured that I was all over its music.
So read on for six awards that celebrate the highs and, yes, lows of the video game scores this year!
For as long as Massively Overpowered exists, this will be one of the most memorable years in our site’s history. It was the year that, after seven year of operation, old Massively got abruptly shuttered by AOL along with Joystiq and WoW Insider. It was also the year that the community rallied around us and Kickstarted the hell out of a new site, giving us the chance to create MOP as an independent MMO entity.
2015 will no doubt be remembered for a lot of other things too, of course. I don’t think anyone could have predicted all of the craziness and unexpected turns that happened in our genre over the past 12 months. Let’s take a walk back through the year-that-was to cover the biggest, strangest, and most exciting stories that we covered.