Massively Overthinking: The MMO with the brightest future

    
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Imagine you have a friend who wants to play an MMO but doesn’t want to get involved in a game that’s in decline or might not be around in five years. Where do you steer that friend? Which current or forthcoming MMO has the brightest future?

I posed this question to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Overthinking in honor of the New Year ahead.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I’d like to suggest EVE Online obviously as there’s no doubt that it’ll still be alive in five years, but the player activity levels seem to have been on a slow decline in recent years, and we’ll have to see if that trend can be reversed in 2016. If you’re concerned about potentially wasting time on a game that will just be cancelled in the future, look for games that have been released for at least six months and that seem to have sustainable long-term business models (such as subscriptions or F2P/B2P games that have proven they are financially stable in the long-term). I’d also highly recommend not buying into any early access, alpha stage, beta stage, or crowdfunded MMOs as these carry the added risk that they may never be completed or fully released.

To be honest though, I think most people today treat games as disposable and don’t really care about them being alive and healthy in five or ten years. Even I have started to worry less about investing time wisely into something long-term and more about cramming as much fun as possible into my limited downtime. That often means playing games with shorter session times instead of spending whole nights raiding with friends or getting heavily involved in a game’s community. I get the feeling that this is typical for MMO fans today, and that shorter play sessions are responsible for the rising popularity of MOBAs and other online games that aren’t exactly massively multiplayer.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): A few years ago, I would have just pointed to World of Warcraft and gone about my business. But now? I mean, there’s no doubt at all in my mind that WoW will be around in 10 years, but if the past couple of years have been any indication of what the next decade will look like, forget it: It’s just not moving at a rate I like. Ultima Online got more content than WoW did last year for crying out loud. I’d point a friend to Star Wars: The Old Republic; it’s not going anywhere with Star Wars movies aplenty. And then I’d suggest Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet has been nothing if not gracious about keeping its babies online.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I think it depends a lot on what my friend likes, but there are lots of games out there that I think have a solid half-decade ahead of them. Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and Marvel Heroes have my current nod toward lasting for a long while with little risk of shutdown.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): There are a lot of older MMOs that are in the long tail phase with many years, updates, and even expansions ahead which are good candidates. EverQuest II, LOTRO, World of Warcraft, and RIFT are all good for a while yet. However, if you need newer and more popular, then Guild Wars 2, FFXIV, and MMOARPGs like Marvel Heroes and Path of Exile seem like safe bets. One could always look to Reddit to get a pulse on the tone and strength of communities as an indicator of a title’s long-term prospects as well.

Matt Daniel (@Matt_DanielMVOP): Honestly, there are only three games that I can think of off-hand that I’m reasonably confident will be around and still bustling in five years. The first of these is, perhaps predictably, World of Warcraft, which I’m fairly sure will outlive us all. No matter how many times the cries of doom and discord arise from the MMO community, WoW consistently proves that it still has staying power. Sure, subscription numbers may dip between expansions, but I don’t think WoW is in any danger of going under anytime in the immediate future. The second game is Final Fantasy XIV. I don’t really have any empirical evidence to back this one up, but if the devs remain as attentive as they have been since the launch of A Realm Reborn and keep pushing out new content on the regular, I think that FFXIV will be sticking around for a while. And lastly, I think Guild Wars 2 is a sound bet for the “games that will be around in five years” category. I’m not a regular GW2 player by any stretch, but I keep it installed even when I’m not playing it since the buy-to-play model means I can jump back in at any time without having to worry about subscription fees or the like. I’m not even going to make the mistake of trying to hazard a guess at which upcoming games will succeed, mostly because my saying a game will succeed is tantamount to a kiss of death.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Honestly, despite everything going on with Daybreak, I’d steer friends to EverQuest II. That game has staying power, and with so stinking much to do it could be a long while before the friends could do it all! There is also ARK: Survival Evolved; as long as I can run a server it will still be here. And be cool and fun! There are upcoming games I want to give a spin, but I’d like to wait until they release and I play to actually give recommendations. As far as wanting some guarantee that a game will be around in five years, I’d just tell them there are no guarantees in life — they may not be around gaming in five years because life takes a different turn. The important part is if they join me in a game, we can play together, which means way more than if it will be there way down the road; we can have a blast in the meantime. Quality over quantity!

Patreon Donor Archebius: I know that there are quite a few games I really, really hope are still around in five years! Unfortunately, if we’re trying to be as certain as possible, there’s only one game I can recommend: FFXIV. It’s big, it’s growing, and by all accounts it has a very bright future. There are plenty of other games that are doing OK- Elder Scrolls Online seems stable, World of Warcraft is huge even in decline, Guild Wars 2 is rolling right along – but a lot can change in five years, and Final Fantasy is the only one I’m confident will still be strong through 2020.

Your turn!

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KenFromChicago
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KenFromChicago

Star Citizen is the 900 pound gorilla of MMOs future. It’s the one with the potential brightest future. It’s aiming the highest with the most features and variety of gameplay.
A close runner up is Star Trek Online. At almost 6 years old, it’s gotten stronger since launch, since going free2play, since completing its 5-year story arc. Plus with the Foundry, players can add their own missions / stories to the game. (Trekkers love creating stories, so much that Paramount’s suing a group that’s done *too* good a job if it.)
To complete the trifecta, I have agree with everyone else that it’s Guild Wars 2. It’s innovating new mmo gamestyles while solving numerous mmo game irritants. Altho they could stand to include tutorials explaining how traditional mmo trinity gameplay does *not* work and how the new gameplay works.
However, I don’t get all the posts that WoW has the brightest future. Subs have been plummeting every year this decade, so low that they announced last year they’ll stop announcing subs. Plus their recent expansions have been disappointing, and despite repeated promises otherwise, said expansions still take forever and a month to post. Not to mention recent Blizzard announcements focus on the MOBA, TCG & Overwatch. Even they are moving past WoW.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

Avatar11 Sorry, but the future of the MMO genre in no way depends on whether EQNext succeeds or not….

JeremiahWagner
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JeremiahWagner

My only for sure bet is WoW and TBH its only cause of the die hard fans of WoW. Really that game is going down the crap hole as well, its just that it has such a huge following that it will survive even with huge player loss. MMO’s keep pushing towards a more casual, simple play style with much easier content causing people to think that the games are not releasing enough content. Really the content that is being added is enough it is just so casual and easy to get through that it only takes a fraction of the time it use to take. WoW is the perfect example of that. As far as content with this last expansion it looked similar in size to previous expansions maybe with a couple less dungeons , but enemies die easier with little or no skill being needed. Food and drink are completely useless as they are never needed …. not even in a freaking dungeon. So guess what people just blow through insane amounts of content in a quarter of the time making it seem like there is less content. Most people have no clue what they are talking about and get on forums complaining about the game being to difficult then they make it easier then the complain that there is not enough content. Really if they would have just kept their stupid thoughts to themselves this would never of happened. Sorry for the hate but “casual gamers” which should not be considered gamers at all are a be reason for the downfall of MMO’s. Look at the facts 10 years ago MMO’s like Guild Wars 1 and WoW were much more difficult and for the reason start off with small player bases that grow larger and larger over time. NOW look at MMO’s today. One after another HUGE named MMO’s come out and have a very low difficulty level were you can easily get through anything in the game with one or 2 tries. These ” new ” MMO’s start with giant populations and massively drop off. You see ( OLD MMO way more difficult , population grows everyday) (NEW MMO huge population starting out, painfully easy boring combat , Population starts huge and then totally falls off.)

Xevious
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Xevious

The brightest flame burns the shortest. I think EVE will have not the brightest future, but a solid future, just like WoW and other “classics”. The brightest (and the shortest), Black Desert.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Its hard for me to think that RIFT won’t get a 4.0 this year.

Jacra
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Jacra

Everquest 2, maybe Rift, probably Trove for the established ones, Salem maybe too. 
Personally not a fan of WoW or FFXIV so I wouldn’t recommend them but likely they’ll be around too.
For the ones in development I’m not sure, hoping for a big success for SkySaga myself but otherwise I don’t see much in development to look forward to with any reasonable expectation of coming out any time soon (cough EQN cough) of they aren’t yet looking like something I’d recommend to play as the realities of the game aren’t clear enough yet (Camelot Unchained, Crowfall).

ArbsX
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ArbsX

WoW & FF14 prbly the only MMO with a future pasted 10 years, The rest I expect to be gone in 5 years.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

GW2 and ESO will best represent the West for MMOs (sorry Bioware, but I really think as financially successful as your F2P structure may be, the core game is far from great)….

FFXIV is the king of Asia at least as far as quality is concerned, and is probably the best MMO in the world in terms of regular huge content updates…

I also expect Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained to do well in a smaller capacity, but they will build upon steady and loyal fans that will sub for years to come….

Ultimately, I think FFXIV and GW2 are probably the standard-bearers for the genre until 2020 or so…. or at least until EQ Next comes out, if its anything like it should be and not completely ganked at this point.

carson63000
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carson63000

DeadlyAccurate Meh, when they finally pull the plug on Diablo 2 (now 14.5 years since the last revenue-raising box release and still online) then I’ll start contemplating of them shutting down WoW before its time.

CastagereShaikura
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CastagereShaikura

Starting to think all the games on the articles list are not going to change or get better. Sure these games will chug along as always. But do anything amazing i don’t think so. All the people i knew that loved mmo’s are just getting tired of the genre. And believe it or not they are more into the casual stuff or games that they can jump in and play for 1/2 or an hour. I think casual and mobile games are going to be the big thing this year. Also lobby games like Dragon nest are becoming more popular. Yes i said Dragon Nest. I know so many people now that find that type of game really fun and a quick gaming fix.A couple of years ago i didn’t know anyone that liked those type of games. Their just tired of the same old thing.