Did you know that Brad McQuaid’s Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is not meant to be for everyone? Probably, because the game sort of likes to offer a mission statement to that effect on a semi-regular basis. McQuaid’s most recent post about the MMO industry and developing games counts on that spectrum, too, as it serves as a lengthy diatribe on where he feels the industry went wrong and why the game needs a game with a very narrowly defined target audience.
The core assertion is that changes to the MMO genre have largely been a matter of making the game more accessible to audiences who didn’t already like the genre, and it’s past time for games to be devoted to very narrow audience slices more suited to specific playstyles.
“That’s the big hump I think the MMO genre really, really needs to get over. In the ‘post-WoW‘ world the genre really moved towards trying to become even more mass-market than WoW itself. Looking at WoW, Vanilla-WoW (the game that was released) is a lot different than WoW is today. Some of that is natural evolution, polishing, the implementation of new features, races, types of content, etc. In other words, all good stuff. But then some of it is merely a result of Blizzard trying to make WoW appeal to an even larger group of gamers — even though they were already, by leaps and bounds, the most popular and profitable MMO on the face of the earth.”
Ultimately, McQuaid argues, even Blizzard determined that “if they continued to try to make their MMOs more mass market that the games themselves were simply going to cease to be MMOs anymore.”
“If you go down the long road of eliminating anything that defines the MMO genre because it might be something some player doesn’t care for, where do you end up? Where does that road eventually lead? Well, I think we can already see quite far down that road — check out the mega-expensive but likewise mega-watered down MMOs that have come out post-WoW.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that previous pieces have also stressed the need to explain the game to non-traditional MMO players, so perhaps you can find some interesting takeaways when comparing the points of view.