The Daily Grind: What MMO has the brightest future looking into 2018?

One of the most popular annual roundups we do is on the healthiest MMORPGs in the genre, both because it reminds us that the genre really does boast a pretty deep bench and because it brings no end of commenters pointing out the games that didn’t make the top 10 – which actually means the bench is even deeper than that.

And now here we are at the beginning of another year, wondering which one is the absolutely healthiest – and whether that prognosis has changed since last year. What do you think: Which MMORPG is most likely to keep on landing on the “healthiest” list for years and years to come? Is it the obvious answer or have the tides finally turned? Which MMORPG has the brightest future looking into 2018?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Chronic Enigma

I think Star Citizen could be a break away hit. So many naysayers everywhere, but what I’m playing I’m enjoying, and I’m excited for these quarterly patches. Honestly though Star Citizen is most likely a Summer 2019 release.

I think a lot of the Free to Play games that are already doing well will do even better this year. There will be some trimming of the fat on the ones that are barely staying afloat. I do think that there will be quite a bit of closures and pay models changed. FFXIV I think will continue to stay strong, I’m actually going to re sub and buy Storm Blood and check the content from 3.0 to 4.0

2018 will be interesting.

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Alex Malone

WoW and ESO will probably remain the “brightest” MMOs of 2018, i.e. they’ll both have significant content updates, retain lots of players and make the news.

I feel FFXIV is now on it’s downwards curve. It did well compared to most modern releases and seems to still be a good game, but it seems to be passed the point where it can reliably attract new players.

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Knight Porter

FFXIV is at record subscriber numbers with Stormblood, and isn’t it only second to the ever-reigning juggernaut WoW in terms of active paid subscribers?

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Tithian

I jumped into ESO recently, and the starting zones are packed. Yes, I know that the content scales, but most people I meet are generally on the lower end of the levelling process, and you bump into players even in the most remote public dungeons.

That’s the hallmark of a healthy online game, right there.

Estranged
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Estranged

The only answer is WoW. They have the customers and the money. Simple.

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jay

Just talking community activity and health, I would say GW2, BDO, ESO, WoW, and FFXIV would be top of anyone’s list. Aion, LotRO, Rift, etc all have somewhat healthy communities going forward, but nothing even close to what the big 5 have.

This simple metric kind of gives a good indication of the overall outlook for a game in the coming year. The more people playing, and the healthier the community, the more money that is taken in for the studio. ie. more funding for the game’s future.

Veldan
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Veldan

It depends so much on where you are though. For example, Aion is probably a lot more active in Asia, and RIFT’s US community has definitely aged better than it’s EU counterpart.

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Dug From The Earth

The things that led the pack last year, I believe will continue to lead for at least a good part of 2018. Things like PUBG.

Id like to see more mmoRPGS on this list, but the offerings for that genre just havent been on par with many players expectations.

hamblepants
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hamblepants

(EDITED for shortness) This isn’t a direct answer, but:

Aren’t there more people playing MMO’s* than ever before?

I understand that for people looking for rich virtual worlds with more mechanics-based/rule-bound content and less scripted content (sandbox-y?), there maybe aren’t as many options.

Or for people looking to have a particular itch scratched (I’m one of these, myself), there aren’t MMO’s out there currently that scratch it.

But if there are more people playing MMO’s these days than ever before, how can people think that the *entire genre* (i.e. not just their preferred type of game) is at anything other than a high point?

*English speaking ones, that aren’t MOBAs or lobby shooters – actual MMO’s.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

This is a fair point, and one people tend to forget. By any reliable estimate there are more active actual MMORPGs on the market today, and more players playing them, probably by a couple orders of magnitude, than there ever were in the supposed golden age of the genre.

The mere existence of this website, which is able to operate as a going concern solely by covering this niche of a niche in the current consumer electronic marketplace, is testament to your hunch that the genre is, if anything, at an historical high point, not an all time low.

What I think people mean when they speak of a low point is a drought of ambitious, exciting, big budget titles that follow the classic big tent or “virtual world” model of MMORPG design, where developers tried to create a game that all sorts of players could do all sorts of things in (i.e., PLAY at many different ROLES within), all together, all the time, online.

I’m not sure even that brand of pessimism is well-founded though, because I think a lot of it is based on worry (or jealousy) when people see new types of games like battle royale shooters or survival sandbox sims sucking up so much player base so fast that it seems like they’re the only thing anyone is playing any more. But I’m not convinced that any significant part of the players who are into PUBG (Fortnite, H1Z1, ARK, etc.) right now would be playing a classic MMORPG if those games didn’t exist.

They probably would be playing something else, and probably were before PUBG came along. But it’s much more likely that something else would be (or was) COD or CS:GO . . . maybe Borderlands. Those games scratch an itch for a lot of people, but it’s not an itch that can be scratched, or should be, by MMORPGs as we know them. And MMORPGs aren’t “losing” players to those games; many of these are players who just don’t play MMORPGs, and probably never will (or never did).

And yet, even with so much attention and money going to these games that aren’t MMORPGs at all, we still have three real, actual, true “AAA” MMORPGs in the top several tiers of Steam’s 2017 list of best sellers by gross revenue; with ESO leading the pack in the “gold” tier.

Besides those live games that are doing quite well (along with the majors that aren’t on Steam like WoW and GW2), there also are a number of games in development right now, some with fantastically high budget commitments, that are striving quite conspicuously to get back to the basics of building real live virtual worlds that are massively multiplayer, with rich, open-ended, player-driven story line content.

Not all those games will succeed. Some will stumble. Some may fail. But there are games out there, and coming “soon” that do those things people say they want so much, or at least try to. And even if you can’t find a game right now, today, that does everything you want, you can’t deny that there are far more choices out there that may do some of what you want, and some of them do it really, really well.

semugh
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semugh

there won’t be another WOW which by definition means the MMO genre has plateaued. In other words it’s declining. Others call this dying.
MOP covers PUBG, tomorrow they will cover Don’t starve together lol…
Anyways the MMO genre had a good run, can’t wait for UO going f2p giving a closure to the genre.
WOW as an oldguard plus eastern devs who just love the term MMORPG will keep the lights on for this genre. But in the west it’s a dying breed.

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Serrenity

there won’t be another WOW

Disagree – this is really narrow thinking. A new game will come along that will explode the genre again. Will the genre look the same as it does now? Of course not, nor do we want it to. But our genre was the forerunner for … so much of what even single player games are today — and of course its changing, but it’s far from dying. I don’t think the MMO genre CAN die at this point — so much of our existence is lived online and in a massive-mutliplayer setting.

The tech that created WoW is in the terms of software development – ancient. We have networking, graphical, systems technology available today that wasn’t even dreamed of when WoW was being birthed. Just wait until chatbots work their way into games as pseudo-Turing passing NPCs with better decision making capabilities than a significant portion of the US citizenry. When things like SpatialOS allow for decentralized worlds, Lumberyard becomes the defacto way to create virtual worlds — when the cost of developing them doesn’t necessitate not eating for weeks or a AAA budget.

The moral of the story here is — there are centuries more exploration in the MMO genre still to be completed — the best is not behind us. The best is yet to come, and like I said, the genre won’t look like it does today and that’s OK.

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Doctor Sweers

We have more options available today with gaming than we did when WOW first hit the market. For me, I once looked for only one MMO to play. SWG was my one MMO for a while. Now, I play several MMO’s each week. Either my attention span has diminished or there are just too many options (none of which seem to check off all the boxes I look for in an MMO).

I have a hard time agreeing that the genre is dying off when games such as Star Citizen, Camelot Unchained, Ashes of Creation, etc. continue to bring in large sums of money even before the masses have had an opportunity to play the game.

Rather than having 10 options to play, we now have a handful of really good MMO’s and then 50 additional MMO’s that have spread the MMO genre players thin. I think what we are really missing is that one great MMO that everyone wants to play.

One last thought: Many gamers today are looking to be the first to finish a game or hit end game content. Once they’ve hit the end game, they move on to the next game. Old school gamers such as myself stay in the slow lane and enjoy the game rather than rush through everything. By the time I get to end game content, much of the population has moved on to the next game.

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Schmidt.Capela

The effect this has caused on me is that I’m way more picky; when I have dozens of online games to switch to (and hundreds of offline games in my backlog), it becomes easy to leave MMOs over minor grievances.

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Alex Malone

It really depends on what definition of MMO you use and what metrics you use to assess the health. Assuming you are using the proper definition of an MMO (a game that supports a massive number of players within the same virtual environment):

Total number of MMOs? Sure, we’re at an all time high.

Total Revenue? We don’t have the data, but I expect this is also an all time high.

Revenue per MMO? Again, we don’t have the data, but I suspect this is slipping slightly.

Total Number of Players? We don’t have the data. My expectation is that this pretty much peaked 2010ish and has plateaued or slightly risen since then.

Retention? This is at an all time low, based on the small amount of data released by developers.

Quality? Totally subjective. We know players aren’t enjoying MMOs for very long which indicates a drop in quality, and we know players aren’t willing to spend money on many MMOs which also indicates a drop in quality.

Upcoming MMOs? This is at an all time low. AAA developers have pretty much stopped making new MMOs, indicating their lack of faith in the genre. There is very little to look forwards to outside of the indie market, a market that is very fickle and usually produces garbage. This is probably the biggest indication that the genre is in serious trouble.

The hardest thing is that the only company that publishes their research data is SuperData, and they don’t know what an MMO is and they only collect data on less than 1% of the games industry. It is developer engagement that is the most telling indication of the health of the genre. AAA companies have massive research and marketing teams available to them and spend tons of money researching the industry before committing to new projects. They have pretty much unanimously declared that the genre is not worth investing in, so have switched to other genres entirely. The only AAA dev in the west making an MMO (that we know about) is Amazon and I highly doubt that it’ll be an actual MMO.

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Jerry

Warframe was by far my favorite multi-player game of 2017. Their open world expansion really added to the game.Division was tops in the smaller co-op space. I supported Camelot Unchained and Ashes of Creation 1st for PVP and the 2nd for PVE.

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Jon Wax

doesn’t matter. gaming has gone mainstream. mainstreaming ruins anything good. ergo… whatever game has a bright future will be diminished to burnt ruins by the incompetent masses and their petulant inability to handle anything remotely challenging. at least RDR2 is out this year so the whole thing isn’t a total loss. and thank god for Media Molecule putting out Dreams.

the best you can look forward to is someone comes up with something to replace “rekt” and “kek”. that’s literally all this community is good for now. First person memeing.

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Utakata

Can’t really say any at this point. Sure there are up coming stuff I can get behind. New races for WoW, Lyn Gunners in B&S…to name a few or two. But what is exciting to me, does not equate a healthy prosperous future to any given MMO. /shrug