Massively Overthinking: Would you want to play a League of Legends or Diablo MMORPG?

    
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That which is not dead is Diablo III.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some tantalizing rumors and teases that both Riot Games and Blizzard are building something new: Riot’s dangled some questions about maybe making an MMORPG – might it be a League of Legends MMO? – and Blizzard’s outright said it’s returning to the Diablo franchise for multiple projects (one of which is the Switch port announced this morning). Can we hope for an MMO from one of the big studios again – and should we?

That’s what we’re pondering in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do you think either of these companies is actually working on a new MMORPG using an old IP, what might it look like if so, what are they working on if not, and what do you actually want to see happen?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): On the Diablo side of things, I’m kind of lost. Not just because the franchise does nothing for me, but I can’t imagine multiple games coming from the IP unless Blizzard is going the ARG route for a mobile title and tying it to an pc/console game somehow. Yes, I dare to dream, even outside my own fandoms. That being said, I can’t see them doing another proper MMO.

But for Riot? Maybe they’re prototyping one, or something MMO-ish. They’ve attracted the competitive PvP MMO crowd from the start, as well as other gamers. They’ve branched out into comics, cinematics, and a board game. Maybe more that I can’t think of. They also have an international player base and name recognition, similar to old school Blizzard…. But with only one game.

On the one hand, there’s enough pieces there to assemble something. On the other, it might not be solid enough. That may be why they’re gauging reactions and possibly tinkering with something in the background, just in case.

If they went the MMO route, I’d wager it’d be like what Rift was, a kind of natural progression of the genre. Probably still theme park, but as Riot made a PvP game and has done some “win to vote for your side” mechanics (which even Nintendo is using in Splatoon), I’d think (or hope) player actions would guide the story much more than most MMOs.

The character creator probably would be more robust, like a superhero MMO, just because LoL’s world is also diverse enough to support any genre. While it could make use of current heroes in the MOBA, I’d think they’d keep them as NPCs, though maybe let you imitate them a bit through abilities and costumes, possibly through cross-game promotions.

Back to the same.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Ug, why did I ask everyone so many questions? Now I gotta answer them, and it’s harder than I thought. Let me do Riot first. I have zero emotional investment in League of Legends whatsoever, and I’ve never thought much of the character design, so I’m totally neutral on it from that standpoint. It would be a huge coup for a company as huge as Riot to invest heavily into virtual worlds, but Riot specifically has a lot of baggage that, frankly, would serve it (and us) poorly in the MMORPG space. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s working on something MMO adjacent like an OARPG, certainly, but whether I’d play it would depend on the specifics. I’d be more likely to play a Diablo clone from Riot than, say, an Overwatch or PUBG clone in the LoL universe, and I’d be incredibly nervous about a WoW clone.

From Blizzard, on the other hand… I trust Blizzard much more in the MMORPG space (even when it screws up), and Diablo specifically is one of my favorite franchises. I think it would be extremely well-suited to a truly persistent MMO, if not a full-blown MMORPG, and I’d love to see it fleshed out to be much more than the Diablo III legacy. I’d pretty much play anything with Diablo stamped on it. Apparently a lot of folks aren’t convinced Diablo IV will ever be a thing (I just had a conversation with a guildie who believes D3 will be milked forever instead), but I’m pretty confident it’s happening eventually and that it’ll be much more MMOish than what we’ve seen from the franchise to date.

Next, us.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I think we can definitely hope for a new MMO from anyone. The thing about hope is that it’s not really based on anything; it’s about what you’d want, and so long as you accept that you might not get it, hoping is part of what narrows your focus in on the things you actually want. And here’s the bottom line: Despite all of the issues I have with both Riot and Blizzard, I would love to see both studios working on new MMOs. Whether or not I think they are is almost less fun than thinking about what they would look like.

A Diablo MMO would have some of the advantage that Blizzard now has people who know how MMOs work, but they’d also have the advantage of the Diablo team not actually focusing as much on that. It’d wind up in a middle place where you have imports from WoW always trying to change the game, and the native team that’s been stagnant for a long while. You’d also have a team much more concerned with developing a game that feels like Diablo, focused on the individual progression and adventure over the hardcore group content. Instead of developing EverQuest But Better, it’d be more like Diablo Borrowing From World of Warcraft. There’s lots of meaty design space there!

As for Riot? I’ve never liked League of Legends, but the studio has some celebrated developers from some of WoW’s best periods in there, and more to the point this is a company that knows how to keep people engaged with minimal actual content. Anything that they model is probably going to have a similar bias, with the goal being to give players and the contest between them center stage. Now, that’s not to say I think this would be a PvP game; they already have that, it’s LoL. But it would be a foundation to start on the idea of characters with lots of playstyle options and changing the meta, almost like something approaching the fabled Pokemon RPG. Imagine it; a collection of little heroes all contributing to your overall ability pool…

This isn’t to say these things are actually in the works; I give them fifty-fifty odds, and odds are good Blizzard’s working on another Diablo expansion (or installment) and Riot isn’t developing much more. But boy, the idea is welcome!

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): While some old time studios probably will swear off MMOs forever due to the complexity, cost, and reputation, not all will. And yes, I believe that some will come back around to making new MMOs, perhaps out of the passion for them but also because it’s where games are heading these days.

Shedding the “MMO” label for a minute, we see so many elements of MMOs pervading the games industry. Online connectivity and long-distance play between large groups of players is becoming a commonplace feature of titles. Also are things like world persistence, character growth, achievements, guilds, and whatnot.

Yes, we might have despaired that games started cutting up MMOs to use their parts, but these parts may end up coming back together organically for future games that will be true MMORPGs — whether or not they call themselves as such.

Your turn!

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anarres

No opinion about a LoL MMO, but a Diablo MMO I’d play. At least I’d try it.

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Ryan Allgood

Diablo MMO is definitely something I’d play. I love the aesthetic and the universe.

A LoL MMO…maybe if it was sort of like how Eliot described it. Imagining something where you pick 3-6 characters with a set of abilities (more than they have in LoL) and you can actively switch between them in combat (with some cooldown).

I just think a LoL’s game world wouldn’t really be able to do anything interesting with a standard MMO with standard character creation and standard class system. Like being a Warrior or a Mage in Runeterra doesn’t seem like it would be anything special.

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Rolan Storm

I want to play Diablo MMO. Kid next door wants to play Diablo MMO. My gaming friends want to play Diablo MMO. My non-gaming friends want to play Diablo MMO. Even dogs here want to play Diablo MMO.

Diablo MMO for the win, yay. \o/

Rich lore, Blizzard as developers – thing could be very good. But I agree with the notion they don’t want to step on WoW. Why should they? Works as it is. Wonder what 4th Diablo could be.

No idea about LoL.

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anarres

Yes, it seems like it’d have to compete with WoW. Maybe when WoW dwindles, but from what we’ve last seen, Blizz has the courage to remove systems and “shrink” players’ power, and it does it successfully when needed. The story works for many,, too, if with some bumps. I don’t see it fading anytime soon.

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Rolan Storm

Yeah, no one does. It might be the reason we do not see Diablo MMORPG, it might not. To be honest both Diablo and Starcraft MMORPG might be “more of the same”, but I do not think it is bad thing. I’d love to see them expanding into any of those, but failure of Titan probably made them wary. After they were making a game for years yet ended up with Overwatch – not really encouraging result launching new MMORPG-wise. Though they are great at making best of bad situation. Overwatch not a Titan, sure – still a blast of a game.

I can speculate all day long, but they only thing I know now – they did it with Sylvanas for me. I am so intrigued by this turn of events I want back to game first window of opportunity I have.

Whatever happens Blizzard are still great at what they do.

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Denice J. Cook

I’ve never been much interested in LoL or MOBAs in general, not to mention that I don’t care for Riot’s purported sexist attitudes, so I wouldn’t tend to bother with any other games by them.

I can’t picture them truly making a full-on MMORPG– it would probably be some stripped-down, lobby/instanced psuedo-thing instead (there’s a whole lot more to real MMORPGs than they’ve ever dealt with).

They would also be shell-shocked at how much their player numbers would immediately plummet if they dared to try charging a monthly sub, so I hope that’s not what they’re imagining. It’s easy to claim numbers in the millions when the game is free, but it’s pretty hard to support true massively multiplayer open world servers that way. ;)

I seriously doubt Blizzard has a Diablo MMORPG up their sleeves either, though. That genre is too costly to create, maintain and run a game in, and it’d forever be compared to WoW’s player numbers for better or for worse. Plus, they would get lazy balance-wise like always and either launch each class with three skills total, or prune the heck out of them over time until that was all that was left.

In reality, they’re probably working on a Diablo II HD remake (like they did for Starcraft) and some sort of mobile port.

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mcstackerson

I’d give both a chance but I am more excited at the idea of riot taking a shot at a MMO. I really like leagues universe and they have done a decent job of building it up recently. It would be fun to be able to create your own adventurer in it’s world. I feel like there are a lot of directions they could go with it.

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Crowe

A LoL MMO? Nope, I don’t think so. The “am I making a MMO or not?!?” BS soured me pretty quick on any interest there. (well, that combined with the historical toxicity of the playerbase)
A Diablo MMO? Well, if it felt more like D1 or D2 than D3, maybe. I’d also like a relatively deep build/class system. But I suspect we’d just get something really bland like the current shallow talent system in WoW. So while I might give it a play, I wouldn’t anticipate staying around more than a couple of months.

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Bryan Correll

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Dug From The Earth

League… no. Its basically a sports game, with diverse players(characters). No real solid foundation to build upon. I cant even really picture what the “world” is like in LOL, despite the comics and videos they have released. Also, its popular BECAUSE of its named characters… so unless you got to BE those characters, then an mmorpg where you create your own would lose that specific element that makes LOL popular.

Diablo on the other hand has years and years of lore that would benefit a mmorpg starting out. Its world is very well realized and something players have been immersing themselves in for a long time. Its well known characters have never been those that players actually play, which would make great NPC’s for a living world that you get to interact with. At the same time it would support the more random, player designed “nobody” characters who would go on to become the heroes in the game.

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Sariel

I’d try a Diablo MMO with a new engine (not bogged down in oldness like WoW is) made by Blizzard in a heartbeat.

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Paragon Lost

Definitely would play a mmorpg of Diablo.