The Daily Grind: What does Destiny 2 still need before you’ll call it an MMO?

    
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With Destiny 2 back in the news thanks to its free-to-play relaunch, Stadia platforming, and new expansion, online gamers have once again returned to the eternal question: But is it an MMO?

In fact, one gamer even asked Richard Garriott himself the question. Garriott, of course, created the term “MMORPG” to describe the seminal game of the genre, Ultima Online, though he replied with modesty. “We did coin the term MMORPG, but it’s hard to be the arbiter of what ‘counts’ as an MMO or MMORPG,” Garriott tweeted. “I think MMO would be any persistent really where a community of many thousands or more can simultaneously explore and interact with each other.”

Bungie’s in the middle of trying to make Destiny 2 more of an MMO, of course, with a focus on more social and MMO-like elements. But will it be enough to tip it over? Do you think Destiny 2 is an MMO? What would it need to plant it solidly in our genre?

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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Nordavind

Wait. De2 went F2P? Cool. Or not(?). But then I can get it on Xbox One too. (Got it on PC, played through the campaign and was all like “now what”?. Fun game as longs as it lasts, can replay that part.

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rafael12104

To plant it firmly it needs Chat, community events (not squad based events), and a truly persistent world.

To plant it loosely with wiggle room for a continuing debate about a term that is so watered down that it is analogous to multiplayer? Chat in zones and global.

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3dom

Third-person view.

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NeoWolf

More depth to the progression and actual dialogues with choices

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starbuck1771

Chat , larger groups, populated zones.

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McGuffn

Fishing.

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Anstalt

Destiny 2 is not an MMO and is not even close.

Massively Multiplayer Online

Massively is an adjective, meaning that the word applies itself to the next word. So, to be an MMO, the multiplayer component of the game has to be “massive”. Massive is a comparative word, so it means we are comparing the multiplayer part to other games out there.

Looking at other multiplayer games, the typical range is 2-100 players.

So, to be massively multiplayer, the multiplayer compononent of your game needs to be “massively” bigger that 100 players. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much bigger you need to be to be considered massively bigger than 100, but I personally go for 5x, i.e. the game needs to have a multiplayer element that supports 500+ players.

Interestingly enough, Richard Garriott and Raph Koster both gave their opinions on this over on MMORPG.com a few years ago, and they both said that when the phrase was coined, their minimum target was 250. I increased that to 500 simply because 20 years has passed and average multiplayer numbers have gone up.

The next thing you have to figure out is how to define your cap when looking at what constitutes multiplayer. For myself, I define it as the maximum number of people you can fit within a single virtual environment. So, something like Mario Kart 8 has a multiplayer cap of 12 people – thats the most who can race together. If you want to play with other people, you have to leave your virtual environment (the race) and enter another one (a separate race) in order to play with other people.

Basically, if you have to go through a loading screen to play with someone, you have left your virtual environment and entered a new one, thus you cannot count the players in both instances towards the cap.

As I understand it, Destiny and Destiny 2 both have quite low player caps (16? or 30?) per instance, so the maximum number of people you can ever play with at the same time (i.e. multiplayer) is low. Its just an average multiplayer game. So, for me to consider it an MMO, it would need to increase its player cap from the very low number it currently has, all the way up to 500.

TL;DR: I define a game as being Massively Multiplayer Online when it is able to support 500+ players within the same virtual environment, a virtual environment being defined as an area of the game that you can traverse without going through loading screens.

I’m willing to consider lower numbers (maybe as low as 200 per virtual environment) but any lower and you’re just into standard multiplayer numbers again.

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Anstalt

Also, I realise that the number of players within a virtual environment isn’t important to that many players and they’re more interested in the mechanics and systems. Thats fine, but those mechanics are what help define the game as an RPG, not as an MMO.

To be an MMO, all you need is 100s of players in the same instance. Thats it.

For me, if you dont support massive numbers, you aren’t an MMO and I’m not interested. It’s the scale that is important to me. It is the one unique selling point of the entire genre, you literally cannot find it outside the genre. Whether its 100s of people gathered on Weathertop in LotRO for a concert, or 100s of people fighting over a keep in WAR, or huge fights in Cyrodiil, that sense of scale is what defines us.

This is also one of the reasons I quit SWTOR – it wasn’t actually an MMO! With player caps of 75 in every instance, it was just a standard multiplayer game. Those player caps prevented anything happening at a large scale, thus ignoring the point of the genre. It also had further negative impact on the community – with such a low player cap, you hardly ever bumped into the same people when questing and so never formed social bonds required to form a good community.

Its also one of the reasons I disliked ESO – outside of Cyrodiil, the game didnt have any MMO features as it was all instanced with low player caps.

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Dankey Kang

Hit the nail on the head. It’s pretty sad that the video game industry is still making lobby games masquerading as MMOs given that the technology has advanced to the point where they could develop almost any multiplayer game as an MMO, but I guess Innovation only happens when there’s a demand for it or somebody has the balls to give it a try.

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Nordavind

Pokemon Go and Ingress and HPWU supports 7 millards (aka billions). Biggest MMO out there. Weather system is insane. Wildlife everyhere. NPCs can be annoyingly in your way though.

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Joey

It is a lobby shooter, I’d hardly call that a MMO. Maybe MMO-lite?

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Sray

Nothing. I’ve always called it an MMO because it is: a persistent online world where large numbers of players can interact with one another. Defining it as anything more precise than that simply tends to drain flavor and variety of these games, which is the exact opposite of what we need of games in general these days, let alone MMOs. I know a lot of people tend to get hung up on the number of players in an instance, but frankly I’ve always found it distracting to have thousands of “chosen ones” all in the same place: the lower player numbers per instance in Destiny actually make it far more immersive for me.

Personally, I feel that the issue is that gamers have tend to narrow down definitions of genre instead of opening them up. This has lead to stagnation of entire game genres (and particularly MMOs at the moment). Instead of trying to add the things that take away a game’s individuality, maybe taking a step back and opening up our own personal definitions is a better way to go.

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Greaterdivinity

Proper world persistence and a lot more social options.

That being said, I’ve always maintained that the games, even the first one, are solidly psued0-MMO’s on the vein of Vindictus/Dragon’s Nest etc. It’s interesting seeing them cozy up more to the MMO branding now that they’re separated from Activision.

I’m almost tempted to come back after dropping the game before Forsaken, but there are just too many other games I’m actively playing right now competing for my time and I doubt I can add another to that list : (