PC Gamer made waves across the MMO genre this week with an article provocatively titled “For MMO diehards, there’s only one conversation: is the genre dying or already dead?” The author deep-dived the “dead genre” threads that plague the MMORPG subreddit to figure out why the people who hang out there (and not, say, on one of the thriving subreddits for a live MMO) are so disgruntled, ultimately declaring that “the era of the MMO is over, but their influence is still everywhere.”
When I asked our team of MMORPG veterans whether anyone wanted to do a rebuttal piece, I got mainly sighs and eyerolls. I mean, some of us have been playing MMORPGs for over two decades (including me!). Our most veteran writer has covered this specific genre professionally for half of that. Massively itself was born in 2007. So “MMOs are dead” is something we’ve heard approximately forty million times along the way from both mainstream gamers and locals, and everyone’s weary of it, especially since the MMORPG genre keeps right on living anyway with new games every year and plenty of patches for the live games we have, to say nothing of the smaller titles and emulators popping up so fast that we who cover the genre professionally (and more successfully every year, I’m pleased to say!) can’t possibly keep up.
That said, if you hang out on MOP, you also know that our writers and readers may be fans, but we’re also obsessively critical of our genre and how it’s developed. We literally “overthink” and nitpick the genre every week (I could go on linking these debates all day long but I’ll stop now!). Heck, the first editorial I wrote for this version of our site contemplated WoW’s dire effect on the mid-budget MMORPG market – and it wasn’t even remotely a new idea back then that the genre had suffered creatively and financially. So hey, we’re not going to pretend the genre is fine. But while we may be exhausted of the “dead genre” talk, we’re also busy playing aging games and welcoming emulators and legacy servers for games gone by, even as we’re excited to see modern living titles like FFXIV and Elder Scrolls Online kick ass. There’s clearly room – and demand and money – for a huge variety of MMOs, from the purest of the traditional MMORPGs to the weirdest of multiplayer outliers.
I tried to put it all into perspective a few years back, right after EverQuest Next was canceled and hardcore MMORPG players were positively freaking out: The genre, I argued, wasn’t dead or dying but just taking yet another trip around the wheel, one of many since EA pushed out the first beautiful mess of an MMORPG in 1997.
Do you agree? Is the MMO genre dead or dying – or is it something else entirely?