The Daily Grind: Do MMOs need to jump onto bandwagons to stay relevant?

    
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The Daily Grind: Do MMOs need to jump onto bandwagons to stay relevant?

We’ve been watching TERA’s latest move into — of all things — MOBAs with a quirked eyebrow and a quizzical expression. We’re never quite sure why developers do the wacky things they do with their MMOs, but a lot of times it feels like experiments such as the above are a way to jump onto popular gaming bandwagons and siphon off some of that success.

Not that experimentation is bad, mind you. It’s one of the great things about MMOs that a variety of different features can be grafted onto them. But did Ashes of Creation really need a battle royale, for instance, or did Lord of the Rings Online need to get itself a ranked PvP server? And *waves hand in the general direction of DUST 514* You know?

What do you think? Is it essential for the life and health of MMOs to take advantage of popular gaming trends — or does it smack of desperation and serve to alienate the faithful?

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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Anstalt

Minigames are a common feature of roleplaying games, so adding minigames to an MMORPG makes total sense, and it makes sense if those minigames are also popular elsewhere in the games industry.

Adding a battle royale is basically the same thing as adding a new PvP battleground, just with tweaked rules.

My line in the sand is dependent upon the amount of work required. Adding a battle royale will still use the same characters, animations, skills etc of the main game, you just need a new map and a few new rules. So, not much more effort to add it. However, if everything about the new minigame is new, and it requires a lot of effort then I’d say it was a waste of time, moving too far away from what the game already offers. I’d rather they use those resources to expand the game for the existing players.

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Bruno Brito

No.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

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Kickstarter Donor
Brazen Bondar

First and foremost developers must have a firm understanding of who their players are and what kind of innovation they will support. For example, if there is a PvP innovation that is doing well, but the game you are developing has players that don’t support PvP, then why would developers chase the PvP innovation? I think mobile was a good example of that as are the BR efforts now. Mobile worked for some but you all may recall there were many efforts to make mobile work that failed spectacularly. We are just going through a repeat of that cycle in BR. In the meantime, if a developer diverts too many resources away from the established game in order to chase “innovation” and then does so poorly, you have a double loss: loss of resources in the failed mission and loss of players in the established game who tired of waiting for new and interesting content.
Know your players and understand what attracts players to your game. Innovation can be successful and make money (!) once those two things are understood.

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EmberStar

First and foremost developers must have a firm understanding of who their players are and what kind of innovation they will support. For example, if there is a PvP innovation that is doing well, but the game you are developing has players that don’t support PvP, then why would developers chase the PvP innovation?

That’s actually something that pops up in the forums for Warframe a few times a week. That is an almost completely PVE game. There’s a tiny amount of PVP (conclave duels and “Lunaro,” which is some kind of mode involving teams and a ball.) Players have never seemed massively interested in it (single digit participation percentages when the devs have shared numbers.)

And yet there’s almost always at least a couple of forum threads asking / demanding that the devs add Battle Royale, or some kind of MOBA mode, or even “wouldn’t it be awesome if they added full PVP to the open world areas?!” Or just generally complaining that the devs don’t devote more resources to improving PVP. To me though the problem seems obvious – the devs have limited time and manpower. Anything they add for PVP is only going to benefit a tiny fraction of the playerbase. Or they could spend the same amount of work hours on the new player experience, or balance passes for Warframes and weapons, or improving Archwings and Railjack. All of which will affect a much larger portion of their playerbase.

Even if they lost their minds and tried to convert Warframe to a full PVP game, I don’t think it would work. Their existing players are (mostly) there either *because* there’s no PVP, or at least because they can live without it. In the meantime players who *want* a full PVP game are already playing Fortnite, or Overwatch, or For Honor, or any of I don’t even know how many other *popular* games that are designed and balanced from the ground up around PVP. I think it would be very difficult to convince them to jump over to “PVP-frame” even if it suddenly existed.

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Witches

It depends on the definition of relevant.

Earnings wise i guess many are still relevant, but other than that MMOs aren’t really offering anything that isn’t being done much better in other genres, MMOs are competing (and losing) with mobile, they are more gambling than they are gaming.

I don’t think it’s desperation, they need to keep on doing things to look active, and anyone would love to strike gold on the next LOL or FN, neither of these games is a technical marvel so it’s normal that anyone with a dev team tries their luck, since in theory it’s not hard to make something similar but better.

Ironically one of the MMOs i would consider relevant is TERA, along with BDO and FFXIV, are the only MMOs who seem to still try to add new things, or just random fun stuff, like all the collaborations they do.

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laelgon

No, but they should definitely observe new trends and adopt what works into their design. You don’t need to add a battle royale mode to your game, but if you’re releasing a PvE focused MMO in 2020, you damn well better have a group finder. The takeaway from the BR craze shouldn’t have been “Let’s all make battle royales!” but instead that people really like challenging content that’s short, easy to drop into with minimal time between games, and doesn’t punish you for losing while still making winning feel amazing.

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Kickstarter Donor
Java Jawa

MMOs need to do *something* to differentiate themselves, otherwise they are all a re-skin of the same formula.

Level X to X
Quest
Currency grind for player retention
Dungeons
Raids
Gear: white, green, blue, purple
PvP

That’s it, there’s the framework.

Where things get interesting is when games shake up the status quo.

Examples:

* FFXIV – golden saucer mini-games
* ESO / SWTOR / Wildstar – housing
* BDO / CoX – character creation

Other games offer ships, sailing, space combat , crafting of various degrees of complexity and more importantly relevance.

Not a bad idea for them to think outside the box

Above all else, a game needs to respect the time of the player and I’ve yet to see that really be done right

quark1020
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quark1020

MMO’s do need to spice up their content if they want to do more than just keep the lights on. The real question is: are they able to do it right?

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with games stepping out of their comfort zone; hell, I encourage it. Its just that it will be, at best, a waste of resources if it isn’t implemented well or designed intelligently.

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Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

Wildstar: in 2011 at the height of the F2P movement we’re going all in on sub-only.

SWTOR: Hold up, we want a piece of that sub-only action.

MassivelyOP: Um, what if it doesn’t work? Have you considered at least a F2P option?

Wildstar: Don’t be silly, MOP, our hardcore PVPers assure us that sub-only is just going to raking in the moola–just like PVP.

SWTOR: Piff, this is Star Frelling Wars. We knifed SWG so all the Star Wars fans will have only one place to go for new SW content. It’s not like there’s a new movie out.

Wildstar: Ha! New movie? After the Prequels?! As if!

SWTOR: I know, right!

MassivelyOP: It’s just the current Free 2 Play business mod-

Wildstar: Look, um, “Bree” & uh “Syp”? Is it? You’re talking to the big boys here. It’s cute and all you have your little blog but we got this.

SWTOR: Yeah, “Huntley & Brinkley”, go on back to your little web page.

Wildstar: Yeah, Cronkite doesn’t have to worry about his legacy being overshadowed.

SWTOR: Good one, high five.

Wildstar: You know it.

Narrator: Both games went F2P after a year and SWTOR struggled after losing many subscribers and Wildstar eventually closed down. Meanwhile MassivelyOP is going strong and has even expanded a bit with the help of a new trend, Patreon.

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starbuck1771

Funny thing is I warned Bioware and EA it would happen during testing. SWTOR had many issues during the testing phase. I was testing full time one one of the squads and wasn’t one of the weekenders. One major issues was the Devs only listened to a select few testers and generally blew the rest of us off.

They were warned about the walking down a hall feel of the game, the lack of a real space game, and the lack of a good crafting system to rival what SWG had. The testers told them the game wouldn’t last a whole year and it would start bleeding subscriptions quick.

To be honest I preferred testing for Bioware back when they were with Atari.

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Witches

If someone could make a space combat game where you get all the ships from literally anything with spaceships, then i admit i would expect that game to be a spectacular success, anything else can still be successful but not much more successful than EVE.

I doubt crafting and space combat are the problem with SWTOR, if tomorrow they announced fully customizable companions i would return immediately, but i would bet good money that if they announced crafting and yet another space combat, people would just get mad because there are already two pointless space combat minigames, and they just keep adding stuff no one cares for, all that bs that it was Lucas that wanted Yoda to be ultra rare, and then you have 3 movies with no Yoda and as soon as Favreau gets a shot at SW you have baby Yoda, because people who make stuff because they love it are more likely to make stuff other fans love.

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Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

It’s the trend for the past 2 decades of

Subversion.

We going to surprise the audience by not giving them what they want. Surprise! A little bit can be refreshing but when it happens over and over and over again it wears its welcome out too quick.

Also, fans general want HOW we get what we want storywise to be a surprise but not taken away entirely. Certainly not after dangling what we want right in our faces right out of reach only to then deny us.

Favreau gave us “Yoda” but in a way that surprised and delighted us all. #BabyYoda4lyfe

And, no, giving us the loot, gear, mounts, housing, armor, ships, vehicles, pets and shinies in a lockbox is NOT how we want stuff. Put it a cash shop or an in-game cash shop or grindable–at least as an option.

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Axetwin .

Funnily enough the “hardcore” players then turned around and blamed the failures of those games on “casuals”.

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Dug From The Earth

Honestly its about knowing your player base.

If your mmo if full of fortnite players, then adding a battle royal mode only makes sense.

The problem is in most cases, decisions are made not at the players best interests, but at whats happening on the other side of the hill… you know.. where the grass seems greener.

Just because something is popular, doesnt mean its popular with your player base.

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Utakata

…don’t forget that WoW went full on Pokémon! o.O

xpsync
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xpsync

As i’m boxing my druid to cap with the sole reason to level my shadowbarb (18 now), it was so cool that the other account toon can watch the matches.

It’s one of the coolest things boxing brings, had to fly down to Tanris from Orgrimmar and yeah i love it, the different views one account showing them fly from this angle on one screen and the other account set to a complete different view on the other monitor all in full screen. The Flight is not nearly long enough now.

Over land traveling too, have the other account on a nice side view of them barreling across the desert on their goblin trike’s, the druid is a Troll, don’t remember buying him/her a Trike? Oh well, cool none the less.

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starbuck1771

Where as Eq2 has actual pokemon. lol