The Daily Grind: What MMORPG would’ve performed better had it launched in a different year?

    
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I was chit-chatting with longtime MOP reader Bruno the other day when we starting yawing about RIFT and EverQuest II and which one was better. I have a hard time answering this question because I like parts of both of them and wish I could smoosh them together – like EverQuest II’s crafting smooshed into RIFT’s character building. That’d be epic!

Anyhow, during the convo I blurted out that no matter which game was functionally superior, RIFT never got the attention and population it deserved – and it might still be a top five MMO if only it had launched a few years later. The way I see it, the game launched with an old-school business model and struggled to convert during the free-to-play onslaught, which meant it struggled to keep up period. By the time of the Trion implosion, it was too late to make it a contender again. But if it had launched after the F2P wave, it might still be in the fight with some of the other major MMOs that launched in the 2012-2014 period.

Am I bonkers? Are there other MMOs that just came out before – or after – their time? What MMORPG would’ve performed better had it launched in a different year?

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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Harbinger_Kyleran

Age of Conan, oft vilified for it’s rushed, buggy launch, would have fit right in with most other games had it released ten years later.

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Scorp Gang

Rift was so good I made it my full time MMORPG during Cata(WoW).I bought it at launch. I don’t think it released to soon. Why? It’s still the smoothest MMORPG Launch of all time, hands-down. They even got the Dungeon Finder pushed out quickly.

Rift’s only issue was Trion, OPENLY, said it was better than WoW instead of just playing it’s role. That led to a lot of hate train hopping despite the fact that in many ways it was better than WoW when it launch: It had Dynamic Events, A more Lively World(as opposed to WoW’s VERY static world at the time), The Soul System, A Post Cap Progression System(Planar Attunment), The Ability to make Purely Utilitarian PVP Builds(Runner Builds, Capper build. They screwed up when they balanced these imo)and AE looting.

Rift was basically the best Version of WoW TBC when it launched.

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omega59er

Warhammer Age of Reckoning.
With the massive surge of Warhammer games washing over almost every genre of gaming right now, an MMO is sorely lacking. With End Times over and large swathes of new lore for that time period, if WAR came out in 2020-2021 it would be welcomed with open arms by millions, benefitting from improved graphics, lore, and systems, of course.

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angrakhan

Honestly I’d like to see a 40k MMO over the fantasy version. Space marines!

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omega59er

If Dark Millennium Online had released it would still be a big hit today, but I can say the same for a couple other mmo’s I did testing for that never saw the light of day.

Swifty
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Swifty

If WoW never launched… Yeah I pick that.

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angrakhan

Oh please. WoW created its own market. There’s literally a whole segment of people that will play WoW that won’t touch another MMO. My wife is a perfect example. Never played an MMO in her life before WoW and has zero interest in any others. If WoW never launched then she simply would have never played an MMO. All the WoW clones out there failed because they didn’t realize that. They assumed there was this vast untapped MMO market out there, so they tried the “me too” tactic and it failed miserably. Why? Because there is the MMO demographic which all MMOs including WoW competes for and there’s the WoW demographic which will only ever play WoW. No feature or IP will pull them away. That means they have to budget around the percentage of the general MMO demographic they can capture because when the WoW demographic gets sick of WoW they just quit playing MMOs all together. They don’t even look at another.

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NecroFox4

I’ve always said that Asheron’s Call 2 was a few years ahead of it’s time. It was loaded with features which, at the time it released (2002), were ground-breaking. With it’s modern UI, a tracked quest log, and even a music system, it was obvious that Turbine had put a lot of effort into AC2. Just two short years later, World of Warcraft launched with many of the same features we saw in AC2.

Sadly, a lethal combination of a small game world, linear content, many bugs and broken systems, all led to very poor subscriber numbers. Just over one year after World of Warcraft smashed onto the scene to become the new juggernaut of the industry, Turbine sunsetted AC2, and walked away from what could have been.

I always thought, had Turbine waited a few more years before launching, they could have squashed many bugs and added far more content. Sadly, it was not to be.

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Loyal Patron
Nic

You are 100% on the money. Somewhat inversely, the game was in the best state feature and content wise when it shut down. The expansion pack had added a whole continent with content above and beyond the level anyone could realistically reach, introduced 2 new races, rebalanced crafting to make it a genuine competitor to loot and quest gear, introduced pvp goals making the playstyle worthwhile, a huge ‘hero’ system of character stat and perk customisation, much of which was non-combat related thus bypassing min-maxing, and loads more. But the legacy and damage of the rushed launch was already done.

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Kickstarter Donor
NecroFox4

I honestly wish we could find a decent AC2 rogue server. I truly wish I could play it again.

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Utakata

I’ll answer this question in the hypothetical alt reality by asking which MMO would do better if WoW hadn’t been released yet? As Blizz will smoosh that game for the year 2025…

…I think it will be suffice to say with this elephant removed from the room, interesting things may happen. As WoW “clones” wouldn’t be so WoW clonish for one. But the down side, I’m not sure MMO’s will be as popular as they have been without the WoW standard bearer. As for which MMO would do better in this world, sky’s the limit I guess. o.O

Demon of Razgriz
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Demon of Razgriz

CoH,if it launched today with a updated graphics engine, would be killing right now. With the superhero genre front and center in Hollywood, it’s really weird that there’s no proper MMO to capitalize on it. DCUO and CO both have their flaws and don’t scratch the itch. A updated CoX I think would be huge right now, especially if they could get a console version out as well.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
It desparately needed more time to finish. Had it more polish, more high end content, more optimization and the game could be a hit. Shame it never took off.

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Scorp Gang

Also, the Philosophy was pushed out by WoW. I could fight through everything you said there but what pushed me out was forced grouping. As people began to jump ship, due to the reasons you listed, it became difficult to clear low hanging content like basic quests.

This is what makes me worry for Pantheon. It seems they don’t know about the people like me that left because of Forced-Grouping for basically minor content and they are going to push ahead with that again.

Might be fine at launch but what about when the population starts to level out? Guess we’ll see.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

FFXIV forces grouping all the time and is doing just fine.

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Dug From The Earth

nearly all of the kickstarter/crowd funded mmorpgs in the works now (or released in the last couple years), would have done better had they come out in the early 2000’s

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Adam Kelsall

Final Fantasy XIV (1.0, not A realm reborn), the game was designed such that “high” graphical options were the highest that anyone was expected to be able to run at the time and the highest options were far beyond what PCs of the time could handle, it was supposed to be a way of future-proofing the game, but it just added to the amount of hate it got because people assumed it was just un-optimised. (That’s not to say the game didn’t have other issues but it would have probably done better if launched later)

A large number of mobile MMOs are launching too soon, black desert mobile for example will drain the battery of rvrn the best phone incredibly quickly unless you plug it in, which defeats the object of the game being “mobile”. Wait till there’s a breakthrough in battery tech and then they’ll get a much bigger audience.

Going a little off-topic: Maplestory launched at a perfect time, and killed off a bunch of games as a result, a lot of other similar MMOs launched just before it… at a time when F2P was at its peak and people jumped to the latest game, stuck around briefly and and moved on, after a while people saw those similar games as being clones of maplestory, overlooking the fact they launched earlier.
This also happened with a lot of other genre-defying games (Tera for instance was very similar to a few older MMOs but is seen as the “first of its kind”)