The Daily Grind: What’s the best age-agnostic MMO?

    
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A while back, GamesIndustry.biz ran a piece from game dev Raj Pathmanathan discussing age-agnostic games. While the littlest kids are still happy in fluffy cutesy games aimed squarely at them, slightly older kids are gravitating toward titles that are made for, well, adults. I assume they can see “kid games” coming from a mile away and want none of that. Pathmanathan suggests that it’s changing how games are being developed both before and after launch, as studios intentionally build “multigenerational” games that work for everyone and companies alter their monetization and tone to fit the age of the playerbase they actually get.

“A good game should stretch across ages, be multiplatform and platform agnostic. It should provide opportunities for social hang outs as more and more children are turning to games as a place to hang out, compete against and collaborate with their friends. Perhaps in the future, all games will be developed to have universal appeal and adults are the secondary audience who we appease with limited edition adult-only add-on packs, directors cuts or spin-off content. But, in this future, it’s the kids who will come first.”

I thought it would be fun to ponder age-agnosticism in the MMO industry, especially in the context of the last decade as we’ve seen so many kid-oriented MMOs close up shop as the kids age onward and upward into games like, well, Fortnite. It stands to reason that the most successful MMOs longterm would be the games that appeal to both kids and adults. What would you say is the best age-agnostic MMO?

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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Jack Pipsam

I still reckon it’s Runescape haha.

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Utakata

Whatever your hearts into regardless of how deep the snow is on the roof. Just saying…

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Jon Wax

“Perhaps in the future, all games will be developed to have universal appeal and adults are the secondary audience who we appease with limited edition adult-only add-on packs,”

you’re already basically doing that. and that explains a lot.

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Bryan Correll

slightly older kids are gravitating toward titles that are made for, well, adults. I assume they can see “kid games” coming from a mile away and want none of that.

The older kids are probably the hardest to get into an “all ages” game for that reason. Once you’re an actual adult you can go back to enjoying kid stuff without embarrassment.

It’s not really an MMO, but Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a recent game that seems to have a lot of cross generational appeal.

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Ardra Diva

it “Should” have been EverQuest Next. I still believe the master plan was to make that their replacement for FreeRealms, whose population was moving to a new age demographic, to compete with Minecraft, as well as bring in EQ fans of all ages.

But sadly that all died… These days, probably WoW.

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David Goodman

I think this concept is wishful thinking. A game that tries to appeal to both children and adults is going to run into even worse problems than games that try to appeal to PVPers and PVEers – and we’ve all seen how that plays out. The very idea of a game that tries to appeal to such a wide demographic by it’s nature is going to be so ill-defined that players would just flock to a more specialized game that actually meets an interest of theirs.

My suggestion? Stop. Just stop. Don’t try it unless you want to be just another corpse in the pile of failed digital games that flooded the market all trying to capture a market share, instead of just designing a good game and letting it speak for itself.

To answer the question, though – you want to know what the most successful “multi-generational” mmo is to me? World of Warcraft. Yeah. Still. Because many of us began playing it when we were kids and continued playing it well into adulthood, some even still playing it now.

We didn’t play it because it “appealed to kids”, though. It certainly wasn’t a kids game! We played it because it was a good game. (let’s set aside arguments of the current state of the game and story.) We continued playing it because it was a popular game and all of our friends were playing it. We kept playing it because it was where our communities were that we grew up with (either formed in-game or brought in with us.) It’s the reason many of us keep playing it today – because we have more fun playing WoW with our friends than we do playing another game without them.

You’re not going to recreate that by trying to create a checklist and ticking off a bunch of boxes. As if you could design something that appeals to everyone by committee! I so rarely, literally scoff at things, but I think this warrants it.

*scoffs*

Mmmm, satisfying.

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Java Jawa

I honestly can’t think any. Either the content is unsuitable for kids (themes) or vice versa where an adult wouldn’t enjoy a kid game.

ESO v Wizard 101/Pirate 101 as an example.

I’m going to assume here that the game is played as meant to, comprehension, reading/listening to quests, ancillary activities, etc.

There could be a case made that with proper supervision and adjustments, more mmos would work.

– turn off chat
– pre-screen quest content
– complexity of game systems

Probably the closest we’ve gotten so far in my opinion would be Marvel Heroes, I think that appealed to a broad range and everyone likes loot piñatas.

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Danny Smith

I think it depends on variety of stuff. Like in a strange way the more tonally all over the place the biggest catchment audience right? Like i know people in their 40’s who play FFXIV because they remember the games they played on the NES and SNES and have absolutely no interest in the hot mess the last 15 years of 13 and 15 became and in many cases also played XI for the same reason. But are they the same players chasing the gold saucer glamour contest prizes? or getting super into the triple triad? in that case more often than not its people a generation younger who had the playstation games as their first outings. Its an ip that means different things to different people especially when you played any other entry when you were a kid and depending on when you were a kid i think.

Like i guess the opposite of that is WoW where the only real outside the game elements in recent years are -if you dont count classic as an emulation of itself rather than a separate game in a different genre or structure- Hearthstone and Warcraft Refunded. One seems to be the reverse and pull WoW players into it and the other, well the less said the better since its all been said already i guess, but the people who played stuff like Warcraft 3 and went “THERES NOW A WHOLE WORLD TO EXPLORE?!?” 16 years ago or whenever? yeah thats an audience that still has a pull. Or the audience you see playing the classic version that are closer to 30 and are revisiting their childhood experience (yeah let that one sink in for older players) while the original target audience is probably 40 pushing 50. Which isn’t a bad thing but it means your dedicated audience is less visibly a multi generational one. Maybe in this regard Everquest counts as a retirement community for mmo players at this point? :p

I use these two as examples because they are examples of the IP existing with a fanbase long before the mmo did. The difference is how the IP outside the mmo has been used allows it to appeal to more age groups. I think thats interesting, i mean shit the original warcraft 3 wont even play on some computers now even if you still own the disced version while square has made good money reselling every final fantasy every few years on newer hardware, but its also a potential boon an mmo can get from having a multi generation established audience outside of the mmo itself.

Without that crutch i think theres two leanings for it: do you appeal to more age groups through simplicity? or does that risk you being so simple your success could be a fad replaced by the next easy to play fotm streamerbait? or conversely is it by compartmentalising in the vein of albion or eve where you can dedicate yourself to be a rolling train of murderhobos or a extremely patient and obsessive compulsive trader where you have one game that appeals to such starkly different playstyles and tastes that different generations of players see something that appeals to them with the risk whole sections of time and work could apply to nobody?

Its a very tough balancing act but i think if an mmo wants multi generational appeal it needs to have playstyles and objectives that appeal to different generations of players who grew up in different climates and design eras and had their tastes grow around them. Easy to say, hard to pull off.

Fisty
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Fisty

While not an MMO, there are plenty of servers that maintain hundreds of players. Minecraft is the one for me. I play on servers where 11 year olds play alongside 20 years olds (the majority) and older 30-50 (a few). We all have a good time.

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SmiteDoctor

There is none, the industry ahed with its population; there was an Accolonn video where he was commenting on his demographics and most of his viewers were between 25 to 35 with the next group being 35 to 50.