I feel as if we’ve heard thousands of arguments about shifting demographics in the MMO industry. The prevailing wisdom is that many gamers “age out” of the genre or at least some corners of the genre, that their changing life priorities – jobs, houses, spouses, children – make playing certain old-school, time-intensive, grindy games unpalatable.
But my husband was musing the other day that the real shift isn’t in priorities or time at all but in what people need from the games themselves. “The demographics of the genre keep changing and the genre isn’t keeping up with that,” he said. “Kids have few real accomplishments, so of course games that make kids feel as if they’re achieving something for their hard work were compelling. But age often brings real-world accomplishments, so MMOs’ achievement offerings lose their luster. It’s not about casuals vs. hardcores; it’s about a genre whose primary audience no longer needs the sense of accomplishment some MMOs are selling.” His thinking was that the “OG” MMO players are still around; they’re just playing different MMOs with different hooks from what they needed 20 years ago, or they’re hanging around playing MMO-adjacent titles waiting for MMOs to offer them what they need 20 years later.
Do you think there’s been a demographic shift in who plays MMOs? What do you think is behind it?