The Daily Grind: Are we witnessing the rise of the ‘life sim’ MMO?

    
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What do you call games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing? MMO dev Damion Schubert recently put out a call for a good term for these – hygge games, cozy life games, community sims, pastoral fantasy, honobono, casual RPG, wholesome sims all got mentions – but the simple term “life sim” appears to have won out. And it definitely seems as if we’re witnessing a rise in attention for these types of games spawned from the Harvest Moon template – and that extends beyond merely multiplayer and into the MMO genre.

For example, Book of Travels and Palia are high on our watch list, and both games are basically the coziest chunks of a virtual world pulled out and turned into more of a gameplay loop.

Are we witnessing the rise of the “life sim” MMO? What are the games that you’re watching that will flesh out this corner of the genre?

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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Leyaa
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Leyaa

Although not an MMO at all, the recently released Medieval Dynasty totally fits into the cozy, relaxed, hugging atmosphere game term. Enjoy the world, cake care of your family first, then your village, hunt some wild life and enjoy the stay. So utterly relaxing.

If The Sims, Stardew Valley, Animal Crossings and the like got an extensive multiplayer aspect (as in massively multiplayer), those would most likely contribute the most to a “life sim”.

Palia and Book of Travels are indeed the only ones that come to mind regarding an MMO setting.

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Hirku Two

I don’t know, but considering the number of hours I’ve spent driving a virtual truck I’d probably enjoy it. Also that I’m totally batshit.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

Maybe you should cut back on the sim-meth…?

cambruin
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cambruin

I for one would much rather ‘grind’ for food so my character doesn’t starve to death than run daily dungeon X an eleventythird time because this is what MMOs have boiled down to.

And the ‘MMO’s aimed at kids’ at least offer fun and non-repetitive gameplay. They don’t have you crawl through a dungeon yet again for a mere 5% rep gain to unlock a weapon with a mere 0.5% dps increase which is rendered absolete 6 months from now as a ‘content update’ goes live offering the exact same content, but with yet another rep grind for yet another tier of weaponry dealing yet again 0.5% increased dps.
I have more fun at Portal Knights and Minecraft with my 8 and 10-year old than I have had in a decade of playing games like WoW, LotRO, SWtOR, …

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Sarah Cushaway

Grinding for food would be pretty repetitive and, in your own words, grinding.

There’s no difference here except the flavor of the chore list. Are you going to be doing chores like weeding your garden, or chores like killing 10 rats? Both are incredibly dull.

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Anstalt

No

We have second life, so that is one and its been around for ages.

Book of Travels is not an mmo, so can be discounted.

Palia doesn’t look like it is a life sim, just an mmo aimed at kids.

I’ve not seen any evidence of any other life sim mmos being made, so it doesnt look like we’re witnessing the rise, we’re not witnessing anything at all.

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Sarah Cushaway

I’ve no interest in chore lists. I’ve got plenty of real life errands and chores to do.

MMO devs seem to have lost “fun” in their games, no matter if it’s a “life sim” (aka chore list) or a PVE (aka chore list via killing/grinding rep) or PVP (no thanks in general).

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Peregrine Falcon

My life’s already boring. Why would I want to play a video game version of that?

I play video games so that I can be an Archmage trying to open his own pocket dimension or a Navy Seal fighting a war on the surface of IO. You know, those things that I can’t do IRL.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I play Euro Truck Simulator once in a while because I *can’t* just drive around Europe, and probably will never be in a position to do so. Even if it is a “video game scale” toy version. I have Farming Simulator because I’m never going to be a farmer, but I’m still a bit curious about some of the machines. “What is *that?!* It has lots of teeth, and tank treads, and costs half a million dollars! I’mma drive it into a tree and see what happens. ^-^ “

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TomTurtle

A rise in the sense that more are being developed? Sure. Not so much in regards to proven widespread success.

I’d like to see more life sim elements make their way into the MMO space. I just hope we see as little aggressive monetization as possible like you’d see around these types of games in the mobile space. Having an MMO be purely life sim makes me wary of what form the monetization will take form for such an MMO. Please no monetized energy systems!

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Schmidt.Capela

I’m not really interested in life sim MMOs.

Why? Because I dislike competition. I don’t want to compete with others for social standing, for housing plots, for influencing the game world, for the right to marry an NPC, or any other thing that would be in limited supply in such a game. There’s a reason why I love single-player sandboxes but for MMOs I very much prefer themeparks.

Also, both Book of Travels and Palia talk about a changing world — in the case of Palia, a multi-year ongoing story — which makes me feel like they will strongly rely on time-limited content to keep people interested; that is basically a deal breaker for me.

Now, if you get me an MMO similar to Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley where I never have to compete with anyone else, and where I can still play through all the story and events regardless of when I join (or create an alt), then I will take a long, careful look at it, and potentially add it to my main game rotation.

(Of note: my issue isn’t with PvP, but with competition itself. I’m perfectly fine with no-stakes, just-for-fun PvP, and in fact playing couch multiplayer against friends is one of the few things I dearly missed through the pandemic.)

Fisty
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Fisty

I’m here for it. Though, I don’t see them as anything other than cutesy survival/sandbox games. I love them all.

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Jon Wax

Has animal crossing added pvp base raiding yet?