MMORPGs – The Hollywood Blockbusters Of Gaming
For a short while now, the video games industry has been compared to Hollywood based on the reasoning that games are starting to require a similar scale of development and marketing as a film does. Of course, there are lots of different types of films and different types of games, but if MMORPGs had a film comparison, isn’t it likely that they would be the summer blockbusters of the gaming world?
Although there are a few small MMO releases every so often, most tend to be very large scale and come with a gigantic push from the developers. Like those summer blockbuster films, modern MMORPGs burn through gigantic budgets and need to recuperate a lot of dough in order to see them become successful. They have huge amounts of backing, take years to develop, build hype slowly over dozen of months and then release to a frenzied onslaught like a new Star Wars film. And much like a Hollywood blockbuster, some rise to extraordinary heights of fame and success whilst some hit the water and flop to become cult classics before they’ve even gained momentum.
I think the similarities between MMORPGs and movie blockbusters can also be seen now in their production values. Take Star Wars: The Old Republic for instance. All you need to do is watch a few behind-the-scenes videos and you can literally see the money oozing out of it. Fully voiced? In several languages? Sounds a little bit like a Hollywood film saying it needs $300 million for special effects. Obviously BioWare are taking a big gamble but are betting that bigger and more spectacular production values will lead to bigger and spectacular sales and subscriptions.
Of course this is all a little worrying for me because I can’t help but wonder if MMOs will suffer the same fate as blockbuster films and end up being just about the special effects, the A-list actor, the predictable mix of action/comedy/romance suitable for all ages (PG-13). The beautiful thing about the original blockbusters (Jaws and World of Warcraft) was that the creators never intended, or imagined, that they would prove as successful as they did and thus never put any pre-conditions or expectations on them. They were what they were.
All of this is just another reason why you should be watching films like Oldboy and not Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. And if you enjoyed the latter for any reason other than Megan Fox, you should be deeply, deeply ashamed.