5 Lessons New MMORPGs Can Learn From Old Ones
Reflecting upon history is something that’s often neglected yet it can be a very powerful and potent tool in all walks of life if done so correctly. The MMORPG genre is still relatively new to the gaming industry but it’s been around long enough now for newer and forthcoming MMOs to learn from older ones. What mistakes did their predecessors make or what did they do right that gave them their success?
Here’s my top 5 lessons new MMORPGs can learn from old ones:
- It’s OK to be mature (Age of Conan). Funcom broke records with their AoC pre-orders showing us that MMORPGs don’t need to be aimed at kids in order to attract attention. If done correctly, adult themes can help enhance the lore and immersion of a game. However, be warned, it’s still no excuse for poor or lacking content.
- You don’t have to be the most original, you just need to be the best (World of Warcraft). WoW didn’t exactly break any gaming boundaries when it was released in 2004. It didn’t have groundbreaking graphics or fancy new technology or the most innovative gaming concepts. It was, however, extremely well polished, taking tried and tested concepts and implementing them better than anyone else had before.
- A strong IP won’t save you (Warhammer Online). Just because a MMORPG is based on popular intellectual property, don’t expect that to give it guaranteed success. Players first and foremost want a good game and a strong IP may give lots of hype but it won’t save the game if it sucks.
- Don’t promise the Earth… and then fail to deliver (Vanguard). Vanguard was the worst offender in this category but there have been plenty of other MMORPGs that have shared the shame of promising features, content and general gameplay that just never makes it into the final game or, at least, not as we expect it. Managing expectations is a sure way to avoid disappointment – if you’re not going to be able to incorporate mounted combat, flyable dragons, ship to ship warfare and that amazing nostalgic sense of euphoria… don’t promise it.
- Don’t release before you’re ready (Anarchy Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Earth & Beyond, Everquest 2, Vanguard, Tabula Rasa, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online). Releasing a game that feels unfinished or partially complete, filled with bugs and missing key or promised content is never going to be a foundation for success. It seems to be a lot wiser to hold out and finish it properly rather than take the gamble that the players won’t care if the MMORPG just wasn’t ready to launch. First impressions count and there’s always another new game around the corner to steal subscribers.