What Do MMO Fans Really Want?

RIFT Bard

In RIFT you can literally blow your own trumpet

RIFT launched in the US a couple of days ago and, although I’m sure a huge proportion of British purchasers are already getting stuck in with the head start, it officially launches in the UK tomorrow. It’s a good game. It’s a fun game. It’s a bloody solid MMO. But is it just history repeating itself? By all accounts it’s looking like RIFT is set to kick off with aplomb, huge interest and, if the server populations are anything to go by, lots and lots of box sales. That by itself isn’t a huge rarity though. Warhammer Online sold well, Aion sold well, Age of Conan sold very very well, but where are they now in the MMO food chain? Somewhere in-between castrated steers and battery farmed chickens, that’s where.

As all known, retention is the name of success in MMOs not box sales and there has been a huge precedent of games launching to much furor and demand but then suffering the dreaded mass exodus after the initial first free month of play, leaving the game to limp by until eventually it gets shot in the face by some publisher with a free-2-play gun. March is going to be a tremendously important month for RIFT and I’ll be watching server population levels in April with great interest.

Of course, I don’t really care if RIFT retains a lot of subscribers or not. It is irrelevant to my wants as I’m sure, no matter what, it will be around for a long enough time for me to enjoy thoroughly. I’m also not going to make any cynical comments about its chances at success either (shocker, I know). All I am interested in, from a completely neutral scientific point of view, is whether or not RIFT manages to achieve a decent retention rate and claw away at the subscriber pool of WoW (the other MMOs just don’t have a big enough pool to matter).

Why? Because this simple fact is going to tell us a heck of a lot about what MMO fans are really looking for. Obviously we don’t want WoW because otherwise we wouldn’t be flocking away from it at every given opportunity when a new MMO comes out. We’re definitely looking for – and totally open to – new MMOs to occupy us yet no one seems to have managed to get the formula quite right.

On that note, I honestly don’t believe in the concept of “WoW Tourists”, players who purposefully buy a new MMO and play for the first month with no true intention of ever subscribing. Rather, I think the analogy is more akin to people who are in a long term but boring relationship and are keeping their eyes open for a better partner coming along. Less of the tourist concept, more of the sleeping around concept I guess. Put it another way: we’re all on the look out for something better to play and until we find it, we’ll stick to what we’re familiar with.

So if RIFT does succeed and somehow rack up a million plus subscribers, what will it mean? Well, it will prove that all we’re actually looking for in a MMO is something similar yet “better” to what we already have. We don’t want drastic change, we don’t want huge innovation, we just want slick and easy gameplay. More to point, all of these developers like Trion and BioWare will be right in the gamble they are taking by sticking to the familiar formula but just tweaking it and polishing it a little.

And if RIFT doesn’t succeed? Then, to me, it proves that what MMO fans really want is something very different to what’s already being offered by the mainstream. A fairly interesting and excited prospect, for sure, but will any of the Triple-A MMO developers and publishers take notice of it? I guess that’s the next big question.

-Gordon

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47 Comments

  1. Naithin says:

    Rift is a fairly fantastic game and while there is simply no question that active accounts will drop dramatically after the first month, I have a feeling it is going to be a success.

    Not to the levels of WoW, but then WoW has always been a freak of the genre, a huge outlier that is unlikely to be repeated in our lifetimes.

    As to what players really want, it’d be easy to give a facetious answer along the lines of, ‘buggered if we know’, but I think we do know.

    You wrote well on the topic in your ‘Dream Game’ post, and I wrote about it a bit earlier in a more round about fashion in my A Better WoW post.

    What both came down to was a full featured virtual world. Player shaped ecomomies, cities, alliances, the whole works. Get this done and work first, then over the top of this, layer a fantastic themepark experience that offer content in ways ranging from ‘bite-size’ to ‘Bring friends and stay a while’!

    It’d be a big undertaking having to work with both types of play, no question. But there is no reason that the two types can’t co-exist otherwise.

  2. Short answer: I want an MMO tabletop.

    Long answer: I want a complete rethink of everything in the MMO formula. The MMO formula, as it’s commonly implemented, is a game style I simply hate. I am an RPG fan. I’ve played RPGs since I was a pre-teen. MMORPGs don’t even flirt with becoming what I want in a game genre.

    Here are some things that are a part of the MMORPG formula, and which never, ever appear in any RPG I would enjoy:

    - Grinding, even for five seconds total through my entire life of play
    - The same story for every player (or every player in your faction/starting city/etc)
    - NPCs that stand there saying the same thing until a major expansion pack comes along
    - Combat-centric gameplay, with no/few/shallow style alternatives
    - Poor/nil opportunities to have affecting relationships with NPCs
    - Catering to gamers who don’t want to role play
    - Emphasis on style over substance
    - Emphasis on content that can easily be wikified
    - Story as an under-funded, zero-priority afterthought
    - Emphasis on gather/kill-oriented quests
    - A world drop system designed to waste your time and bag slots

    You could easily sum that whole list up by saying: I don’t want a game for gamers. I want a game for role players. But then, I’m that guy who will never, ever stop saying: MMORPG is a misnomer. There is no RPG whatsoever in that formula.

    • Pascal says:

      I argued the point on the Age of Conan forums when Morrisson took over and turned it into an item centric loot fest. I was told that the new meaning of RPG was “Gearing up”.

      I laughed and left.

      But what you proposed would be very close to being an ideal game for me as well.

    • Chadrassa says:

      Catering to gamers who don’t want to role play
      Story as an under-funded, zero-priority afterthought

      THIS. This, this, this, and a few trillion more times this. It is about effing time some company puts back the RPG into the MMORPGs.

      A great dream, sure – and I have no idea how one would actually go around putting that into a working game that is profitable enough to not sink after a handful of months. But it is such a glorious dream! *sigh*

    • Gordon says:

      “MMORPG is a misnomer. There is no RPG whatsoever in that formula.”

      I completely agree. The roleplay element in MMORPGs has been reduced to a name for a style of game rather than having anything to do with the actual concept of experiencing a role. Some games are better than others but ultimately I can’t help but feel that a lot of MMOs are driven more now by an achievement culture rather than any form of escapism into a virtual world and role.

  3. SirOccam says:

    I agree 100% with Astro.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want a low fantasy, story-centric game whose expansion packs are not based on the concept of yet another continent being discovered which is filled to the brim with bad guys who are slightly harder to beat than the last set of bad guys. I don’t want the ghost town effect. I want politics, locations, and events which remain relevant. Like Astro said, I want role-players to be the target audience, not some fringe group.

    It’ll never happen though.

  4. Pascal says:

    Gorgon, … damn. Mistype that should have been Gordon. I believe that any of these MMOs had the capability to grab all the players in the world based off their structure, features and so forth. Yeah, Age of Conan did stab itself in the foot and then limp along for a bit, but the principles were there.

    What they never managed to carry around with them was the investment that millions of players have made for 6 or 7 years in World of Warcraft. The communities, guilds, societies and friendships that were built. The hours upon hours invested into characters and Azeroth.

    That emotional comfort blanket is the biggest hindrance to new MMOs. I wonder if they launched with a new subscription model like this:

    (0) Pay for the game box
    (1) Game is free for the first 4 months after release
    (2) The next 4 months after release any length of subscription will only be billed at $5.99 per month.
    (3) The 4 months after that is billed at $10.99 per month for any length of subscription.
    (4) Normal subscription rates 1 year after release

    It gives everyone a chance to lure their friends into trying it, without having to give up on their blanky. Of course, this does mean the publishers who recoup money based off advertising and hype and bugger all in terms of game will lose as they can’t churn a profit in the first month then abandon the game.

    • Utakata says:

      I’m not sure I really like this idea Pascal,…because it has an “increase cost of living” effect that may end being damaging to the player retention to the game. A good example of the same is with that cheap restraunt I’ve been frequenting, decides to double it’s prices in 4 months, then jacking it up another 50% a year after that. I will tell you that restraunt will neither be affordable or “cheap” anymore. And I’ll be looking for a new restraunt to call my eating home.

      So this will be the same with me and many othes if MMO’s did this. In the long run all the MMO has done is just slow down the locust effect of the game, but not really solve it. Prolonging painful death is not a good business model soltuon. :(

      Perhaps game companies should take a more ArenaNet (ie Guild Wars)approach and calculate in their box sales into their business plan instead of relying on subscription numbers only to make or break the game. Thus having a lower or even no subscription charages and focus their business models on their expansions instead. And the locust effect will have no disaster bearing on their bottom line, instead it would help them immensly. I can understand this being riskier, but it has worked wonders for ArenaNet since they are now developing a far better itineration of their game with Guild Wars 2. Just saying.

    • Gordon says:

      As much as I like you’re idea, Pascal, I think the issue with that subscription model that you’re punishing games as they get older which could be a little offputting. It’s a very interesting idea though. Need to ponder it more :)

  5. Oakstout says:

    Maybe it isn’t that they are tired of the same thing, but want something new from the same developer. What MMO players want is a new MMO from Blizzard because they can trust them to do a game well if not great.

    I’m just not sure what the typical MMO player would want. If they wanted more WoW, they would play it, if the wanted a WoW rip off with Lore they would play LOTRO, if they wanted a Superhero game then we have three out there already, each with a WoWish flavor to them. If they wanted Sci Fi they would have flocked to Tabula Rasa. If they wanted more PVP then DarkFall or EVE would be running up Subs. I just don’t know what the average MMO play would want unless they want if from a certain well established developer like Blizzard.

    Thats assuming people leave Rift in droves after the first 30 days are up.

    • Gordon says:

      Blizzard’s next MMO will be very interesting for sure. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be able to capture lightning in the bottle twice. If they do, they will go down as the greatest video game developers in history, I have little doubt of it :)

  6. tupodawg says:

    Some players want fun. Some want a pastime. MMORPGS have increasingly been about chasing the first but it’s the second that drives retention.

  7. Bhagpuss says:

    I want Everquest 2001 gameplay with 2011 graphics. Give me that and I *might* play your MMO exclusively! Failing that I’m more than happy to play many MMOs, chopping and changing between them as the mood takes me. They all have something to offer.

    I’m loving Rift and it’s likely I will still be playing it a year from now, let alone next month. It’s very unlikely, however, that it, or any other MMO, will be the only one I play for any length of time. And I think that’s perfectly fine. I agree with Gordon that it really doesn’t matter to me *how* successful Rift is ( although I’m also interested in an abstract, academic, analytical sense, of course). I just need it to be sufficiently successful to stay in business indefinitley so I can play it whenever I want.

    What really puzzles me is why people stop playing an MMO in the first place. If I like one I want to play it forever. Not all the time, but on and off, when the whim takes me. Why would I want to drop it and move on, never looking back, just because something new appears?

    Once I find something I like I tend to like it forever. I very rarely go off things. The novels, films, comics, albums that I really liked in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s are still among my favorites today. I still listen to, read or watch them equally as often as I read, watch or listen to new things. You discover more every single time you re-read a novel or watch a film you’ve watched many times before, not least becasue you are no longer the exact same person you were the last time round. The experience becomes richer, more layered, more satisfying.

    I feel just the same about MMOs. Each time I come back round to one after a break of a few weeks, a few months, a few years, it’s a whole, fresh experience and yet a warm and familiar one too. So much to learn from what’s changed and what remains. So many new insights and revelations. So much to wonder at and savor. I really can’t imagine ever not wanting yet another go round in an MMO I thought worth going round once in the first place.

    • Gordon says:

      I think so many people try new MMOs because they are – if they were being honest – kinda bored of the current one they are playing and want something new. I think habit plays a huge part in our MMO activity and all people need is something to break them out of it and get them to move. If the huge audience of WoW was truly addicted to the game, they wouldn’t be leaving to try new ones like RIFT :)

      And yeah, I have high hopes for EQ3 :)

  8. Shadow-war says:

    I’ve always thought there’s a disconnect between what MMO players say they want, and what it is they really want. Until now (this day, hour, minute, second, microsecond…) that has been shown, in the large part, by player actions. Until this point, the idea of the WoW Tourist has been a truism.

    WoW players have SAID they want something else, but when shown the options, they have never taken it, citing poor development as the primary reason. By any standard of measurement, that cannot be the excuse launched at Rift if/when players start the exodus. On top of that, we all know that Rift is “same but more” as WoW (as of now), so if players stick around, we know that the combination of polish and gameplay that is being sought after. If they do not, then we know they really just want WoW, and will not be happy with anything else.

    Of course, this is all assuming that the end-game of Rift was as well developed as the early/leveling game.

  9. Sharon says:

    I think Pascal hit the proverbial nail on the head. The thing that keeps many people playing WoW, or going back to WoW (or other games), is the “emotional comfort blanket,” as he so aptly worded it. I kept going back to WoW because that’s where my friends were. The best (and worst) social experiences I’ve had in an MMO have been in WoW.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Rift plays out. My friends from WAR decided to play Rift, as did all my oldest and dearest now-IRL friends from WoW. We’re all in one guild together, and it’s been a blast. Given how much Rift encourages grouping, If lots of people like me are taking their social connections with them to Rift, I think Rift stands to do very well, because there’s less draw to go back to those other games.

    • Gordon says:

      “The thing that keeps many people playing WoW, or going back to WoW (or other games), is the “emotional comfort blanket,” as he so aptly worded it”

      Totally agree. I think a lot of our MMO play styles are habitual more than anything else.

  10. Kadomi says:

    I agree with Pascal. The social blanket has been my strongest tie to WoW since WotLK. WoW’s third expansion was a sinking ship for me, but I stayed, because I love my friends, love my guild, and am the raid leader.

    Rift is the first game that’s given me the definite push to move on, and I have notified the other officers that I am trying phase out from WoW. I am also convincing some people to come with me to Rift, and am in a very friendly guild (together with Spinks and her sister!) with people from many other games.

    I really hope that Rift will earn itself subscribers, because I think the polish, and the dynamic content deserve this kind of acknowledgement. They might seem lucky, because Blizzard’s announcement for 4.1 is very lackluster for many people.

  11. Roy says:

    I am not sure it will survive. Something bigger better will come along.

  12. Stabs says:

    Yes, Gordon, it’s history repeating itself. The history of a MMO that launched in 2004 and is still massively popular 7 years later with millions of players all over the world.

    That history. That’s the one that’s being repeated.

  13. Samus says:

    “As all known, retention is the name of success in MMOs not box sales”

    I have to ask, how is everyone else getting their MMORPG boxes for free? I am a chump who pays $50 just like every other game box I buy, and if an MMORPG sold 1 million copies to someone like me it would mean $50 million.

    But clearly they don’t. According to the math here and virtually every other blog, 1 million box sales of an MMORPG means $0. They obviously do not make any revenue at all through box sales and bloggers like this should continue to ignore box sales like they didn’t even happen.

    So what’s the deal? Do you all get pirated copies? Pay with fake money? Why is it that as reported by all bloggers, MMORPG box sales amount to nothing?

    • Shadow-war says:

      The key word is “success”. But keep on keepin’-on Senior Hyperbole!

    • Pascal says:

      Samus, the initial box sales will typically help them cover their initial development costs. At GDC2008 Scott Brown from NetDevil did a presentation on how to make a MMORPG without a massive team or budget. I didn’t see the presentation, but have been using the slide deck as a reference.

      But in pure development costs he was targeting a figure of around $5,000,000 per year with a small team. And that has developers turning out a quest / item once every two hours. If you hit a large team of around 100 developers those costs turn into $12,000,000 per year.

      That doesn’t include Infrastructure, Billing, Testing and Quality Assurance, Support and then Customer Services. Which even with a guideline of 1 rep per 3000 people …

      Now consider a lot of the Infrastructure, QA and CSRs need to be up and running from the first open betas – you’ve basically got to be simulating your live environment as closely as possible (Within a user base constraint)

      You can find the presentation here –

      http://static.netdevil.com/cms-images/gdc2008_brown_scott_small_teams_big_dreams.ppt

      Heck, you could look at Funcom’s financial statements to see how long it takes to recover costs and run at a profit, even with a million box sales up front. So I’m guessing the reason people don’t consider box sales to be a measure of success is that it covers the setup and development costs with a bit of profit.

      The real revenue for MMOs would come from the ongoing revenue when your costs are recovered and you run at a high rate of profit. And retaining the customers then means you are basically printing money.

    • Gordon says:

      The problem is that box sales just don’t make a big enough impact. Don’t forget that even though a retail copy costs $50 the developer only sees about $10-$20 of that (exactly why they are pushing digital sales). So in reality, 1 million box sales may only get the developer $15 million. And if the MMO cost $100 million to make, well they’ve still got a long way to get to recove their costs.

      Plus, we haven’t even mentioned expected profit. Investors will want 3-10 times a return on their investment so in reality a MMO would need to earn $300 million over 3 year to be considered a “success”. The only way to really achieve that is to hook a large enough number of players for a long enough period of time.

      • Samus says:

        “Plus, we haven’t even mentioned expected profit. Investors will want 3-10 times a return on their investment so in reality a MMO would need to earn $300 million over 3 year to be considered a “success”.”

        That statement is, quite frankly, laughable. Why don’t you point me to the investment that consistently gives you 300-1000% returns in 3 years? Can you even find one that consistently gives 30-100%? No investor actually “expects” this, only bloggers.

        You seem to have the same misconceptions that all bloggers have. MMORPGs don’t “typically” cost $100 million. WAR cost $50 million, WoW cost $40 million, AoC cost $30 million. APB cost $100 million, SWTOR is costing significantly more, Darkfall obviously cost significantly less, as did most MMORPGs (DDO, LORTO, every Free2Play, etc.). There is no “typical” cost for an MMORPG, there is a wide range of budgets (probably the widest range of all genres).

        On the other hand, GTA4 cost over $100 million and has no subscription fees at all, only the same box sales you dismiss.

        MMORPGs have ongoing costs, but those are all 100% scalable. Servers can be merged, employees get laid off or transferred to other games, and bandwidth obviously takes care of itself. Darkfall only has 20k players, and that game was deemed successful enough by those investors to release an expansion. So was WAR, so was AoC.

        Because that’s what an investor does when his investment was a success, regardless of what bloggers think.

        • Gordon says:

          Why don’t you point me to where exactly you are getting your costs from? :)

          Seems like we’re both talking complete hypotheticals.

          • Samus says:

            Costs for APB, SWTOR and GTA4 have been widely reported. The cost for WoW is what Blizzard claims. The cost for WAR came from EALouse, the infamous former employee from WAR (admittedly nothing official).

            The $30 million for AoC appears to be funding secured by Funcom for all their games, AoC included, but I cannot find what portion of that was specifically for AoC or what existing funding they already had.

            Darkfall has not released any official costs, however it was a game intentionally made for a player base they knew would be around 20k. It is reasonable to assume they did not invest $100 million, or anywhere near that. You can make similar conclusions about Free2Play games.

            But the point is not what the specific costs are, only that they are varied by a lot, and there is no “typical” cost for an MMORPG.

        • Pascal says:

          Samus:

          WAR cost $50 million, WoW cost $40 million, AoC cost $30 million. APB cost $100 million, SWTOR is costing significantly more

          Samus, how many of those games opened with a million box sales?

          AoC.

          And they spent that trying to fix the game and retain subscribers,which did not happen. The others would not have recovered the costs you have listed there. (Does that, btw, include setup costs for infrastructure, CSR, QA, etc. or is it a pure development cost?)

          That, to me, sounds like box sales alone cannot be considered “success” and that we must consider recurring revenue the real measure of success.

          • Samus says:

            “Samus, how many of those games opened with a million box sales?”

            WoW obviously sold much more than that.

            WAR sold 1.2 million copies in the first month.

            AoC sold over 1 million copies in the first month.

            I would be flat out shocked if SWTOR didn’t sell much more than 1 million copies in the first month.

            APB is the notable failure here, in every way.

            Of the games you mentioned, only APB failed to recover their costs through box sales. SWTOR has yet to be seen, WAR, WoW and AoC made a profit in the first year (something very few investments can say).

            You are thinking like a gamer, not an investor, and so you can’t possibly believe games like WAR and AoC were anything but failures. As games, maybe they were. As investments, they were a success.

            • Pascal says:

              “Over the Thanksgiving weekend, players continued to buy World of Warcraft in record numbers, with a total of over 350,000* copies of the game selling through.”

              For World of Warcraft. It’s box sales initially were nowhere near as high as the current subscription base. I’m sure you know that.

              Yes, they sold rapidly after launch. Unfortunately Blizzards’ detailed press releases only appear to go back to 2008. So I can’t double check the numbers off archival sites.

              If you’ve tracked Funcom’s financial statements you’d know the funding from Age of Conan was already earmarked for investment in The Secret World. They’ve used funding from the government for their browser based games; so those are excluded.

              As an investor, I would definitely not consider box sales entirely. Yes, they do contribute but the larger slice of those would contribute to cost recover.

              (Still haven’t indicated what those costs you listed include … is it pure development? CSM setup? Billing systems included? Does it include the server infrastructure? Marketing?)

              The real profit (And return on investment) comes from subscriptions and retaining subscriptions. Thinking like an investor, I don’t want to look at a risky market where my investment relies on box sales. I want recurring revenue; something that will be a source of income that repays my investment a few times over.

              Next I’d like to see some links, please :)

              • Stout says:

                Pascal,
                I wonder what the cost of running servers and tech support is for the month to month of things. I have to figure a $15 /mo subscription fee would more than adequately cover those costs… but what percentage of that is profit versus maintenance costs?

                Furthermore, now that some games (LotRO) have gone free to play, that might be worth a look at for a previous comment you made regarding starting out free for a few months then increasing the cost. LotRO basically does exactly that. Free upfront, but after you put in some time you’ll have to purchase quest packs. While not a large investment right away, further down when players reach higher levels they will want to explore more meaning they’ll have to spend more money more frequently.

            • Pascal says:

              “so you can’t possibly believe games like WAR and AoC were anything but failures. As games, maybe they were. As investments, they were a success”

              Need to add, I don’t consider those failures as investments. If you read carefully you’ll note:

              That, to me, sounds like box sales alone cannot be considered “success” and that we must consider recurring revenue the real measure of success

              It is definitely a combination of the two, but box sales is mostly cost recovery. Recurring revenue is the cream.

  14. Pascal says:

    Random side thought. I’ve been in a long term love/hate relationship with World of Warcraft. I’ve played Tabula Rasa, Champions Online, Perfect World Online, Warhammer Online … oh the list just goes on and on. You name it and I’ve probably got a Collectors’ Edition somewhere on my shelf for it.

    RIFT is one of the few MMOs where I’ve got that feeling of excitement at trying it. Not just because I know nothing about it and I’m having to figure it out, but because RIFT is just so incredibly enjoyable. I keep on having these “OMFG you can DO that?” moments as I play, which is rare for the jaded gamer.

    It makes me feeling guilty for leaving EVE in skill training mode, but still. RIFT is just so much fun.

  15. [...] So why isn’t RIFT “grabbing” me?  I mean, what’s not to like?  The graphics are nothing short of beautiful, the soul tree system along with the ease of changing roles on the fly is pure genius, the game actually delivers a challenge, even at the lower levels and the PvP, while not perfect, is actually “fun” and engaging… sure it’s not “revolutionary”, or anything like that, but do we really want that anyway? [...]

  16. [...] What do MMO Fans Really Want? by We Fly Spitfires [...]

  17. Dubs says:

    I bought Rift, played it for maybe 4 hours. Back to WOW.

    The game is polished, graphics are great, gameplay I am relatively familiar with. There is something missing though. Every hour I spent in Rift I wanted to go get more epics for my raid on the weekend in WOW. The investment in characters, the research to maximize my DPS, the friends I have in WOW are what keeps me playing.

    Another thing people forget is the LORE. WOW has a very well established lore ever since the warcraft 1 days. Rift has a couple comic books, well they need to catch up.

    Great game, but why take the time to learn new specs/classes/zones etc, when everything I know and like is in WOW? Doesn’t sound like a good investment for me.

    I was thinking the next MMO I will play would probably be Blizzard’s next. Mark my words, the only WOW killer will be Blizzard’s next MMO.

  18. [...] an interesting discussion raging in one of the articles I wrote last week between Samus, Pascal and myself about the finances [...]

  19. Tolkan says:

    It’s taken me along time to realize what made EQ great and what I miss about it. It’s the social part of the game. There have been a lot of well done games but none of them have the game mechanics that created the social aspect of EQ. And I think that’s why we all lose interest in other games after only a few weeks or months.

    When games added multiple abilities to use during combat in the name of making combat more than just auto attack with an occasional kick or bash I think we all thought it was the right thing to do, it would add excitement and more to do. But instead games are now about pushing buttons as fast as you can and we no longer have time to communicate, strategize and socialize during combat.

    When games removed the downtime we again thought cool, no more 15 minutes to meditate. But what has happened is we no longer talk, we go from battle to battle at a run and never talk. And the games have become so easy no strategy is needed beyond “ZERG”. There is no more “CAMPING” I miss camping!

    When WoW came up with the random dungeon grouping I thought “this is cool” I can log in and be in a group in a dungeon with-in 15 minutes. No more 30 minute runs to a dungeon followed by a 30 minute wait to get a group. And for a few months it was enjoyable, but with no social aspect to the grouping and no challenge, just a ZERG mentality. Most of the time I could run a 30-45 min dungeon without a single person saying a single word in group chat. When asked if I am getting the new expansion for Wow I think to myself “What’s the Point?”

    EQ felt like a real world, through travel, exploration and real danger of death and a corpse run the world felt big, dangerous and real. Easy travel and in particular the random dungeons of WoW took away all the feel of a real world with real places, people and dangers.

    EQ was a real MMORPG, I’m not sure what the new MMO games have become but without the social aspect I don’t think you can call them an MMORPG in the true sense and meaning of the title. There really more of a single player game with a group option.

    There are several well done games currently, RIFT, EQ2, WoW, LOTR online, and Vanguard. But for the most part they have become a single player game focused on simple and easy quests to get to max level followed by raids. Other than guilds for the end game raids the social aspect of the games are only a side note.

    Call of Duty has an online feature that I really enjoy but it’s no MMO. Xbox Halo has a similar feature. Unfortunately all the current MMO’s are a lot closer to this than they are to the roots of a real MMORPG.

    For a long time I have looked forward to each new title hoping it would be the game that brought back what we experienced in EQ. Most new games started with high hopes and real potential and promise only to quickly fade into disinterest. I think I now know what were looking for, I’m just not sure any games out there in development will offer it.

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