Watching the latest video from Carbine Studios about Wildestar (see below) made me realise two things: one, Jeremy Gaffney sounds eerily like Alan Alda from M*A*S*H and two, developers really like to sell us gimmicky features with the claim that they’ll radically change our MMO experience, rendering everything that came before shallow and obsolete. Whether it’s mechanics like ‘battlefield control’ in Wildstar or the ‘missing 4th pillar of story’ in SW:TOR or the incredulous manifesto from ArenaNet that Guild Wars 2 is literally going to reinvent the entire MMO landscape (I can’t wait to find out), we really do get promised a lot of fantastical guff.
Archive for the ‘General MMORPG’ Category
I gotta agree with Syp on this one - I don’t think the MMO genre is dying out. Although one could easily point to abundance of new titles and expansions on the horizon as clear proof of this (which Syp did), I actually think what we’re witnessing these days is simply an evolution of the industry. In fact, I’d be more worried if the genre was just sitting still and stagnating. Sure, 38 Studios went belly up and SW:TOR isn’t exactly proving to be the huge success BioWare was hoping (there’s a shocker) but that doesn’t mean the genre is crumbling. It just means it’s changing.
Like a lot of people I’m currently engrossed in Diablo 3, shunning my MMO activities for the past week in favour of battling the demons of hell throughout the realm of Sanctuary. It’s a good game and I’m having a lot of fun although I daresay it’s not quite as tremendously incredible as I somehow expected. To be fair though, that’s probably more due to the fact that nothing could have possibly lived up the excessive amount of hype that Diablo 3 had heaped upon its shoulders, a grand accumulation of 12 years of nostalgia, impatience and seductive teasing.
I have to say that I’m quite looking forward to Diablo 3’s Real-Money Auction House (RMAH), not because I intend to buy or sell anything through it (although I can’t say that I won’t) but because I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how its introduction affects players and online gaming in general. See, I reckon Diablo 3 is going to sell by the bucket load and make Blizzard a mountain of cash, a mountain that will turn into Everest itself one they start raking in revenue through the RMAH, so much so that I’d bet real money (see what I did there?) that the feature becomes a staple in every online game to come from now on.
Of course, I don’t think we’ll be seeing real-money auctions springing up in every online FPS or MMO or what not overnight but I have little doubt that it will happen slowly and surely. Just like 10 years ago the idea of a cash shop in a MMO or a free-2-play subscription model would’ve sounded inconceivable, I honestly believe in five years time almost every game with online capabilities, and most certainly all MMORPGS, will have some sort of real-money trading system. There’s just too much cash to be made out of it.
I’ve never been a big fan of raiding in MMOs and it’s certainly something that I talk about fairly regularly. For me, raiding offers a pretty disjointed experience, counter intuiative to the whole leveling game in itself. Indeed, just like we now have games like League of Legends that offer what equates to essentially full-time PvP battlegrounds, maybe we should have completely separate games for raiding instead of trying to tack them onto a leveling game?
Perhaps I’m a ‘traditionalist’ in the way that I like my MMOs to be about leveling up and questing or fighting through static content. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the appeal of raiding, I do, and if it’s something you like then who I am to disagree. In fact, although it’s not for me, I can fully understand the thrill and enjoyment people get from activities such as competitive raiding and the like.
Update: A lot of this article has been misconstrued either through confusion or in the name of melodrama. To be 100% clear, I’m not condoning sexism or oversexualisation in video games in any way at all. Indeed, if anything, the purpose of the article is to highlight the history of inequality that has existed between the genders and try to answer why it not only happened but still continues today.
For the sake of consistency, I’ve left the article unmodified even though I’ve been sorely tempted to correct areas where I’ve perhaps been unintentionally flippant or insensitive. Still, the post is merely a theory based on some interesting and plausible conjecture and I’d encourage everyone to read it carefully and thoroughly before passing judgement.
There’s little doubting that the long-term financial success of MMOs is in player retention. Box sales alone don’t count for much and I could easily run off plenty of examples of games that sold well on release then took a nose dive after a month or two and now languish in low popularity limbo. However, when it comes to what matters most, few developers actually seem to have been able to unlock the secret player retention.
BioWare for one looks like it’s suffering and if their latest awful promotion is anything to go by, they seem to be having trouble holding on to players that have hit the level cap. Personally, I’m not surprised. SW:TOR is a lot of fun and the story mode stuff is interesting but ultimately it doesn’t have the long-term hook that other MMOs have (at least for me anyway). The similarity between classes, the limited storylines, the overall lack of things to do… eventually people are going to get bored.