Game Theory: Is the MMO Genre Dying?

Is the MMO Genre Dying?

The gaming press seems to think that the MMO genre is dying, but is that really true? Or is history simply repeating itself? Sponsored by Game of War

Watch Video

I'm over 30... fuck you!!

Btw. Final Fantasy XIV - over 4 million subscribers.
That's really successful.
It is not WoW at its height, true, but no MMORPG came ever near those subscriber numbers.
If you ignore the WoW craze then the most sucesfull MMORPGs always had between 1 and 3 million subscribers.

Yet people, including publishers, always expect the WoW-Killer for some reason...

If they planned for the much more realistic 1 millionen subs they wouldn't fail so hard.

Good video - I didn't know pre-Everquest MMO history.

Problem is, those F2P games can have a nasty habit of costing you way more than WoW or pre-F2P SWTOR ever did. Pay to play, you've got $45-50 box price plus $15/month. F2P? They are littered with mechanics that encourage the player to spend money, artificial limits that make shelling out cash the only option if you want to play more than a little bit.

Take Spiral Knights and WoW for example. Years ago, I got bored of WoW - when Cataclysm was first out and the community was adjusting from WOTLK's multiple levels of difficulty(all of them bar some heroic 25 man ICC boss fights being easymode by the end with that 30% ICC buff) to Blizzard's new more universal difficulty in Cata(in multiple senses of the word).

Put simply, I couldn't find a guild that didn't suck, full of people who had no idea how to adjust to Cata's difficulty spike relative to parts of WOTLK, or wasn't filled with competent but flaky people I may as well have typed /roll to see if they were going to all show up or not.

So I decided to try this free to play Spiral Knights game instead, still messing with WoW on the side.

Come to find out, past a certain point, via energy restrictions, energy being what lets you get on one of their elevators to dungeons and PLAY THE GAME, the developers limit you to maybe 1 run to the Jelly King (a mid-tier boss) per day. Some items even required energy to craft, so unless you want to cough up extra money for more energy beyond your lot each day, you couldn't do anything much.

Pay up I did for a while, until I realized I had just spent $90 within the first month on a free-to-play game just so I could gear up faster than a glacier(the default setting to obtain 4 let alone 5 star items) and play it as much as I wanted.

Needless to say, I went back to solely WoW shortly after. There, you know it's $15 a month (even if I don't play anymore) and you can play as much as you like. F2P, you'll end up shelling more than that out if you want to do more with the game than just fuss around with it for 30 minutes each day.

30 minutes a day playstyle isn't what I think of when I think MMO. Then again, from everything I've read about Warlords of Draenor, it's not even that for everyone. Here's my impressions:

Casuals log in, deal with annoying RNG on RNG on RNG, fuss with garrison, log off(possibly after waiting on LFR to pop for an hour alt tabbed and tab back in - just to Alt-F4 in frustration at ridiculous queue times).

If you're one of the minority that raids, log on for longer for 2-4 nights a week to raid, deal with annoying RNG on RNG on RNG in loot, and for many classes RNG in class mechanics(hello Fury Warrior - my old main), log off.

If you PVP, get your PVP box after playing for that week, open it, pray for above RNG on RNG on RNG gods to smile on you, curse in rage when it contains something you already have on top of RNG making it not the stats you would have wanted anyways, log off.

With design like that, it's easy to see how Warlords hasn't exactly set the world on fire, the declarations that MMO's are "dead", when really it's just the highest profile one apparently doing its damndest to fit itself into a snug noose.

As you said, MMO's aren't dying. It's just the ones that are up front about their cost are - see SWTOR going F2P, and now Wildstar going F2P even as Blizzards hemorrhages subscribers over how they botched Warlords of Draenor. Unless Legion does something drastic to make Warcraft, part of the old vanguard, appeal to people again, I'd guess WoW is on its way out as well.

Uhm, Destiny did not cost 500 million to make. It is the amount of money Activision has assigned to Bungee for three games over the life of the franchise.
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/destiny-budget-nowhere-near-500-million-bungie-says/1100-6420802/

Is the MMO genere dying... nope.. is the subscription based mmo dying.. not really. Not as a genre. The problem is MMOS have yet to find a way to deal with the over arching limitation of their genre that makes long term play problematic

Namely. It's stating. WoW is the posterchild for MMOs and look at it, it's dropping subscriptions because literally the game , as open as the world is... incredibly static. Players cannot have any lasting impact on the lore, the geography or the characters for the most part.. That raid boss you just beat. he'lll be there tomorrow, and the day after and the day after for you to grind.

The marketing and thereby community focus so much on these spectacles that the mechanics shift in service to the spectacles. That's what WoW has been dumbed down mechanic wise to the point where it's more or less impossible to have a non-optimal build.

Early WoW oh suure you could try all sorts of crazy crap.. not optimal but crazy and fun. I remember being a dual wielding warrior tank... good times good times.

WoW for example has beenbleeding subscribers lately because they have literally allowed people to buy their way up to max tier. thusly they spend less time in the box and have less investment in their characters.

How can the genre be saved. Well the will require having balls. he balls to let the player have sub optimal builds, to have the balls to let player actuions on some level influence the game world in a real way.

Here's a good way of looking at it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvK8fua6O64

It's an ongoing discussion and I agree with the video I linked, which I'll TL;DR:
MMO's aim to be too big.
There's lots of room for smaller ones that don't require millions of people to turn a profit, MMO's that fit into niches and don't have to be dumbed down in order to have mass appeal.

This effectively opens the market to a whole new wave of MMO's that don't cost hundreds of millions.

On the topic of pricing, subscriptions are fine as long as we get new content, but if the game stays stale, then obviously no one wants to keep paying.
This was the biggest issue of SWTOR, which despite being a great game with an immersive storyline for each class, didn't get any new content. Once you'd finished your storyline, you could either start over with a new class and try their story (repeating a LOT of content), pvp or do the repetative small amount of end-game content.
I believe Mattpat made a mistake here, saying that people don't want to pay, but he fails to include the fact that you've already bought the main game for your standard 40-50$/€ and that you're paying a subscription in order to keep seeing new content, not just to keep playing the same stuff.
Remember, MMO's drag content out, so the 15$ a month isn't cheap when most of what you're doing is grinding a skinnerbox with very little actual reward.

If more sandbox mmo's are created with persistent content (it's not technically easy, I get it), that are aimed at niche audiences, then you don't need to pump out content at the same pace, nor do you have to have a massive amount of visuals or voice work.
If you have 50-100 people per server instead of hundreds up to a thousand, then the technical side gets easier as well.

It's actually already been done in ARK: Survival Evolved. You have up to 50 players per server, who make persistent content, create their own economical system and gameplay.
You can build, tame dinosaurs that stay as long as they're alive, raid other people and you have guilds in the form of "tribes".
There are no quests, no scenarios and no scripted events.
While this game is a survival game, it's not that far from being an MMO. In fact, it's extremely reminiscent of EVE Online in terms of how you play the game.

MatthewPatrick13:
Is the MMO Genre Dying?

The gaming press seems to think that the MMO genre is dying, but is that really true? Or is history simply repeating itself?

You make a fair point, MMO's are technically not dying, however when people ask the question, they're referring to the kind of MMO that EverQuest was, like LoTR Online, WoW, Warhammer online, SWToR and Wildstar.
People WANT another WoW, a new game to sink their teeth into, that reintroduces you to a world of new things to do and explore.
The thing is though, that while these games have budgets into the extreme, the content is mediocre. It's like going to a five star restaurant and eating a hotdog; The visuals are great, the setting and ambiance is terrific, but the main content is tasteless and bland.

I could write a hundred page essay on all the things that went wrong in WoW and why subscribers have been ditching the game left and right, but I'll summ it up with this: The mainstreaming is what's killing the genre.

The MMO genre is dying in more ways than one Mattpat, but it's the death of worthy content that people are talking about.

The mmo genre is evolving into "massively single player" games like Diablo. Because nobody can be arsed to organize a 40 person raid.

Most of the content is soloable and the "social" aspect is general chat and occasionally seeing another player while running around.

Some games have skipped (or really heavily de-emphasized) the multiplayer part altogether.

See the game Tales of Maj'Eyal on Steam (and free form the developer's site). It is a pure single player game with a global chat and popup messages for other peoples achievements.

I think one of the reasons why the subscription model is failing so hard is because of the pay-wall to reinvest and retain.

Not only do I have to pay full price for the game ($60), I have to pay another $15/month. Now there is this mentality where I've paid $60 dollars for a game, but I'm not even allowed to play it unless I shell over another $15.

We then hit end-game content where I'm only playing for 8 hours a week to raid. While 32 hours a month for $15 may not seem like a lot of money you need to remember that I've already paid $60 + expansion costs for the game. Most of the time spent raiding is spent wiping (thereby little to no progress is made). Assume for a moment that we killed everything quickly. Then what? I have nothing left to do, and my money is being wasted. In this sense there is not enough end-game content to consider my investment worth it.

It is at this point that I cancel my subscription out of boredom. Time passes and I feel in the mood to play the MMO again. "Oh look, I need to throw another $15 bucks at a game I've already paid for in order to even log in. Well, screw that. I'll go play another game I already own and don't have to pay *more* money for." I know I'll just end up bored again, so why should I bother throwing more money into it?

Now, despite everything I've said I do not think there is an issue with a subscription-based model. The issue is that the developers are putting all of their end-game eggs into the raid basket. Finishing raids are akin to ending a normal game. There is the whole guild experience, but they only take up a small portion of time, and raiding is akin to killing the end boss over and over and over again. You aren't even guaranteed a spot in the core raid group, so some weeks you may not even be able to raid. Some people find that fun, but the majority of us want something more. I think this is really where Runescape 2007 really shined. You could do anything and everything. If there was a skill in the game you could train it. There were mini-games scattered across the land that were relevant at any level. The end-game took so much longer to hit, so people would play for much longer, and it felt like their character was really their own. They molded their own character and could do anything they wanted to do. You could be completely self-sufficient. Let's not forget the thrill of having a rare item drop. Other MMOs restrict you to a single class, two professions, and two mini-games at most that were dependent on player level. The professions are also extremely shallow. FF14 does a good job in that you can be any class and do every profession, though I found the combat to be rather bland.

Another issue that was pointed out in the video is that people don't want to have to pay $75 to see whether they even like the game. More MMOs need to let the player play for free until a certain level (like WoW does). Another thing that needs to happen is the player should have the option to download a demo version of the game that is a smaller file size. I can't tell you how many *free* games I've skipped because I don't want to download 5GB of data to see whether I even like it.

Ultimately I think people feel that the game they are playing isn't worth $15/month on top of the $60 they have to pay for the base game while others don't like the idea of being forced to pay more for a game they already purchased. Another group doesn't want (or can't afford) to waste bandwidth.

The MMO genre is dead. Not dying. The influx of casuals WoW brought in with their marketing to casuals and dumbing down in WotLK ruined MMO gaming for the actual gamers. The whole MMO genre was dumbed down so much in an attempt to compete with WoW and get their subs that there's hardly anything left of MMO's in these games claiming to be MMO's. It's tragic.

I loved MMO's more than anything because I could immerse myself in a living breathing world to escape this horrible horrible reality, and those excellent MMO's like FFXI and EQ were being improved on and expanded. There was so much potential, building off the foundation of those great MMO's with newer MMO's. The future was so bright.

But then it all fell apart with Blizz and their greed, making the genre which was small and making it accessible to the main stream. That marketing using Celebs to endorse WoW and say they play was brilliant though. They turned how people viewed MMO gaming around, from people thinking we're stereotypical basement dwellers, to it being cool and populer to play.
Now everything has collapsed into a great big pile of shit because for some reason if you're an MMO that's not pulling WoW WotLK numbers at launch with a sub then the game has failed and needs to go F2P/B2P. Now everything either launches F2P/B2P or turns F2P/B2P after launch, which is a scam if you think about it. They get most people to pay more than they would through microtransactions and other crap than they would have been paying with a $15 sub fee that would have given them access to every single thing in the game, and at the same time they're making more money off people they're not putting out the large amounts of quality content every few months to have the world constantly expanding, so they're saving money from doing less work and having way less people working on the games so they make an even bigger profit. Usually it's around 8 months for a content update, and they're always poorly done.

From Blizzards actions with WoD it looks as if even they are giving up.
These days large scale multiplayer sandbox games like Ark are about as MMO as we get.

I live for MMO's and other immersive games, and I'm a deep thinker that comes up with my own views rather that taking on other peoples views they've seen posted like most people do, so I know my stuff.

Subscription MMOs are dying.

WoW has been trending downward the last few years and shows no signs of rebounding.

Even YoshiP (the director for FFXIV) conceded that subscription MMOs are on the way out - can't remember the Japanese magazine he interviewed with.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here