Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rumors of the Death of MMOs Are Greatly Exaggerated

Man! Belghast wasn't kidding about the August doldrums. Late last month, Liore lamented the death of MMOs. Then Tobold started asking what went wrong with WildStar? Jeromai discussed the evolution of expectations about the evolution of expectations for MMOs, perhaps away from RPGs into other genres. Tobold came back with possible solutions. Bhagpuss, Keen, and Syp chimed in as well. Syp even included a handy chart:
But I think the Gartner curve applied just as easily to the MMORPG genre as a whole, although I'm not sure where we are on it right now, to be honest. If it's about aggregate player population, I'd say we're on the downward slope perhaps from the peak to the trough, but still fairly close to the top. And I don't know how deep the dip will be before stabilizing on the plateau.

Yep everything is gloom and doom between the "collapse" of the two AAA MMOs and the impending launch of Wow 6.0. But you know what? The people still playing TESO still really like it. As do those playing WildStar. And SWTOR. And Rift. And TSW, etc. Those games have reached stable pops, if somewhat reduced from their launch numbers. MMO Tourism is certainly alive and well.

No one ever really quits WoW. . . I meant it's always in your heart, geez negative nancys!
~Girl Grey (@Girl_Grey) both on 08 August 2014.

I think WoW created a skewed view of what "Massively" means both in the eyes of the players and perhaps more importantly in the eyes of the developers/investors. I can remember, in 2004, fellow soldiers playing 4-on-4 HALO during their off hours. That, apparently, was the limit of what the XBox console was capable of. Before that, some of us played "Online" Risk over LAN, with the same capacity of 16 players. MMOs, on the other hand, were catering to tens of thousands. That is several orders of magnitude. EQ changed that, upped the ante, then WoW blew the ante to the moon. But the potential for communities still resides in the several-hundreds range, not in the millions.
What I mean is that I've invested literally 10 years into WoW. . . All of the pets, mounts & achievements of WoW took tons of time and effort. It's very very difficult to walk away from all of that, and it's very daunting to have to rebuild it all.
~Lykaon, commenting on Tobold's Blog
I sometimes talk of putting down roots in a new game, and I certainly have spent some extra money in a few to do so. But after playing Vanilla WOW through two expansions and into a third, I stopped. And all that I "accomplished" is meaningless. I have nothing but memories to show for it. If I'd developed some other hobby—pottery, guitar, whatever— I'd have something to show for it. I don't really care to repeat that in another game.

Gaming is a pastime, and a worthier one than simply sitting on my butt watching TV. I certainly have made plenty of friends doing it. But I have really only kept in contact with folks who blog or otherwise produce content of their own, which is a slightly different hobby, one with a trail of evidence—an oevre, if you will. And the bulk of my tenure in WoW was during a point in my life when I had more time to devote, anyway. It seems like there are other things to do now. My own hype cycle may have hit a plateau somewhat lower than the peak of my time in WoW. And that's OK.

It is good, in fact, to reach a level of sustainability. Irrational exuberance has no more place in the MMO sphere than it does in any other economic sphere. Did you know that more Crocs are sold today than at the height of the craze? Honestly, part of that is diversification. MMORPGS are a over a decade old, diversification is both essential and inevitable.

On the other hand, there's always PnPRPGs.

If you're interested in joining the Blaugust parade of stars, march on over to the Blaugust Initiative Page on Anook and let Belghast know you're there. Trophies await high steppers.
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  1. I just want add that GW2 is 2 years old and alive, with no problems of low population. Certainly GW2 is at the Plateau of Productivity. But GW2 tried to innovate while ESO and WS stayed at the old EQ/WoW normal quests/quest hubs.

    It will be nice see if EQNext deliver us all the innovation that they are promising.

    1. Oh yes, I didn't forget GW2, I just had listed enough, I think. And I agree, it will be nice if EQNext is everything they say it will be.

  2. Thanks for this post. I read Keen's post about the MMO death and didn't agree and you have written the counter-post I would have liked to write (if I was a better writer).

    I had never thought about your idea of "accomplishments" in one game and not wanting to put in the effort to do that all over again in another game. However, I'll pay attention to that next time I get that "I don't want to play this, I'll just play WoW again" going through my head.

    1. Thank you for commenting. I'd love to say it's an original thought, but I've expressed in various ways by many people. WoW was in a prime position to explode when the market was really rather small. People spent years playing it. It's hard to imagine actually wanting to do that again. I guess I only want to want to do that.