MMO Woes: Have MMOs Already Peaked?

World of Warcraft

Everybody’s scrambling to get aboard the SS MMO these days, abandoning ship from traditional single player titles. Even franchises that are considered hallmarks of single player gaming such as Final Fantasy, KOTOR and Elder Scrolls have dropped their former identities, opting instead to join the seemingly lucrative temptations of the MMO genre. After the success of WoW in the mid-2000s, everybody’s been trying to recreate that same money-producing machine, with mostly mediocre results. Most end up going free to play eventually, which is something that even TOR is having to consider.

So here’s the burning question, then: why has nobody been able to follow in WoW’s footsteps? Because, GameSpy’s Leif Johnson argues, we’ve simply outgrown MMORPGs. In this article, Johnson does a nice job of laying out the state of the industry and digital connectivity in the past and now, and shows why trying to copy the WoW formula for modern games is just developers trying to turn the clock back on gamers. He believes that in an age of instant gratification, social media, mobile and more, it’s just going to take something more casual to be a runaway hit.

This is a question I’ve actually been wondering about myself. I think it’s so interesting that developers consider MMOs to be such a surefire hit that they’ll invest millions and millions into production, when so few have even done well to begin with. Yet new IPs are considered inherent risks? If only one MMO has had the kind of longevity that developers really want, then why does everyone keep trying to do this? What convinced everyone that the WoW formula was the way to go, even almost 10 years later? One glance at the paltry Elder Scrolls MMO shows that it’s just another WoW clone, even when that seems like a surefire way to fail. I guess dollar signs are hard to ignore.

What do you guys think about this? Have we simply outgrown the MMO? Do developers need to find a new way to make MMOs work for a new generation? What’s the new way to do MMOs right? Go!

Source – Gamespy

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

2 thoughts on “MMO Woes: Have MMOs Already Peaked?”

  1. I was actually having a similar conversation about this with a friend the other day. Basically what I think is that there will never be another MMO that sports 12 million subscribers. WoW was in a unique position where for the longest time it had so little competition so that if you wanted to play an MMO, WoW was one of the only choices you had. Fast forward to now. There are many different MMOs out there, all sporting different niches and play styles. Now that there are options, people are going to start choosing the MMO that best suits them, rather than simply going to the default MMO. Publishers and gamers alike need to get rid of the image in their head that a successful MMO must have 6+ million subscribers to be a success. I’m a huge TOR player (because the fantastic story focus is what draws me in) so when people say it’s a failure at 1.2 million subscribers, it baffles me. What I think will happen is that the MMO $15/mo model will go away since there already is so much quality that can be found in the FTP model. We as an industry need to stop using WoW as a measuring stick.

  2. Technology has got to a point now where we don’t need to be limited to what is the “standard” MMORPG and now with the rise of free to play games there has to be some sort of evolution. I think WoW needs to be treated as a exception rather than the standard for MMO’s and if a company really wants to make an MMO budgets should be tailored accordingly.

    I think some companies are starting to realise that they need to change, I’ve given Guild Wars 2 a good play and that’s not exactly a huge change but its a step in the right direction for sure. Planetside 2 also looks very promising as an MMOFPS, after playing the Planetside 1 I can say I’m very excited for it and I hope it shows other companies that MMO’s don’t have to restricted so severely.

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