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

Some EVE Players Just Want to Watch the World Burn

EVE Online

Another month, another crazy thing to report from the insane realm that is EVE Online. We’ve talked about this startlingly player-directed space MMO on a couple of other occasions, and each time I hear these things I get a renewed interest in the game. Sure, the actual playing of it sounds boring, but it feels like it would almost be worth it to experience these epic scenarios.

If you’re unaware, the thing that makes EVE Online so unique is that developer CCP basically lets anything go down, as long as it doesn’t break the game’s terms of service. This means that some huge fluid narratives have taken place, from the take down of major in-game corporations to the loss of actual, real dollars in the form of ISK, which can be renewed for subscriptions or even other products.

The latest insane in-game caper? A player-organized movement to crash the whole game’s economy, which works just like an actual economy. This movement was called Burn Jita, with Jita being the major trading system, full of companies and frigates carrying anything from equipment to other ships or billions’ worth of ISK. The goal was to organize thousands of players in a huge ransack mission that would destroy/burn all these assets in order to upend the entire economy. Continue reading Some EVE Players Just Want to Watch the World Burn

The Elder Scrolls Online Revealed

TESO3

With Skyrim recently continuing the trend of giving Bethesda the Game of the Year award it makes sense to assume that The Elder Scrolls franchise really has what it takes to produce some truly amazing games. The single player RPG world has captivated players since Arena, taking you into a deeply immersive world of Tamriel. While The Elder Scrolls series is one that has been a smash hit as a single player game, the question always came up about how it would fare as an MMO, leaving some fans drooling over the prospects of exploring the lands with a party of their best friends. Well today it’s official, Game Informer has released an article teasing readers about the June cover article which features a first look at The Elder Scrolls Online.

The game is being produced by Zenimax Online Studios with MMO veterans such as Matt Firor, whose previous work included Dark Age of Camelot. The game is set a millennium before the events of Skyrim, and players will deal with the Daedric prince Molag Bal trying to bring Tamriel into his realm in Oblivion. Matt Frior told GameInformer:

“It will be extremely rewarding finally to unveil what we have been developing the last several years, the entire team is committed to creating the best MMO ever made – and one that is worthy of The Elder Scrolls franchise.”

Tomorrow morning there will be a trailer from Zenimax and Bethesda Softworks, with screenshots coming later in the evening. All of the information going onward can be tracked at Game Informer’s own Elder Scrolls Online hub, which will be giving out exclusive content multiple times a week.

As a major fan of The Elder Scrolls series, I meet this news with an open mind, but a cautious approach. I have always wanted a way to play around the world of Skyrim or Cyrodiil with friends, but the full-blown status of an MMO is something I have debated before. This could spell great success for the series, but a different production studio and a new feel to a game that has made all of its success as a single player RPG could spell trouble. I’ll wait to see more information before I give final judgment, but this news has to have many gamers foaming at the mouth. So what do you guys think? Is it good that The Elder Scrolls is going online? What’s your opinion on the game being produced by Zenimax? Lets hear it!

Source – Game Informer

Would You Rather: 2012 Edition

Man, even though we’re already over a full month into the year 2012, it still weirds me out to see the number written up there. Scandalous, almost. I don’t know if it’s because I’m old and full of rage when things change, or if that nerdy part of me feels like I should be in the future and my brain can’t reconcile the differences. Either way, 2012 is already shaping up to be a pretty fantastic year for games.

As such, we thought we would kick off the first Would You Rather for the year, one that will hopefully leave you all begging for mercy because of the difficult choices that await you. For the Would You Rather newbies out there, the game is easy: we ask and you dish out your response. Give as much or as little explanation as you want for your choices, but we all know that we like to see the reasoning behind the madness.

Don’t let your answers suck, though. I will personally come to your house and unleash a devastating Krav Maga attack on you. For real. OK go!

Continue reading Would You Rather: 2012 Edition

Roll Call: Star Wars: The Old Republic

the old republic launch

We’re finally here, friends, at the end of four years of waiting and watching and over-sized lightsabers. BioWare’s first foray into MMO territory, Star Wars: The Old Republic, begins its pre-order roll out today in advance of its actual release on the 20 of December. If you pre-ordered the game and entered the code on the TOR website you can get in early between now and the 20 depending on how far in advance you completed the process (confusing, I know).

I pre-ordered the game, but I didn’t do it until November, so I probably won’t be playing until the weekend or even the 19, but I’ve had a few opportunities to try out the Beta, so that’s OK (pretty sure the NDA on those things have expired). My guild and I are deploying as heartless Imperials and I’m taking on the Bounty Hunter class for my first outing. I avoided this build during the Beta, so I’m ready for a fresh experience when I jump in. My guild will be on the Lord Praven server, if anybody wants to play with the only GS staff member who will be giving TOR a shot on release.

The Old Republic hasn’t exactly been a hot topic around here, but I still thought I’d put up a Roll Call as this is the last big release of 2012 (except for the Back to Karkand DLC which also comes out today). Anybody else playing TOR? Which class are you playing as? Any interest on trying the game in the future? Also, what are you thoughts on me keeping a journal of sorts for the first month of the game as a kind of review?

BioWare Announces Launch Date and Pricing for The Old Republic

the old republic release date

The day that we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to pass: after much hemming and hawing and three pre-rendered trailers, BioWare has seen fit to announce the release date for their highly anticipated Star Wars MMO. The Old Republic (TOR) will be brought into being on December 20, 2011 in North America and the 22 in Europe. People who have pre-ordered the game will also be given early access, but there’s no specific time-table for that yet.

In addition to the launch day, BioWare also dropped The Old Republic’s pricing structure. Every copy of the game will come with a 30 day subscription built in, but anything past that will be subjected to the typical MMO monthly fee. The breakdown goes thusly:

  • 1 Month Subcription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
  • 3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
  • 6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)

So there it is, folks, laid bare for all to see. I’m kind of surprised that TOR is going with a traditional pricing scheme when every other MMO (even World of Warcraft to an extent) is going free to play. Indeed, there’s one MMO I’m looking forward to possibly more that TOR and that’s Firefall which is going to be supported by microtransactions.

I’ll still give TOR a shot anyways, just because I’ve been waiting so long for it, but the subscription might be a deal breaker in the long run. What do you guys think about this news? Excited for TOR? What are your thoughts on the pricing structure?

Source – The Old Republic

What’s Your Take on Free to Play Games?

Age of Empires Online

Free to play games are getting more and more common these days, but I’ve always been hesitant to check them out, mostly because if a game has the word “free” in it, my mind tends to lower my expectations significantly. I don’t know where this notion comes from, but I’ve been making an effort to try out the mass of free games that have flooded the market (except for TF2, I played that game for years before it became free).

To date I’ve tried the Battlefield game, APB Reloaded and Age of Empires Online, and a few buddies of mine have tried out the MMOs that have gone free like Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings Online. While the gameplay in these games are pretty good, I just can’t get into them, mostly because of their reliance on the microtransaction business model.

All of the games use it to varying degrees, but APB Reloaded and Battlefield are the two worst offenders in my mind, allowing players to purchase weapons for use in PvP combat. This might not make much of a difference in Battlefield, which is still and FPS and is mostly determined by skill, but APB is an MMO, so whoever has the best gear wins. Add that to the fact that the level system is so convoluted (I had to play for two days before I realized that I wasn’t even close to eligible to buy a weapon with in-game funds) and I got tired of the whole experience pretty fast. It was fun ripping around the city robbing store with friends, but the whole microtransaction aspect soured me on it.

I realize that this is just one example and most of the stuff you can buy with your money in other games are personal cosmetic things and the like, but I just can’t abide with the “whoever has the most money wins” method of play. I know some people don’t have an issue with this, but for me I can clearly identify which games are a shameless cash-grab.

Firefall is an upcoming free game that I’m greatly looking forward to though, mostly because the developers have stated that they want their game to be about skill, and the paid stuff will not affect PvP combat. To me, that’s the best way to go about these things. I’m wondering what you guys think about free to play games, though? Which ones have you played and did you enjoy them? What your take on microtransactions?