Last week we looked at the reasons why the MMORPG genre is dead! It’s all doom and gloom but if I’m completely honest, as the author of the article I had a bit of a hard time with it. I’m a firm believer that the MMORPG isn’t dead but that isn’t to say that I don’t see the changes that are happening. Things are changing. But the industry is still alive and well, it only looks a little bit different. Below I’ve listed just a few reasons the MMORPG isn’t dead.
Innovation is Still Happening
The fact that developers are still experimenting and trying out new things is a fantastic indication that the MMORPG genre is alive and well. In fact, it could be argued that there is more innovation taking place now than there was during the golden era of MMORPGs. You have games like Crowfall who are bringing us destructible landscape as part of the combat, they’re making seasons a very real and important mechanic as well. In Chronicles of Elyria, your characters will age and die, leaving you to play their children.
Despite the fact that the last MMORPG that was revealed to the public with some big innovation was canceled (Everquest Next for anyone left wondering) there is still innovation taking place, just on a smaller scale. The truth of the matter is that going too far outside of what has become the norm for the industry is too risky for major studios. So innovation is taking place in small chunks and by smaller studios who aren’t afraid to try something totally new.
Popular Titles Seem Stable
While most MMOs don’t give player numbers anymore it seems that the most popular AAA MMOs are stable and still doing very well. Elder Scrolls Online had a rough start but managed to climb out of it and is thriving. World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV both are really not showing any signs of slowing down. Guild Wars 2 is in the pre-expansion stage at the moment and seeing a steady stream of new players coming in. Though the current player base seems somewhat divided, many logging in only when new content is released. Other MMOs you may not immediately think of when you’re considering the most popular games are also doing very well. Star Trek Online has a dedicated core player base and the developers keep putting out one fantastic expansion out after another. And no one can ever say that EVE doesn’t have a hardcore fan following.
Titles Expanding to Consoles
One thing we’ve seen quite a lot of in the last couple of years is studios expanding their MMOs to work on consoles as well as on PC. In doing so they’re opening themselves up to entirely new markets that they weren’t able to get to before, and they’re having a lot of success with it! DCUO is just one example of a game that has done exactly that. Other titles have had similar success like Star Trek Online, and Elder Scrolls Online. There are more on the way too, Tera has announced they’re doing betas for a console release later this year.
A similar effect can be seen with Steam. When an MMO launches on Steam it gets a huge boost in new players. There are many gamers out there who won’t play a game simply because it isn’t available on Steam. While this sounds a little bit crazy to any of us who play MMOs or have been around longer than Steam, it is a fact that a lot of gamers have this view.
So long as successful MMOs continue to expand their audiences and bring in new players they will continue going strong and hold the genre up until the next great age of MMOs comes along.
Shift to Indie Games
During the golden age of MMOs, major studios were throwing a lot of money at titles and not making their money back like they thought they would. They were chasing the idea of the WoW killer. And they paid for it. As these major studios go home to lick their wounds, we’re seeing the rise in indie projects. Unfortunately making an MMORPG is no weekend project. These things are taking years to complete and often times we’re hearing about them very, very early thanks to Kickstarter campaigns. Right now it makes it seem as though the indie MMOs will never be released. We just have to be patient and with any luck, in a couple of years, we’ll be enjoying a new era of MMORPGs that revolves around a bunch of small, but really fantastic indie games.
Eastern Titles Are Still Thriving
While many of us in the West are looking at the MMORPG genre and wondering where it all went wrong there is an entire market that is often forgotten: Eastern MMORPGs. This is where the genre is really going strong and luckily for us, they introduce their titles in the west from time to time. Thanks to this we’ve seen titles like Black Desert Online, Tera, and Blade & Soul. While these titles may not be any threat to the likes of WoW they are still getting a reasonably sized player base. They are suffering somewhat because of the differences between eastern and western audiences.
Instead of declaring that the MMORPG genre is dead what people really need to say that it is changing. Right now we’re in the middle of a transition period as the industry changes. Some titles will remain, World of Warcraft isn’t going anywhere, folks. But we’re going to keep seeing eastern and indie titles take center stage until the next big breakthrough brings all the big western studios running back. For now, though they’re chasing the next big fad…MOBAS! No, zombie games! We’ve moved on from those too? Damn. Survival games are the current in thing. But next week it might be something different.
What do you think of the current state of the MMORPG genre? Are we seeing the end? Is the genre undergoing a transformation to become a beautiful butterfly? What does the future hold? Right now everyone at MMOGames is holding their breath to see what E3 brings us. It’s nearly convention season! Maybe we should wait until they’re done before we take to the streets shouting doom.Related: Column, Listed, MMORPG