MMO YouTuber Bazgrim shares his thoughts on the state of our favourite gaming genre.
State of the MMO - With Content Creator Bazgrim
What's the MMO scene like today? Do we have reasons to be optimistic about the future of the MMORPG? Which massively multiplayer games are worth getting stuck into? These are the questions we hope to answer in our new State of the MMO interview series. Following on from last month's interview with RedbeardFlynn, we're welcoming friend-of-MMOGames Bazgrim back to share his thoughts on the state of the MMO gaming genre in 2023.
We'll let Bazgrim tell his own story below, but we highly recommend checking out his Twitter and YouTube channels where you can watch his hit videos like: Is Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen REALLY the Spiritual Successor to EverQuest? You'll discover a content creator who is informed and dedicated about MMO games and especially so about one long-anticipated MMORPG...
1. Could you tell me a little about yourself and how your life led you to become an MMORPG content creator?
Sure! In early 2016, I stumbled upon an article about an MMORPG in development called Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. It was the first time the developers Visionary Realms had streamed live gameplay on Twitch. Its cooperative and intense high fantasy style appealed to me, so before long I started following the development closely and posting on the forums regularly.
Fast forward to late 2017 when I won a ticket to TwitchCon 2017 that Visionary Realms was giving away in a contest. I had the amazing opportunity to fly out to California to meet the devs at their TwitchCon booth and play Pantheon uninhibited with them for several hours, including side-by-side with Visionary Realms' founder (and legendary EverQuest co-creator) Brad McQuaid. It was such a unique experience and I knew there were many other people in the Pantheon community who wished they could go to TwitchCon, but couldn't. So before I left, I decided I should vlog the entire experience so I could share it with others.
I’m glad we seem to be pulling away from the days of nearly every studio just trying to copy WoW.
It was my first experiment with YouTube, but it was very much appreciated by the community. So just a few months later when Visionary Realms went to PAX East 2018, I did much the same thing - including an exclusive in-person interview with Pantheon's Creative Director Chris Perkins. This was even more well received by the community. It was at that point I realized I should continue to do what I could to share what I know about Pantheon and keep the community up to date about the game's development.
2. What do you think of the state of the MMORPG scene in 2023?
It's been trending in a positive direction in recent years, but still has a ways to go, in my opinion, until the genre as a whole really embraces the best version of itself. I'm glad we seem to be pulling away from the days of nearly every studio just trying to copy WoW.
There's more variety now, but there still seems to be a disappointing lack of care put into the long term health of MMORPGs. I see too many games that come out all hyped up, but end up getting pushed by the wayside after a matter of months because players get bored. If an MMORPG is truly immersive and challenging and social, it should be able to keep your attention for years - not months.
3. What is the enduring appeal of the MMORPG?
Being able to immerse yourself in a persistent virtual world where you can share epic experiences with real human beings that you'd otherwise never meet - people that may come from vastly different cultures and backgrounds from you, but can always find commonality in your love of gaming.
4. The MMORPG community is often split between those chasing new offerings and those with a deep nostalgia for MMO games' golden years. Which do you think will (and should) win out?
I believe the best answer to anything is almost always found somewhere between two extremes. I think MMOs will reach their prime when they effectively tap into the best aspects of those classic MMORPGs that heralded in the "golden years," but seamlessly incorporate them with fresh systems and ideas. There's little value in constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, but there's also little value in only trying to look backward.
5. Which upcoming MMORPG are you most excited about?
It should come as no surprise... Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. "Excited" is kind of a funny word to use after having followed it routinely for 7 years now. It's not feasible or even advisable to maintain a state of "excitement" for that long. But it is still without a doubt the only MMORPG in development that is aiming to become the type of MMO I believe the genre needs.
6. Which of the classic MMORPGs do you think has the most longevity
There's no denying the longevity of EverQuest, being the first commercially successful 3D MMORPG in 1999 and still receiving regular updates now in 2023. Yes, it has changed a lot over the years, but it still has a diehard player base and a lot of unique charm. That's pretty incredible when you think about it.
7. Has WoW already lost its crown? What was or will be the long-discussed WoW-killer?
WoW doesn't seem to be as dominant or universally well-loved as it once was. But there's still no debate that it's the most successful MMORPG of all time. As far as I can tell, the MMORPG that may have the best shot at claiming that title is Riot's MMO since it already has a huge franchise-wide fan base poised and ready to go. But becoming the biggest MMORPG of all time heavily depends on it being a bonafide great game, which remains to be seen.
I honestly believe that because the MMORPG landscape has grown and evolved so much over the years, it'll be next to impossible for one game to reach the same degree of market domination that WoW did. It feels like we're entering an era where there's simply a much wider variety in the types of MMORPGs available to players. In that case, players will spread out to gravitate toward whichever appeals to them the most - as opposed to the early 2000s when the MMORPG genre was still in its infancy and there were much fewer games to choose from
8. If you could only play one MMO for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Old School RuneScape. That game has so much content, it's ridiculous. I could probably play it every day for the rest of my life and still not do everything there is to do. Plus it's super simple and super addicting, so I'm sure it'd be able to keep me entertained well into my nursing home years while still harking back to my childhood years.
9. Are there any crowdfunded MMORPGs, released or upcoming, that you feel are delivering on their grand promises?
Pantheon is delivering on the tenets that they originally laid out, just not in the timeline they predicted. Even if they didn't "promise" a particular time frame, they probably hurt themselves by setting expectations they couldn't meet. Regardless, very little of the creative vision of Pantheon has changed since Chris Perkins became Creative Director in 2015. And even though the scope isn't that grand for an MMORPG, it is a lot for such a small indie team. The grassroots crowdfunding route is a tough road and they've been overcoming obstacles for a long time now. It's hard to say when they'll reach the finish line, but it is clear to me that they have what it takes to get there eventually.
Stay tuned for next month's State of the MMO interview where we'll be talking with the always-entertaining Brightlife. In the meantime, if you liked Bazgrim's style, be sure to check out his guest post for us on Pantheon and the state of crowdfunded MMORPGs. And show his Twitter and YouTube channel some love too.