MMORPG YouTuber RedbeardFlynn gives his micro and macro take on the MMO scene.
State of the MMO – With Content Creator RedbeardFlynn
This year, MMO Games is interviewing the world's foremost MMORPG content creators to discover their expert opinions on the state of the MMO. We'll discover their views on the best, most enduring MMORPGs, the most exciting new releases, and just what makes our favourite gaming genre so special.
For the first interview, we've been talking to the awesome RedbeardFlynn -- YouTuber, Twitch streamer, Tweeter, and award-winning fantasy novelist. He's a self-described "decent author and terrible gamer". MMORPGs are his bread and butter, and his popular videos include: 5 Things You'll Never See in an MMO Again and What Would Make You Play EverQuest in 2023?
1. How did life lead you to become an MMORPG content creator?
I kind of just fell into becoming an MMORPG content creator. I started playing MMORPGs all the way back with Ultima Online in about 1998 or so and quickly jumped over to EverQuest and went on from there. I had that first-hand experience but thought I'd be too shy to ever become a content creator, then I stumbled upon Cohhcarnage.
Cohhcarnage, for those who don't know, is a massive Twitch streamer who at times has streamed EverQuest and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen among myriad other single-player games. His example got me streaming and then eventually making content on EverQuest and other MMORPGs, and it's just grown from there. I can trace a lot of my life to MMORPGs from some of my greatest friends to my passion for lore and stories that led to me writing books. With so much invested in the genre, content creation just felt right.
MMORPGs provide that extra layer of connectivity and shared experience that is essential to humans.
2. What do you think of the state of the MMO game scene in 2023?
It's in a better place than where a lot of people think, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy. I think we're on the cusp of a lot of pivotal moments for the genre as the big names continue to age and triple-A games are fewer and farther between. The genre is begging for something new. The launch of New World and Lost Ark in 2021 and 2022 showed there's an appetite for MMOs from big budget studios, but that they may also be missing the mark a bit.
In 2023, we may see more of the same with Throne and Liberty. Kickstarted MMOs are showing promise but backers' patience looks to be wearing thin and some of these games really need to make some big strides or be forgotten. Vague hopes of a Riot MMO and NCSoft blanketing the market with titles can only do so much to keep it afloat and relying on games that are two decades old to carry the burden is worrisome for the future.
3. What is the enduring appeal of the MMORPG?
I think it's not a single thing. There's definitely the sort of "treadmill" effect that I think some live service games have begun to pick up on. This ability to kind of just keep going with something you've invested in. It makes you feel connected and knowing that it won't 'end' can encourage you to keep putting time and effort into it. But it's also the world itself and being able to share it with others.
Single-player games can be incredibly immersive with fantastic gameplay and stories, but they lack that ability to connect with others in a shared world such as working toward common goals in PVE or against each other in PVP. MMORPGs provide that extra layer of connectivity and shared experience that is essential to humans.
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 don't envy MMO developers in 2023 for this exact reason. The genre is mature enough at this point where you have this clear divide. Certainly, there's an argument to be made about nostalgia influencing players, like myself, who fondly remember older MMOs like EverQuest and wish for something similar. But the reality, at least to me, is that there needs to be a blending of these seemingly competing priorities.
I only see the genre moving forward if a developer comes along and merges some of the good Quality-of-Life changes in recent MMOs with some of the meaningful struggle that was present in older MMOs. And if I knew how to blend those to meet that goal...I'd be selling that idea to a company right now.
5. Which upcoming MMORPG are you most excited about?
The one I'm most excited about has to be Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. It's an MMORPG that I've been following since 2016 and it seems to be pulling from classic MMOs while adding in newer ideas from all over. Even the taming system seems to be more closely aligned with Breath of the Wild than say, Ultima Online. But I'm also well aware that this game is pretty far off. So, in the meantime, the MMORPG that has my attention is Blue Protocol. Bandai was able to make a Bless Online clone into something serviceable with Bless Unleashed on consoles so I'm interested to see what they can do with more control. It's my dark horse MMO for 2023 over flashier titles like Throne and Liberty which may be 2023's New World or Lost Ark.
6. Which of the classic MMORPGs do you think has the most longevity?
Oof this is a tough one; I really want to say EverQuest because I have such a strong personal connection to it but it's hard to not look at a game like RuneScape which is still going strong too, or even Ultima Online which has been working on fresh-start servers with a new ruleset. But, in the end, I've got to give the edge to EverQuest just because of the sheer volume of content they push out. I mean they're still on schedule to release a new expansion every single year. How can you argue with a game that has launched 29 expansions with the 30th already announced for the end of this year?
7. When WoW finally loses its crown, what do you think will be the long-discussed WoW-killer?
Has WoW already lost its crown? If not, it's at least looking pretty rusty these days after the serious challenge FFXIV put up, not to mention other MMOs that have all broken into the millions of box sales. Even Guild Wars 2 has sold millions. I think World of Warcraft launched at a perfect time and capitalized in a way that's going to be difficult to replicate. With an at-the-time growing MMO market and the first to see mass adoption, it was a perfect storm buoyed by strategic and intelligent design decisions by Blizzard. By the terms of 2004, many MMOs have hit that mass adoption spreading the audience far and wide with many players very happy in their current games.
The WoW-killer to me, will always be WoW. You're going to have players siphoned from WoW into other MMOs just like what happened with FFXIV, but I don't expect to see any single game that will kick WoW from its place at the top for an extended period without WoW doing something akin to Shadowlands to really upset its playerbase.
Long story longer? The WoW-killer to me would be something like a World of Warcraft version of Star Wars Galaxies' NGE. And now that I've put that out there, I apologize if we get an announcement that WoW is switching to true action combat.
8. If you could only play one MMO for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I don't think there is one for me. While MMOs certainly have longer lifespans than single player games in many ways, I think variety adds something to the genre. I've spent more time in EverQuest than any other game and there's always a pull to go back. But I'm eager to try new things too -- to see new worlds, new lore, new mechanics. I want to try rewarding PvE and PvP. There hasn't been a singular MMO in the countless MMOs I have played that hit every note. I like different things from different games.
9. Are there any crowdfunded MMORPGs, released or upcoming, that you feel are delivering on their grand promises?
I've got my eye on both Ashes of Creation and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen for different reasons. In Pantheon, I see a revival of what made games like EverQuest and classic World of Warcraft great with some new innovations to keep it fresh and interesting, a focus on the world itself as an engaging part of the game and bringing together the spirit of social cooperation. In Ashes of Creation, I see a game pushing the boundaries of what we've seen in crowdfunded MMOs with thrilling graphics and tech while also bringing back some of the excitement of PvP in Ultima Online. With each game, I have my concerns, but they stand out as games that can still deliver.
We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Redbeard Flynn on the state of the MMO. Stay tuned for more interviews with MMORPG content creators in the months to come! Show him support with his social channel links at the top of this page. And don't forget to follow MMO Games while you're at it: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.