Hello and welcome to MMOs, the weekly column about MMOs! 2013 is nearly over! It’s time for celebration as 2014 awaits us! But before the year concludes here are my Top 5 MMOs of 2013!
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 launched in August 2012 and because of this little factoid you may well be asking yourself why such a game on this list. It’s because GW2 changed MMORPGs forever.
Guild Wars 2 is a fantastic game although one which I oddly enough have a conflicting relationship with (we’ll discuss that at some point in the future) however that’s not why it had such a big impact in 2013. Guild Wars 2 is buy-to-play meaning that a consumer can buy the game once and then they won’t have to pay a dime to play it. There’s no subscriptions or pay walls, nothing. If you buy GW2 you can play it for three days and then drop it and come back to the game six months later and still play without paying. This payment method is awesome.
Guild Wars 2 also offers free updates every two weeks which bring in new content and environments as well as new dungeons and gameplay. These updates, known as the living story, are a big deal because they are fairly large constant updates which bring in a lot of fresh content. Heck, even Final Fantasy XIV, a subscription-based game, cannot deliver the amount of fresh content that Guild Wars 2 does.
This leads us to why Guild Wars 2 had a huge impact in 2013 and it’s because of one phrase:
“I can’t justify paying for a subscription fee for a game anymore when Guild Wars 2 lets you pay once and play forever and also gives me free updates with fresh content every week”.
The above phrase is the killer of subscription games and I have seen it several times, in some shape or form, in every comments section in a news piece about a subscription-based MMORPG. The thing is those who make this comment are completely right.
There is no reason to pay a monthly fee for one game when you consider that Guild Wars 2 offers the same amount of value and content, if not higher, than many games that offer subscription fees. This is a fact which Final Fantasy XIV and Elder Scrolls Online is going to have to go up against and it is a war which I honestly do not think they can win. No one can.
This is fantastic for consumers, as it means that more and more companies are going to have offer better and higher quality content then Guild Wars 2 and are going to have to justify their existence beyond just making players grind for gear 24/7.
This game has been without a doubt one of the game changers for the genre and will continue to affect MMORPGs into 2014.
League of Legends
League of Legends is on this list for one reason, the World Championship. Over 32 million people watched League of Legends over the internet and on TV. That is amazing! Just sit back and appreciate that for a minute. 32 million people watched ten people play League of Legends, a video game! That’s just…wow.
Whilst representatives of “real sports” mock eSports however it’s gotten to the point where if you mock it then you look like an absolute moron. I mean Coca Cola is a sponsor for the game! COCA COLA is sponsoring a video game! Wow.
League of Legends will continue to push the eSports industry to greater lengths. In fact, this year Riot Games made it so that an eSport “athlete” can get the same rights and privileges with regards to travel as a normal athlete. One wonders what the game and their developers will do next.
Next Generation of Gaming Consoles
Whilst the next generation began with the Wii U, I challenge anyone who says otherwise, this year saw the release of both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One both of which will be getting MMOs next year.
PS4 will be getting Final Fantasy XIV next year as well as Elder Scrolls Online, not to mention they already have DC Universe on the platform, whilst Xbox One is getting Elder Scrolls Online and the next Fable game (which is rumored to be some sort of MMO thingy-me-bob). Both consoles are getting MMOs and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold for the genre on the consoles! I do hope that it won’t lead to console only MMOs, however I am sure that won’t be the case.
The beginning of the Next Generation means there is a whole lot of excitement as developers get their mitts on the new hardware and form new relationships with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
One MMORPG I’m looking forward to is Dragon Quest X for the Wii U which has already been released in Japan and is awaiting release in the rest of the world. Come on Nintendo and Square Enix make it happen but I’d please don’t make me pay a subscription for it!
Final Fantasy XIV
If Final Fantasy XIV proves one thing, it’s that you should never count Square Enix out. Whilst I personally don’t like the game, it would be silly of me to disregard it completely.
The fact that the game even exists after the disaster that was its 2010 launch. The sheer dedication and hard work that the team behind Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn must have had is astonishing. Granted they had every reason to reinvest into Final Fantasy XIV, given that FFXI is the best selling Final Fantasy game of all time, however it’s the team that should be applauded for making it happen.
Granted I am a bit saddened that Square didn’t make the FFXIV free-to-play however I can’t say that I am surprised considering how Square have been failing to react and evolve with the rest of the industry.
But whilst FFXIV must be touted as a success, and it is, one has to question whether or not 2014 will be the year that the game goes free-to-play. Square reported that there were roughly one million active accounts when they game launched however how many of those transferred into paying accounts remains to be seen. Even when that’s considered, I’m not too sure that selling one million units is that much of a big deal in the first place especially when you consider that just ten years ago the Final Fantasy brand was one of the most powerful in the world.
Mind you until Square Enix stops trying to “beat Skyrim” and stops making their female characters breasts bigger (and giving them “jiggle physics” to boot), I can’t see their franchise changing any time soon.
Poor Sakaguchi, he created such an excellent franchise only to have it destroyed so quickly.
Blizzard successfully blasted Hearthstone into everyone’s ears and eyes, turning the game from a niche title to a game that had to played. You couldn’t go to any streaming site or gaming website without hearing about the game and how unbelievingly awesome it is. Yes, I get it, Hearthstone is the bees knees but why I can’t I play it?
Indeed with all of the buzz around the game it was disappointing that so many players had to suffer and scrounge around trying to find a beta key so that they could play the damn thing. Scams were created, and I’m sure many people’s computers were hacked into as they downloaded viruses and other such nonsense onto their computers in an attempt to get a beta key for the game.
Marketing has never been so mismanaged. I can understand having this blast of media when a game is released, or soon to be released, but why do it when the game is so far away from being playable by the open public? Hyping up players that much will inevitably leave many of them disappointed when they finally get to play the final product and that’s not good for a free-to-play game that hopes to continue for many years into the future.
Oh well at least the open beta will be soon…right, Blizzard?
There you have it, my top five games of 2013. Whilst I’m sure I’ve forgotten something I feel that this list pretty much successfully sums up the year for the genre and those closely attached to it.
I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for the MMO space. How will the industry change? What cool new games will come along? When the next Legend of Zelda come out? All of these important questions await us but until then let’s keep enjoying the games that we do actually have in our hands.
Have an amazing New Year festive period, and I hope you join us to enjoy the New Year and whatever excitement it may hold.