Not WoW burnout, MMO burnout.

Darren has released Shut Up. We’re Talking #32, and the podcast focuses on Warhammer Online and the recent back and forth debate about the game and its place in MMO land. It’s a great show and well worth a listen.

One thing I got out of the show was a better understanding of Darren’s (and perhaps Brent’s) reasoning behind their stance on Warhammer. It further made me believe that Darren and others are not burned out on WoW or whatever current MMO they are playing, but rather MMO gaming in general. Darren made a statement along the lines of ‘WAR won’t fix WoW burnout’, and for him, it won’t. Darren is hoping FreeRealms or other upcoming MMOs do something very different, because for him the traditional MMO game is no longer of interest.

That is of course a very valid stance, and certainly a void could be filled by an MMO-like game that changes up things enough to make it totally different. But I don’t think MMO burnout represents many people, and in turn won’t have much impact on WAR. I believe most of the people burned out on WoW are still very much into MMO gaming, and hence will see WAR is a cure for WoW burnout, rather than ‘more of the same’. They don’t view hotbars, going up levels, class systems, itemization, etc as old features that need to be replaced, they view those as key components to the games they like.

To use an example, take Grand Theft Auto 3 and GTA 4. GTA3 was release in 2001, yet GTA4 is very similar to GTA3 despite being released in 2008. Fans of the game will point out the numerous improvements of GTA4 over 3, but if we break the two down, like we do WoW and WAR, we can easily call GTA4 ‘more of the same’. You could even argue GTA4 is far closer to GTA3 than WAR is to WoW, and yet GTA4 is one of the most successful games of all time, both critically and financially.

My point is that if you are just burned out on a genre, like Darren is with MMOs, no matter how great a game within that genre is, it still won’t do it for you. Instead of seeing the step forward made with RvR or PQs, Darren can’t get over the fact that WAR still has tank/healer/dps. It’s the equivalent of playing GTA4 and not being able to get over the fact that you still have to steal cars and shoot guns. Where is a GTA that does away with guns and cars and brings in new gameplay? To fans of GTA, that question sounds as crazy as asking to do away with the hotbar in an MMO. Or asking how such a talented studio like Rockstar Games (makers of GTA) could spend all that time and money and ONLY come up with GTA4 instead of a ‘next gen’ game. Fans of MMOs were not looking for Mythic to reinvent the wheel, we were looking for DAoC2, and we got it and more.

21 Responses to Not WoW burnout, MMO burnout.

  1. sente says:

    Quite good point.

    If you mainly enjoy games with a lot of players in persistent worlds though there is not as many options available though to provide variation. How many people are only or mainly playing GTA games? How many are only or mainly playing Final Fantasy games?

  2. H00LiGAN says:

    Bingo! I was thinking something similar a while back when I realized that a lot of the blogs on my reading rotation weren’t really talking about any current mmo’s. Most of them were focusing on WAR and future mmo’s. AoC articles faded faster than I could have imagined.

  3. Talyn says:

    Exactly, sente. It’s not like people are only playing “GTA Clones” and suffer GTA Burnout. There were 4 years (or so?) between GTA3 and GTA4, with only Crackdown and Saints Row being what I’d call similar or clone-ish (especially Saints Row). I played GTA3 and put it away. In the 4 years since WoW, how many other MMO’s has Darren (and the rest of us) played? How many times have we started Yet Another Fantasy Character in Yet Another Fantasy World who neatly fits a pre-defined role in the Holy Trinity? How many times have we appeared in a world, used WASD to walk up to an NPC with a bright, glowing ! over its head and are instructed to go off and Kill Ten Rats and bring back 5 Undamaged Rat Stomachs? How many times have we tab-locked onto a target and pressed 1,2,3, etc. until it was dead?

    There’s been so little movement away from the same (Diku) game-play mechanics, and so far the ones who try are either niche or outright failures. Someday, it will happen, but today isn’t that day.

    Darren can be excited for the Agency but honestly I don’t know that will keep him either. I don’t recall him *ever* saying anything about shooters, and the Agency isn’t so much “sandbox” (you are what you wear) as it is an online shooter with a multiplayer lobby (it remains to be seen how “massively multiplayer” it is). Huxley looks to be the same. Agency and Huxley may or may not be MMOG’s but they’re certainly not MMORPG’s — the RPG has been removed, replaced with the “RPG elements” we see in the Battlefields and Call of Duties out there.

    They’ll be “different” within the MMOGosphere (yay, just invented a new word) but are they “different” in the big picture of video gaming? Will they have the staying power that the best shooters and the best RPG’s have had?

  4. Van Hemlock says:

    Feeling it a bit myself of late, must admit. It comes and goes; can’t see myself ever just giving it all up and taking up Lobster Husbandry instead, but a change is as good as a rest: spent the last few weeks onlining, mostly with Bioshock, which was quite a tonic.

    Also contemplating CoX again, which was definitely different enough while being the same, to act as a holiday of sorts.

    I think we’re now at the point where enough “Different” MMOs are out there, but it can take a bit of research to find them, as they’re often the niche and fringe titles. A Tale In The Desert still going? Neocron was another. Jumpgate Evolution looks to be another.

    Quite a fine distinction from the wider gaming perspective though, yes. Who says you can only play MMOs though? :)

  5. Yeebo says:

    Based on the buying habits of gamers in console land, and I assume a lot of those guys play WoW, straight up sequals that play things safe in terms of innovation are what they are looking for. The GTA series, the Madden series, the Soul Caliber series, ect. If WAR can sell itself as WoW II to those guys, it will do quite well. However, if it seems too different it runs the risk of being an off flavor second stringer (ala Crackdown or Saint’s Row vs. GTA).

    It will be interesting to see how WAR vs WotLK plays out, but my money is on WotLK just because it looks a like very safe by the numbers sequal to TBC. That’s the sort of thing most gamers tend to go for, it seems.

  6. sid67 says:

    The dirtly little secret about innovation is that most of the time it fails. The truly innovative product concepts attract early adopters but often take considerable more time to gain broader acceptence. Marketing 101 describes this with the product life cycle and as shown in the linked graph, market share is pretty small during the introduction phase.

    If the idea isn’t that good to start, it won’t ever become widely adopted. And if the innovation is protected by patent or trademark, it’s stolen. So unless you are already the market leader, your innovative idea is most likely going to be stolen/improved by someone with better capacity to bring the idea to a bigger market.

    It’s this ugly little thing that says: Create good ideas, but be prepared to have them stolen by someone a lot bigger than you.

  7. sid67 says:

    *NOT* protected by patent I meant

  8. I don’t see WAR fixing my WoW burnout either.

    But, currently, Eve is doing that just fine.

  9. syncaine says:

    I think the MMO market today has PLENTY of options when it comes to games. Are they all WoW quality? No, but then again neither is The Godfather when compared to GTA, now is it?

    And why are you putting the blame of burnout on developers if all you have played since UO are MMOs? That’s no ones fault but your own. I’ve mixed it up since 1997, and despite playing way too much UO, AC, DAoC, WoW, plus countless other MMO games to lesser degrees, I’m still into traditional MMOs. You just have to mix up your gaming, like with anything else in life.

    As for GTA clones, a quick Google search will tell you that between 2001 and 2008, the market was FLOODED with GTA clones of all types. Just like the market was flooded with Doom clones before that, is still flooded with Sim clones today, ect.

  10. coppertopper says:

    You know I am starting to think it’s not so much MMO burnout as the fantasy MMO genre specifically giving us experienced gamers that ‘oh not again’ impression. We’ve all gorged on WoW and before that it was UO or DAoC or EQ or AC or EQ2 or LoTRo…and now we have the ‘next great MMO’ sitting on the table ready for us to dig in, and it’s another fantasy MMO. It really doesn’t matter what great features any of these games have at this point. It’s just a genre done almost to death. This is why I can understand darren and brents lack of enthusiasm. It’s like serving turkey dinner every night of the week for days on end. You can love the stuff but not be able to stomach another bite.

  11. Talyn says:

    Just in case syncaine’s rant was directed at me, I do mix it up. I play MMO’s, shooters, RTS, you name it on both PC and 360. And I specifically was talking about GTA3 with the whole “clone” thing, not GTA 1 and 2. I did Google clones of GTA3 and was shocked at the ones on the list other than Crackdown and Saints Row. I’ve played them all and can honestly say GTA never once crossed my mind when playing any of them on the list besides the two I mentioned; they weren’t similar in the least.

    And we *do* have plenty of choice if we want to PvE in MMO’s today. We have tons of choices for essentially the same game. They all give a slightly different experience, but underneath they’re all the same. PvP-ers have less choice, and the full-on RvR players have only had DAOC until now. Now they’re about to have a second choice. Provided we just keep in mind it’s the same game under the hood, it’s really only the experience that counts to us anyway; it’s what separates WoW from EQ2 from LOTRO from VG, etc. They all offer different surface experiences.

    On the other hand, I’ll look at say, COD4. The single player game is awesome. It provides me with a fantastic, tense, fun and emotional game experience. Click the online button and I’m presented with the exact same small urban skirmish FPS crapfest I played a decade ago, only with prettier graphics. Perhaps UT3 would be an even better example. I cut my teeth on the arena deathmatch stuff back in Duke3D, Quake(World), Quake2, Unreal, etc. Those were all 10+ years ago. Jumping into UT3 now it’s like are you kidding me? To paraphrase Bartle, “I’ve already played UT3, it was called UT.” The exact same fucking gameplay. I suspect it’s this type of thing that has Brent frustrated, perhaps Darren too. Me? I’m fine with the traditional MMORPG’s too, but then… I have no choice in the matter. Either accept it or leave the genre. I have one permanent traditional MMO I have no intention of leaving, and one I play a few months per year. But that doesn’t mean I’m not ready and willing to accept something totally new either, because I am. But I also realize that, sure I’ve played the hell out of arena deathmatch shooters and they have no interest for me now, but to the kids who didn’t, UT3 is maybe the hot shit today; it’s what they’ll cut their teeth on. EQ/UO was that to a lot of MMO vets, and while they may have an unfortunate tendency to look back with rose-colored lenses and forget all the crap, I don’t see many of them clamoring to actually re-sub to the old dinosaurs any more than I’m clamoring to play the old shooters.

  12. mbp says:

    You make a very strong counter argument to my own “MMOs are History” line Syncaine. I can see a flaw in your comparison with single player games though. MMOS require vastly more time and effort than any single player game. Because of this MMO burnout is likely to be a much deeper experience than getting bored of a single player game.

  13. Oakstout says:

    You should listen to Brent’s side of the story at:[url]http://www.gaxonline.com/profile/WaaaghTheWarhammerOnlinePodcast[/url]

    Basically he says the same thing, he is just burned out on MMO’s in general and was looking for something to get his attention and Mythic didn’t deliver what he had expected. But if your expectations are too high, then your bound to be disappointed.

    I think the issue is we have too many MMO’s on the market right now, which is allowing people to jump from game to game only to become more burned out. Then people just stop playing MMO’s because of burn out. They usually blame WoW because they’ve played either played that the most or it was the last MMO they played. WoW isn’t much different than any others on the market with the exception of being really easy to play.

    Again, that’s not as revolutionary as people make it sound. WoW just made it easier for people to play, so more people played and more people got burned out.

  14. syncaine says:

    It was a general statement Talyn, not directed at anyone. Just all around good debate here :)

    Here is the wiki quote of clones (which I think is rather incomplete)

    “Notable games that are sometimes seen as GTA clones are the Saints Row series[28], The Godfather, The Getaway, Driver , Crackdown, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Mafia II, True Crime: Streets of LA and True Crime: New York City, [29][30] and Scarface: The World Is Yours.[31] These games make up a genre which is known by a number of names, such as open world games.”

    The point I was making was more along the lines that people view different games as clones, and then differ on whether a clone is a good thing or not. I played Scarface, and while not an amazing game, it was cool enough, and I’m glad it was a GTA clone. Someone else might pick up Scarface and complain that it offers ‘nothing new’ over GTA. Same exact deal with WoW and WAR or the whole notion of ‘nothing new’ in MMO games.

    You said ‘its the same game under the hood’, and I think my main issue is with statements like that. To you, it might look like DAoC with new graphics, but to me it’s a ‘next gen’ DAoC. I was not looking for a complete overhaul of DAoC, just an improvement to the formula, and that was exactly what Mythic did. Those improvements make it a whole new game for me, while others still see the base formula and want more. Not saying one is correct over the other, but it’s important to realize what the goal of the product is. Just like Blizzard did not set out to overhaul EQ with WoW, Mythic did not plan to overhaul DAoC.

    The FPS example is interesting too, because I have a friend who plays them semi-pro, and he could argue for days why CoD4 is nothing like UT3. It all depends on how you look at it. He plays FPS almost all the time, so the notion of a map with guns and jumping around is standard for him, with the difference coming in the details. Someone buying a FPS and expecting something completely different than a refined version of Doom is going to be disappointed. But CoD4 aims at the FPS crowd, just like WAR aims at the MMO crowd.

    Oh and MBP, while I agree that generally MMOs offer more entertaining (in terms of hours per title) than most single player games, are we really going to blame them for that? Plus how long have we been playing standard fantasy RPG games? I know I have since Ultima 5, yet I still played all the way through Never Winter Nights 2, which if we break down the same way we do WoW and WAR, is basically the same game. Get a party, talk to NPCs, fight fantasy monster, etc. Racing games? All the same, turn wheel, go around the track, win/lose.

    Why do we somehow expect MMO games to reinvent themselves every 5 years, when other genres have remained basically unchanged, and people still flock to them? And if we look at the short history of MMOs, how many games have done well that went too far off the standard MMO design path? EVE comes to mind, but so does Auto Assault, Tabula Rasa, Hell Gate, etc.

  15. Juhani Nopanen says:

    The WoW playstyle is chasing virtual carrots and getting some virtual shizzle for spending time doing usually very boring stuff. First grind is the 1-70 (soon 80), where the gameplay is vaastly different than what it is at the end gamel. After reaching it you get few options to grind on. One choice is to grind the bgs and arenas and get mauled until you get 400 resilience. Then you get to do what the game intends to be fun. The other choice is to start preparing to the time consuming raid scene with the fixed schedules and the commitment. Beginning to do that, if you find it fun, takes a bit less time overall.

    Still there is atleast about 120+ hours of gameplay that you have to fiddle through to get to the fun stuff..

    WAR style is you get to do what the game intends to be fun right from the start. And that is the PvP part of the RvR. If you dont find that funny, its not your game. Thats it. You’ll see what is in store for you right at the beginning. No spending 100 hours to get to the fun stuff or nothing awful like that.

    If WoW burnout is MMO burnout, WAR will be different..

  16. Thallian says:

    since I’ve never played DaoC 1 due to time and money constraints (student) I’m most certainly going to check out DaoC 2 (WAR) :P

  17. Talyn says:

    I wasn’t comparing COD4 to UT3, just saying when I go online in COD4 it’s the same game I was playing back with Counter-strike, SWAT, etc. the urban team skirmish shooters, not the arena shooters. UT3 *is* nothing more than the same crap as all the other UT’s, Q3, and any other generic arena shooter, though.

    With your RPG example, the difference isn’t the activities (sadly, we haven’t progressed beyond “killing shit” … what does that say about us as a species?) but the under-the-hood systems, which is what I was referring to with my tiredness of Diku-MMO’s. Let’s say I came from the Square RPG formula, where every RPG played like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, etc. If that’s all I ever saw, it would get old quick and I’d think “oh it’s an RPG therefore it plays *like this*” (which is exactly what we do with MMO’s). But then BioWare came along and said “screw that crap, watch how we do an RPG” and unleashed KOTOR and the BG series. Each played totally different but neither anything like the JRPG’s. Mass Effect took KOTOR and threw a 3PS combat system into the mix. It’s possible to have successful RPG’s without them being a JRPG, or a Diablo clone, or whatever. But when it comes to MMO’s so far the market has said Diku or DIE. And that makes me sad.

  18. syncaine says:

    Well one could say most RPGs are just modified D&D rules, right? I mean as great as boulders gate was, it was basically Ultima with better graphics. Same kill stuff, form a party, equip magic items stuff. Was KOTOR really that different from Ultima Underworld, or Daggerfall? How far do you have to go before a game is ‘different enough’?

    I mean for huge RPG fans, they will see the difference between a JRPG and lets say D&D, or something like Oblivion. But I could argue the same for MMOs. When all we had was UO and EQ, no one considered them similar at all. 3rd person vs 1st, 2d vs 3d, high fantasy vs semi-realism, etc. We can try to link everything back to Diku, but that’s just a broad base to work from, how you implement features and how everything fits together is just as important as what features you can list on a bullet point.

  19. Djbungo says:

    I do understand a little of the frustration, there are so many MMO’s out there who effectively trudge over the same old ground. Fantasy genre MMO’s have been around a lot longer than WoW but what the problem is is that games either try to copy WoW outright and fail, or they try to be different with no lore behind them. Often it is a mixture of the two (not doing things thought as standard as well as WoW and not being different enough to offer any reason to leaving WoW in the first place).

    One of the large problems with WAR, despite it’s longer and more established history than WoW, is that it is still a battle of humans, and orcs, and dwarves, and elves etc…it’s been done before. What is different though is the main idea behind the game. No longe ris it about a single player but it is about your place within the war itself and how effectively you cooperate with others in your army to destroy the opposition…..a much more gradiose strategy, and seemingly more point to the struggles.

    But what would have been even more of a hit would have been to do something in another genre, and with Games Workshops fantastic years of lore build up, none would have been more enthusiastic about seeing a Warhammer 40k MMO than myself. A different genre, a new approach and it could have turned the tide. But I feel a lot of responsibility on the fantasy genre MMO’s lays firmly at the feet of one Mr P. Jackson and a little know trilogy of movies. This started the hype and got all the little kiddies into fantasy….destroying the hopes of Sci-fi forever it seems!

  20. Atrophis says:

    A 40k MMO is on its way, though the developers dont have a track record with MMO’s so don’t got your hopes too high.

  21. Cwezbfdk says:

    Very Good Site

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