On Friday I tossed out some flame bait with my post about Aion, and while it was mostly posted to cure Friday boredom (and not because I was upset, my sickeningly happy friend:) ), there is a very real aspect behind the whole “your MMO is your religion” people bring up. Go back 10 years, and most MMO fans were just hoping this silly genre would catch on, so ANY win was good for everyone. Today however, now that the genre is very well established and here to stay, the focus shifts from the genre as a whole to its smaller sub-sections.
Think of it like turn-based strategy titles vs first person shooters. Any fan of TBS games just hopes ANY title catches on today so that more TBS games get funding, since the next TBS game might be the last. On the other side are FPS fans, who also follow their game of choice like a religion/cult, because the next FPS game coming out is not in jeopardy, it’s just what kind of FPS gets made. If a realistic shooter sells 5 million, and a horror or comedy shooter sells 100k, guess what direction the genre is going in? Now if you have a blog, and can’t stand realistic shooters, what are you going to blog about?
The analogy of rooting for ‘your’ game being like a religion might be a little off. To me, it’s more like division one college sports. The more successful your team, the more likely top-rated high school prospects will be interested in attending. As the future success of your school depends not only on you winning, but your rivals struggling, rooting not only for your school but also against your rivals makes perfect sense. Even when Ohio State is not playing Michigan, you can bet everyone at Michigan is hoping Ohio State loses every single game.
Going back to MMOs, and specifically Aion vs DarkFall, it’s not hard to see how someone like me, a fan of DarkFall, benefits from Aion’s struggles. For starters, players who left DF to try out Aion might come back now that Aion has failed to deliver, not to mention other Aion players looking for a better PvP MMO. Had Aion been more successful all those players would have stayed, and that’s however many players not paying $15 a month to Aventurine to fund future DarkFall content, content that I clearly have interest in. Aion shutting down has zero negative effect on me, as I was never interested with what it offers to begin with, so it’s struggles only help further my game of choice. In addition to funding future content, those returning players also help populate the world and generate word-of-mouth buzz of leaving Aion and returning to DarkFall.
On a higher level, Aion failing has possible future impact on the type of games being offered in the MMO space. As readers here know I’m a huge fan of sandbox MMOs over themeparks, especially the recent trend of super-easy themeparks where instant gratification rains from the sky. The more themeparks that struggle, and the more sandbox games that see success, the more likely this trend is going to shift (if only slightly) and more attention will be given to games that interest me. Because at the end of theday, this is all about what’s best for me, everyone else be damned.