I find the defensive nature of the Elder Scroll MMO devs interesting. The game is not close to release, no one has seen it in action, let alone played it, yet already ‘fans’ are objecting and raising complaints, and the devs are trying to settle the crowds. Not that I believe the criticism is not warranted, mind you, but when has an MMO been under this much fire this early?
To me this suggests two things. One is that more and more gamers are tired of WoW clones. ‘Vets’ of the genre have felt this way for some time now (2008 yo), yet sales of clones have been decent in recent years, indicating that how ‘vets’ felt was not representative of the majority. SW:TOR changes this in a major way. Yes, the game sold a good number of boxes for an average game, but SW:TOR was anything but average in terms of project cost and hype. That SW:TOR only peaked at 1.7m is telling, and its rapid decline, supplemented by EA’s dismissal of the game being ‘important’ to the company, only hammer this home.
The second consideration is that the average MMO gamer seems to be moving back to the roots of the genre, albeit slowly. GW2 is no UO in terms of sandbox design, but many of its features are directly intended to move it away from WoW, rather than evolve it, and fans have responded to this approach. When TESO proudly announces that it’s WoW but ‘better’, it’s notable that many today see this as a major problem rather than something to cheer.
It will be interesting to see if an MMO comes along that strikes the right design balance of MMO longevity with casual ‘accessibility’. I believe WoW had that during its initial run, if somewhat imperfectly, but no game has come close since. Most have been far too ‘accessibly’, with gamers facerolling for a month or so and leaving bored. Others have achieved the longevity aspects, but at the price of excluding all but the most dedicated. As the genre escaped the flawed shadow of current-day WoW, I’m fairly confided such a title will come along.
When is the billion dollar question.
And sadly, it certainly sounds like TESO is not that title.