The MMO genre really has been terrible for a long time

TAGN has a post about the PC Gamer 50 most important PC games, which includes five MMOs (UO, EQ, EVE, WoW, Second Life). As noted in his post, all those MMOs came out prior to 2004, which basically tells you everything you need to know about the genre today.

As I was thinking about it, what post-2004 MMO would you put on the list if you had to pick one? WAR for killing the genre? SW:TOR for being a massive flop at release? FFXIV for its disaster launch with 1.0 and rebirth with 2.0? GW2 for…?

It’s tough right? And what’s crazy is this shouldn’t be that hard, not having to go back as far as 2004. So much has changed in gaming in 12 years, and yet here we have the MMO genre without any major leaps forward (and a lot of steps backwards, from WoW’s current state to the now-dying F2P model idiocy). No Kickstarter games that have shattered the mold (yet, hopefully), no niche releases that have picked up major steam, no big releases that moved us forward. Just more WoW-clones or small titles that had a few decent ideas and a whole host of flaws or issues.

What’s even more crazy if you think about all of this is that even today, the MMO genre is young compared to genres like FPS, RTS, RPG, or TBS, yet again while those genres have moved forward, the MMO space has not.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Guild Wars, MMO design, Rant, Uncategorized, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The MMO genre really has been terrible for a long time

  1. Azuriel says:

    I dunno… what were the last five FPS games that moved the genre forward? Half-Life 2 was released in 2004. Maybe one of the CoD iterations?

    If the argument is that older genres are more “settled,” well I’m not sure I buy that. I mean, they might be more settled, but the MMO genre is peculiar precisely because there are still millions of players logging in every day in those five MMOs. If you are still having fun with WoW or whatever, there is no particular reason to try other MMOs. Conversely, a fan of Half-Life 2 would still have bought 12 years of other FPS games in the meantime. Not only is the market for MMOs more shallow than other genres (limited to long-term, appointment gamers usually just on PC), they are less likely to switch games, limiting the pool even further.

    Honestly, at this point, I would be very surprised if it were even possible for there to be a breakout MMO success story, no matter how innovative. Maybe stuff like Star Citizen, assuming that ever actually releases? I just wonder where else they will find the warm bodies. I find it more likely that the other genres will just co-opt MMO conventions in the same way they did RPG mechanics. We will see more things like Destiny than “proper” MMOs.

    • SynCaine says:

      Isn’t Destiny a decent example of a new FPS that changes things up? Halo? Farcry? Crysis? I’d say Fallout 3 is there as well. It’s not a pure shooter, but it is a FPS/RPG, right? What would be the MMO-ish equivalent of Fallout 3? Point being, at least an argument could be made. What MMO title could you even argue for?

      Edit: Also I think SC, CU, and/or Crowfall have a decent shot of bringing something gamechanging to the table, just maybe not in 2016.

      • Azuriel says:

        Halo (2001), Far Cry (2004), Crysis (2007)? Is Crysis really influential beyond requiring graphics hardware that hadn’t even been invented yet? I’d suggest that Fallout 3 moved the RPG genre forward more than the FPS genre, honestly; the gunplay was abysmal.

        I see what you mean in a general sense, but my point is that MMOs are much more constricted by design and definitions than other genres. This is besides the problem that those 2004 games are still monopolizing a huge percentage of possible MMO players – something that simply doesn’t happen in other genres.

        • SynCaine says:

          I was thinking Farcry 3 or so, not 1, since they really are significantly different games. Basically the whole ‘open world FPS’, whichever game made that as popular as it is today. Very different from Doom or even what CoD/BF do today. Crysis yes for exactly that reason, it pushed the boundary of graphics and succeeded in doing so, which is a core staple of the FPS genre IMO. Kinda like EQ1 being in 3D, that was a big deal.

          As for your second point; look at WoW and EVE, they could not be more different in all aspects, yet both are MMOs, so the definition of the genre and what is possible isn’t all that ridged. It’s just that since 2004, it’s basically been all WoW-clones or flawed releases. There hasn’t really been a modern Asheron’s Call or DAoC to sit besides WoW like those titles did for EQ1.

    • Matt says:

      “Not only is the market for MMOs more shallow than other genres (limited to long-term, appointment gamers usually just on PC),”

      This is probably the heart of the matter. In order for something to be “important” it has to be reasonably successful, and there aren’t enough hardcore MMOers out there that don’t already play one. All the casual MMO players moved on to somewhere. MOBAs?

      • zaphod6502 says:

        As a former hardcore MMO player (in the first 6 years of WoW my gaming group was raiding 6 days a week, 5 hours a night). After that most of my original group moved on and mostly play “action MMO’s” now, eg. World of Tanks, World of Warships, and similar games.

        The genre isn’t really bringing new young players in anymore and for most of these younger players classic MMORPG’s are seen as being stale and boring and something their parents played (anecdotal evidence based on me questioning my teenage cousins who mostly play games like CoD and League of Legends).

        The move to F2P did not do the genre any favors either. If I never see another Korean MMORPG it will be too soon. How one country can produce so many horrible cookie cutter MMO’s is beyond belief.

  2. cristiand90 says:

    People expect perfect games since day 1, developers expect revenue since day 1. Then they expect long life and growth.

    These things aren’t the norm. WoW was not the norm, WoW was the exception.

    As soon as developers start remembering that MMOs are not mainstream, we may start to get decent MMOs again. You can’t make an MMO for everyone. You can’t mix medieval with space exploration and still have a clue what’s going on.

  3. Pingback: CAN there be another MMO success? | In An Age

  4. Eph says:

    “As noted in his post, all those MMOs came out prior to 2004, which basically tells you everything you need to know about the genre today.”

    It’s not the genre that’s dead, it’s PC Gamer’s relevance.

    The last FPS on that list is from 2007. The last non-roguelike RPG is from 2002. The last RTS is from 1998. And the only thing of importance to happen in PC gaming since 2009 was one adventure game whose only claim to fame is that it got crowdfunded through Kickstarter.

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