EVE might save the MMO genre

Continuing the conversation started yesterday about the MMO genre, and how I don’t believe its time has passed or that the genre ‘doesn’t work’ anymore, let’s talk about EVE.

But first, what do you see when you look at EQ1 today? An outdated title that is most likely a nostalgia trip, right? Same for basically any older MMO not named WoW (which today is in its final form as a single-player RPG), and even WoW isn’t fooling anyone into believe it’s a new release with top-end graphics and technology.

EVE though? EVE looks like a game released in 2018. From a technology perspective, there isn’t another game on the market, MMO or otherwise, that can handle battles as large as EVE, or that has an economy as deep, complex, and balanced as EVE. The largest groups of players, with the longest history, exist and thrive in EVE. For a game released in 2003, EVE still does many things better than any other game out, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that EVE has been upgraded at a consistent rate since 2003.

It’s sad that the above is almost exclusively limited to EVE, when in reality it should be the basic formula for most MMOs. And hence a major reason why the genre has been stuck in neutral for years now. Everyone has forgotten what made MMOs work, and why they offered something unique to gaming.

To get back to EVE, the recent purchase of CCP by Pearl Abyss could be a disaster (if the game drifts away from being EVE and more towards being a generic F2P cash-shop dumpster title), or it could be wonderful (CCP can finally stop trying to make something else, and focus 100% on doing what they do well, EVE Online). If we assume the latter, I don’t think it’s outrageous to suggest EVE could see a second revival in terms of popularity. I’m not predicting WoW-like numbers, but 500k+ I could see.

There are a TON of former EVE players who have drifted away, but most likely aren’t sick of the game, or never want to touch it again. Many just got bored, or tired of waiting for feature X or fix Y. With new focus, perhaps CCP can finally deliver on the wants of some, if not most, of those players. Growth would also snowball for a few reasons. Socially, if many of your former friends and corpmates are returning and enjoying things, you are far more likely to return as well. And as the population increases, in-game conflict and drama increases as well, which further grabs peoples attention and sparks an interest to return.

If we assume all of the above comes to fruition, it would be somewhat poetic if EVE was the reason we see a second coming of the MMO genre, and in particular, a return to the genre being about virtual worlds rather than short-stay themepark rides. Not holding my breath or anything, but it’s not that crazy if things fall into place.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EQ2, EVE Online, MMO design, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to EVE might save the MMO genre

  1. EVE is definitely an odd duck in the MMO world. You can compare it to WoW and dismiss it. Even against EverQuest it doesn’t quite stack up when it comes to peak subscribers.

    But EVE is a non-consensual PvP world. There is no truly safe space if you undock. MMOs like that… real MMORPGs, not lobby games like World of Tanks… generally hunt themselves out and have to make a safe place for care bears as with Trammel in UO, or they stick to their guns and die like Darkfall or Shadowbane, or they downsize drastically so they can cater to a very limited audience like Meridian 59.

    In the world of those PvP MMOs EVE is a crazy successful outlier given how many people reject such titles out of hand. It is hardly perfect and it walks a fine line, but it has done something right to survive and thrive this long. Given how shiny and new BDO feels… I started giving it a try this week to get a hint as to what Pearl Abyss was about… there are definitely things CCP could learn from them.

  2. Bill Bones says:

    As far as the future development of EVE goes, Hilmar’s plans are to rewrite the base engine (the one that hasn’t been touched since release) to put it up to date. Which with the current size of CCP means that there’s gonna be little developer bandwidth to actually develop the game compared to the gargantuan effort to code EVE 2.0. Even after updating the rest of services, the core is a massive piece of code in itself. And as much as it’s a requirement so EVE lasts another decade, the compromise between visible development and this background task doesn’t looks in a good place with CCP’s limited income and personnel.

  3. Ginger Magician says:

    PC gaming is dead and trying to pin hopes on a game released in 2003 only shows the desperation of those who still play pc games

  4. solidd says:

    Why no mention of FFXIV?

    Regardless, your post is based on the premise that the MMO genre needs saving. I’m honestly confused as to why you would think this. The genre seems to be alive and kicking, with plenty of active games either released, or in beta/alpha. See https://massivelyop.com/ for example.

    As for WoW, the game you love to hate, it still has a massive active player base and is very popular – e.g. see twitch numbers during last 90 days: https://sullygnome.com/game/World_of_Warcraft/90/summary . You’ve been saying “WoW is Dying” for several years now. It’s nearly 2019. Maybe it’s time to take that chip off your shoulder?

    • SynCaine says:

      When have I said WoW is dying? I’ve said that vanilla/BC was peak WoW, which is still true, but I don’t think I’ve ever said that WoW is dying.

      As for FFXIV, its the best MMO themepark out, but its still just that, a themepark.

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