MMOs, Saturation, Semantics, and Bears Oh My!
You know the idea that MMOs are confined to just simply the idea that there is some Everquest style world is somehow just the end all of the definition. It isn't the end all definition of what an MMO. Hell, the definition of the word definition is a personal thing, just like all of language, just because we coined the term for games like Ultima Online doesn't mean that we have to use it for only games like EQ and UO.
I mean, we're right now at a saturation point with games that are like EQ and UO that it's hilariously stupid to launch more without there being either some kind of bump in technology (more features, deeper worlds, better graphics, etc.) or well, that, and games like Everquest: Next are already marching in that direction, right?
So I mean, honestly, just because there isn't a WildStar being talked about right now for next year, we don't know what's going to come out of PAX South and PAX East and CES early in the year and what kind of curveballs we'll get for games that come out of SOE and other various "MMO" titles.
In the meantime, the idea that an MMO requires you to be an Elf with a bow fighting Orcs is sort of, dated? I guess, I mean, I've been writing about MMO for 9 years and the first game I wrote about professionally was Ragnarok Online, an isometric MMO developed and published by Gravity, followed shortly by Auto Assault and the original Guild Wars. These three games obviously do not follow the EQ formula, but nevertheless, are considered to be MMOs.
So honestly, why do we sit around and cling to this EQ model, and demand that several AAA MMORPGs come out (which is my favorite term for EQ style games, even if the entire games industry has tried to raze the word from existence) each year or I guess the entire industry is gone and well whatever we're all stuck I guess playing Half LIfe 2.
My first point in this short rant about semantics is that we don't need a WildStar and a TESO launching in the same year, along with a WoW expansion that revitalizes the game, and followed by a sea of expansions, and the relaunch of Marvel Heroes into a superior product. I mean, honestly, this year has been jammed pack with content, but then we reach this issue of you know, there are only so many people with the time or energy to play an MMO that's similar to WoW and they're already either playing WoW, The Secret World, SWTOR, RIFT, FFXIV, etc.
My second point is that honestly, we don't specifically need a game to be an EQ or WoW clone to be considered an MMO. Look at Warframe, War Thunder, World of Tanks/Airplanes, Path of Exile, Marvel Heroes, Robocraft, Planetside 2, etc. These are all specifically games that are not MMOs in the traditional sense, but they bring together the same concepts just in a different package.
Anyway, that's about all I had to say today about the subject. As the new year comes around and we're looking at a launch list contained mostly of question marks and crowdfunded games, let's remember that there is already a huge stable of active and very heavily played MMOs in a space that can only support so many without some kind of "new generation" of MMORPGs coming around.
In the meantime, there is a wealth of games that aren't specifically giant persistent worlds, but they're coming out, and follow the same themes. Personally, I consider 2015 the year of enlightenment, as we find out about all of the projects that have been in the dark and been worked on since the end of the recession.