4 Reasons Adult Gaming is Spelled MMOFPS

Posted Mon, Jul 30, 2012 by ricoxg

As Dooms-Day approaches (it's in December, right?), how appropriate is it that we enter the Year of the Gun? Several articles on Ten Ton Hammer have taken a look at the innovations coming to the MMOFPS genre, but we've never really touched on why these games are gaining in popularity. I think the answer can pretty well be summed up by the target audience--adults. As the age of the average gamer climbs with each passing year, it’s becoming more important for developers to rethink their models for success in order to meet the increasing demand for games that aren’t massive time-sinks.

Adults Have Less Time to Grind

I think many of my fellow OGs ( Original Gamers ) can remember very fondly those days of caffeine-induced delirium as we crawled our way into the thirty-seventh hour of Dwarf Fortress, giggling maniacally over the released lava as it roasted alive those pestilent pachyderms, then only to spend another hour tirelessly documenting the gleeful events for inclusion in the latest annals of the Colony of Boatmurdered. We just don’t have that kind of time to invest in games anymore, though. We’ll give it a shot occasionally, only to be irritated when the kids start pulling away from us in levels and gear. Who has time to grind out levels between responsibilities like spending time with the family and having to work a regular job to pay the bills?

These dwarves don’t sing silly songs so much as foul up wells by getting so hammered they fall in and drown.

FPS games allow the gamer to jump in and play as little as they like and never worry about being out-leveled by their friends and left behind because these games are distinctly skill-based, with no levels to grind, no raids to attend, and no drawn out farming parties to gather the materials needed for obscure crafting. Thus, there is no need to invest hours of effort into the game just to be competitive and remain that way. All the MMOFPS requires is a moderate amount of intelligence, decent reactions, and a system beefy enough to run the game of choice. As working adults, we have the cash to buy the rig and enough experience to at least fake the intelligence, and two out of three ain’t bad.

First person shooter MMOs , especially the persistent ones, lend themselves really well to busy schedules. A player can log in, play as little or as long as they wish, and logout knowing they’ll still be a match for anyone tomorrow. Where in typical games players invest time in things like just trying to schedule a guild event, FPS games often require no planning at all to enjoy. Plus, Planetside combined the thrill of an FPS with the strategy of an RTS, and then made it persistent.  Of course, then they came out with Core Combat… because you can come and go as you like, there’s no concern over leaving friends critically short if you have to bail because your wife is making you take your daughter to dance class, or because you got called in due to a system being down.

Persistent FPS games are even better for those of us with busier lifestyles. The typical FPS only takes a few minutes to jump into a match and then about a quarter or half an hour to play that match. Rinse and repeat. But persistent games like Planetside need even less of a time commitment. In these MMOFPS games, there’s no match to join. The player logs in, jumps into battle, and plays as long as he likes. No queuing, no match-finding, no penalties for leaving early. MMOFPS games are like the TV dinner of MMOs--put it in, *ding*, shoot someone in the face.

Adults Require More Bang for Their Time

It’s not enough to just be able to game for a short while and walk away. That time spent has to have some value to it as well. This is something the FPS genre does well since the very nature of the game is to inject as much action as possible into the Yeeeeaaah…not the bang I was talking about! shortest time. Games like World of Tanks have accomplished this by creating an action-packed gaming experience, with some persistence to give them long-term value.

More Typical FPS games focus on the immediate and, while that might be entertaining, it loses value long-term because it lacks any persistence. Simplistic reward systems and random acknowledgements may have appealed to B. F. Skinner, but many adults quickly see through the thin veneer to the cookie-cutter heart of the programming. We played Medal of Honor. We really don’t care to play it again with a candy-coating.

The biggest draw for adults to MMOFPS games lately is the new economic model, though. Few adults have the time to devote to a game that they did when they were younger, so that monthly subscription to play a game you barely have time for begins to feel ridiculous. The guys over at Wargaming.net have shown just how lucrative and viable a free-to-play model can be, and they’ve hit a homerun with it. World of Tanks is a prime example of an economic model that, while geared for adults, still finds room to pull in younger gamers. The WoT free-to-play system isn’t the first in an MMOFPS, but I think it’s probably the most effective to date.

World of Tanks screenshot

It’s not complicated, but it’s free. Also, WoT is a great game for when you only have about 30 minutes to play something.

In WoT the player no longer pays a subscription. Instead, you have the option of upgrading your account for varying periods of time in order to gain some minor benefit to cash and experience earned during that period. During the week, you play on a regular account when you have less time, and then purchase two days of premium for the weekend when you can get more value out of it. Rather than paying for a month of mostly wasted days, you pay for just the time you want and need. The genius of it is that when combined with modest, non-game-changing purchasable items, Wargaming.net has a system that pulls in more money per paying customer than most others.

Adults Still Need Complexity

Some might ask: why not simply go for the straight up FPS over the MMOFPS? There are certainly hordes of titles out there to choose from. The answer is in the complexity of the adult gamer. We’re limited on time, but we still have a desire for more sophistication and depth than most standard FPS games provide. Battlefield was on the way to becoming a solid hybrid worthy of note, but the latest game copped out to the dumbed down, run-and-gun Call of Duty style of play that the under-developed tend to prefer. The matured gamer desires some story to their selected title, or some meta-experience that transcends the mere repeated headshot and offers something more.

Firefall screenshot

Cool graphics, interesting story, and complex crafting make Firefall a good choice for adults looking for a good game. Oh, did I mention it was also free to play?

Persistent FPS games offer this as well. Whether it’s the immersive story of Firefall, or the quest for total continent lock of Planetside, MMOFPS games tend to offer some deeper story or meta-game that fulfills the adult gamer’s need for complexity. Some of the same Skinner-Box techniques of the normal FPS may still find their way into these games, but MMOFPS games don’t consist solely of those sad attempts at creating a false sense of reward.

We Got the Money, Honey

Sure, it’s true that there are a lot of kids in the market now who, having grown up in the Halo and Counterstrike generation, are big fans of the First Person Shooter genre. But that demographic has always existed. The difference is that there is an older demographic that is rapidly gaining a significant share of the market-- mature gamers with jobs and families. Because this is the demographic that has jobs, it only makes sense that companies would start setting sights on them. There’s already been a rash of free-to-play games, or games moving that way, and I think a large part of that new direction is aimed at adult gamers who feel that such games give them more value for their dollar. I suspect we’ll see more persistent FPS games over the next several years as games like Planetside 2 and the DayZ mod for Arma II successfully provide concentrated entertainment in scalable doses. The trick will be catering to the busy adult gamers, while still meeting the demand for complexity in either story or mechanics. By providing those things in a single package, the MMOFPS genre stands to expand and develop quite a bit over the next few years.

My name is Ricoxg, and I’m an adult gamer. I don’t always choose FPSs, but when I do, I choose persistent ones.

The Most Interesting Writer in the World

Stay Ub3r, my fr13nds.

Haha nice closing comment.

I'm just becoming an adult and one of my remorses is the fact that I won't be able to enjoy games anymore in the near future because of university, work and so on :|

Check out Planetside 2 when it releases. I think you'll be happy with how well the game will likely fit into your lifestyle. I went through a similar transition when I joined the Army years ago, and the original PS was the game that worked for me then. The new one should fill that nich even better. There'll be mobile apps that allow you to be involved and stay updated on how things are going even when you're not around your computer, and it'll be one of those games where you invest as little or as much time as you want. More time just means more flexibility, so newer or less experienced players are still competitive. They just don't have the flexibility that other players might.

I work 6 to 7 days a week a min of 10 to 12 hours a day Yet I still love an MMO, GW 2 looks to answer the grind time problem. I hope with the area level scaleing I can enjoy low level areas after getting off work.

The fact that you can play for a few minutes or a few hours because of games' increasingly 'casual' audience is ruining MMOs. The very fact that there is no reason to invest time and effort into fully realising a cool and differentiated character is the core reason why these games will never have the same enduring appeal and fanbase of a game like Everquest for example.

I disagree, though I do completely empathize with you. MMOs are getting dumbed down because that's what happens when any medium gets marketed to the masses. Look at TV and the swath of reality shows all over the place. They're approachable by the widest audience, thus they get the widest attention, but sometimes you get those gems like Big Bang Theory that just breaks away from the pack to show that while good will always get you by, intelligent script writing and clever story-telling will always be the path to true success.

MMOs are the same way. The scalability of interactions hasn't ruined MMOs. In fact, I'd submit in that in a way it's refined them. You have to think about the player experience so much more deeply than you used to. At one time, you could just make an interesting world, rough out some mechanics, and let the players have at it. These days it takes much more depth and more impact per second to be competitive. The question is how do you build that impact? Games like CoD do it through random rewards and bright flashy lights, but games like Skyrim build it through rich story-telling.

Adults just don't have the time to invest in games that we once did, so that time invested has to have some significance to it. The days of camping EC and hawking random loot in EQ are gone. It's what'll be next that excites me. The awesome isn't gone. They just haven't figured out how to concentrate it and deliver it in a way that doesn't kill the user yet. =)

I'm a 66 year old gamer, who's played over 400 video games, mostly FPS's and some RPGs, over the last decade or so, or roughly 1 per week on average. That's because I've been retired since age 55 and and after I discovered Doom, I was hooked. I would not know what do without the adrenaline rushes that a good shooter, like Max Payne or Red Dead Redemption, or COD and MOH and GOW have provided with me over the last years. If I died and went to heaven tonight, all I would wish for is for an Xbox 360 and a constant supply of good shooters and decent RPG's for eternity.

But I have never played online, except single player games via Onlive. I don't want to compete against nor play with 16 year old hot shots. I don't don't need that whole "social thing" nor to pay monthly subscription fees. I'm just fine playing with my virtual team bots. I'm perfectly fine with single player campaigns if they are varied and engaging and get my adrenaline pumping. A decent storyline certainly makes it all more interesting if I can emphatize a bit with the characters and my avatar.

What the industry needs is to stop ignoring not only middle aged adults but seniors like myself. If I can do it, anyone can do it, maybe even up to age 80 and beyond. Just need bigger type and occasionally some cheats or easier ways to get by the more exasperating challenges. Nobody likes to get killed a few dozens times and then have to stop the game in frustration and give up. Games should be made so that everyone level can "beat" the game all the way to the end. Those who want to play "insane mode" are welcome to it. I know a computer can beat me at anything if the programmer writes the software to do so. At age 66, that "macho thing" is thankfully in the past. All I want out of a game is a few hours of adrenaline pumping entertainment to keep my heart functioning :)

Belgravia Villas is also near elite schools such as Chatsworth International School and Lycee Francais De Singapour. Nanyang Polytechnic and Anderson Secondary School are also around in the area.
For vehicle owners, it takes less than 20 minutes to drive to the business hub and vibrant Orchard Road shopping district, via Central Expressway (CTE).
Belgravia Villas

News from around the 'Net