- I briefly alluded to this in regards to the annoucement that Diablo III would be free to WoW annual pass subscribers, but I think it deserves its own post. Very likely, if reports are to be believed, the Golden Age of the MMO is coming to an end.
- Don't panic.
- (I've used that joke before, right?)
- The thing to keep in mind is that this is the natural evolution of any cultural phenomenon. It is a cycle that has repeated time and again in gaming. Board wargaming had its hayday in 1970s. Tabletop role-playing games were huge in the 1980s. Collectable card games were everywhere in the 1990s. None of these genres are the colossi that they once were. Neither is the Nindento Wii. And so too will go the MMO.
- People try to blame the games, the companies, or even their fellow players for the loss of popularity. However each of these genres exploded because they caught the attention of the mainstream for a time. People bought and played Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and World of Warcraft who had no intention of looking at anything else. They were caught up in the cultural zeitgeist and were done when it passed. That is what the golden age of each of these genres looks like.
- Some people will tell you that games in these dead genres have never been better. They may be niche games instead of mainstream, but they are still around for those of us who care about them. The same thing will happen with MMOs. We may never again see a WoW sized juggernaut. But in a way, we don't want that again. If real innovation is to take place, we need the people making MMOs to do it because they love games, not because they love money.
© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.