Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Shots: The Lemons Of MMO Failures Make Bitter Lemonade

  • As always, when you need insight into the MMO business, there is no better source than the original ranter. Scott Jennings has a post discussing the collapse of 38 Studios and massive layoffs at Bioware.

  • Back in January, I wrote a post saying that AAA MMO development was not only untenable, but actually detrimental to the growth of the genre. My argument was that games like SWTOR are not growing the MMO space, they are just making it more crowded with carbon copy games.

  • No one wants to see people put out of a job. I'm sure that everyone at Bioware and 38 Studios was working as hard as possible to make a great game. It has been said many times before that no one sets out to make a bad game. However a constant churn of mediocre games is not helping anyone. The floor is going out from under Triple-A MMOs and I'm not so sure that is a bad thing.

  • The way MMOs are developed now, that amount of money required, means that only the safest of designs will ever be okayed. Innovation is a luxury that they can't afford, even if innovation is the only thing that will get people to play. What I want is for MMOs to go indie. I want people like Eric Heimburg and his Project Gorgon to show us a new way. Sure, it's not going to be polished like a Blizzard game. But there will be character and inspiration that you can't get from a bog-standard WoW-alike. There will always be a future for MMOs. I'd rather they were guided by visionaries instead of businessmen.

  • Of course, Keen has already beaten me to the punch, but that's fine. We need more voices shouting that it doesn't have to be this way.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I find it interesting that the success of WoW has been both a boon and bane for the MMO genre. I personally don't think that the subscription based MMO is dead just yet, but recent events have really hurt the future of sub based MMO's.

    I don't get this idea that every MMO needs to be innovative and the genre needs to evolve. The problem is that people have played so much WoW that any game released since feels stale.

  2. "I don't get this idea that every MMO needs to be innovative and the genre needs to evolve."

    There really needs to be more than just 'same mechanics, different graphics' going on. What's sad, is that after I quit WoW and became a F2P MMORPG tourist, I discovered more games with interesting gameplay design than I ever did as a sub-only purist. Sure, most of the games were low budget and/or grindy, but a lot of the original mechanics in these games would have real potential if a AAA western studio copied the best ideas from these 'disposable games' and put a high-budget spin on them.

    I am under the impression that many MMO devs have not played that many different types of MMORPG besides the small amount of sub-based western games, which would explain the frustrating lack of creativity many of them display when making their own MMORPG.

  3. I think this really raises the question of what constitutes failure. And that's apparently a blog post after I just typed two full paragraph's :-)

    More generally, if you want to see more innovative MMOs, play them. At least try out Puzzle Pirates, a Tale in the Desert, EVE, Wizard 101, or Fallen Earth.

    If more players would vote with their wallets instead of buying every big budget WoWalike that comes along and then bitching about how innovative it isn't, maybe publishers would suspect we want more innovative titles. Recent biggest successes apart from WoW would be SWTOR, Rift, and LoTRO . . . all of which had/ have huge numbers of detractors bitching that they aren't innovative enough.

    To put it differently, if The Secret World and GW II don't sell like gang busters and steady out at 500K+ subs/ playing players, than MMO fans will getting what they deserve when we all go to our graves playing re-skinned versions of WoW and the occasional niche title.