*Disclaimer* for a very opinionated post based on no factual evidence bar my own incoherent rambling, and in all probability isn’t entirely relevant or interesting.
Mmos are a funny beast, the genre is growing rapidly in terms of titles and players but in general it is a genre that has lost its way. Iteration of its mechanics and principles are being stifled by what can only be consumerist player demand and corporate greed.
The latest titles are selling… Millions in fact but they are so far removed from the genres true ruling factors (those 2 m’s do indeed stand for something) that we invariable see a backlash against it and subsequent player migration. I can’t help but think most of the recent titles I have played would have made a far better co-op rpg, yes even the secret world…actually especially the secret world. Tera was good in terms of community building and player cooperation, Glitch beats them all. You would have to think it would be the better investment to to go the co-op rpg route since developmental cost and overhead would be far cheaper not to mention that you can charge for the extra content as dlc (another issue entirely). Even with piracy you would have some serious profit, The Elder Scrolls franchise is a good example of that (lord knows why they are jumping on the band wagon as well). Lazy design is never tolerated but it is far more cruel for an mmo.
I have been reading a recent forum thread discussing the trend of mmo mechanics and development, it originally started as a thread from discussing “Why are PvP’ers drawn to mmos” but as things on the internet do they grow and diverge. Anyway this comment came up and made me think.
But the market proves otherwise, it is a much safer bet to go after a big cross section and invest accordingly than scaling down and going for a niche, for the most part. It is also hard to convince the ones putting the money to go after a small share of the market that doesn’t trend as growing, when the cross section and the in between, do is the most rapidly growing group of the playerbase.
It’s also important to note that aside from the casuals and the ones that have grown into MMO’s via WoW or similar games being ready to take what they are used to to (and not reacting necessarily well to actual changes to that, even if they claim to want them) the rest is much more likely to take another conventional game than we are willing to publicly accept.
A niche game with new features and particularities that move them too far from the center will meet resistance from the middle grounds (most of players) the opposite side of the spectrum, and even some of the ones that claim to want what it has to offer, not to mention difference in theme and setting among those that want what the game seems to be offering.
it’s quite a more complex and tricky situation than players take in consideration. We only see the “i want” part of it, companies have to deal with the whole package, including money.
You know I really don’t think that developing a game to the average of player interests is really the answer anymore. Due to the influx of new players and people getting more acquainted with the genre there are new ideas surfacing in regards to every aspect and more involved and articulated debates going on. With the breadth of new games and ideas the player-base is getting far more interested and knowledgeable in what they actually like. Blizzard and wow like most will acknowledge came at the right time and catered well to what I can only describe as an ignorant player-base, that is not the case today.
I have a dream
The other interesting point they makes is the current resistance from many regarding their beloved mmo’s if they stray to far from the tried and true or copy and pray. Many do not know what they like but i think we can all agree that we know what we don’t like and the overwhelming voice is that of dissent concerning the haphazard/laissez faire approach of the current “next gen” games. Here is where i believe we should diverge though and cater to a greater cross section of the population based on player ideologies rather than a general consensus.
Player ideologies of play usually come down to the fundamentals of the game world which in essence is how and what content we enjoy, broken down this is pve and pvp. Usually this infers there being a pve and pvp server but I really do not understand why it just stops there. These rule mechanics seem set in stone since the beginning of time… Thy shall have pve servers with this set of rules and pvp with those. Thy shalt never interfere with thine divine rules.
In the market today I believe this is no longer required, in fact I think it is rather harmful… It is an addendum of old and needs to be done away with. I believe the solution now is to tailor servers to particular groups of the player-base rather than as a whole. I wondered numerous times while playing Tera why there wasn’t a more hardcore sever, something ffa.. there would have been a decent size population for it too. They could have had a couple servers where the vanarch had more powers or one were power was solely gained through pvp or diplomacy, also why give gvg to all the pve servers. Why can’t Vanguard have a pvp server and why oh why does every single sandbox pvp mmo have to be full loot, partial loot is not a dirty word.
As you can see the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination and server numbers. Why in corporate environments where player metrics are akin to the second coming of Christ does no one think to maybe investigate the matter and run a server or two to see the popularity and get some very interesting and valuable data.
One title that popped up in the post mentioned before was “This isn’t McDonalds you can’t have it your way”. I am in no way declaring that every single players interests and demands should be catered to, that would be futile and completely idiotic. Even these days though McDonalds has a breadth of options available catering to it’s different customers likes and moods so why can’t mmo’s move with the consumeristic times… Hell Maccas has salads now after all, the improbable can sometimes be good business. It certainly doesn’t hurt your bottom line but your player-base will thank you by opening their wallets and or throwing the contents at the screen.
Also why the hell doesn’t gw2 have at least a handful of their hundred or so servers being open world pvp, making it gvg like Tera would be absolutely amazing.