New Year, New Adventures

It’s seems like this is going to be a weird year for mmo’s. So far there doesn’t seem to be any, truly huge releases to look forward to for the first time in many years. I see many around the blogs that seem rather disjointed and saddened by this but, this actually makes me even more excited.

This is going to be a great year for the smaller projects. There are a number of Kickstarter mmo’s now bearing fruit and a few others without the huge industry footprint. If we did have a blockbuster title to look forward I can imagine that a lot of these new mmo’s would go unnoticed and forgotten and that would be a huge shame. Now there is a greater possibility that these games will get more of a chance. They will get interested people to join in and maybe even a lot more that might not usually try these experiences. This gives them greater exposure and maybe even more funds to work with in order to expand into the future.

The other reason I’m excited is that this year looks to be providing far more diversity in the available experiences. We’ve been stuck in a slump for a while now with the same recycled mechanics and focus and now we are finally branching out into other areas. We have new themes making their way out by high fantasy. We have a huge range of sandbox titles each approaching the style differently and we have a range of new ideas and technologies being developed and polished that could be, and probably will be what moves the whole genre forwards.

Crafting has been getting a huge make over in a lot of titles with different types of mechanics and importance. We have different visuals from third person to top down. Different aesthetics and a move away from graphics having a greater focus than the actual game. We have games like Camelot Unchained showing us just how far the technology can go with rendering a high number of players at once with good performance. And we have projects like Shroud of Avatar showing off housing and the importance of community.

It’s also the first year in a while that we have a selection of titles that don’t seem to be afraid of trying something in new and thus, completely playing it safe. The first year in which we are getting a range of experiences more tailored to forgotten populations or just more in line with particular interests instead of trying to appeal to everyone with a rather bland, safe approach. They don’t have the investment behind them in most instances that would require a need to be safe, and a few are directly through the playerbase who are having a great impact on these titles.

It really is going to be a fantastic year for mmo’s. New worlds, new mechanics and new experiences, and maybe just getting out from the usual comfort zone.

The other things I think might result from the lack of new blockbusters is that some of the more recent forgotten titles that have previously released will see a lot more play. There are some great mmo’s still out there that have released in the last few years but have been forgotten due to a range of new shinies filling up our vision. Rift has been progressing well with a lot of content. Some of those new Tera dungeons and areas look amazing. The Secret world has also been adding a lot of new characters and content too which I’ve unfortunately missed out on. Maybe have a look back at WIldstar and ESO and how they’ve progressed during their first year… I know ESO has changed a lot and the absence from Wildstar has made me appreciate it’s style a little more.

I’ve been playing Planetside 2 a little bit lately and while, it’s not something I would ever main as an mmo… or game it has been fun to just jump in now and then and play this fast paced mmofps with a friendly group. And, regardless of its faults I’ve had a great time.

So yeh. A great year to maybe rekindle a lost interest in a previous mmo and the experiences we might have missed out on. Maybe time to get around to those we never played, or never gave enough patience too. Basically it’s going to be a gap year of mmo’s and a time to experiment and play a little catch up and, I couldn’t be happier with that.

3 thoughts on “New Year, New Adventures

  1. I agree it’s going to be an interesting year for genre-watchers.

    The positive view is that the diversification we are seeing in both production and style indicates that the genre is maturing. More room for more producers, more room for variety and experimentation, a widening of access and the potential to draw in new players excited by the new ideas .

    The negative view is that a genre already in decline and steeped in recent failure and disappointment is beginning to flail around, desperate to find something, anything that works. Most of those flailing attempts will fail and the few that succeed will only split the existing audience and weaken the genre even further.

    In the end it probably won’t be anything as dramatic as either of those extremes. My feeling is that MMOs are going to slip out of the attention of the non-specialist player during the next few years. I don’t believe any of the upcoming titles, including EQNext, will make much of an impression outside the existing, aging and increasingly fickle and uninterested demographic that has been playing MMOs for a decade or more.

    Lots of companies will go on making and operating MMOs because there will still be money to be made but the audiences for those games will become increasingly insular, polarized and separated. The days of 3-monthers and game-hopping will be over as, far from taking risks and investigating MMOs outside of their comfort zones, players retreat to the one or two games they know well and feel “belong” to them.

    Give it another 5-10 years and the wheel will turn. Something new and huge will appear and the genre will be revitalized and renewed. It won’t be anything we’ve heard of right now though, that’s for sure. As you say, though, it’s not an unappealing prospect. MMOs were arguably at their best when they were a real niche interest. I’m not averse to another few years if that.

  2. I am excited to see how Camelot Unchained turns out. If it is accessible enough, then I will give it a go. My problem with PvP-focused anything is accessibility: I don’t want to feel forced to min-max at every turn, grind out huge amounts of gear, or always run full raid strong.

    Other than that, I’ll probably go back to FFXIV for a bit and then slink back into the shadows.

    • hopefully it is accessible enough for the everyday person, it sounds like they are trying to make it soi you can still progress within limited play times. and keeping power differentials to a minimum. Whether that happens in practice though…

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