There was a time, not too long ago in fact, when you couldn't move for beards, kobolds, raids, and Leeroy Jenkins. From the humble beginnings of Ultima Online and EverQuest, the MMO exploded. There were dozens launching during any particular year, all demanding cold, hard cash from your wallet at the start of each and every month.
Every one of us has an MMO or two we have extremely fond memories of, and it’s usually our first. Staying up into the wee hours, bleary eyed and high on near-lethal doses of caffeine, relying on store cupboard remnants for sustenance. There’s something magical about your first MMO, and it’s a feeling a lot of us have spent years chasing since, to no avail.
Where once MMOs were the epitome of freedom, adventure, and limitless possibilities, they are now restriction, the grind, and repetitive raids. For a genre so forward thinking, it has for too long remained firmly rooted in the past. A few have tried to shake things up; The Secret World and Planetside, to name but two, but the majority remain the same.
You know the formula by now. Stepping into this vast, unexplored world. Picking up quests, levelling up quicker. Then levelling up slower. Then hitting the level cap. Then raiding for gear to get high enough stats to do more difficult raids. Then grinding for hours until you’ve got the best set of gear. Then it's time to twiddle your fingers and wait for an expansion pack. Rinse and repeat.
We’ve seen the result in recent years. The number of MMOs has dried up, and practically none dare to launch with a subscription model. These are hugely expensive undertakings demanding constant content updates, but in an age of $3 blockbusters available in Steam sales, no one’s seeing the value.
It doesn’t help that MMOs, and MMORPGs in particular, are for the most part monogamous relationships. There’s 10 million World of Warcraft players out there who, if they were to quit, could fully populate a dozen other successful MMOs. But they’re paying their monthly fee for everything they need with World of Warcraft, why go from king of Stormwind to lowly peon somewhere else?
The fundamentals of MMOs need to be shaken up to regain players. The end-game is a flawed constructed. And for those reasons I think we’re already hammering the final nails into the MMO coffin.
What do you think? Are there any revolutionary MMOs you’ve got your eye on? Are you bored of the formula? Let us know below!