More MMORPGs, less happiness
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 March 2013, 3:31 am
All the data I have, from subscription numbers to XFire activity reports, point towards an ongoing decline of the MMORPG market in general that has been going on for over a year. There are blips of renewed interest when a new big game comes out, but those quickly fade. A reader wanted to bet me last year that after three months Guild Wars 2 would have more XFire activity than World of Warcraft, and lost that bet. And I have two different theories to explain this general decline.

One is based on the fact that MMORPGs tend to be rather similar to each other. Yes, the fans can argue for hours about the fine details in the difference of the combat system of World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 or Star Wars: The Old Republic. But basically these are all just coats of paint on the same old hotkey-based combat system. You have levels, quests, a level-cap, dungeons, gear-collecting, crafting, zones, and a whole range of other features in each of these games. Write a general enough description of one MMORPG, and it'll cover a dozen different games. Thus the decline of the genre can be explained by people burning out of the same old, same old.

The other theory is based on the fact that there are differences in the details between games. Some games have player housing, others don't. Some games have auto-targeting, others have a more action-oriented manual targeting and slightly faster combat. The way you gain new powers with level, and the talent trees vary between games (and sometimes even between patch versions of the same game). Thus when you create a complete feature list of a MMORPG, there are millions of possible combinations if you consider each presence or absence of a feature, and each possible variety of a feature. In this theory the decline of the genre would be caused by us having evolved certain preferences for certain features, and no game offering EXACTLY the right mix. So maybe you like the graphics style and setting of Neverwinter, but hate that it has action combat. Or you love Wildstar housing, but can't stand the WoW-like graphics. You'd love a game that has the trading of EVE, but would want it to be fantasy instead of sci-fi.

How about you? How do you see the upcoming MMORPGs, like Neverwinter or Wildstar? Do they bore you with being not much different from all the games we already have? Or do you love certain features and hate certain others?
Tobold's Blog

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