Global stocks aren't the only markets facing a crisis, the MMO market is just as fragile.
In the early half of the last decade the new genre that was the MMO was thriving with games such as Everquest
, World of Warcraft
and Guild Wars
. However, with a large increase in the volume of games the industry is churning out and our ever-decreasing wallets, is the genre doomed to fail? The signs are there, singleplayer games are being made with replayability and multiplayer in mind. Multiplayer games have become much more popular in the last few years and have a real edge over MMOs in pricing, and more player control over servers. The market is saturated with cheaply made Korean MMOs which offer the same features as the big branded games, resulting in many studios being folded and game servers shut down in the last few years.
Some games like Jumpgate:Evolution didn't even make it to beta.
This is the single most depressing graph on the internet.
This coming year is vital for the survival of the MMO market. Investors don't want to spend their spare time collecting troll ears for Fizzwidget in the latest WoW clone, if game developers can't show the capacity for evolution then the genre may not make it out of the next few fiscal years alive. The fate of the market rests on these games.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
One thing TOR
has that many other games lack is pedigree. Not only does it have the massive Star Wars franchise to back it up, a franchise good enough for mint
, but it's being developed by Bioware. You know those guys, the ones with the games, that sell by the wheelbarrow? Yeah them. Eight character classes and all the usual MMO goodies of raiding, questing and swag fill the world's first fully voiced online game. Due to the epic universe of Star Wars, Bioware won't run out of ideas for expansion soon and with the emphasis on storytelling rather than Womp Rat massacres the feeling of ennui
that comes with so many online games could be avoided.
It's downfall? It could be seen as too similar to World of Warcraft
to succeed, although it has improvements and new features, it's nothing Blizzard can't add into its own masterpiece with a future expansion. Is this the MMO you're looking for? Maybe.
No one really liked him anyway.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2
was announced in 2007. Ever since then I've gone to bed wishing for its release, but slowly its development trundled along ignoring the media spotlight while challengers to WoW's MMO crown came and went. Remember Warhammer Online
? I bet you do. Last year though, the buzz began, whispers could be heard along the street about its imminent release and suddenly all eyes were on ArenaNet at events like Gamescom and PAX. Their lips are sealed over a possible release date, but they continue to tease us with trailers and videos.
The word that defines this game is 'Revolution'. ArenaNet have rewritten the rules of MMO gaming, no more quests from A to B asking to collect goblin feet, no more raids, and no saying "It can't be done." ArenaNet have promised World PvP, organic quests and huge vistas to explore. If their ambition doesn't get the better of them then this could be the one.
"You know what this game needs don't you? Cannons."
The Secret World
Picking a third MMO to spur some confidence in the market is tough. The latter two are the big hitters of course, their hype is reaching fever pitch and expectations are high, but what about the rest of the market? Being honest, TERA
don't look like game changers. Sure, you can use gamepads and the combat is more fluid, but that doesn't make a great MMO. Dark Millennium
is at the very least, two years away and in this industry that's a generation.
The Secret World
however, shows that MMOs don't have to be about big power armored men with hulking shoulder plates. No classes, no levels, total freedom in a dark world where conspiracy theories and urban legends come to life. What's not to love? There are a few interesting gameplay videos up already, but this is a game that sells itself on its intrigue. The "Do whatever you want" in a Lovecraft inspired world is sure to draw a large crowd of people who are sick with the standard MMO grind. Although The Secret World
isn't going to be a huge AAA title, its strengths lie in its differences from normal MMOs, showing online games don't have to follow the same template. However, its ambition could be its downfall.
This is the last time I use eHarmony.
The current market situation may be chalked off as a trend by some but it is a serious issue. The genre is a high-risk investment and very few developers are willing to take the plunge. If these three MMOs succeed in taking a significant slice of World of Warcraft
's subscription then it could restart the market and re-ignite creativity among developers. However, there are other dangers to the market, and evolution is the key to survival. As stagnation turns to decline, it turns to these developers to prove to us that they can make new MMOs worth our while. Otherwise, we might as well stick to Azeroth. read