Thread: The Rise and Rise of the MMOG?
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09-01-2015, 01:34 PM
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The Rise and Rise of the MMOG?
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The Rise and Rise of the MMOG?
A road littered with popped bubbles and crushed dreams...

Written by WNxHollow
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In 1974 a game called Mazewar was released and it's possibly the oldest (i.e. first) first person shooter game ever made. It had several technical innovations such as avatars, observer mode, cheating and cheat-prevention. However, one of the most notable features is undoubtedly the inclusion of networked play. Several users could play the game together over a local area connection. Then, in 1978 a game called MUD (multi-user-dungeon) was released and this was the first instance of a multiplayer online RPG, albeit over an intranet because the internet as we know it didn't exist at that time. Many MUD's emerged and some still exist to this day.

Then there was an awkward period known as the mid-80's and 90's where internet access was provided by corporations like AOL and CompuServe and users were billed on a pay-as-you-go system. *shudder* Games like Island of Kesmai and Neverwinter Nights cost around $6-12 per hour, in addition to other fees. So you think modern MMO gaming is expensive? Think again! Thankfully we emerged from that age and the internet moved away from dedicated providers. The first game to transition to the open internet was Legends of Future Past. The term MMOG wasn't actually coined until 1997, when Richard Garriott used it to describe Ultima Online.

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The AOL boardroom... probably

It's with Ultima Online that we open the floodgates to the MMO genre, where the MMORPG sub-genre still has supremacy over other sub-genres. Notable releases include Everquest in 1999, RuneScape in 2001, EVE in 2003, and World of Warcraft in 2004. All games that have stood the test of time and attracted a myriad of competitors and imitators. In fact the MMO genre is so large and dynamic that nobody has anything close to a full list of all MMO titles. The largest single list available, to my knowledge, contains 847 titles and that's just the MMORPG sub-genre!

Sadly not every game makes it into the big league. The majority last a couple of years, if they're lucky, before closing down. Those that started on subscription models normally move to a free-to-play model supported with microtransactions, possibly with a buy-to-play phase in the interim. The free-to-play games often crash relatively quickly without a steady stream of revenue coming in. Why is this the case?

Simply put: MMO's need players to populate their game so that it's fun. You wouldn't run around empty multiplayer maps in your favourite FPS for hours on end because it's just not fun without other people. MMO's multiply the issue because they're intended to be massively multiplayer. Games such as Planetside 2 (and of course the original) require players to be present for other players to kill them, otherwise there's very little game to be played... and they need players in huge quantities. 16 or 32 players per side? No way, we're talking hundreds per side. If you don't have those players then the ones remaining won't have the same experience and the title will dwindle. It happens in non-competitive games also. How can you take down that world boss designed for 50 players when there's only 30 online and in the level range? The issue is that there's only a certain number of players to go around and there's more and more MMO releases than ever so gamers are spread more thinly around the titles. One figure suggests that there were actually less MMO subscribers in 2014 compared to 2010, but 40% of those in the US were women.

Add in the fact that many games are so generic and copy each other so closely that the player base will hop to the next MMO as soon as it releases and you have an endless conveyor belt of dying and failed titles. Even AAA titles such as Wildstar fall prey to such issues and it's also transitioning to a F2P model with a relaunch less than a year after originally launching. Interestingly, data suggests that MMO revenue is still climbing so, again, I refer back to there being more title releases than ever and the ever-thinly-spreading playerbase.

So what does this mean for the future of the genre? It's not going to die out and, in fact, innovations and new subgenres continue to emerge. The genre is translating well onto mobile devices as they increase in power and provides a solid base for the freemium movement as well. The recent success of games like League of Legends and DOTA2 have given way to the MOBA subgenre and attracted their own competition from a multitude of companies trying to cash in. In fact, League of Legends made more money in 2014 than World of Warcraft did, but given the amount of time WoW has been around - I think we could give it credit for even keeping in the top 10. What it means for the future of individual games? There's going to be a lot of failed MMO's on the path to the future and it's probably going to cost everyone - developers, publishers, and gamers alike - a lot of money.

ChaosbyWind: Shisno, I will sell your cell phone number... it'd bring me joy to know that he's getting hundreds of calls a day for male enhancement pills... god knows he probably needs it!
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Warrior Nation
United States WNxBlue2095
09-02-2015, 09:24 AM
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MMO's are the investment category in the genre. Which heavily dictates their success, or their downfall...

If an MMO can successfully attract new players with their content, they can expect in increase in profit (which leads to the expansion of the MMO), and popularity (thus attracting even more players). It's this cycle that constantly builds up MMO's, however it doesn't apply to all of them.

A popular case is World of Warcraft. We witnessed how upon the release of another expansion "Warlords of Draenor," that players flocked back to play through the new content. Stuffing the subscriber count to over 10,000,000.

However, by March, when everyone had played everything the expansion had to offer. WoW saw their subscriber count drop by more than 3,000,000, more than 25% of their original.


Otherwise, Hollow wrote a damn fine article, and I commend him for that.

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