The Death of MMORPGsOct 28, 2015 | 2 Votes by GamingApe 9.5 rate MMORPGs are a huge part of our online gaming experience, but lately, more and more of them are collapsing or changing their monitization model. Is it the end of the MMORPG genre?
There’s no doubt that connecting between computers changed the way we play games. I can remember playing Street Fighter with a friend on the same keyboard, I also remember connecting 2 computers by cable to play the original Diablo with friends. The rise of the internet, and more so, of high speed internet connections brought us a new genre entirely. No longer just a Role Playing Game (RPG), but a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG.
Why would you just play with a single friend or three when the entire game is online? Well, the idea bought many fans into the game genre. And for a long while it seemed if a game isn’t mostly Multiplayer, It’s just a waste of money. But make no mistake, it’s not only due to fans demand. Playing online through a secure server allows the game creators prevent piracy and illegal downloads.
What was the problem? Well, remember when games started to be in 3D? And all of a sudden it was more important the game Looks good rather than be enjoyable to play? Well. The same happened with MMOs. It became more important the game has multiplayer functions, and companies invested deeply on huge MMO maps instead of making the game actually fun.
This entire process happened alongside another huge change – the development of the Free to Play and Microtransaction models, of which you can read more on these in our article about monetization models. Mobile gaming taught the entire industry that real money doesn’t come from selling a game, or even releasing expansions every half a year. The big money comes from a penny here, a dollar there, accumulating into gigantic sums. What started as “buying 5 more moves” in Candy Crush, became “buying a better sword” in a MMORPG, or watching a video advert every time you open the game.
It’s hard to say anyone was enthusiastic about this model. Nevertheless, many smaller companies entered the market, developing games for minimum effort and cost by using existing platforms. Their games flooded the entire market with dozens or even hundreds of MMO games that grossed a lot of money, especially when you consider the low production cost.
And let’s be frank, most of those game have generic quests (kill that, bring me this, collect 10 of that), the same characters (come on, another warrior-wizard-rogue/cleric trio?), repetitive themes, backgrounds and moves. But they offer a free, quick experience, so it’s a nice way to burn 10-15 minutes in-between other stuff.
Where’s the harm you ask? Big gaming companies saw and learned. Why invest millions of dollars on a game when you can invest less and make more money? Many games started using microtransactions and free to play models, others tried being World of Warcraft and take a monthly/quarterly fee. We got games like Star Wars:The Old Republic (SWTOR) , a highly expected MMORPG game in the world of Star Wars that created a huge buzz, and began as a monthly fee game. But with so much free competition, no one was willing to invest money in a game that way better. That wasn’t SWTOR only problem, but it left the developers no choice but to change the game’s model Free to Play, as it is today.
Another example to that, would be Infinite Crisis. A MMO in the world of DC Comics in which you can battles with Superman, Batman and The Flash? How awesome is that? Well, apparently it was not enough. Based on microtransactions, and not investing enough in fun gameplay, the game closed half a year ago after several years because it couldn’t monetize their game and kept losing money.
Last example would be Dawngate by EA. A huge critically acclaimed game company that invested a lot of money on a cyberpunk space MMO. Dawngate still looks amazing, and was very much fun to play. The model of the game was microtransactions, but due to the harsh competition, it wasn’t close to repaying the investment.
We have here 3 games with very strong brands and vast companies behind them. How is it possible that games from DC, Star Wars and EA failed so badly? Is it just the over saturation of the market? With World of Warcraft reaching their lowest subscriber numbers since 2005 and games collapsing all over, when even the highly expected Elder Scrolls Online, following the immensely successful Skyrim, was a complete and utter failure when it comes to revenue, we can’t avoid the inevitable.
I think we must definitely consider gamers just got sick of this genre. The hype around playing with millions of other players stopped appealing to the masses. Multiplayer is still highly important and most big games must have Multiplayer in them, but on a smaller scale. Companies such as Blizzard and EA realized that and have started focusing more and more on games where you challenge 1-5 other players at a time at most.
So thank you MMORPGs, you were nice for a while, So long and thanks for all the fish.