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Is the FPS MOBA a Fad or is it a New Genre in the Making?

Is this new genre on its way to becoming a mainstay, or will it be on its way out soon?

The earliest video games were incredibly simple. More often than not, there wasn't much to them -- sometimes not even more than one screen. There's also the fact that video games were the first medium to be developed by modern civilization with no true analogs, leaving players with little to nothing to compare them to. As such, individual genres in the medium's earliest days were sometimes very difficult to identify.

With other forms of media, distinct genres were typically clear from their earliest roots. The "Epic of Gilgamesh" was the first epic poem. The first horror movie was Georges Melies' "Le Manoir Du Diable." The first anime movie was "Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei." You see my point.

However, even with gaming's slow-start in this regard, dozens of distinct genres have formed in the gaming world over the past four decades.

Of course, there are general genres like the platformer, the shooter, the puzzle game and the RPG, but there are at least half a dozen variants for all of these.

Using platformers as an example, we have: 2D platformers, 3D platformers, puzzle platformers, cinematic platformers, isometric platformers, and endless runners, just to name a few.

The point stands: We're getting new genres all the time. And with big hits like Overwatch and Paladins, two titles that meld popular mechanics from two distinct genres, hitting the gaming space within the last year, the FPS MOBA may be the newest.

However, with so few games to its name (one of which, Battleborn, being a major flop), it's hard to say whether the FPS MOBA is a whole new genre that will stick around for years and years to come or just a gaming fad.

Going back to an example I used earlier, let's look at the history of the horror movie genre.

As stated previously, the first horror movie was "Le Manoir Du Diable." This film was released in 1898. That same year, several Japanese horror films came out. However, while these films were well received, and a plethora of horror movies were sprinkled out between 1900 and 1919, including the first film adaptation of Frankenstein, it wasn't until 1920, and the era of German Expressionism, that the genre gained notoriety with hits like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and, in 1922, Nosferatu.

At the time, horror films were considered a fad. However, horror films have become a staple subsection of the filmic landscape. Following this logic, a genre that starts out as a fad could very well end up as an integral part of its medium -- just as horror did decades after its inception. 

In video games, a prime example of this is the stealth genre. 

In 1979, the first ever stealth game was released. It was known as "Manbiki Shounen" and it proved popular enough in Japan to receive a sequel the following year. But by and large, the stealth genre was still a covert sub-genre of the gaming world.

Even as 1987's Metal Gear proved immensely popular in Japan, it failed to win over international gamers because of changes made to the game in the localization process. It wasn't until 1998 that the stealth genre really made a name for itself with titles like Metal Gear Solid, Thief: The Dark Project and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins.

Right now, I do believe that with the popularity of Overwatch and Paladins, the FPS MOBA is going to be sticking around as a major genre. And this isn't pure speculation.

Individually, the First-Person Shooter and the MOBA are two of the most popular genres in the gaming world. For example, just League of Legends, one of the most popular MOBAs on the planet has roughly 100 million monthly players. 

And the FPS genre has remained immensely popular for both casual gamers and competitive players since the releases of Wolfenstein 3D and Quake respectively. And we all know how hugely popular games are in the Call of Duty, Battlefield and Counter-Strike franchises. 

With the fast paced and flashy action of the First-Person Shooter, the necessity for strategy and teamwork in a team-focused MOBA atmosphere, and the large cast of colorful characters found in both Overwatch and Paladins, the FPS MOBA has the potential to be a home to dozens of classic games.

Unlike the stealth genre before it and the horror genre of the late 1800s, however, the FPS MOBA is already looking to take off with more than core gamers, making it already more than just a fleeting fad. What's more, being a niche sub-genre in this scenario may also be good for the sub-genre because its parent genres are so well established and respected. 

And look: Even if FPS MOBAs do turn out to be a fad, I recommend we just give it some time. It'll be back full force before you know it. What's old is new again. 

What do you think? Is the FPS MOBA a fad or will it stick around? Sound off in the comments below! 

Published Dec. 25th 2016

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