A Dead Island MOBA? Seriously?

Do we really need another MOBA, much less one for Dead Island?

Seriously.  Deep Silver has announced the upcoming title Dead Island: Epidemic and supposedly it will be a MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.  Few details are known as of right now, but the game is envisioned by Deep Silver as being three teams of survivors holding back waves of zombies.  The company is calling it a ZOMBA, or Zombie Online Multiplayer Battle Arena.  Really.

This seems as good an opportunity as any to address this issue.  I play League of Legends and Dota 2.  I played Demigod when it first came out and have been in the beta for Smite.  I played the original Warcraft 3 mod that started the entire MOBA genre on its way.  I feel reasonably qualified in saying I have experience within the genre and a thorough enjoyment/appreciation for it.

Can we please stop making new MOBAs for existing franchises?

For one thing, just because League of Legends and Dota 2 have made it so big in the e-sports scene does not mean your game franchise will have any success in the same genre.  Let me repeat that.

Making your game a MOBA does not ensure its success.

Look at all the games that have tried to mimic Call of Duty and its successful formula and failed miserably in doing so, and it becomes obvious it takes more than a genre to succeed.  The MOBAs that are currently doing so well have taken a very long time refining their own unique formulas.  Why do so many companies think they can mirror that within a few months, especially the companies trying to do it with closed development like they would for a game in most any other genre?

The MOBA genre is also not something most existing franchises are actually capable of entering.

MOBAs by their very nature require a cast of characters who stand out from the pack.  Lots of games have that, though ironically Dead Island is not a game I'd consider fulfilling that category.  They need to pit the players, one way or another, against each other competitively.  Those players need to be able to actually battle each other as part of that competition, hence the Battle and/or Arena part of MOBA.  There are a lot of franchises that just don't fit that bill.

The MOBA genre also by its nature has a limited amount of variation available.

League of Legends, Dota 2, and Smite all have their unique features to set them apart.  At the end of the day they are still very similar games.  The core mechanics are the same, the basic layout of the game is the same, the end goal is effectively the same.  There is a very real limit to how many times something similar can be done before everything following that format begins to suffer for it.

All online multiplayer games dilute the pool of players for all the rest.

MOBAs are essentially MMOs.  To succeed they need to have a large pool of players who spend continuous time in the game in order to ensure a constant and variable number of potential matchups for other players across all skill levels.  A MOBA cannot simply appear on the market the way a first-person shooter can and expect to do well.

Every game with its focus on a regular online community is competition for every other game with the same need.  A MOBA competes less directly with EVE Online than it does with League of Legends, but the concept is the same.  Each new MOBA divides the players between another game.  Being able to nurture and retain a large community gets more difficult the more MOBAs are out and available, hurting all of them.

If Dead Island: Epidemic ends up being an awesome game, I will be as thrilled as anyone.  I do not expect it to be anything new.  I do not expect it to really be anything more than a new version of Left 4 Dead's survival mode.  Adding multiple teams does not a MOBA make.

Deep Silver?  Please make me eat my words.  It would be nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Published Aug. 7th 2013
View Comments
  • Whatever324
    This review is one of the worst I've ever read. By your logic there shouldn't be any new MOBAs because they'll dilute the pool of players for all the rest and extend the time needed for a matchup, and that there shouldn't be a MOBA from the Dead Island franchise because it didn't start as a MOBA.

    You should let the developers do what they want with their games and not talk about something you know nothing about - such as how this game will turn out in the end. I've played about 20 hours of it now that it's in open beta and I see huge potential for the future of this game if they'll iron out and add in some more things. I've played both LoL and DoTA2 (and other MOBAs) so I know what it means to compare them and I find that DI:E stands out among "MOBA" games and is not just some generic MOBA with a name of a franchise. Though I will probably not play it much because I don't like MOBA-style games as much as some other types.

    But everyone has their own taste. And you should realize that and judge a game by it's gameplay instead of the title and whether or not you personally think the model for it is good. Dead Island will be releasing a sequel in first person view like the original was so I don't know what your problem is with being so against them for trying to create a different type of a game. Reading your article reads like a subtle raging fanboy being mad because someone is trying to create competition for your precious LoL/DoTA2.
  • anon_7541
    playing the beta now ..played the alpha.... it was kinda trash first look they changed alot..ALOT i vastly enjoy it now especially the pvp
  • GirlGoneGaming
    A Dead Island MOBA? Woooooow. You pretty much articulated my sentiments exactly. Seriously what's going on ya'll? Did MOBA become the new MMORPG when I wasn't looking?
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    I liked Dead Island, it was good, if broken, the ideas were good. I also do not like MOBAs but...that is not to say I think they are dumb, but Dead Island as a MOBA is dumb, pure and simple. Thank you for this, and letting us know that even though you love something, there are still flaws in it, and you can acknowledge them.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    I think that's actually part of what love is all about anyway. Seeing the flaws in anything is important.

    Not seeing those flaws is just worship, and we don't need more raging fanboys/girls
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    Could not agree more! I keep saying, this flaw and this on in Halo 4 (I admit all of the) but I love the game, why? Well maybe cause I am a fanboy, but not a raging one...I hope...
  • Max Jay
    Featured Columnist
    Interesting angle. I honestly think the core Dead Island games were huge failures, so maybe a MOBA is the series' destiny.

    Or maybe it will disappoint people (me included) as much as the first game did.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    That might be a good way to look at it. I actually did enjoy the first game, as long as I was playing with someone else, but it is really hard to overlook some of its obvious flaws.

    Maybe Dead Rising: Epidemic will completely revolutionize MOBAs! One can hope.
  • Max Jay
    Featured Columnist
    But seriously, it'll probably be god awful.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    Probably. These are the same people who saw nothing wrong with a limbless bloody bust (literally) as special edition swag.

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