2016 was certainly a major year for Arena First Person Shooters — also known as Multiplayer Online Shooter Arenas (MOSAs).
Overwatch was lead the MOSA hype after it was announced in 2014, entered beta in 2015, and then finally fully released in 2016. Alongside similar titles like Battleborn, Paladins, and Lawbreakers, just to name a few, the FPS genre has rapidly changed in the past 12 months. But the real question is…
Could 2017 be even better?
Thanks to these games, we’ve surpassed the idea that the only type of multiplayer FPS games are the likes of CS:GO, Call of Duty, and Halo, with a ‘shoot to kill and that’s all’ style.
The Arena FPS genre’s origins can be traced all the way back to the release Team Fortress 2 in 2007. However, we didn’t see a true rise of the genre until much more recently — arguably just this year. And this genre has become so popular because it adds a key element that other traditional FPS titles lack. Objectives. While getting enemy kills are certainly a plus, you have to work as a team for the same goal Think of co-op Borderlands, mashed up with the destruction of Call of Duty.
This isn’t the first time there’s been an insurgence of titles in a new genre. After the initial release of League of Legends and its ensuing boom in popularity, other game developers jumped on the new style and made their own versions. Just a few years later, we have a thriving MOBA scene in which most games have a full-blown eSports circuit attached to them, and Twitch’s top spots are often dominated by MOBA players.
So if history is anything to go by, the newfound success of games like Overwatch could mean that first person arena shooters are on their way to becoming the same sort of phenomenon.
Given this popularity explosion in 2016, both in and out of the eSports scene, what’s coming next? Will developers take advantage of the Arena FPS hype and attempt their own versions next year?
While there may be more Arena FPS games released in 2017, it’s hard to think that the excitement and hype around them will be as strong as it has been in 2016. The novelty has all but worn off, and a lot of developers have tried a number approaching to making their own MOSA games. So in some ways, the genre is already starting to feel stale due to oversaturation. Even if new games get released, players will likely do nothing but compare them to the OG Arena FPS titles they played in the last year.
Again, we can look to the MOBA scene as an example. Founding games like League of Legends and Dota 2 retained the majority of the fan base as the MOBA craze grew. Many other attempts at the genre came and went with little attention, except for a few titles like Hi-Rez Studio’s SMITE — which found success in the genre because it took a wildly different approach.
All in all, it looks like the initial fad of Arena First Person Shooters has pretty much come and gone already.
Once there’s been so much excitement surrounding a genre with an insane number of game choices, gamers usually choose one and stick with it. And in the case of these shooters, that game has been Overwatch.
There haven’t been very many announcements for more Arena FPS titles to come in 2017, but don’t be surprised if you see one pop up as other developers try to capitalize on the genre. For now, though, it looks like most of the enthusiasm for this burgeoning corner of FPS action will be focused on the games that have already established their playerbases, and the eSports circuits for those games as they get into full swing.