The State of Modern MMOs
So a lot of people are starting to wonder about the current state of MMOs. There's some discussion on the subject happening on Reddit and the Battle.net forums.
The takeaway from most of these discussions is that MMOs are getting more and more streamlined, so there is “nothing” exciting about them anymore. The sense of adventure that used to be in different games is on a downward turn, and games are focusing more on a linear path instead of working with the adventure part of things.
Each time new expansions get released from time to time for different games, they promise cool new features, levels, and etc. But what it all boils down to is just another linear questline with some new gear skins and graphic elements.
People feel that older games were way better designed than games today. But when discussing that topic, I think most people forget about the fact that games "back in the day" didn't have the same influences as games today.
But what's changed? What's influencing games today that didn't influence them back then?
Answer: the Internet. The Internet is a huge part of game design today, and it was not the main design parameter 5-10 years ago.
Games were different back in the day, but more importantly, the attitude of the gamer was different. Without the Internet to distribute games instantly and constantly, access to games was far more scarce, and less people played them.
Let’s take World of Warcraft as an example, as I imagine most people will know it. I myself played World of Warcraft quite a long time ago. What struck me the most about the game was the learning curve. It was quite steep for a beginner, and I felt like there was much to learn. Yet I quickly began to enjoy searching for information, finding drop locations, crafting the items I wanted, and what-not.
I was building new friendships with people as a version of myself who wanted to go on dangerous adventures that weren't marked as in-game quests. More like player-driven quests than linear quests dictated by the game's design. I liked the option to explore the world, though it had both advantages and disadvantages.
As the years went, I noticed that eventually the game was losing its learning curve, becoming simpler and simpler for new players. Level requirements were lowered, features were taken out or watered down, and more.
For me, these gradual changes slowly took away the exploratory basis on which I built my character and my biggest reason for playing. That's when I decided to drop it all together.
I know I'm not the only one. And it isn't just World of Warcraft either.
So what is actually going to happen to MMOs? Will they continue the descent into more linear strategy games, or will someone try to bring back the adventure part again? I am looking forward to follow the development of the genre in new games and expansions.
Feel free to drop your two cents in the comments below, I would love to discuss!