Five Reasons There Aren't More Console MMOs
There are a lot of MMOs out there -- especially on the PC. But there are even fewer console MMORPGs, despite the successes of console gaming.
Why is this?
In the past, there have been concerns of internet connectivity, console lifespan, and console-gamer buy-in -- or players not being able to play with someone else. While these still may be issues, many changes and improvements have been made to consoles, although players have to pay to go online, due to consoles being a part of closed, owned systems.
So, why are developers still hesitating? To showcase one example, was the development of Level-5's True Fantasy Live Online so complex that it had to be canceled? Maybe. Maybe not.
To examine an issue like that, let’s break down five big reasons why they aren't more console MMOs.
There is a Lack of Variety and Complexity with Console Controls
Many MMOs are simply not designed to be ported to consoles. Game developers aspiring to develop an MMO for consoles may not wish for that approach either. Why?
The traditional PC MMO experience is incredibly diverse and complex -- and many control that complexity with even more complex inputs. There are not enough buttons on a console to equal the control possible via a keyboard and mouse combo.
In addition, macros and hotkeys can’t be set up on a console platform, which further limits a player’s ability to control the game. Gameplay can become much more difficult not only for them but also for any other players or teams they are working with at the moment.
If a Console Adaptation is Simpler than its PC Counterpart, it May Not Attract Enough Players
With limited controls, those developers who have bravely ventured into the console MMORPG market have created games that are primarily action-oriented. This puts less emphasis on secondary tasks that may also be important, if not as important, to players -- such as crafting.
Developers may not see the demand for console MMOs, either. With the amount of potential challenges stacking up against them, they may not find the effort to be worth the risk. The MMO sub-industry already isn’t doing so hot. Surely, developers want to stick with what is most familiar, especially if they are trying to revitalize MMOs in other ways.
Players are Unable to Communicate Effectively in the Console MMO Space
In the MMO genre, communicating through text is maybe not better than communicating verbally, but it is sometimes much more efficient. This is because MMOs involve a lot of social interaction with random players that aren't always in a player's voice chat.
Console MMO players cannot be restricted to only hearing those voices of those whom they are on call with. With the lack of an effective text chat – or not implementing one – players would likely have to look outside of the game to meet other players and form teams and guilds to engage in meaningful group content.
Traditional MMORPG players cannot be restricted from communicating with console players through keyboard messages. Screen messages may be too small for a console player to see, and they may not be able to respond without a keyboard -- which they may or may not have access to. These two types of players would not be able to work together, which brings me to my next point.
MMO Developers May Have to Manage Two Communities -- Which Isn't Always Efficient
Because traditional PC and console players are so different, developers may have to manage two very different versions of an MMORPG -- and their communities. Different versions of an MMO would account for the vast differences across PC and console gaming that must be addressed.
In addition, the game community would most likely be separated because otherwise, PC players may be considered too "OP" due to the greater range of controls and better communication at their disposals. The preference for taking in one type of player over another will hurt the disadvantaged, making two separate communities necessary.
But of course, the time, effort, and money put into creating and managing two diverse platforms may be too much for a developer to take on. Especially if they're a relatively small team. Which leads to another point ...
Patches on Console Games Need to be Certified First
All major updates and patches to a console game must first be reviewed and approved before they can be released to the public. Of course, this is a long process that would delay the many patches and updates that come with MMOs. A developer may not find this process worth their time, thus the worth of releasing their game(s) for console play greatly diminishes.
And again, if they don't have the bandwidth or budget to wait, that's just another hurdle they have to overcome.
Developers who strive to create and release console MMOs are faced with serious challenges -- lack of controls, low demand, issues with communication and community management, and finally, certification. One day there may be more game developers willing to accept these challenges. But for now, we can only wait for that day.
Do you think these reasons justify the lack of console MMOs? Should there be more available? Which platform do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!