MMO Gamers are getting smarter. That’s the thought I had while driving home from work today. Seven years ago when we started this blog, I realized that Graev and I had experience with games — particularly MMOs — not found among your typical “gamers.” People simply weren’t thinking about games. They played them. Some wrote about them. But most people were not formulating any additional thought around why they play a particular game, or whether or not a game would be successful based on the sum of its parts. All of that is changing.
Places like Reddit are full of niche communities (and some not so niche at all) with brilliant ideas and ways of looking at games. Although I often view Reddit as a hive mind, you can’t argue with their ability to see right the bs and get results. Reddit gives CEOs of big studios a reason to comment, influences game direction, and has created an unprecedented level of transparency. Blogs are incredibly common now. Even the occasional live stream has someone with a decent amount of insight.
The WoW generation is becoming jaded. This is a subject for another time, but I feel the WoW generation is over in the sense that people are no longer entering that group of people. It ended in 2012. Blizzard knows this. Their marketing strategy has changed to one of increasing current user consumption. Now that we have the old guard (1995-2003) and the WoW generation (2004-2012) each finding themselves removed from the current spotlight, there’s a power vacuum. I honestly believe any MMO releasing in 2014 is going to be shredded by a failure to appeal to the older generations, and having no idea how to appeal to the newer ones.
WildStar is attempting to be the class clown. They act ridiculous and zany to get attention and distract from the fact that nothing of real value is being introduced. WildStar releases on the last leg of the WoW generation, but luckily someone there had juuuuuust enough insight to know they needed to do a throwback to a few older mechanics. It won’t work in the long run. That generation is finally too smart to fall for it. I never thought I would say that. Then we have ESO which is simply being obliterated by common sense well in advance. I feel bad in a way; someone there clearly saw the shift but way too late to do anything. Now you have a game that won’t appeal to the MMO market it’s launching into, and won’t appeal to its namesake either. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure both will benefit from the fact that there’s nothing else to play. That has 3-monther written all over it, though.
Marketing MMOs is going to become much harder now. Who are the big publishers marketing to now that a third generation of players is beginning to enter the market? Cinematic trailers and fancy graphics aren’t enough. Heck, screw marketing. What is going to be done about the DESIGN side of things? Indie game development and consumption is on the rise. Free to Play didn’t take off as a clear cut model for developing MMOs like many thought it would. There’s this void waiting to be filled. Who will have the next golden idea? Will it be EverQuest Next? Camelot Unchained?
This will be an interesting era for us to watch and write about. Clearly it won’t be easy for anyone. Many of our readers have already expressed to me that they haven’t touched their PC in a year, or stopped playing MMOs 6-12 months ago. They claim nothing looks good enough to bring them back. That’s both a problem and an opportunity. This should be interesting indeed.
I should close here by thanking our readers. I know you have many choices for your gaming commentary, and I thank you for choosing to include us. Gaming discussion is being taken to a higher, more intelligent level. I’ve noticed it from you in our comments, and I only hope to continue that in our writing.