This past weekend I spent my time playing in a couple of beta tests for upcoming MMOs. I kept having the same recurring thoughts: Should these be called MMOs? Should they be marketed as MMOs? Wouldn’t they do so much better and garner more public favor if they were presented to players in a different light?
Take Defiance for example. I think it’s a really fun game. Trion is billing Defiance as a massively multiplayer game. Sure, Defiance could be construed as an MMO, but I think calling it something else may be better. The console market doesn’t really like MMOs all that much, and the MMO market doesn’t really tolerate games which loosely conform to their impossible-to-meet standards. Defiance feels more like an online version of Borderlands 2. Just the feel of the game alone resembles an action game, a shooter game, and coop experience.
Neverwinter is another example. Neverwinter feels like an action-rpg closer to Diablo than a MMO. The combat is action packed. The gameplay reminds me of a dungeon crawl experience I might find in Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance or, like I mentioned before, Diablo.
There may be a lot of players running around alongside me when I play a game like Neverwinter or Defiance, but those players aren’t what make the experience for me. I could be playing with a group of 5 or 6 people tops and get the same satisfaction.
Not being MMO isn’t a failing; my gosh it might even be a compliment. Marketing Defiance as a typical MMO, instead of the next evolution of RPG shooters sorta sets the wrong expectations. The MMO crowd gets confused, and the RPG shooter crowd avoids it. Neverwinter could be a more persistent evolution of the action RPG instead of a highly instanced, shallow MMO. Change nothing about either game, but simply alter the way they are presented to set the right expectations.