The past month has been full of terrible things for the MMO industry: Pitch Black Games closed down and cancelled Dominus, EA laid off 40 percent of the SWTOR team, and 38 Studios closed down with what some are predicting as an industry damaging event. Michael Pachter, an analyst who I actually enjoy watching, says that it may take years for MMO investors to come around again. Scott Jennings surfaced to share his thoughts and said that these events are “killing the very concept of massively multiplayer gaming.” I have been saying the very same thing for years. Allow me to quote myself:
I’m still 100% predicting a MMO crash where all hope is lost until we look to the east on the fifth day and see
Gandalfsome developer bringing the industry back to its roots.
I stand by what I have said over the years. I do believe that the industry will struggle. I always thought it would be the players driven to their breaking point, but the McMMO publisher/investor woes and a highly publicized financial disaster definitely expedite things.
This is where I strongly believe, and predict based on what I know about these games and their development, that something good can come from these disasters. When I stand on my soapbox and shout to anyone who will listen about MMO’s returning to the gameplay, returning to what worked, and MMO’s being about the core fundamentals that saw games lasting years instead of 3 months, I am usually met with comments that resemble something like this: “Investors don’t want to put money into games like that.” Well, it looks to me like investors may not want to put money into anything right now, and what better time to see the MMO fundamentals return than when smaller studios will have to focus on the niche gameplay mechanics instead of satisfying the masses to repay investors.
Older games were made on small budgets. UO, EQ, DAOC, SWG, and many other older MMO’s from before this generation were created on smaller budgets, with smaller teams, yet lasted for years at a time and introduced what it meant to be a massively multiplayer game to the world. I don’t subscribe to the doom and gloom that wants people to believe MMO’s are forever ruined due to these recent events. I know there is always a strong foundation for developers to fall back on — and they will fall back on it well before they throw in the towel. For length’s sake I won’t quote myself again, but I’ve written something on the subject of building upon what worked that is very relevant today.
Whether or not this actually happens, the MMO industry can’t keep going in this direction. I choose a positive outlook because I believe it means we’ll see better games in the future; Games that focus on creating gameplay that actually resembles a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.