So I was browsing message boards like I usually do when I’m bored out of my skull and I came across an interesting discussion. Can MMORPG’s survive without the “standards”? Auction Houses, mounts, quest-leveling, fast travel, ability to solo from beginning to end, mail system, mild penalties for death, level based advancement, and so on have now become the basis of which a company designs and molds our virtual worlds.
It wasn’t more than 4 years ago that these things were considered new and nothing more than fluff or extras. When World of Warcraft hit the shelves everything changed. No longer were these things considered extra and cool to see – they became standards. I want to quote something I read because it fuels great discussions. “The bottom-line is that MMORPGs are now at the same point as the auto industry: “innovation” is incrementally evolutionary, not fundamentally revolutionary. Few customers are going to buy something that is radically different from the standards, so few investors are willing to shell out the capital required to fund radical development projects. But they will fund incrementally different projects, provided there’s a potential to earn a decent profit in return for their investment.” And there you have it.
Back when MMORPG’s were first introduced we saw major and dramatic change from game to game. Side scrollers evolved into birds-eye view pseudo 3d games which then evolved into full 3d worlds. Every release held something new and exciting which had to be introduced to the gaming community. Games were designed from the ground up in order to introduce something new and fresh. Rarely would a game mechanic from another one game be similar in another. But now it’s different. Gamers don’t want to be introduced to new things but instead expect to see the standards. This expectation has caused developers to include and perhaps even design their game around said things instead of the other way around. Bottom line? Any Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Game released today without these standards is doomed to fail.
Gone are the days of innovation. Welcome to the days of MMO’s for the masses. We’re in their world now.