This Next MMO Is The One!

How many times have you heard someone say or read a comment from someone saying something like this: “Don’t worry, X game coming out will solve that” or “This next game coming out has exactly what you’re talking about and it will be awesome” or “In this game coming out you can do all of that and more!”

It’s the idea that the next game coming out is the solution to every current problem–the next big thing.  This syndrome is huge across the MMO player community. We see comments here all the time with people saying things like, “Oh man Keen you want a sandbox with all those features? Have you tried ArcheAge it’s the game for you!” I’ve had comments from people saying WildStar, ESO, the next WoW expansion, FFXIV, and every MMO for the last decade would be the game that has all those great things I want.

Sometimes those MMOs do have one or two of the good qualities I’m seeking, but let’s be real here.  We all know deep down that any themepark will never be that game.  Even the most devout themepark lovers who hype every new themepark like it’s the next Disneyland can’t look me in the eye and say they play past 3 months.

The next MMO to have what I want is either going to surprise everyone or I’m going to make it myself. It’s not going to be a game people spread around as the next big thing.  It’s not going to have a huge marketing budget.  It won’t rely on gimmicky dev videos full of buzzwords or trying to capture market share from various player demographics.

MMOs from the golden age were almost never anticipated.  EQ came out of nowhere. I was literally playing The Realm Online walking around and then saw mention in general chat about it.  Later that week my friend invited me over to his house to play the beta.  DAoC was out of nowhere and I got the game on launch day thanks to Graev who just randomly said, “Hey this looks neat we should get it.”  SWG only got on my radar because Graev payed $20 for the beta CDs (They charged you to send you CDs or something).  More on this idea of anticipation killing games in a blog post tomorrow.

Before any of us run around thinking that the next game is going to be the one or get excited that some game is going to have everything Keen is asking for in MMOs, take a serious look at the big picture.  We have a tendency to find the 5% of what we want, get comfortable in that idea, and ignore the other 95%.

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bartillo - July 9, 2014

I think theirs a bunch of potential good sandbox mmos coming out soon

Shround of the Avatar, The repopulation, Pathfinder, Star citizen, Elite, etc..

Justin - July 9, 2014

I couldn’t not agree more Keen.
Hell, the only reason I got into MMOs was because I was working at an Electronics Boutique when DAOC launched, and some kids came in all excited. So, I got curious and kept a copy behind the desk for myself. Next think you know, I’m addicted.
Everyone is always looking for the next big thing, but I think that is part of the fun of this industry. Do I personally get swept up in the hype-trains? Of yea. I was really amped for GW2. And among my friends, I was the last to stop playing. But, I still jump in from time to time and mess around.
People need to change their perspective on gaming. People always want that one game to meet all their needs. If you branch out and play different stuff, I think people would be more content and happy with all of their games for a longer period of time. More than the typical 3 months.

Caldazar - July 9, 2014

The lack of anticipation was more related to a lack of information/ability to get information. I didn’t have all the news sites I have now, and looking for things was random altavista searches.

Availability and news sources have increased so much since then, as well as how socially acceptable it is to be a gamer.

SynCaine - July 9, 2014

This post is New Keen talking to Old Keen, right? 🙂

Fully agree though, especially giving the upcoming crop of games and the unlikely prospects of them being truly great (Pathfinder and its graphic/combat, AA being a ‘themepark’, etc).

bhagpuss - July 9, 2014

I think your memory of MMOs from the Golden Age not being anticipated maybe says more about the age you were when you played them than how much information was availble. By the time I’d been playing EQ for a few months I knew the names of every Western and quite few Eastern MMOs from web-browsing and forum-reading. In just the first couple of years I’d bought and tried UO, AC, The Realm and apparently Linage (I have no memory of actually playing it but just he other day I found the CD for it, still in the original mailer where I’d apparently ordered it from somewhere in California).

I’d applied for betas for Anarchy Online, Endless Ages, Rubies of Eventide, Ferentus and who knows how many more I’ve forgotten. Plenty of people were breathlessly anticipating DAOC. I applied for Beta for that and didn’t get in but we bought it on release and went there for six months. I followed the development of all kinds of MMOs that I never played (Shadowbane fascinated me for a while) just like I still do.

This was the kind of thing that tended to happen when you had a job with unlimited and unmonitored web access and large swathes of the working day with not much work to do , as I did at the time. It’s true that the hype cycle wasn’t as well-organized and well-funded as it is now but for me at least the last thing ay of these MMOs were was unanticipated. Except, ironically, for WoW, to which I paid very little attention, having decided almost when I first heard of it that it didn’t look very interesting.

John - July 9, 2014

So isn’t Everquest Next the the ONE MMO? 🙂

Balthazar - July 9, 2014

I’m kinda w/ Bhagpuss on this one.

EQ did come out of nowhere for me, but I distinctly recall rushing down to EB Games to get my copy of DAOC on release. I raced home and made my dwarf warrior. He was around the 500th character made on the Galahad server. I remember a D&D buddy of mine telling me about it and as soon as I found out I was reading everything available online about it.

I also remember friends trying to get me to play Asheron’s Call and Anarchy Online, but I resisted. SWG was also highly anticipated, I think the first MMO beta that I participated in (early beta, it was nigh unplayable). Nearly my whole DAOC guild moved over there when it came out.

Shadowbane was the same thing. Actually, Shadowbane was probably the first game that I followed the development of quite attentively.

Anon - July 9, 2014

I think the customer base has reached the point where I’m not sure ‘indie’ developers can ever reach a level of production values expected.

If you were to build an amazing MMO with the kinds of features you’re talking about, but it had plain text instead of graphics, no one would buy it.

People want the “whole package”, but the whole package costs a fortune to deliver. Unless we figure out a way to make excellent, high quality content cheaper and easier to produce, these huge digital worlds will continue to chase the greatest market share.

What I think is *more* interesting is the rise of the ’boutique’ mmo. I grew up playing around on MUDS (Multiuser dungeons). These were highly varied, with a variety of different mechanics. These eventually gave way to modern MMO’s.

If you could bundle and sell an MMO platform, that was extremely modular and flexible, I wonder if we’d see people return to developing more ’boutique’ mmo’s.

Bernard - July 9, 2014

To be honest, I always associated this blog with that kind of hype. Even though there was considerable warning that ESO and Wildstar were 3 monthers, you still jumped in. This isn’t a criticism – You guys have the time to play all of these games so I don’t have to…

Joy-Energiser - July 9, 2014

haha, I feel like a tit because I made one of those Archage comment 😛

Keen - July 13, 2014

@Joy: Haha, You were one of like 10 people who made that comment. Do not feel bad! I wasn’t singling anyone out. 🙂

@Bernard: I think the hype is something we’ve toned down quite a bit since the days of WAR. Willingness to jump right in and play every new title, however, is something we are downright guilty of doing.

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