I don’t know if this is the summer drought or indicative of something much bigger. You all feel it. MMOs have dried up — bad. Multiple people have come to me and said, “I’ve lost faith in MMOs,” and “I haven’t felt the urge to play one in months.” I’m right there with you guys.
You know things are dire when we are actually playing the games we bought on Steam’s summer sale and the MMO news sites have posted about Marvel Heroes 3 times in the last 2 days. I’ve given up trying to keep up with Generic Asian Publisher Game X or MOBA Y that launches the day after its very first appearance in the media.
Looking at the MMO landscape, I’m confident it’s not just us; Meaning we are not the ones responsible for feeling this way and it’s not an issue of us becoming jaded or bored. There’s just nothing there, and what is there should more often than not be avoided.
People view MMOs are either outright boring/uninteresting or they’re looking for the angle. Instead of felling like we’re playing a game, it feels like we’re participating as consumers in a marketplace where every action we take is being watched for ways to monetize and exploit it. And when we do find a game that might be fun there’s always this nagging feeling in the back of our minds that the game will probably just go F2P in a year after being a ghost town after the first few months.
MMOs require a time investment from all parties involved. It’s tough to stomach the idea of spending time in something you suspect may not last. To me it’s the same feeling as playing an MMO beta; Back in the day I would play and love it but I always knew it was going to be deleted so I held back and stopped playing.
We’ve become cautious and wary of MMOs due to our realistic suspicions. As a result, MMOs in general feel like the badlands of gaming. Depending on which metaphor you’re going for here (Star Trek or real-life desert) it’s either a place you and risk being destroyed among the dodgy characters looking to exploit you for their personal gain, or you get lost in a barren wasteland where there’s truly no depth or anything to sustain life.
The consumer now sees the MMO industry this way. How do you change their minds? You’re not going to do it by hyping people up with trailers or dev blogs/vids. You might pull in a few suckers, but you’ll end up spending way too much money on advertising and influencing the “press.” You have to change our minds by proving everyone wrong, and that takes actually launching your game — actions do speak louder than words. Show. Don’t tell.