The MMO Recession & Playing the RL MMO Economy

Sorry for how horribly slow things have been around here. It’s really a mixture of a few things:

(1) I’m really ramping up my other websites and those businesses. Making money is kinda fun.

For one of my businesses I’m consulting for small companies and business others to help them understand how they can market themselves better online. In many cases I end up doing the work for them, and I collect a monthly retainer as their consultant. Pretty fun stuff.

The other two businesses are polar opposites of each other. One is generating passive income, but taking a ton of time to ramp up. The other takes a ton of active participation but actually does incredibly well financially — I just can’t scale it. So I’m spending time working on those. In a way it almost feels like I’m playing a RL MMO.

(2) MMOs are a huge part of my regular commentary, and MMOs are in a bit of a recession. This is the ‘crash’ I predicted a few years ago when I (along with many others — I don’t want to pretend I’m special for seeing this coming) saw the industry speeding off in a direction toward F2P and garbageware me-too themepark games.

We still have the steady few:

  • WoW remains king of the themepark model
  • FFXIV has done a great job of being true to itself and continually improving
  • EVE is EVE
  • Elder Scrolls makes headlines, but I think their actual player count is suspect

I’m looking at the MMO list lately of games coming out… we’re in a bit of trouble if this is the hype list on

Crowfall has Wildstar written all over it. Pantheon is DoA but somehow making headlines. Chronicles of Elyria is ambitious, but low-budget. Star Citizen is already playable in some form, but sort of a ‘womp womp’ experience. Epocylipse the AfterFall and Dark And Light? Who? What? Camelot Unchained is the only game even on a 3 year horizon that looks good to me.

I’m playing a lot of Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (currently on RE:CoM), BF1, and of course WoW to fill that void of having no MMO. Time to settle in, because this might be a long, long recession before someone makes something worth dedicating any serious amount of attention.

So while the MMO scene is a real hoot, I’m actually having fun playing games. I am in no way hurting for something to play, which is a massive departure from the days between MMOs when staring at a blank wall was the alternative.

  • To pick on a very small portion of the whole post, you said that “Crowfall has Wildstar written all over it” – I was wondering what was meant by that. Wildstar, after all, was a pretty shameless World of Warcraft clone, where as Crowfall is practically attempting to establish a new subgenre of sorts. So not only are the games completely different, so is their audience, and in addition to that, at least as far as I’ve heard, Crowfall has much shallower goals in terms of player population.

  • Yeah I didn’t understand that comment either, to me it’s the most exciting prospect on the list, Camelot has a lot of promise and share similar goals as Crowfall in terms of target market, player numbers and game style (pvp oriented), but I think ArtCraft has better ideas in terms of keeping players interested and game balance.
    Also, I don’t understand the ESO comment either, it seems quite popular to me, I’ve got several friends who has started playing it lately and they are loving i , these are people who are new to ESO.

  • From my perspective, that MMO list is more reason to be excited than we have had in years…

    There’s a lot of advancements in very important areas… such as persistence like we’ve never seen, huge advancements in AI, and of course the overall “sandbox” slant, but smart and refined.

    Most importantly though, I think there are enough tools and tech in place to let indie developers finally take their creative risks in a genre that has long been stagnant and clogged by big names. We may finally see some revolution again.

  • MMOs are only in a recession if you believe the world needs more MMOs. We already have all the MMOs we need. My problem, for many years now, has been how to find enough time even to scratch the surface of all the MMOs I’d love to be delving into more deeply. We will get more MMOs than we need and keep getting them but we won’t, any of us, be getting more hours in the day or more days in the year to play them.

    I think you yourself used to talk about how MMOs needed to be niche rather than mass market and that is now the very happy situation. The last thing we need, as hobbyists and fans, is for another breakout hit to put us back into the “MMOs print money” fantasy we all lived through for most of the decade following the release of World of Warcraft.

    As for Crowfall being WildStar or Pantheon being DOA, time will tell. My feeling is they will both arrive eventually and both will find an audience. If they don’t, it won’t make much difference to anyone other than those who had hopes pinned on them or money invested. The rest of us will carry on as though nothing had happened.

    Also it’s interesting that Amazon’s putative MMO isn’t on that list. That’s the potentially dangerous “next WoW” that could set us all back another ten years I guess.

  • Crowfall in alpha so far has been very 50/50. The art style is good, the basics seem solid, but it hasn’t put it together yet to actually be fun for more than 15-20min of the pure combat matches it has been limited to. I expect the rollout of worlds to fix a lot of that though, but if it doesn’t that’s going be a big problem.

    BTW I think I’ve asked this before, but have you every tried EVE Keen? I think now that you are a bit older, it might appeal more to you from a progression/industry perspective, and its super time friendly in terms of not ‘falling behind’ if you don’t play a lot on a particular day or even week.

  • @SynCaine: Yeah, I tried EVE. EVE is fine. I truly have nothing against it. EVE continues to be EVE, which is a great thing. It’s perhaps one of the few games that hasn’t lost its identify or had to change radically to keep people interested. My mentality hasn’t changed in my 30s. I’ve always been interested in crafting and industry — that’s all I did in SWG, UO, and a lot of DAoC. I just couldn’t get into the setting. The reason I don’t jump into it now to even try it again is because I don’t like the idea of being so far behind everyone else. Whether that even matters in EVE or not, it’s a psychological barrier I can’t seem to overcome.

    @Bhagpuss: I do believe the world needs more MMOs. We need more MMOs to replace the ones we have played-out, “beaten”, or that have closed down. We don’t need mass-appeal breakout hits, but I think we need something more than the unpolished indie games too. Niche is great, but I think quality and niche aren’t opposites.

    @Lethality: I see great pie in the sky ideas, but I see almost no chance of anyone on that list executing on their promises. That sounds a little fatalist, but I see patterns.

    @Tasserski: To clarify, by “has WildStar written all over it” I mean big promises, lots of hype, but in the end poor execution and a short shelf life. The comment had nothing to do with being similar games.

    @Proximo: I wish that I could see the data for ESO. I suspect it looks something like a rollercoaster. They announce the dark brotherhood is out and they spike then drop a week later when people realize it’s still ESO. They announce thieves guild and it spikes then drops back down when people realize it’s still ESO. Why? Because Graev and I ride that rollercoaster and I speak from experience. 😛

  • Just a quick comment on EQ2. I have been playing the new expansion and really enjoying it, but they have introduced a true pay to win mechanic. Top end raiders will definitely be affected and even casual players later in the expansion may hit the same wall. The only way to progress some abilities will be to pay some $. There is some talk about it on the forums but not much since most players have not reached the point where they need to look at it yet.

  • I was tricked by my buddy into playing a bit of ESO lately, at least I got the gold edition for dirt cheap, as he was looking for a multiplayer game for our group, not necessarily a MMO. Something is really not clicking for me with this game, it’s an okay game, above-average production, but if it wasn’t for my buddy, I wouldn’t be playing. It’s most likely two things : I have about zero knowledge about the world and lot of big names are thrown at me constantly, I can’t keep up and end up skipping most quest lore; the base UI is clunky, missing information and feels pretty much like WoW circa 2005 where you needed an add-on for everything. The One Tamariel patch was great though, everything in the world now scales to your level which is awesome for grouping with your friends.

    I really like the different concepts of Crowfall, it will probably end up as a niche product, if the foundation is strong, it should keep a playerbase for a long time. Hard to tell at the moment, it’s still early Alpha with very limited possibillities beyond dueling with your friend.

  • To me “realizing it’s still ESO” means realizing it’s one of the best MMOs released since WoW.
    I can’t quite understand why people have such gripes with it, if it doesn’t scratch your itch then fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game.

  • ESO feels like the same sub genre as SWTOR. A game designed by people who make great single player RPGs, but with a bunch of other people running around in it and a cash shop to ruin the immersion. Every time I try playing it, and I close a popup for the crows store just in time to see xX69MemELorD69Xx run past me, I realize I’d rather be replaying Skyrim.

    I don’t know what womp womp means but Star Citizen is the game on that list I’m looking the most forward to.

  • You have jumped onto the Capitalist roundabout sir! Can we trust your opinion any more when you are driven by cash advances from the various corps who no doubt pay you for your ‘opinion’ as long as it goes the way they would like it too.

    Sorry but that is a major problem in the world today and until people wake up, we will be driven like a flock of sheep to except what the industry throws at us.