Recently Tobold discussed how the fact that with the loss of Hellgate earlier this year and now Tabula Rasa, is it possible that the "Shooter" based MMO is at it's end.
Tobold states :
"It is totally possible that there is a large demand for good shooter MMOs, but neither Hellgate nor Tabula Rasa were good enough. But then, I kind of liked Tabula Rasa, especially the instances, and wouldn't say it was a terrible game. Is it a statistical fluke that over the last 10 years games with swords sold better than games with guns, or is there a fundamental incompatibility of MMORPG gameplay and shooting?"
This is possible. I have argued about the other aspect of this known as "avatar" based Sci-Fi. This would explain the success of EvE for example.
He goes on to say :
"The reason why that question could be important is future games. The Agency will be a shooter MMO. Star Wars: The Old Republic will have both (light) swords and (laser) guns. Are these future games going to take a hit just because of the weapons they use, or will we see a game break the curse of the shooter MMO? What do you think?"
I notice he did not mention Stargate Worlds. Even though I am smelling a fail there myself.
My only argument for it's success is the magical like nature of the Asgard or the Jaffa, even though it really is science. Also, the Renaissance or Egyptian like settings at times, which meld Sci-Fi and Fantasy lend an air of mystery.
Of course, Hellgate and Tabula Rasa did this. No luck there.
The simple reason, and what I keep stating is overall, avatar based Sci-Fi MMO's always seem to fail. Matrix, Star Wars, TR, Hellgate, etc, etc, you name it. Science Fiction as a genre really does not have as large of a following as Fantasy in the MMO field.
But, why is this?
Lets try this...
What would happen if the MMO was a "real" shooter instead.
Look at Huxley (still vaporware mind you), which was to be a full blown shooter, and not calculated dice rolls.
Would it's Halo/Gears of War like shooter mechanics have been a better fit...an MMOFPS if you will?
The Agency for example has been noted to be real time shooting combat. And maybe this was the problem with Tabula Rasa. It used dice rolls to calculate the damages.
But, then Hellgate was real time. I think overall Hellgate's issues stemmed from content being so random and yet, the same. Dungeons used the same tile systems over and over.
And lets not forget bugginess that persisted even longer than Age of Conan's issues.
For Tabula Rasa, I am in the same camp with Tobold in that I do not think it sucked actually. It did not deserve a monthly fee though, and this is where it dropped the ball. A lower price point or micro-transaction could have been the winner to keep TR alive.
So far ..Fantasy lends itself to the "We are legion" type of gaming, and this may be the other issue with Sci-Fi MMO's.
Think of all the FPS type games where it is "kill or be killed". Not much in the way of "team" based combat or mechanics.
More people play Deathmatches than the co-op features of most of these games.
The only difference is say the Horror genre, like Left 4 Dead which is showing that co-op counts to survive in shooters.
(And that begs the question of why no one has made a Horror MMO...even though Funcom is working on one with the Secret World, but, we know how everyone feels about Funcom lately.)
The only final argument that has not been brought up is the female gamer aspect. We do know the female gamer is becoming more prominent in the shooter arena, with Halo, etc.
But, for the most part, females look for a more casual type of gameplay according to various studies. Also, a Fantasy setting seems to attract gamer women. I can attest to this as all of my previous gamer girlfriends, as well as my current wife either do not like or abhor Science Fiction compared to Fantasy. All we need to do is look at the sale of Sims 2 and the overall female population there to note how this affects the genre.
When Tabula Rasa came up, even though I felt the setting screamed Stargate, and the wife enjoys SG, she just did not want to shoot guns...period. Even though I showed her you gained "magic like" powers with the Logos system, it was a no sale, thanks to guns (of course, she loves Horror games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil, and guns are not an issue there.)
So, we come full circle. Why is it that Sci-Fi fails in the MMO genre, compared to so many Fantasy MMO's coming out of our ears.
What do you feel is the main issue?