Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Same as it ever was...

Today has been a flurry of discussion on various sites about upcoming MMO's Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
One thing seems to be clear for both of these games...they are the "Same as it ever was..."

Is this really a bad thing?

I have argued in the past that the MMO genre really needs a swift kick in the pants. Innovation is dead for this style of game. I would prefer each of the above listed games made a move toward a different way to play an MMO. But, it is not to be. So, why should you still look at these games?

They are finally getting it right.

Since 2008 (or even earlier...depending on your view of the growth of this industry), every MMO that has been released has had some sort of issue. Whether it is bugginess (Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, etc, etc.), ugliness (Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online...animations and some models mainly) or unfinished games (most MMO's released since 2008)...there really has not been a winner in the genre since World of Warcraft.

Rift will be the first game to take elements of each MMO listed and polish it until you are blinded by the light of the sheen.

Will it really be ready? Is endgame there? Will balance haunt the infamous "souls" system? Will the "Rifts" be unmanageable due to lower populations as players level?

And will the Dev's continue to listen like they do now?

This and many other questions remain unanswered. Based on the feedback though and the current iteration (Beta 3 as of this writing) the game looks to be a competitor. For those who have grown tired of their current game, but are relatively new to the genre, Rift is a winner. To those, like myself, that loved the older MMO's; Vanguard, WAR and AoC all had something I liked, yet had more to hate; then it is a good home to come to.

As to Star Wars, or Guild Wars 2 or any further game, Rift will actually be telling. If the "familiarity" does not keep the players in this game, then innovation will be the only step to player retention.

This genre, I feel, has really been played out. Rift could be the last great game of the familiar "themepark" variety. After that, it will be time to step into the next generation.

Cheers!

2 comments:

tishtoshtesh said...

It still strikes me as unwise to bank on mimicing the industry leader. At least, if you're spending a lot of money doing so.

Rift may well be a solid WoW-like game with some fun twists, but if the bulk of gameplay boils down to "more of the same", they just aren't going to pull away players with time and social investment in other games.

That's one unfortunate quirk of these perpetual treadmill games. There's little reason to jump on a new treadmill.

I think you're right, this genre is saturated and played out. Maybe there's still money there, and I don't wish the Rift guys ill at all, but it's high time for the next generation.

Longasc said...

Tesh pointed out some dangers of design being too similar to previous games, and you summed up your thoughts on the matter.

What's else to say?

It is exactly as you said, Rift will show how many are willing to pay and play the (supposedly) final and really well done evolution of the DIKU MUD.
The second group will wait for something new.
There is a third group - those who will go back to WoW or whatever else game they were playing before for reasons that Tesh already mentioned.


Right now it is quite funny to see all the rage against Jef Reahard. I bet he also does not like some of the games I play, but I will forgive him. ;)