Sometimes I get so incredibly bone-tired of the leadup to new MMORPGs, not because of the hype, but because of the anti-hype that follows in its wake. Listen, I know that the odds aren’t good for a new MMO to make it big, to be all things for all people, or even to survive in an increasingly-crowded market. I know that there have been promises in the past that were broken by the end of Day One post-launch. I know that if you want to play the odds, then slamming any and all upcoming MMOs will work in your favor more often than not.
But it just saddens me that as supposed “fans” of this genre, we’re becoming so cynical, so unwilling to give anything a chance, and so quick to judge before the product is even here. It’s great to analyze and speculate, sure, but more and more you read these heavy-handed judgments that have the air of certainty (“this game WILL fail”) and finality (“that’s it, we might as well forget it”) swirling about.
And this happens with every new piece of info that a game company releases. The more well-known the game, the more savage the attacks (which then prompts defenders to go off the deep end in the other direction as well). It’s said with the voice of an expert in the way things will happen, even though nobody — myself unfortunately included — can predict diddly-squat when it comes to the future in MMOs.
Don’t believe me? Travel back a couple years and see if you can find anybody that would’ve predicted DDO’s rise from the ashes, Free Realms’ insane popularity (over other kiddy MMOs like FusionFall), the lightning-quick acceptance of RMT and item shops, the $25 sparkle pony, WAR’s great fall, Hellgate London’s failure, or Fallen Earth’s cult success. We like to pretend that everything’s going about more or less like it’s always been, but that’s just not true. The MMO industry is unpredictable as it is fascinating, which is what keeps me glued to the RSS feeds.
My greatest wish is that more people could come to peace with new games trying new things. We rant about how MMOs are all alike in one breath, and then spew venom about a developer who dares to make the claim that they’re trying something different with their title. Because it will fail, dontcha know. It doesn’t have the right stuff. We’re too ingrained in our ways.
Guild Wars 2 trying a dynamic event system in place of the much-hated quest/grind model? It’ll fail! The Secret World being more instanced and developed by FunCom? Fail! The Old Republic hanging its hat on story? Fail, dude! Never mind that, at least to me, these are three titles that I’m actually excited to see come out. They’re breaking a cardinal rule of MMOs: they’re daring to be different.
Seriously, can’t I look forward to a new game without either being accused of falling into the hype or becoming depressed after reading loads of people frothing about how it might as well pack up and go home because fancy dancing has no place in backwater Utah? Without checking our brains at the door, can’t we at least reserve final judgment until it comes out?
I cheered when Zubon posted this over at KTR:
“Darren senses that Bioware is missing the point of MMOs. Good for them. Our niche market is a horror of trying to stretch out the fun instead of making it more fun. Portal did not become a huge hit because it made you execute the same maneuver 50 times before moving to the next level.”
Just a frustrated little rant for this Wednesday morning. This afternoon: puppy pictures!