You know what’s more fun than jumping onto the bandwagon of “Game X is dying?” Just outright proclaiming that the entire MMO genre is dying. People love brash, brazen statements with no facts to back them up, especially if it’s said to an audience of cynics.
You know what’s a fact? The MMO industry is more than just 38 Studios. It’s more than just BioWare (and let’s not ignore that BioWare is actually doing very, very well for itself in terms of subscriptions and revenues). Maybe back in 2001, you could count the number of 3D MMOs in existence and studios handling them, but we’re so far past that it’s crazy.
MMORPGs are not a fad. They have not peaked. They are an extension of a long-running form of entertainment (RPGs, wargaming, and storytelling) coupled with the technology that allows people across the world to interact and play together. The train’s left the station in regards to stopping the growth of this genre. We hear of new MMOs being announced weekly. While some never make it to launch, the ones that do have pretty good odds of operating for multiple years at a minimum (check out my MMO Timeline chart to see just how many launched MMOs are still chugging along, making money, and entertaining players). The industry as a whole is growing: More games are being made, more players are engaging in MMOs, and more money is being made as business models are tweaked and iterated.
I find it absolutely ridiculous when people start proclaiming the end of MMOs as if it’s a foregone conclusion that isn’t somehow based in delusional fantasy. My best guess is that when someone starts tromping down this road, it’s either an emotional response to a recent major event or an extension of how you naturally want to badmouth something you used to like but not longer do, and you figure that if you feel this way, everyone else does too.
Things change. The MMO industry won’t remain static. Some games will grow bigger, some smaller. New ideas will be rolled out. Studios will continue to learn from each other and discover better ways to build these games. I think we will probably see more financially prudent ventures, but then again, did the movie industry ever stop making blockbusters because of Ishtar and Waterworld?
It’s hard to imagine anyone having predicted just how the industry would have developed these past 15 years, and I think it’s quite impossible to predict what’s going to occur for the next decade or so. There will be surprises and things we never saw coming, there will be disappointments and epic flops, and people will still be gaming and enjoying these types of games long after us crusty bloggers have retired.
So if you’re feeling down on the industry or wondering if this is all a flimsy house of cards that’s about to collapse with no promising prospects in sight, just remember: there’s a lot in the works right now. 38 Studios wasn’t the Maginot Line that was crossed and caused the downfall of all we know and love.
Phantasy Star Online 2. PlanetSide 2. EverQuest Next. Titan. Guild Wars 2. The Secret World. Undead Labs’ zombie MMO. ArcheAge. Salem. Wizardry Online. The Elder Scrolls Onlne. WildStar. Pathfinder Online. Otherland. World of Darkness. End of Nations. Defiance. MechWarrior Online. Transformers Universe. Neverwinter. DUST 514. Marvel Universe Online. Pirate101. Firefall. City of Steam. RIFT expansion. DDO expansion. LOTRO expansion. All of these dang titles in beta.
Yeah, this industry’s got a peculiar way of going about dying.