Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fourth Thought - What is the Future of MMOs?

   I recently discovered a series of videos called Extra Credits. The second video in the first season, titled "The Future of MMOs", caught my eye and prompted a watch. While quite out-of-date, the video made a lot of good points about the state of MMORPGs in particular, and why most of them aren't that good. I have absolutely no problems with anything that was said in the video, and I'm not here to summarize it.
   The video opened my eyes wide to the reasons for the existence of crappy games on the internet, and why people play so much. But again, this was all said in the video.

   What I'm here to discuss is SMNC (Super Monday Night Combat). I did a review on it a couple months ago and since then, the community of the game has only gotten smaller and smaller. While wondering whether or not SMNC would survive the year, it got me thinking about the future of online MMOs in the general.

   Games get cancelled all the time, and while it hasn't yet happened to SMNC (hopefully it won't), it had just occurred to me that sometimes very good games can just cease existing as long as they fly far enough outside the radar of the gamer community.

   So what IS the future of MMOs (getting to the title of this post)? We're already at the point where MMOs have branched out to several different genres and developers have found success outside of WoW-clones, but where do we go from here? We're at the point where most MMOs these days have a truly free-to-play (not pay-to-win) model, and quality seems like it couldn't be higher. What's next?
   The way I see it, since the line between MMOs and console games keeps getting thinner, we'll eventually see more of those types of qualities in our online games. The storylines will get better, special effects will become cooler, and we may even start seeing single-player modes and difficulty levels popping up.

   Imagine playing a game like SMNC but with a well thought out storyline complete with cutscenes, completely voice-acted dialogue, and amazing AI controlled teams to overcome. Imagine seeing that in any free-to-play MMO. Around ten years ago, I couldn't have dreamed of being able to play a game that looks as nice as most of the games I've played within the last few months for free. Give it another few years and the quality can only keep skyrocketing.

   The thing is, we have to support the games we find most fun. I'm not saying you should throw thousands of dollars at every game you smile at, but if you truly enjoy a game and want it to last, just pitch in a few bucks. Tell your friends about it, roll as a team. If not, then MMOs simply won't have a future.

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