This month’s installment of MMOCO is a bit of a philosophical edition. Stuff has certainly gone down within the last month in the MMO department, but it’s kind of a steady murmur. There’s some excitement going on about the recently announced Elder Scrolls Online, but details are still pretty scarce as of yet. Betas are starting (e.g. the Secret World) and continuing (e.g. Guild Wars 2), and games are releasing (e.g. TERA). Every day, players are starting new MMOs, leaving old MMOs, and looking forward to those MMOs on the horizon. And as I sat here, trying to figure out what to focus on for this month’s edition, it struck me that we MMO players are in the middle of a pretty great time of innovation and change of the genre. How’s that, you ask? Well let me show you how I see it.
Dark Age of Camelot, probably the oldest MMO I've ever played
I didn’t get my MMO start in what people consider the originals, like EverQuest or Ultima (though the first game I really got hooked on was a MUD, which one could argue is a type of MMO). I have, however, been playing MMOs for about 9 years, and have put at least a few months in with a good dozen of them. Through that time, I’ve seen a lot of evolution and change, and I think right now we’re on the edge of a big change yet again.
Guild Wars, the MMO/Multiplayer hybrid I played the longest
As we all know, as technology advances, games change. Also, in the face of competition, games begin to try new stuff in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. World of Warcraft showed the world that MMOs could draw millions of people - some of whom never considered themselves gamers. Other developers decided that they wanted in on that, and more and more MMOs began to be made and launched. We’re now at the point where several highly anticipated MMOs are released each year (and that’s not even counting the dozens of free-to-play ones released in Asia). Back before World of Warcraft launched, MMO choice was much more limited. Now developers have to come up with new stuff (or ways to do the same stuff better) in order to entice people to come play their new, shiny game. Or, on the other hand, developers have to design new content or add upgrades to existing MMOs in order to get their players to stay. If you log on to any relatively new MMO and force yourself to read the disaster known as “General Chat,” players will regularly talk about how X MMO is better than Y MMO, or how they quit Z MMO to play this MMO, and so on.