Thursday, April 10, 2008

MMORPGS are no more than a passing fad

I had a revelation this morning as I was dozing in that half state between waking and sleeping. MMORPGs are the "point and click" adventure games of our era. Just like adventure games in the 1980s and 1990s they have enjoyed an explosive growth in popularity. Also just like point and click adventure games they have a fundamental flaw in that the games themselves are really quite boring.

I did a business course a few years back and one of the enduring lessons that stuck with me was that many market leading products force their customers to make compromises in order to suit the manufacturer. Once alternatives become available which do not force customers to make those compromises the market leader is doomed. MMORPGS force their customers to endure hundred of hours of boring repetitive game play so that publishers can extract the maximum number of ongoing subscriptions from a limited amount of content. This is an unsustainable business model once alternatives become available which offer similar gaming benefits without the tedium.

Therefore on the basis of no research whatsoever I am going to go with my hunch and pronounce that the MMORPGs are passing fad that will vanish quite rapidly some day in the near future when players wake up and realise that there are many more enjoyable ways to invest their gaming hours.

8 comments:

Daddy Gamer said...

Interesting thought. I agree with you but wonder how to get the social phenomena work in another game. I am playing because I can play with my friends in other cities. Maybe co-op is the way of the future. Adjustable co-op, that is possible to play from 1 to 5 ppl at oonce?

sweetflag said...

Well mbp someone had to come out & say it, well done!

The fad may last a little long than we expect but I believe games like LBP(PS3) & Spore will be the new leaders of the pack this year, with regards to the 'something new' genre. They allow players to create something that actually means something to the game, I am liking the term co-operative creativity.

mbp said...

Hello Daddy Gamer, hello DM. I didn't suggest a replacement for mmorpgs because I couldn't think of one but you guys may well be on the money. The key phrase is co-operation. Co-operation whenever and where-ever a player wants not the enforced "work like" co-operation that mmorpg raiding requires.

Niv said...

I agree that MMORPGS feature a broken business model.

Sometimes I find it hard to tell, though, what's a passing fad for everyone as opposed to just myself or a certain group.

I used to play MMORPGS for 10-20 hours a week, but have since lost interest because of the "repetitive" gameplay you describe. I started in my college years, stuck with it a few years, and find myself moving on as I get into my 30s [especially with career and family to focus on].

So are a lot of people looking for the next big thing or do the majority have to go through the whole love-hate-boredom process to move on?

I suspect though, that even as the popularity passes, MMORPGS will linger on either because 1) the businesses will innovate or 2)things don't seem to really go away (they just fall into smaller and smaller niches).

Jason said...

I don't think it's quite so broken as you think. Gaming by its nature is repetitive; MMOs simply give you that repetitive nature in a persistent state. Another thing to consider that you're not is that MMOs are far, far cheaper to play on a long term scale than buying a new game every couple months. There are a lot of people(myself included) who play MMOs for that reason alone.

Yes, eventually the flavor of the month MMO will wear off when the next big thing comes along, or even just the next in line. But just as standalone RPGs have stuck around for 3 decades, their MMO cousins will continue to do so as well.

mbp said...

Hi Niv & Jason.

MMORPGS are good value for money in terms of gaming hours per euro/dollar. However for many many people time is even more valuable than money and MMORPGs do not give value in terms of entertainment per hour. I reckon COD4's short single player campaign packs more thrills and excitement into 10 hours of playtime than most MMORPGS fit into 100 hours of grinding / questing / raiding.

I really amn't qualified to predict the end of MMORPGs. Follow the link to Richard Bartle's presentation in my next post for a more informed view. My gut feeling though tells me though that the current model for MMORPGs with the massive time investment required from players is unsustainable. I think that if online games are to continue to thrive they will have to evolve into more "real life" friendly forms.

Zoso said...

There might even be a parallel between World of Warcraft vastly outselling everything else, and Myst back in the adventure days (though I can't be bothered digging around sales data to verify that)...

mbp said...

Gosh I forgot about Myst. Yes Zoso it was the "best selling game of all time" for a few years and just like World of Warcraft it pulled in a lot of non-gamers into the fold.