Can independent MMOs survive in todays market? Since the begining of MMOs, when MUDs were the norm, people wanted to make their own. Can that be reality? First of all, What is the difference between a Regular MMO and an Indie? I define "Indie MMOs" as 1-3 people working on a small project without a Company. I serched the Internet for "Indie MMO" and came up with many blogs talking about peoples' own MMO. I also saw things like "Sherwood Dungeon" and "Kingdom of Loathing" but, Are they worth it? Should people even care about small MMOs that do not have a massive company behind them?
Well, Lets look at some of the problems that Indie MMOs face. Truly, one of the greatest problems for indie MMOs, if not all MMOs, How does one make money? The cost of making even a small game (i.e Hosting a server, A forum and a website) add up! The payment method, do you "Pay to Play"? If you are not a AAA+ title, most people won't pay monthly. Free Trials are nice, but, does your free trial really show how great the game is? What about micro transactions? Will players pay for those things? KoL and Golemizer allow you to donate, but, do players really care about the game?
Alright you have chosen a payment method, how do you want it to look? 2D, 3D? When you give a player a choice between a great looking game (Which is just a WoW clone) vs a game with limited graphics (which great story depth) Which one do you think they will choose? the good looking game get players more often than the limited graphic type. What is the story? A WoW-clone? An original idea? If you go with something like KoL, You have something very different, but, will players want that?
Then we come to the monster in the room, getting yourself heard. With so many MMOs out there today, It's kinda like someone getting thousands of fan mail (Or hate mail >.>) and opening just the right one. A game could be great, however, if no one hears about it, that fact is useless! Voting sites allow people to vote for there favorite MMO, Who really looks at those? Reviewers from MMO sites will log in and enjoy themself, write a good review!,then, a player comes along, logs in and trys to view it though the eyes of a Mainstream MMO, and often, hates the game! Sometimes, all that MMOs need is a blog post that mentions them. (Shot out to Golemizer :p)
Currently, i think a big fact that most people over look about indie MMOs is the community, I've been playing Golemizer for a few months now, and now have a real community of gamers behind me. I look at games like KoL, Sherwood and wonder, are they popular? I mean, in terms of AAA+ MMOs, No. But, for what they are, Very orginal, Tight knit communities, who love the game, Yes they are "popular". What can we learn from this? Indie MMOs are hard to make, Hard to get popular. So I ask you, Can Indie MMOs succed? Is there hope for Indie MMO developers?
(And just because I wanted to >.> : http://www.golemizer.com/