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MMORPG - our Virtual Worlds are under attack. Log in and fight dammit!

Our genera is under fire by a generation of gamers for whom the term MMORPG represents an extension of Animal Crossing or Battlefield 2. Writers are telling gamers to buy buffs from people who control the need for them. I hope it's just a Secret World ARG

Author: Cyberdeck7

Why sandboxers need to shed the MMO moniker

Posted by Cyberdeck7 Thursday August 4 2011 at 3:35PM
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I've been arguing that since the mixing of F2p browser credit card games with actual MMORPGs under the same moniker, the real sandboxes are getting lost in the white noise.

Either we need to kick this crap over to its own moniker or get another catchy abbreviation for ourselves. Right now devs don't see us as our own market, just a small niche of a giant market where people are willing to pay real money for icons. We need separation from that. We need our own name and own sites again. It's the only way we'll get funded.

The sandboxes are waaay outnumbered by these cheesy money grabs calling themselves MMOs. To the devs it appears as if there isn't a market for real virtual worlds. In reality our genera and the moniker MMORPG has just been watered down by companies making a cheap money grab at what was a burgeoning industry ripe with innovation by just stealing the name.

From the 'dinosaur' perspective, in the real world it's like going out for a nice double shot of Tullamore Dew and finding out they now only sell pint glasses of single shot bar rail whiskey and water but advertise it as a double of Tullamore Dew. Eventually the bar is filled with watered down whiskey fans who think their favorite drink is Tullamore Dew. Capiche?

If you write about Farmville as a MMO you're going to attract a ton of Farmville fans who think their favorite casual game is a MMO just because they searched Farmville on google and your article popped up. 

The MMO sites aren't helping things. I don't know if there's still a columnist at any of them that would staunchly defend the real concept of MMORPG or tear into FTP item shops and analyze why so many companies are racing towards them.

Here's a clue: You purchase potions and buffs from the people who control the difficulty of the game. I think it's ridiculous to think they don't engage in world tweaking to make more profit.

If there is a MMO Journalist anywhere that can see what F2P is really all about and has the cojones to just ask permission to do an Investigative piece you'd be helping recover the genera. We need help. Please.

I don't blame the columnists at these sites for helping to water everything down. One example of the pressure to add water was when Massively was brought from a niche forum into the fold at AOL when this F2P junk really started taking off. It's the nature of the beast - if they stretch the definition of MMO then they get a larger audience. If you post a job for a columnist to report on Facebook MMOs then guess what? You only get applicants that enjoy facebook games and think they're MMOs.

Global Agenda tried to pass its lobby+ graphics off as an MMO and MMO sites supported them in it. They asked for a monthly fee to participate in persistent conquest play - it was a freaking hex map. I don't know who the heck OK's encouraging gamers - a lot of them young teens and 'tweens' - to pay $15/month for a lobby and a hex map. The sites even got these people all fired up defending the game as an MMO until HiRez realized their marketing failed and went on to create their own 'MOBA' moniker. They're pushing to get into professional competition gaming now. Good for them - they finally realized they were Counterstrike.

I think it's pretty much proof positive that the MMORPG genera is being watered down with the complete support of these MMO sites when a site called 'Massively' runs a column called 'Not so Massively.' Are you serious? You guys aren't having fun chipping away at our niche are you?

Here's Massively's first issue:

All of the games, even the F2P ones, were actual Virtual worlds. It took them four years to go from MMORPGs being Virtual Worlds to calling 2d clickers with chat on an iPhone MMORPGs

You can write about whatever you want, call it a MMORPG and people who enjoy that game will show up. This does not mean the game is an MMO.

Kothoses writes:

I like the general idea of seperating Sandboxs from MMOs in my opinion there are MMOG's and MMOW's (Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds) the latter are what the sandboxes are, worlds are like fallout and oblivion where you can go off and do your own thing but they are ideally suited to the Massively multiplayer arena.  Oblivion for example felt a little empty the world felt lifeless.


With a massive multiplayer population the game would and could come to life, but the ambition required for Sandboxes to realise the vision many people have for them would mean requiring a huge budget.  People often refer to Eve online as th flagship but Eve took a LONG time to really get going, in its early days it was very empty and the complaints even by hardened sandbox players was that there was no life to it.


The Sandbox genre is a niche one but part of that is that there has yet to be a sandbox that doesnt also want to punish people for playing it.  So maybe the developers of sandboxes need to make things for people to do and give them direction, problem is, how do you give people activities and direction without giving them a script?


Anyway as always a good entry mate, thanks again for taking the time to write it.

Thu Aug 04 2011 4:04PM Report
Cyberdeck7 writes:


I know Mortal online isn't a real good example unless the little rofl-stompers have left, but Xsyon is. The devs have simulated the real world down to starting the game with a GPS acurate map of the Lake Tahoe area. Animals are spawned based on accurate breeding cycles. Players make their own gear and can even terraform leaving quite a mark on the world that's there 'forever'

Its major problem is it suffers from the same thing every other first person MMO with any sort of feature set does. Glitchy combat up front which is immediately attack by a legion of cheaters.

As far as no script - they're aren't any quests and you skill up in skills you use regularly. Players have the ability to create quests and attach them to the tribe's totem pole. The quests are meaningful in that they revolve around what the tribe needs. If you quest for 15 logs, your 15 logs are going to end up as part of a wall or fence.

Imagine if someone were to apply Sony or Blizzard money to one of these games. It'll happen eventually.

Thu Aug 04 2011 5:11PM Report
rescendent writes:

Not sure why a "2d clicker" or a hex map can't be massively multiplayer. A MUD could be massively multiplayer if there were a few thousand people playing it and interacting properly (rather than just the send some spam method of most of the Facebook generation)

Although you are right that Farmville etc aren't massively multiplayer; they're not even multiplayer...

Thu Aug 04 2011 6:56PM Report
Cyberdeck7 writes:

Thanks for the comment!

Nope, I don't think a 2d clicker with chat being it's sole "massiveness" qualifies as an MMO. The hex map was $15/month. The closest I've seen to a hex map as the key component in a MMO environment are those shared gaming tabletops for playing PnP games over a distance. Those are $15 once. They are very cool.

I used Farmville because it was the most recognizable example of the type of gameplay in Facebook/Zynga games that are presented to us as MMOs. In farmville I think there's some kind of a mechanism where you get others to visit your farm for some kind of bonus. I'm not sure if it is simultaneous where you can see the little dude walking around or not. I think that's what these sites were trying to pass off as the "joining of MMOs and Casual Gaming"

Thu Aug 04 2011 9:47PM Report writes:
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