I was watching the 10 year anniversary video for Everquest today which brought back some of my fondest memories of mmo gaming. I remember thinking back leaving EQ for SWG and then moving on to EQ2 which I didn't play long. I remember one thought that kept going through my mind while playing EQ2 "Why in the hell did they think they needed to remake Everquest?" It is that simple question that inspires this blog. Enjoy.
Why make a sequel to a MMO?
So let's go back to my original example. Why did SOE think they needed to make a sequel to a succesful game? In single player games it makes complete sense to do it. You have a successful IP and people want to see what happens next. So you make a sequel to the game continuing the storyline adding some new features, and make more money and hopefully garner some new fans to the franchise. One would think that was the resoning behind SOE's desicion to make a sequel to a successful MMO. Set it in a different time, add some features, make it look prettier, and get some new fans right? Well maybe.
For me the problems sequels cause in the case of an mmo far outweigh the benefits. The most obvious to me is that you will have two games out on the market that essentially offer the same experience. Sure one may be newer but they are in the same setting whether you chnage the timeline or not and by making a sequel one assumes you intend to keep the original on the market and thus will end up competing against yourself for subscribers. As a business model it just doesn't make any sense to me. Obviously not to the intdustry either as EQ2 and Lineage 2 are about the only sequels I can recall off hand that still exist.
So that got me thinking there's got to be a better way. And there is.
Reboot is the answer
So maybe your asking yourself whatever is a reboot? Well my friends I shall educate you. For those who know just read along it'll still be fun. Now the reboot can be used for two completely different purposes, but I believe both apply here.
First the reboot is done to erase a past mistake, and start over fresh. You reboot and move along like the other has ever happened. Here's an example to better illustrate my point. Back in 2003 Marvel got director Ang Lee to make "The Hulk" along with that they had ILM do the special effects. The result was a miserable failure of a movie that did zero justice to the original IP.
Marvel of course realized this and in 2008 released the reboot of The Hulk to wipe away the past mistake made in 2003 and start again fresh. The result was a successful revitalization of the IP, happy fans, and money for Marvel.
The second reason for the reboot is to take something that is already good and merely update it as opposed to changing the experience or attempting to sweep the original under the rug. Staying with the movie genre a good example of this would be War of the Worlds. The fist movie version of this is a classic and an excellent story.
Granted the special effects arent the greatest they were the best for the time. Now Speilberg didn't want to really change the expereince as much as he wanted to update it thusly the reboot. Better special effects same general story and experience, and again happy fans and more money.
Now let's take it into the mmo space. Jumpgate Evolution is an example of a reboot. The developer have taken the core experience of the original Jumpgate and are rebooting it upgrading graphics and gameplay and thus replacing the orgiginal game rather than making a sequel to compete with the orgiinal.
The big plus to this is we get an updated version of the original experience and NetDevil will most likely attract new players to this updated version. So in then end happy fans and more money. I would have liked to have seen EQ get a reboot as opposed to a sequel other notable reboots that would be nice to see would be Asheron's Call, Planetside, and Shadowbane. There's a ton more I'm sure I would agree with but this puppy is getting s little long.
Now what about the other type of reboot the sweep it under the rug kind. I can think of some IP's that could really benefit from this as well. Some games that were such abysmal failures with good IP's that could benefit froma reboot. Wouldn't it be nice to see a different take on the Matrix Online? Or how about a version of SWG without a NGE and with an actual Civil War now that would be nice.
In the end I hope NetDevil's attempt is followed by others in the industry. Rather than reinvent the wheel why not just get a new set of tires. By rebooting mmo's rather than trying to make a sequel will help keep the market from getting over saturated and allow good games to reatain their audience and expand upon it as well as allow games that didn't get i right the first time another chance at life. In the end the only issue I can see with rebooting would be trnaferring player accounts which I'm sure could either be done or give existing players the chance to start at their level and repec, or ahh heck they'd figure it out wouldn't they?
Well that's all for me tonight and as always feedback is welcome below.
Until Next Time