MUD, MOG, MMOG, MMORPG, MMORTS, MMOFPS, PWNS? (Don’t ask, really, don’t.)
This post is not game specific, so here's another cute picture.
Genre-mixing, for lack of a better term, is the incorporation of other game genres into MMORPGs. Some games adopt all aspects of the second genre, some adopt a little. The path of a current MMO studio is a treacherous one; If they stick too close to the original formula, they get coined “uninspired” or “another WoW clone”. If they stray too far into another genre, they risk scaring away the close-minded or introducing a difficult learning curve. When it comes to MMO customers, some (or a lot) of us are arrogant enough to believe that we hold the secret to making America’s Next Top MMO. Admittingly… I’m one of them, oh if only those goofy developers would listen!
Most of the current NA/EU genre-mixing MMOs have only assimilated a small portion of another genre, and it’s reflected in the studios’ and publishers’ hesitance in using new and fancy acronyms. Better to deliver a seemingly traditional MMORPG with unique new “features” than to be a MMOFPS that fails to deliver…right? For the companies? Maybe. For the bored MMO veterans? Absolutely not.
Luckily for us, WoW. It’s no surprise to anyone that has kept up with MMOs, developers are getting bolder and more venturous when it comes to crossing over into other genres. The explosive success of WoW has advanced this movement in two conflicting ways; By expanding the MMO audience and awareness, niche genre-mixed MMOs have a much larger exposure rate to potential customers, and with WoW’s firmly rooted claws in the market, new games are forced to innovate by genre-mixing or otherwise, to distinguish themselves as an interesting alternative.
There are many, many disgruntled MMO veterans, impatiently waiting for an unique, revolutionary "Perfect Game" to blow WoW away. Realize however, that WoW is only an extremely good iteration of the traditional MMORPG genre, dabbling in other genres as features are added over the years. If MMORPG is classical music, Blizzard is Bach, he didn't invent classical music, he excelled at it. When another game takes over the top subscription spot, it will most likely be a better iteration of the same genre. Millions of people don’t change tastes overnight, it takes years, sometimes decades. In the mean time, look for studios that are willing to mix genres, that are willing to take risks and push the boundaries, give them your support and money and let them know their endeavors are appreciated.