Every time we post about Global Agenda, Guild Wars or CitiesXL, I can write the first, second and third forum response myself.
“This isn’t an MMO!”
“Yes it is, read the FAQ!”
“I disagree with what you said.”
We get it. They’re not exactly Ultima Online. Yes, Global Agenda has a lot of instancing, and yes CitiesXL is a city-building game.
The question our community asks is why we list and cover them, and there is a simple answer: We take a feed them to the sharks mentality.
So long as it’s within the realm of common sense, we let the game companies decide what to call their games. Now, of course we are not going to go list Monopoly here, but when a game provides shared common areas or a highly online, cooperative experience, and wants to call themselves an MMO… who are we to say no?
So why is this feeding them to the sharks? Well, the truth is, you guys are the best judges. When a game really shouldn’t be on the list, you hound them mercilessly until they go away. You vote with your clicks, or lack thereof, and sometimes listing a game here (and I tell companies this) can do more harm than good if they’re not really what they claim to be.
This is a double edged sword, though. With almost 400 games on our list, sometimes games sneak through that really shouldn’t be there. It happens, we admit it, and we try to remove them as we find them. Let’s be honest here: We cannot possibly properly play every game on the list, so when someone from Company X we’ve never heard of says they have an MMO, write MMO all over their website and provide us a fact sheet tailored to our basic FAQ requirements… we basically take them at their word.
Yet, while you weed out the pretenders, there also seems to be a certain MMO snobbery that has developed in this community and that worries me. I’ve begun to wonder if people are not so caught up in what an MMO is – or should be – that they sometimes forget that a fun video game is a fun video game.
I’m not advocating PacMan for the list here, but if a game calls itself an MMO and has core MMO elements (progression, persistence, and online common areas) why can’t people look at it for what it is, instead of what it isn’t?
Take Global Agenda. The core of that game is instanced FPS style PvP. Yes, that caps out at no larger than 24 in a single instance (12 vs. 12) right now. Does that matter? You could argue we could toss Battlefield in, sure, but that’s a non-starter for a few reasons: Battlefield may have some progression (weapon unlocks), but not the extent of character progression in GA; BF has absolutely no persistence to the encounters and what they mean for the larger world; and BF has no common areas for people to explore.
Hi-Rez, for good or bad, has chosen an MMO community as its target and feels their game fits that group. I’m not here to tell you its good or bad, but I don’t think the debate should be about the game’s category, but rather its quality. If in the end, the persistent elements they’re selling are not enough to justify the monthly fees. Then they made a mistake, but outright dismissing it based on an arbitrary set of rules is a bit extreme. Too often, we get lost in the details and forget to just ask the only question that matters: will I enjoy this game?
An even more extreme example this week came when one poster got riled up that we had Dragon Age advertisements on the page. Generally, we try to keep our ads limited to MMOs and MMO related things, so yes, a single-player RPG that no one argues is even close to an MMO is not the norm, but really? It’s an RPG, it’s made by people making an MMO, and it’s even in a fantasy setting many of our readers love. It’s not a stretch to think that a few MMOers might go buy the game, so what exactly is the harm of letting them advertise? It didn’t blink, it didn’t flash and it didn’t take over your computer. It just sits in the background for people to click or not as they choose.
The industry in changing. Each generation, the definition of what is an is not an MMO gets blurrier and blurrier. So, moving forward, what would you rather see? Would you rather us be more inclusive and – within reason – include games that make sense or would you rather us tighten up and only include games that can be called MMOs in the classical sense?