Let me preface this by let you the reader know that this is not an attack on either of these. It is meant simply to inform those that are unaware, have become confused that there are two different mediums and why. Additionally, you must understand that I was a teenager during the beginning of the bomb time for video game arcades. I was there when the first desktop computer was made available to John Q. Public. I was there when I gave my pre-school age boys their Atari for Christmas. So I am speaking form first hand experiences as well as documented material found elsewhere upon the web.
The Video Game Arcade
In The 1970's you could go to your corner stripe mall or to your local shopping mall and find at least one video game arcade within it. Filled with kids and teens. All placing their quarters and then the tokens into the video game. Spending their money trying to beat the newest video game that had been brought into the arcade. The arcade owner didn't have to worry about a large overhead for this type of business and also didn't have to worry about paying someone over minimum wage to work there. This allowed them to sometime grow into chains or even into specialty arcades like Chucky Cheeses which is still around to day in most state within the USA.
The Console Game
Toward the end of the 70's several of the companies that were making these games began to realize they were losing a lot of money to the those that ran the arcades. So they started to develop a way to kick the middle man out of the equation and bring that money into their hands. So was born the console game. As these become more popular and different brands came into being. Most playing the very same game you could play at the arcade. The death nil for the corner arcade was sounded. Now you need to go to D&B's restaurant arcade, or Chucky Cheeses and in the corner of your local movie theater to find what is left of the video arcades.
Now the companies that were making the programs could sell their games directly to the consumer. For those that have been around for as long as I have, may have noticed. The cartridges and then CD for the games have all been at the same price for as long as we can remember. Somewhere between $25 to $60. Usually toward the higher end of this pricing. Why? Because after a certain amount of sales of the games it is pure profit. Since it is a computer program and materials that do not cost much to make them. Plus they have made a good part of the development cost back already through the sell of the console. Again many may remember when the first Nintendo came out and it was selling at up to $300 that first Christmas it was released.
Here the demand to get that next great game was the drive. Add the next upgrade to the previous game. Thus keeping the on going influx of nearly pure cash to those that made and sold these game for the console.
Soon after IBM released the first desktop in the early 1980's the first text games came out for computers. Some after the first modem came out and shortly after that access to the internet. When this happened those playing these text based games decided to make the first Multi-User Dungeon (MUD). In the early versions it was only a few people playing and socializing within them. A GM making content nearly weekly for not only their own fun but for those that were playing the MUD with them.
Then as people waited for new content they started to socialize in these game. Usually in the form of Role-playing. This grew into friendship not only in the game but sometimes outside of it as well. Then due to this social interaction with these virtual worlds as they were being call. More and more of these game came into being. It is as this time that I came into my first contact with one of them DragonRealms. Soon after this someone came up with the idea for a GMUD or Graphical Multi-User Dungeon and so the MMORPG was born.
The Massively Multiplay Online Roleplaying Game was just was it was called. A world where those that had been Multi-Users in various other virtual worlds come into one virtual world. Thus making it "massive." Within these games they continued to roleplay as they had before, but now it was on the screen in front of them not just in their minds. The most successful of these at this was EverQuest. Here the roleplaying mentality continued, with many RP servers.
It was shortly before this that a monthly fee was introduced to help support those running the MUDs to be able to spend more time making new content and allow them to quit their day job. Thus the birth of the monthly fee and why it was needed. This also was a large contributor to the birth of the MMORPG since companies saw how those that have quit their day jobs and were working solely on making a quality MUD were starting to get rich due to it.
But a new element was starting to be introduced due to that fact that it was now visual instead of text. Now those that had been playing console games were starting to be teenagers themselves. With money in their pockets and demands that sounded more like video games them a MUD and very little interest in roleplaying.
One company heard them and so World of Warcraft came into being and so the MMO that had been born form MUDs was now mixed with the demands of video game. This opened a watershed to all those that had or were playing video game. And so the clone wars (to steal a phase) began. Also those that had been in the vanguard of the MMORPG industry were left wanting the old days.
Then we have Arenanet. They witnessed the change of the game from what it had been when it was a text only game and you had to take your time unless you could read really fast. To a fast pace gear chasing game. More video game then true MMORPG. They were in other companies and had become discouraged by the clones of WoW. So they decided to make their own game. One they hoped would return to the pacing and feeling of what it had been when they were MUDs.
Guild Wars was born and many were happy, while many others were not. They made expansion packs and wanted to keep GW growing then they realized to make it really go in the direction they wished they needed to make a new game all together and so Guild Wars 2 was born.
Now we have returned to the roots of the MMO and those that had been exposed to what they believed were MMOs after WoW are now unhappy because the game is not like WoW. Nor can they call it a clone. Nor is it required to be fast paced. But to those like myself we see it for what it really is. It is a return to what can truly be called a MMORPG. So this has baffled and dumbfounded many who just don't know all that has happened since 1970. This is why I have written this. Hoping to enlighten those that wish to learn from history and not repeat it.