Debunking the common misconceptions core MMORPG players have with console based mmorpg's
For the core MMORPG player, thier most anticipated MMORPG being released on a console platform seems like a fate worse than death. For years, the core gamer has enjoyed his or her game in the relatively peaceful confines of a well educated, sophisticated and experienced gaming community.
At least, this is what they want you to think when the topic of console MMORPG's is being discussed on any MMORPG message board. In the core gaming circle, core gamers fundamentally believe that console gamers are skilless driveling morons who cannot handle the complex and sophisticated MMORPG creature. To make matters worse, to develop an MMORPG for both console and PC distribution, the developer needs to dumb the game down so much that controller button mashing r-tards can play too, says the core gamer.
There are two fundamentally opposite mindsets between the average console player and the core MMORPG gamer.
Console players buy many game titles per year, in the hopes of quickly defeating the game and moving on to the next one, unless the game has a multiplayer mode in which case it will get frequent reuse to fall back on between future game purchases. Console gamers may play several different games on any given day.
The core MMORPG player buys one game every few years and plays nothing but that game religiously with very few other gaming diversions. They are accustomed to playing a game that will never end while the developer throws even bigger pieces of cheese at them one or two times per year in the form of expansion packs.
With all that being said, lets get to debunking the myths surrounding the console MMORPG.
Console gamers are not technically sophisticated enough for MMORPG's
This is a very popular argument which the core gamer relies upon. The one about console players not having the skillset required to play an MMORPG. MMORPG players spend countless hours fine tuning their game's interface, installing mods that will help in raids, determining the right slot in their action bar to put their most crucial skills and abilities. They roam the virtual landscape with a 101 key keyboard and a 4 button mouse. Surely, the 6 button, 2 stick console wielding baffoon cannot compete with that.
The basis of this argument is that the demographic of the core gamer is suspected to be males between the ages of 18 to 34, while the core demographic of the console gamer is considered to be children between the ages of 6 and 17. Surely, a child who mashes controllers all day is not prepared to participate in the same virtual world as the well educated, young urban professional.
When you actually think about it, children are very adaptable and have a much lower learning curve when it comes to embracing and mastering new technology. The core gamer is usually set in their ways and rarely embraces going outside the norm. An MMORPG needs to be a turned based mouse clicking objective oriented grind that mimicks real life struggles or they won't play it. Console gamers are more open to new ideas and change. They embrace the non conventional and welcome difficult challenges. They embrace fun.
You can't do with a controller what you can do with a mouse and keyboard
As I mentioned, a standard keyboard has 101 keys. When you throw in the mouse, you have a total of approximately 140 ways to interact with your character. Add in shifting and control-click and you have an awe inspiring 420 ways to interface with your avatar when playing an MMORPG on a PC.
Sounds very sophisticated and technical, yes? When you come back down to the land of reality, MMORPG players use 4 keys, 2 mouse buttons and a push of the mouse left and right or up and down. All of their skillfull prowess comes down to mashing the same two mouse buttons for hours on end. All of the keys on the keyboard are for convenience purposes only. They are not required in any way. Can you imagine an MMORPG that requires PC players to actually have to use more than WASD and a mouse to play? There would be widespread revolt. The game would be shunned by the community. The mmorpg interface is about as exciting and challenging as Microsoft Excel.
If you have ever played an RPG on a console, you will understand why in some ways, a console controller is more convenient than a PC. One of my favorite console games was Sony's Champions of Norrath series, a spin off of Everquest and Everquest II. In Champions of Norrath, you use the directional stick and button clicks simultaneously to shift between spells. Towards the end of the game, with a quick click and push, you have over 16 spells and abilities at effortless disposal at any given time. In the time it takes a PC gamer to scroll across the screen and left click their icons, the console gamer can fire off the same amount of different commands.
While the PC gamer is given visual cues in the form of icons and cooldowns, the console gamer memorizes patterns and combinations. If you put the console controller in the hand of a core gamer and the keyboard/mouse combo in the hands of a console gamer, which one do you think will master their new craft more quickly and successfully?
When you consider that a Playstation 3 console can support USB keyboard and mouse, there are xbox keyboard and mouse adapters and the Wii remote functions similarly to a mouse and keyboard, half of the battle has already been lost for the core gamer.
Console gamers will bring down the MMORPG community
Have you actually ever played an MMORPG? Most are already chock full o' mouthy teenagers and children running amok. They're also full of grown adults who act worse than the mouthy teenagers and children. I hate to be the one to break the news to the core gamer, but the MMORPG community broke down several years ago. MMORPG's were once the Jaguars and Porches of the gaming industry, but today MMORPG streets are full of bicycles with training wheels, handme downs and rice burners.
I doubt we will ever see an MMORPG with the communities of days gone by. The new MMORPG community has been brought down to the guild level. Where you used to have one large interweaving community of players, you now have thousands of micro communities, each with its own unique identity and culture. Infusing the overall MMORPG community with console players will have no impact on these micro communities, nor can they sink the overall community any further into the mud than it already is.
Console MMORPG's are dumbed down and waterered down shells of an MMORPG
Since we really have not seen any console MMORPG's besides Final Fantasy, I was unable to find any evidence of this claim being true or false. While its true that Final Fantasy is a horrible MMORPG to play on a PC, I think the problem lies more with Square Enix being a console manufacturer and adding PC game play as an after thought with more importance being focused on the console play.
This problem is one for the industry to resolve. I have worked in the business software development industry for nearly 15 years and the one thing I know is there is a technical solution for every problem. The unfortunate reality though, is that it takes a well balanced team of highly skilled professionals and millions of dollars to achieve a successful product. The MMORPG industry has the capital, but I'm afraid it lacks the skill and ingenuity at this point to develop a product that pleases everyone involved.
While this complaint is one of the few with merit, I think it will eventually work itself out. When the Wii came out, one of the hurdles developers faced was how to make the Wii variant of a title interface more appropriately with the Wii remote to give Wii users a more unique gaming experience over the PS3 and Xbox. At the time the Wii remote was a new and very non conventional gaming control interface for consoles. We can also add that many predicted doom for Nintendo because the wii remote was so different. Core gamers perhaps?
Console MMORPG's will not have a traditional MMORPG look and feel
My first immediate wise cracking response to this gripe is GOOD! The MMORPG interface is terrible. So terrible infact that to effectively use it and compete in the game, you must scour the internet for add-ons or modules that help you better control it. I yearn for a new age when the MMORPG operates more like a hybrid MMORPG, FPS and RPG. When you take each of those elements individually, they each have good and bad. At some point, we can only expect and hope that the creative juices flow enough where a hybrid interface can emerge that solves all of our problems.
MMORPG's are still using the same user interface they had back when Everquest was first released. There have been no changes, advancements or improvements in almost 10 years. I think we're long overdue for an MMORPG UI revolution.
Hybrid MMORPG's must have seperate PC and Console servers
This argument stems more from the core gamers' fears than it does from a technical standpoint. PC and Console gamers can interface and play on the same servers. The problem lies with the core gamer's phobia of console players. Core gamers are folks who spend lots of time being good at their game. Almost to a point where their ingame accomplishments and real life accomplishments are sometimes blurred together. Many core gamer's pride would be hurt to learn that they received an in game whooping by a 10 year old on a Wii.
Instead of embracing the new challenge, it is much easier to petition for platform seggregation. I personally think an MMORPG that pits PC gamers against Console gamers would be a wildly fun and exciting challenge. If you buy the game for a console, you must play X faction and if you buy it for a PC, you must play Y faction. From a PVP standpoint it would make a hugely successful and well bonded community with a fierce competitive rivalry with your opponents.
From the technical point of view, this argument is purely garbage.
Console Gamers Vs. PC Gamers
PC MMORPG players are unemployed 30 somethings still living in their mom's basement wasting huge amounts of time hoping their in game persona turns out to be better than real life reality, while console gamers are skilless driveling button mashers chasing the cheese through a predefined set of circustances before burning through another game.
While both statements are usually quite fun to sling at eachother, you will see that both sides of the coin are very similar. There are console players living in mom's basement, and a good portion of the MMORPG community carries a drool cup in their man purse.
Slowly, the core player demographics are being blurred by successful crossover titles. Halo, WoW, Command and Conquer, The Sims and the list goes on. As time progresses we will eventually see the demographics of the core player edge closer together. The bottom line is that both demographics enjoy video games. It is one common denominator you cannot dispute. If that common bond cannot make a hybrid MMORPG work it will be the fault of the player and not the developer.
A hybrid MMORPG can be successful. It can be fun. It can also be the huge breakthrough the MMORPG industry so desperately needs. I don't encounter many console gamers who are anti-pc, but we frequently see the core gamer up in arms about any potential MMORPG hybrid.
When a decent MMORPG hybrid comes out, will it be instantly boycotted by core gamers, or is this entire argument just another finicky complaint from a community that has always complained about the most minor of changes in the way their games are played?