With recent news about studios closing (38 Studios), layoffs (Bioware) and game closures (Star Wars Galaxies), it’s hard to believe that MMOs have a very bright future. We think they still do and have outlined a few ways that MMOs can stay viable in the future.
Without further ado, here’s what we think about the future of MMOs:
5. F2P is Happening
Like it or not, free to play or, at the very least, item shops are going to be a trend in the MMO space. Whether upcoming MMOs take on the full F2P experience or whether they incorporate convenience items similar to what Guild Wars 2 is planning to bring into the space, elements of the free to play movement are leaking into our MMOs. It’s something we’re all going to have to get used to and will either have to accept or reject it.
It’s not just MMOs either. You find the same trend in online shooters, strategy titles – really just about everything imaginable in gaming. Add in the dearth of single player non-DRM games and we can see the fact that we’re probably all just going to have to suck it up or quit gaming all together.
4. KickStarter Can Help
One of the more encouraging trends in gaming these days is KickStarter. Many developers are seeing the necessity of removing the publisher’s yoke and going out on their own to seek funding from the very people who will be playing their games. It’s an astonishing and welcome addition to the whole idea of “indie developers” and a lot of game makers seem to be willing to embrace the paradigm. Cancelled games like Dominus, for instance, can see new life in KickStarter campaigns. Let’s hope the trend continues.
3. Development Needs to Have Time to Finish
I don’t think there’s an MMO player on the planet, hell, a gamer on the planet, who doesn’t believe that this is probably one of the most important things that should happen in game development today. Publishers want games out and they want them out NOW, finished or not. Corporate heads are always nosing around in the business of the guys and gals making the game and constantly prodding them to get on with it. This has got to stop.
Publishers need to realize that in the long run, pushing a game out before it’s finished is going to be noticed and will hurt their bottom profit line in the end.
SWTOR or Mass Effect 3 anyone?
2. Publishers Need to Stay Out of the Mix
Hot on the heels of #3, publishers need to learn to get themselves out of the developers’ faces and back off. No suggestions. No pressure. Give these fine people a chance to finish what they’re best at: Making and finishing games.
Not a single developer enters into making a game in order to see it fail. Failure generally happens, at least these days, when games are shoved out the door before they are finished and/or have been adequately tested and polished prior to release. The more pressure publishers exert on the developers, the poorer are the games that are released.
1. MMOs Aren’t Going Anywhere
I have a good feeling over all about the future of the MMO-niverse. It’s not to say that these aren’t hard times. Obviously with the sheer number of game closures, studio closings and layoffs recently, the industry is going through a really hard time. That said, sometimes you have to burn the wheat with the chaff. Fewer games will be released but, hopefully, they will be of a better quality than so many that have arrived on the scene in the last several years. Studios and publishers cannot continue to release buggy unfinished games and expect to stay in business for long.
Fewer studios, self-funding development and publication and other current trends paint a bright future for MMOs overall, at least in my opinion.
What about you? What do you think the future holds for MMOs in light of recent events? Let us know in the comments.