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Bill Murphy: MMO + RPG

Column By William Murphy on March 03, 2014

The MMORPG isn't dying. The MMO isn't going anywhere. But tonight, when the embargo drops, ours will be one of the first sites around the web to have a review of South Park: The Stick of Truth. South Park isn't an MMO. It doesn't even have multiplayer.  So why then are we covering Stick of Truth? The obvious answer is that it's South Park and it sounds awesome, and that would be enough if we weren't already covering a slew of other "non-MMOs".  Our reasons are more complex than "to cover more games", but I'll admit that this is part of the reason. The simplest explanation is two-fold, and I'll lay out how the growing RPG coverage here at MMORPG.com will look.

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The Times Are Changing

The first reason is something Bob Dylan warned us all about in the 60s: the times are a changin'. Over the next several years, something will be very apparent to the MMORPG faithful: MMORPGs will be released that aren't officially being called MMORPGs by their developers and publishers.  Why? Because someone, somewhere, with all their marketing research and statistical analysis decided that "MMORPG" pretty much means World of Warcraft, nerds in the basement, and incidentally - the guy you see below from South Park's beloved WoW episode.

This is why we can't have nice things.

And so, we're presented a world where the MMORPG is thriving, growing, diversifying... and yet more and more companies are finding a way to call their games anything but an MMORPG. Silly, right? Never you mind though, because even if they won't use the acronym, they'll still ask sites like us and Massively to cover their game at every turn.  And of course, we will... because we need to in order to keep our jobs. But that's a bit cynical look at the not-so-rosy side of videogame enthusiast press.

The other side is that this means the genre's almost outgrown itself. More and more games are incorporating MMO-like features and online play into their core design. You'll have Bungie and Ubisoft claim often enough that Destiny or The Division "aren't really" MMOs. And perhaps, they're right. Destiny won't be a fully-on-all-the-time shared world in that you can't get away from other people. It has a core single-player narrative, but events happen in the massive game world that lead you into interacting and playing alongside others... and that almost sounds like the ideal theme park MMO, doesn't it?  

In essence, reason number one is: what it means to be an MMORPG has changed so much from the early part of this century that we must change with it or perish.

Covering RPGs like The Witcher 3, South Park, or even Tales of Symphonia and Final Fantasy gives us a wide net to cast into the ever-growing ocean of gaming, so that we do not get left behind by the genre we were founded upon. And that leads us to reason number two...

Why Go Elsewhere?

We see so many RPGs already discussed on this site's forums, that we've come to realize we're missing out on keeping our community centralized on the website when we could provide you with coverage of more games you have an interest in, not less. I understand the reasons some stalwart veterans may disapprove. I've been a member of this site for eight years, and plenty more of you have been here longer than I. I urge you to believe me when I say that other than seeing more articles and games on this site, nothing else will change. I'll explain some of our plans below.

Who wouldn't want to explore this world, even if alone?

In essence, reason number two is: RPGs are near and dear to the core of the MMORPG, and we see no reason that the two genres can't coexist on the same website and be written about in our articles, and discussed by our readers. The latter half of this has been happening for years already, so we're just building up content around that very idea.  We're not cutting any MMO content, we're merely going to deliver more gaming content from a genre we expect many of you also love.

How the Site Will Be Affected

MMORPG.com as you know it won't change with the exception of a.) more articles about RPGs and b.) adding RPG games to our Game List. We're going to make it so that when you default to GameList.cfm on the site, only MMOs are present, and that you'll have to do some additional sorting and poking around to see the RPGs, MOBAs, etc. We're also not suddenly going to have columns and editorials about upcoming RPGs poking all over the site. Most of our RPG coverage will be like other major outlets: reviews, previews, and video let's plays. 

And that's about it, folks. In the end, this is an experiment for us to see how well these sort of articles play on the site too. If what we find out is that RPG coverage is not read here on MMORPG.com, it'll go the way of the do-do. We are after all in the business of having you read (or at least look at) what we print, so we want to serve up content you'll digest.  It'll only be games that the developers themselves or common knowledge refers to as RPGs in some way or another, so you won't see Call of Duty pop up here just because it has levels. We will strive to be selective, in many ways more so than recent years with the MMO list, as we add RPGs to the Game List. As always, suggestions are welcome.

I hope you'll greet the coverage of RPGs here with open arms and eyes. We're absolutely not cutting back on any MMORPG coverage. We're merely adding more content to dive into, and that's never a bad thing.  Unless you can get fat from reading about videogames... directly, I mean. In which case, we're all screwed.

Bill Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and all around goofy dork. He likes his peanut butter chunky and his coffee from Dunkin Donuts. You can follow him on Twitter and shake your head at all of his inanity @TheBillMurphy.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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