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Bill Murphy: The Self-Playing MMO Scourge

Column By William Murphy on July 16, 2014

There are way too many MMOs these days. No, scratch that. There are way too many terrible, no-good, self-playing, web-based clones of clones MMOs these days. I know I should be thankful for a lot of them, because somehow these studios and publishers are filled to the brim with investor money and judging by our site they’re spending a great deal on advertising.  Money that no doubt fuels my paycheck and helps my family and I keep our house, and for that I suppose I am thankful.  But “the way the world works aside”, I really wish these games would die a fiery death and give way to new and actually exciting game development. 

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They’re the MMO equivalent of Candy Crush clones, only I can’t for the life of me find anyone I know who’s actually playing them.  But someone must be playing the likes of “Legends of Mor”, “Unlimited Ninja” and more. I’m not going to link those games, either. I wouldn’t subject you to that.  Yes, they really are MMOs. More so than many other games we’ve begun listing. But they’re so laughably bad in everything from their UI, to their localization, to the actual act of playing… I just don’t get how so many keep surfacing.

But these games’ most heinous crime? Almost always, they invariably can be “played” by just clicking OK in the same dialog box over and over, with no other action necessary. Your avatars will ping-pong their way across the game world, from NPC to NPC, enemy to enemy… never dying, never needing further interaction.  All the while, you’re leveling up, getting “phat lewtz” and being carefully nudged to buy things in the store to make the experience “more fun” by looking cooler or speeding your auto-driven leveling process along.

It’s a damn shame that this is the road the MMO boom of the 2000s has led us down, and I foresee a similar thing happening in the world of the MOBA over the next few years.  It’s not the only path we’re able to see. Many independent and AAA developers alike are currently forging a new type of game with truly unique and next level ideas at heart.  If we’re lucky, some will stick and the MMO and MMORPG will witness another golden age. But then… I’m sure some studio will come along and exploit gamers with cheap and tacky cash-grabs all over again.

Anyway, this is just a short little rant for a Wednesday that I felt I needed to get off my chest. Don’t patron the likes of the above mentioned games. People often look down upon Perfect World for their cash shop prices, but compared to the developers of self-playing browser MMOs, PWE is a shining beacon of radiant moral fortitude.  I’d rather give a developer tons of my money for shiny looking cosmetic items in a game that actually gives me decent content and systems, even if their games are not the best thing since sliced bread. 

I’ll pre-order titles like Destiny, half-MMO though it may be, because at least Bungie is trying to offer something unique in the space. I’ll pay $20 for a Gem Pack from Guild Wars 2 because hey, those armor skins do look bad ass.  But you’ll never catch me paying a dime for anything from web-based MMO “publishers”. Buying our ads or not, the sooner they die, the better off the MMO industry will be.

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Bill Murphy
Bill Murphy came on as a full time writer with MMORPG.com in 2010, his extensive knowledge of the genre and ability to turn a phrase have been a welcome addition to the MMORPG.com team.
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