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Community Forum Spotlight - The Future of MMOs

This week in her Forum Spotlight column, Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at a thread that suggests that MMOs are dying.

The Future of MMOs

On the MMORPG.com forums, we often take time to discuss the industry’s immediate future: Will Age of Conan be good? Will Marvel Universe or DC Online win the hero show-down? Is WAR a WoW clone? What’s Bioware’s new title? This week on the forums, though, user outlaw101 turns his eyes further into the MMO future: what’s going to become of our industry?

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“MMO gaming has been around for nearly 15 years now, commercially,” states outlaw101. “My question is, do you think it has a future. The MMO industry makes up under 5% of entertainment online, with the PC singleplayer and Multiplayer games in their prime, where will MMO games be in 15 years? 30 years? dead? alive?”

Outlaw101 himself doesn’t think the industry will be around long. “The MMO industry wont make it, with the amount of linear titles we have out today people are getting put off.”

Outlaw101’s theories meet some resistance, though; both users abattoir62 and Unicorns_Pwn (sporting an awesome Companion Cube avatar!) are unconvinced that the MMO industry is in any trouble. In fact, on outlaw101’s poll, only 19.2% of users see the industry dead within 15 years.

User Kyleran also disagrees with outlaw101, and provides a counterpoint: “Since I started playing MMORPG's 6 years ago I have played exactly ..... zero other games to completion. In fact, I only play MMORPG's, and I suspect there are many others like me. Devs will keep coding games for us....But I do think the day is coming when MMORPG's will translate in a big way to console games.”

User Salindra sums up her disagreement: “People are social creatures…we NEED interaction with others. I don’t see an end to the MMO genre. This is just a tip of the iceberg.”

I have to agree with Kyleran, Salindra, Unicorns_Pwn and many others: our industry isn’t in trouble, nor will it be. In fact, the MMO industry has done nothing but grow and evolve. We’ve gone from having two or three game titles available – do you want EverQuest or Ultima Online? – to having a half dozen high profile games releasing each year. More and more companies and investors are getting into the industry after seeing World of Warcraft’s performance.

We have too many good possibilities in our future to abandon ship: Technology is booming; internet connections, graphics, and processing power are making massive leaps each year. Three years ago I would have NEVER guessed I’d have two video cards working together in my system. Nowadays, I’m thinking about upgrading to four! Game developers are able to utilize these technological advances in gameplay and graphics. Look at our modern graphics and remember that our industry evolved from text-based RPGs.

Those 15 years of industry existence are just starting to pay off. The kids that really, truly grew up on MMOs are starting to leak into the industry itself. These new minds have ideas they’ve been fermenting for 15 years of button mashing and furious mouse clicking – and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Gamers are used to fast paces and progression; I think we often forget that “innovation” doesn’t happen overnight, or need to be massive or amazing. Tabula Rasa’s targeting is innovative; WAR’s Dwarves growing beards as they level up is innovative. We aren’t going to wake up one morning to find a full virtual reality environment under the Christmas tree. Over time, it’s these little innovations that will evolve our industry.