Our gaming habits change over time and with this we see the sway of what types of games are on top – a little over a decade ago, the time of the MMORPGs came. In 2004 we saw the release of the biggest MMO title in history, World Of Warcraft, which still holds up even today, pulling in big numbers with each expansion release – but it did more than just perform well as a standalone game, it also sparked a huge wave of investment.

Following this success we’d see some other big studios release titles of their own, Guild Wars quickly followed as a slightly different take on the genre that performed very well as the two were the biggest rivals in the market for a number of years until we begin to see studios typically known for their larger single player offerings get involved – namely Final Fantasy Online and The Elder Scrolls Online, which found their releases in 2010 and 2014 respectively. But it wasn’t only the bigger studios – many smaller companies also had their own releases that would grow to be hugely popular, JageX’s Runescape was one of the bigger ones as it didn’t require any strong system to operate, Nexon’s Maplestory captured an enormous audience of its own, by being one of the first to introduce a large scale micro-transaction model with a focus on cosmetic items.

But in recent years, investment funding has dried up and a much lower volume of games within the MMORPG genre are being released – even with those having a larger player base beginning to see their numbers strain. A reason, in part, is the games have become stale for many – the genre hasn’t evolved too much in the last decade, so for those who played when they were younger are still receiving the same experience today which has dried up some of the interest – but it is also in part to our changing gaming habits. Mobile gaming has taken over – an increase in strategy based mobile games with micro-transactions are a cornerstone in the market, and gambling sites not on Gamstop at Maximum Casinos capture the attention of the more casual gaming audience, with the more niche audience playing bigger offerings that resemble a more lite version of an MMO.

As MOBA and FPS dominate the esport market now, it’s likely that investment will continue to be funneled in that direction, and so the modern MMO will continue to slip under the radar as a sort of relic to older gaming habits. We may see some interest grow once more when VR and AR gain popularity, the bar of entry gets lower, and the technology that powers them eases – but for now, as we see some of the biggest games begin to struggle and player numbers drop year on year, it likely won’t be long at all until we see only a few remain as big games on the market – releases through the next two or three years may look to become the last chance for many.

2 COMMENTS

  1. MMORPG genre is still alive and there are good MMORPGs out there like Final Fantasy XIV Online and The Elder Scrolls Online. World of Warcraft is also relevant with the release of World of Warcraft Classic and there is a new expansion coming to the retail version called World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. I will also mention Runescape because Runescape 3 version got a new skilled added to it called Archaeology. Runescape also has a classic version which goes by the name Old School Runescape and it should explain itself pretty well.

    Heromanguy12 did not rate this post.
  2. I think the decline of MMORPGs is mainly because people spend less time on longer games, and it’s the direct consequence of the zeitgeist effect. People that were born in the 80s and early 90s wouldn’t have access to the Internet, and so they probably grew up reading a lot of books and found much of their interest in fantasy (think H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien); MMORPGs tend to be story-rich after all. But then the Internet boom of the late 90s (more so the later half of the 2000s as Internet technology improved and mobile technology exploded) meant that newer generations were reading less and tend to be more attracted to visuals (think cel shading and toony graphics and animations) and shorter gameplay (games in terms of rounds).

    And the MMORPG genre, quite frankly, has been lackluster in terms of innovation. You don’t really see any MMORPGs adopting the Battle Royale style of gameplay, partly because a lot MMORPGs are either turn-based or tab-target-based and Battle Royales are mostly action-based, and people that enjoy Battle Royale tend to prefer action-based combat. And then survival/sandbox MMORPGs tend to have a lot of limitations to what pure survival/sandbox games can achieve, mainly because it’s harder to capture the MMORPG experience in a survival/sandbox style. It takes quite a lot of creative force to reinvent a genre, and I think MMORPGs could have the potential to grow even more if developers had a new vision on what MMORPGs should be.

    SnowyAE did not rate this post.

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