What is the future for online multiplayer games?

I was rather surprised to see the above statement, both in terms of what it is implying and how such a state of affairs could have caused it to come about. I thought MMO’s were still one of the top genres in online play, which is what shocked me.

Now, I have for the most part steered clear of such games over the past decade or so-the “grinding” described in the thread never had much appeal to me, even if it has apparently been lessened of late (as indicated).

I have however played a few online combat games in my time (Battlefield series, Air Warrior), and found them enjoyable for what they are. [Grinding wasn’t an issue in these games of course]

My question is, can’t these different game modes coexist? Why the curious notion of “There Can Be Only One” dominant genre at a time? Is indeed the long-term trend towards the lowest common denominator, companies only throwing their money at the newest trends? Whither innovation?

the problem with MMO’s vs most games is that they tend to take up all of your free time and then some, and completely dominate your life.

If you play an MMO, you probably aren’t playing other games.

Most other games are not quite as much of an investment, and most non-MMO players have a variety of games that they play.

Innovation is why the latest trends happen in the first place. Everyone else follows suit because that’s how you make money.

It’s not like there’s a cabal dictating what’s going to be popular. Right now, the hotness is battle royales (waning) and indie roguelikes (waxing). At points in the past its been MMO, RTS, 4x, city building, you name it. Every genre has had its day. Some, like first-person shooters, seem to be more or less evergreen.

Honestly, the current rise of indie developers has made it a very interesting time to be a gamer. There’s tons of innovation happening - just not from the AAA devs.

MMOs are dying because they are EXPENSIVE is my read. Expensive to produce, expensive to maintain (servers, tech support, etc), expensive to update (ie new content creation), expensive to play (subscriptions), expensive to be able to play (decent systems).

And other than WoW, their track record is . . . horrible. Most subscription based competitors are long gone, or F2P where they make their funds on microtransactions, boots, and cosmetics. The few sub-based games (EVE comes to mind) that survive often have F2P options as well, just to keep people coming in and hope to hook them. Heck, even WoW has a F2P up to 20 to try to gather new clients.

These days, unless you’re making a new game in a series, the cost of a single ‘good, not great’ game will kill an entire studio - and the studios that are profitable tend to be aquired by Microsoft (Bethesda), EA (everything), or similar.

For that matter, why spend millions to produce any high end game, get a one time payment of $60 (or less), and maybe future microtransactions, when you can spend a few thousand to a few tens of thousands and make an app based game which will suck a sub’s worth of money out of it’s users monthly - after all they don’t have to invest in a decent computer or console up front.

So yeah, I suspect the MMOs are going to fade away. Arena duels are much, much cheaper for those who want similar, as are co-op based looter/shooters which will take up a lot of the slack for those who want cooperative, but non-PVP play. I could be wrong, and qualified successes in the F2P arena are hopeful… but I don’t think we’ll see the likes of WoW ever again.

Indeed. Thanks largely to Steam, we’re currently in a Golden Age of indie games. I can think of at least five in the last decade that I own and have enjoyed, that were made by teams of one to five people (usually one creator who did almost everything, but maybe got help from a few friends for things like background music).

But MMO is a tough genre for an indie developer to break into.

I disagree with the premise. MMORPGs are huge business in Asia and a number of them still do very well with Western audiences. Besides WoW, Final Fantasy XIV gets about 2mil players a day and Eve Online, Black Desert Online, Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 each get 500k-800k players daily and active development. That’s not counting “legacy” content games like WoW Classic or Old School Runescape which break a half-million or more daily on their own by providing classic content and play experiences.

MMORPGs have always been a hard market to break into and there’s tons of failed games in the graveyard ever since people saw what Everquest was doing and wanted a slice of the pie. And I agree that the subscription model is largely dead and has moved to microtransactions for primary funding but that doesn’t seem to be killing the genre.

I do agree that the market in Asia is entirely different.

The newest of those games is, what, six years old?

Here are the MMOs Wikipedia lists as newer than Black Desert Online:

The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance - this is a janky Bible game aimed at tweens? I have no idea why it’s on this list at all.

Albion Online - I don’t know anything about this game, but the top post in its subreddit in the last year got 684 upvotes. So probably not too terribly active.

Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues - I guess this was supposed to be a spiritual successor to Ultima. Visited the subreddit and it’s a ghost town.

Camelot Unchained - In development. Supposed to be a spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot. Has a beta and a dead subreddit.

New World - This is Amazon’s next attempt at a game. They shifted their development resources to it after the Crucible debacle.

So… five games since 2015. Two of them are trying to revive old IPs. Two of them are not released. One of them probably doesn’t belong on the list at all.

Dead genre (at least in our market). The MMOs still doing okay are doing okay because they’re communities as much as they’re games. There’s no room for new ones.

IMO New World is not the future for online multiplayer games.

…Or the present. They really blew that game.

New World is in closed Alpha testing at the moment, I think.

But an MMO can still be “alive” even long after its release. Most games, the game company sells once per player, get their profit, and then as far as the game company is concerned, it’s done. MMOs, however, are a constant revenue stream. Don’t look at release dates of games; look at how much money players have spent on MMOs in the past year, compared to how much they’ve spent on other genres.

Yeah, it wasn’t a point I felt like debating yesterday but, when there’s multiple “live” options for a genre and they’re all receiving updates and active development, I wouldn’t call the genre “dead” just because the base game launched years ago. But I suppose people can define “dead genre” however they want. I wouldn’t apply it to MMORPGs but I suppose someone else could.

World of Warcraft is no longer the exemplar of the genre; today’s MMOs are different. My kids play a lot of Minecraft and Roblox. There’s very little in common among those game and WoW. But all have persistent worlds where they interact with their friends and others.

Those aren’t RPGs, and it’s arguable whether they’re “massively” multiplayer. But those are definitely not MMORPGs.

Roblox isn’t even a game, it’s a platform for people to make mini games online.

I play multiple MMORPGs. I have a couple that I’ve pledged to in Kickstarter, one of which should be released pretty soon. It’s not a dead genre, it’s just not the latest, hottest thing anymore.

Yep - like I said, the established communities are established. There are quite a few MMOs out there which have been making money for 10+ years, but it seems to me that game developers don’t consider their players as a potential market. There are no more attempts to launch big competitors to the established MMOs.

During the MMO boom period, you’d see tons of new ones being launched every year as developers fought for those player dollars. Users would jump from one MMO to the other to try the new hotness. But over time, the number of players interested in the genre dwindled and the players who cared to jump around did too.

Someone playing WoW isn’t an “MMO gamer” so much as they are a “WoW player.”

If that market was perceived as potentially lucrative, we’d be seeing more attempts to grab those dollars.

But sure, maybe “dead genre” is a bit apocalyptic. Maybe we just say that the sun is setting on the genre and its glory days are gone. It’s not a dig at the games or its players: just an observation about what’s being developed going forward.

Minecraft is certainly an RPG. There’s development of the player’s character, NPCs to interact with, and monsters to fight. Whether it’s massive is debatable, but the big servers can have a lot of concurrent players.

More than just mini games. I think the one they play is “Adopt Me” or something like that. They have a character that’s developed via missions in a persistent world. There’s definitely role playing–characters form ad-hoc families. Think tea parties with your friends and everyone’s stuffed animals, but online. There’s some sort of instancing, but I’ve seen easily a hundred players in the main town square.


I’m a big fan of MMOs (specifically, MMORPGs*), but I think we’re being near-sighted if we exclude games that have different types of advancement, or different instancing mechanisms, or have only 100s of concurrent players instead of 1000s. These games aren’t like WoW, but they fulfill the same social and gaming needs as MMORPGs do.

* I’m currently waiting on City of Titans, Crowfall, and The Wagadu Chronicles.

Right on, me too. :slight_smile:

That’s one of the games I funded.

ETA: Holy crap I just realized you post on the forums there too, I didn’t realize we both posted here and the MWM site :smiley:

There’s also the fact that the definition of “MMO” is being really, really narrowly defined.

Kids these days can’t stop playing Fortnite. Why is Fortnite not an MMO? Is it because there’s only 100 players per battle? That sounds not far off an MMO server most of the time. Is is because each match doesn’t persist into the next? Well, so what, and anyway, why is that limitation - and really, how long do you think it’s gonna be before someone tried combining Fortnite with persistent worlds?

If one’s vision of an MMO is just Dungeons and Dragons ripoffs, or games that are nominally not D&D but really are with the different skin like Old Republic, well, I can see the market just being really, really tired of that for the time being.

Huh. I wonder if the massive resurgence of tabletop D&D (and similar games) in recent years may have contributed to the decline of MMORPGs, with former PC gamers moving on to the “real thing”. Probably not, but still…

Because MMO is short for MMORPG, and whatever else Fortnite is, it ain’t an RPG.