Im starting to notice that MMO gamers arent looking over the horizon like they used to, constantly hyped for the next "big" thing
— Grimsley (@_Grimsley) August 25, 2016
A few days ago I saw this tweet from Grimsley, and meant to say something about it… the other posts happened between. I had not exactly put it into words but I have been noticing the same thing. Initially I thought it was simply me that was no longer excited about these new games, but then I noticed that not that many folks in my otherwise MMO-Centric twitter feed seems to be getting excited either. Sure there was an up-welling of folks playing Black Desert Online a few months back, but it felt like a splash in the pan compared to when folks shifted to Rift, Wildstar, or a plethora of other games to come up on the MMO front over the last decade. Recently I ended up picking up Riders of Icarus because I had friends playing it… but after a weekend of playing have not touched it since. I had a very similar experience with Skyforge, where I played it for a week and some change, and then once again I was simply done with it and back to other titles. There seemed to be this period of time where there was constantly the next big thing on the horizon… but that era appears to be dead and gone at least when it comes to AAA MMO titles. Every now there are flareups, like with the launch of The Division. However it feels like the era of the western published MMO is also good and dead, which might be part of the reason we stopped looking forward to these “next big things”.
South Korea is going through a bit of a renaissance still, as evidenced by the number of new MMOs coming out from there… that are often times localized for the North American market. The big problem there is that I have found that I don’t really get into these games nearly as much as I did to their western fantasy counter parts. Sure I played ArcheAge but the story of that game was largely nonsense, and I kept playing just because it gave me a huge world to explore full of lots of super intricate systems. Blade and Soul I had a similar experience, where no matter how good the localization team did at making awesome relevant jokes… I just didn’t find myself caring one little bit about the Hongmoon School. In both cases a story is being told, that fundamentally feels like it was not intended for me to be playing it. I am not saying that is a bad thing necessarily, because not every game has to be for every player. The only problem is this is an added depth of “gunshy” that I have when I see an otherwise cool looking game that comes from the Korean market. Another big part of the bounce factor for me is the inclusion of player versus player as the eventual end game. That is not something I am likely to ever enjoy, especially not in an open world setting… and as I entered that area of the world in ArcheAge it felt like the world around me got significantly less intricate because our time was supposed to be spent fighting other players. Of note I am currently subscribed to ArcheAge so that game clearly left its mark on me, and caused me to dig in rather than bounce off, but I feel like it might be the outlier rather than the rule.
What I am finding however is that instead of looking forward to a new game coming to ride in on a white horse and save me from other MMOs… I am looking to games that I have loved in the past and the content that they are creating. I have always been one of those players to go back and revisit old games, and currently I have accounts active in Rift, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. Additionally I poke my head in every now and then in Wildstar, and Everquest II to see how those games are going. Essentially instead of following new games, I find myself following patch notes to see which game has something so interesting that I have to leap back into it for awhile. Star Wars the Old Republic for example completely changed the way that game works, and at some point in the near future once other games die down a bit, I have a feeling I will be falling headfirst into the new content. Similarly there is a lot of awesome stuff going on in Elder Scrolls Online, and at some point I want to return there and gobble up all the new fruit hanging on that tree. I find that I am very much still a “content locust” except in this case I find myself returning to games I have already explored, rather than continually venturing forth into brand new worlds to stake my claim there. There is this rich wealth of games that have survived, and sometimes even thrived… and I just seem to place my focus there instead of looking to the horizon. A prime example is that as of tomorrow the next few months of my life will be dominated by the World of Warcraft Legion expansion… and then in October at Fanfest I fully expect the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion to be announced so we can begin looking forward to that as well. There are still objects on the Horizon, they are just linked to other objects that are already familiar.