Something I think we’ve all wondered with the state of mmo’s as they are now is what gamers want. Not just say loudly on forums and reddit, but what they truly want, deep down. What drives them in-game longer than 3 months. It is something I think we have had the illusion of for some time but something that is hard to grasp.
Like Braxwolf I too think the loud push towards innovation is a little misguided. I’ve noticed how some of the most popular titles are just the recycled and repackaged products but then I’m sure we’ve all noticed by now how copying a popular title doesn’t guarantee giving gamers what they want either. It is, an always will be more complex than that as interests and the players themselves change over the years.
With mmo’s in particular I’ve noticed how most tend to believe that the population is now growing, with more responsibilities and thus require a more casual, accessible focus in order to be popular.. or provide for players needs. I know that is part but sometimes I feel like by saying that we are focusing too much on ourselves and neglecting to think about the huge population of gamers, and gamers interested in multiplayer games that are in the position we were 10 or 20 years ago. Gamers with a wealth of time, a freedom to play and the need for a world they can get truly immersed in.
I see all these recent mmo’s and I still think they are mostly targeting our demographic, or at least the demographic we used to be who could spend inordinate hours in-game. Who had specific gaming interests and an experience with a certain type of content. That grew up enjoying this gameplay yet ask for a more modernised experience to play now. I appreciate the gesture but have to wonder where the mmo’s are for the next generation. Where is the WoW game that provides an experience tailored towards them, that gathers the masses to its call.
When thinking about it further, the game that stands out for the younger generation now is minecraft… and survival games to a certain extent as well. When talking with school children about gaming lately it tends to lead to experiences like Minecraft and also favourite youtubers around that franchise. Grand Theft Auto 5 another big franchise. But with understanding that the question then becomes of the principle behind them, the foundation in those games that seems to captivate the new generation of gamers.
After a bit of reflection I’ve come to think that the key to these experiences is freedom. You look at Minecraft and it is truly a sandbox ready and waiting for ideas to be formed, and actions to mold the experience. Part of the youtube craze is precisely due to this freedom and the ways it creates a wealth of dynamic experiences, entertaining eccentricities each in a way unique from the others. With the wealth of private servers and the sheer number of players all working together, cooperating, competing and creating it makes me wonder whether this is, this generations WoW. The wow killer everyone was looking for elsewhere, has already came, and surpassed wow’s legacy at least within the new generation of gamers.
So when I now wonder where the mmo genre will go, it isn’t rekindling the nostalgic whims of us old kooks blogging about the good old days, ideals and mechanics – it will be truly envisioning an mmo for the new generation. A virtual world built on freedom in many ways. It sounds stupid but I think the next big mmo hit will basically be a modern, re-imagined Second life. Something that still maintains the whimsy and charm of these Minecraft style play spaces, yet also maintains its breadth of exploratory and creative endeavors.