A decade late
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 March 2016, 8:23 am
I was reading an article about time-sucking video games in which the author complains that the games he is playing have become bigger and bigger, requiring near endless amounts of time, and going on for years. I checked my calendar, and it still said 2016, so at first I was a bit puzzled of why the author realized this a decade later than the rest of us. But then I realized that he probably had never played MMORPGs, and the MMORPGification of other game genres like shooters was really a new experience for him.

The MMORPG is dead, long live the MMORPG! There is actually nothing in the definition that says that a MMORPG needs to have a series of abilities with cooldowns on hotkeys unleashed upon auto-targeted enemies. MMORPGs just used to be like that because of ping and server response times. These days any sort of combat system is possible for a massively multiplayer online game, from shooter to martial arts. That leaves us with a lots of games in which lots of players are running around simultaneously, and some of them are advertised as being MMORPGs, while others are being advertised as being shooter games, or whatever else.

What remains true for the companies is that a multiplayer online game account is harder to pirate than a single-player game that comes on a disc, and that a player who is hooked by your game for a long period can be made to pay more money over a long time instead of buying the game just once. So the economic advantages are still there. But so is the economic risk: Making a game like Destiny or The Division costs millions of dollars, so a flop can be costly. And because these games require so much time-investment from the players, players can't play all that many of those games in a year. I never spent less money on games than during the first years of World of Warcraft, where WoW just basically ate up all of my time. That is great for the few games that end up being mega-winners, but it leaves a lot of others in the dust.

The author of the article in The Verge claims that time-consuming games are bad for the players as well. I'm sure that some aspects can be, but there are also aspects where the players have an advantage. For example even an "expensive" subscription-based MMORPG costs you less to play for a year than buying a new console game every month. And playing the same game for a long time means you don't constantly have to learn new control schemes and game mechanics. On the other hand you could play a different mobile game on your tablet every day for free or pocket change and not run out of games for years. It is very hard to say what ends up being more fun, lots of inexpensive games or a single multi-million dollar game you play for a long time. How about you?
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