Monday, September 21, 2009
Is the MMORPG market saturated?
When I was young, people used to wear buttons saying "What if there was a war and nobody went?". Today I feel more like "What if there was a new MMORPG coming out and nobody cared?". This month is one with lots of new MMORPGs coming out, Aion, Champions Online, Fallen Earth, but apart from the usual suspects who get excited about everything new, the reception in the MMO blogosphere appears to be muted. Personally I checked all three of them out in beta, and they all failed to evoke much emotional response from me. The only one I actually disliked was Fallen Earth, where the controls were even more post-apocalyptic than the rest of the game.
What I found much worse was my personal reaction to Aion and Champions Online. I could clearly see that both of these games are quite good, but I simply felt no desire whatsoever to play them. And it isn't as if I was too busy with any other game to be interested in new games: I do play a bit of World of Warcraft at the moment, but at low intensity, no raiding, no PvP, and only the occasional group.
Compared to the hype and disappointment cycle from last year for Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, maybe the muted reaction of MMORPG players this year is a more reasonable one. But I get a certain vibe that the MMORPG market is so saturated now, that nothing much excites players any more. Maybe the real big releases, like SWTOR and the next Blizzard MMO will bring back the hype. And personally I'm very much interested in Star Trek Online. But I also got a bunch of press releases in my inbox about games nobody is waiting for. On the one side there appears to be nearly too much choice when selecting a MMORPG, with most of the old games still around and a bunch of newcomers. On the other side the majority of these choices are all very similar to each other, with a basic game design around quests and levels and solo combat without challenge.
What do you think? Are there too many MMORPGs around now? And are they too similar to each other? Is the MMORPG market too saturated for yet another level-based, quest-guided, standard MMORPG design? What would it take for a game to break out of this circle of apathy and really get people excited?