Are MMORPGs Really Dead?

Gamers across the world observe that the MMORPG isn't just going to die, but that it already is. Once World of Warcraft's dated gameplay catches...
  1. Lulu

    It doesn't take a gamer to know about the success of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft. Known throughout the world as an iconic figure in early PC gaming and in the industry as a colossal source of revenue for Blizzard, World of Warcraft wasn't the first MMORPG, but it was undoubtedly the most successful.

    Despite this, many developers over the years who possessed the resources and budget to produce another AAA MMORPG following World of Warcraft took their shot. From BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic to ZeniMax Online Studios' Elder Scrolls Online just three years later, one can honestly say that developers have tried for their game to be the fabled "WoW killer" that has only been whispered of in prophecies.

    But what if the game to finally replace World of Warcraft isn't even an MMORPG? A quick search on the internet will turn up results of many former and current MMORPG players that make a rather morose claim: MMORPGs are dead and aren't coming back.

    No AAA developer has any plans to release a new MMORPG for the foreseeable future.

    What if the nail in the coffin for World of Warcraft and MMORPGs in general isn't a game at all, but a total loss of interest in a genre that developers can't compete or invest in. What if larger developers just don't want to be working on games that take years of work from a huge team with a price tag that far exceeds the cost of making most other kinds of games?


    Fans of the genre will note that in recent years, the MMORPG scene has been largely taken over by eastern developers. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese MMORPGs adopting new action-based gameplay while retaining the open-world atmosphere and massive multiplayer functionality seem to be the new norm.

    The hype that surrounded Blade & Soul, Black Desert Online, and the upcoming Bless might be a good indicator that the genre is not dead, but fans of the genre will also note that these eastern MMORPGs are lacking in originality and world-building, and are almost always seen as cash grabs in one way or another.

    As much fun as some of these eastern MMORPGs are, they're missing a lot. Typically, there's no reason to even want to play them once the gameplay becomes stale. Boring settings and stories, a lack of lore and history and interesting characters, and side content like professions or jobs that are just as grind-y if not more so than the actual grind of leveling; it's no wonder why every new release replaces the last one.


    One thing to hope for might be crowdfunded MMORPGs, as many publishers today are not particularly supportive of creating an entry into a genre of games as risky as this one. However, these can only work with the funding they get from hopeful gamers.

    How many failed or cancelled indie MMORPGs will people need to see before they lose faith in indie developers ever putting out a solid MMORPG? In an industry where so many projects are indeed cancelled and promising games turn out to be nothing but broken promises (looking at you, No Man's Sky) it wouldn't be surprising to anyone if the current crowdfunded MMORPG phase dies out before it really gets started.

    At the very least, some of these crowdfunding projects can actually reach a pretty substantial amount of money from backers, such as the upcoming and hopefully not-to-be cancelled Ashes of Creation. If anything, it does prove that there's still interest and money willing to be put in for a decent MMORPG release, something that any western AAA developer could have and should have taken note of long ago.

    Western MMORPGs are often criticized for throwing away their real RPG elements and oversimplifying their games to appeal to casual audiences, while eastern MMORPGs are ironically criticized for keeping 'the grind' as a core element of their game to appeal to hardcore audiences. The problem is that no one can find a balance between the two while creating an interesting enough game world.

    It isn't so much that World of Warcraft was the first MMORPG, because it wasn't. Rather, it's the only one to get it so right, and no other game in the genre has come close enough to dethrone World of Warcraft since. The fear that MMORPG fans have today is that it may be too late to try and revive the genre with a good enough release.


    So what does that spell out for the future of MMORPGs? Well, no one really knows for sure, but saying it's dead forever is probably a stretch. It's more likely that we'll continue to see a drop-off in western releases until World of Warcraft's outdated gameplay catches up to it completely. It's also likely that the rise in eastern MMORPGs will be met with an embittered base that's getting really tired of pay-to-win models for the same games with a different name.

    MMORPG players across the internet have already compiled lists of what needs to happen in the genre to bring it back. From more innovation and creativity from developers, lasting and important game worlds and appropriate world-building, to overall fun gameplay and a strong sense of community, the collective Christmas wish-list for the next MMORPG isn't really as complicated as one might think. We just need someone to step in and put it all together.

    Until that happens, if it ever does happen, at least we'll get a new, decently fun eastern MMORPG to play every year to help us cope, right?

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  1. Twisted Ichigo
    Warcraft is still the best game out there right now, nothing on any console compares, they are making a COD a year just to try and get their numbers.. Sure it hasnt got the subs it once did but go on any server and its full, queue for raids etc has made it easier to find other people too..
      Lulu likes this.
    1. Lulu
      I can't argue there, but that to me might suggest that the market for MMORPGs could just be dead altogether. Like, are players only interested in the best MMORPG or just World of Warcraft? It's hard to say since WoW has been around for so long. My question is really aimed at what will happen should WoW die out, and if subscription trends with the latest two expansions are any indication, sub count will likely sharply drop like it has been ever since Cataclysm.

      It's all up in the air, but eventually, it's going to get to a point with most of the player base where they can't justify renewing a subscription cost anymore. Expansions add a lot of amazing content that gets old after two weeks for most people, and two months for a good number of other players.
  2. Z61
    I want me some modern SWG. I can't get into these current MMOs. BDO, ESO, B&S, etc just don't sit right with me. I can play SWTOR but that's just the Star Wars buff in me.
      Lulu likes this.
    1. Lulu
      Yeah I feel you. Although I have tried to get back into SWTOR and I just can't. It's so hard to play now. I've been holding out hope all year that we may actually see an announcement for a sequel MMO. SWTOR/WoW 2 or something. Something like that would be awesome, but they're just releasing expansions for whoever's still playing. Maybe in 2020 :frown:
  3. ExGamer
    Old school runescape is the best, and always will be. Keeping the "old school" style.
      Skepta and Lulu like this.
  4. ghostx555
    World of warcraft is still king for me
      Lulu and Swiftzz like this.
  5. Mullet
  6. Jacob Frye
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ghostx555
      BDO is garbage if you are not a waifufag,its P2W PVP sucks,when you reach level 50 you are permanently flagged for PVP,hardcore grinding,RNG everything etc
      Jacob Frye likes this.
    3. Lulu
      While I did spend a lot of time playing Black Desert Online, I feel it's missing some game elements that western MMOs typically have which is an enriched story and involved world. Take Star Wars: The Old Republic for example. It has an incredible story, unrivaled in any other MMO I've played (including WoW). It got BioWare's treatment when they were at their peak of storytelling and game design in my opinion.

      Go back to Black Desert and you just won't see that. I've played through the entire main quest and I can honestly tell you I've no idea what the story is supposed to be about. I was a famous warrior? and then something happened and I lost my memory? and this black spirit is trying to get me back up to strength for some reason. OK. Well that only took weeks of play time just to scratch the surface of a story.

      It has a LOT to offer and it's all fun (besides the endless grinding) but it doesn't have enough. I hope future MMOs are inspired by some of the things in BDO, like sailing and exploration, but in a lot of other ways, I hope people steer clear of what BDO has.
      Jacob Frye likes this.
    4. Jacob Frye
      lol I just changed my mind on bdo. After 100+ hours and no achievements and lvl 52 character. I just stopped the campaign cause I got lost. I don't know what to do with the game. I can't even play it cause the servers crash every-time and it disconnects. I'm just happy I didn't waste real money on this game. The highest amount of money I accumulated was 50 mil. I honestly bought it for the grindfest. The whole marketplace system is a ****ing joke. For new players like myself who wanted to do other stuff besides grinding to get money. For example cooking. I can't even buy the ingrideints cause other rich guilds out there buy and sell to each other to put a damm handicap for us regular players. If you try to pre-order something that costs 150k you will end up wasting 5-10 mill just for a pre-order slot. If you're even get lucky that is.

      Regardless my time with this game was fun, and it was really something new to play since the only game I ever played like this was Runescape.

      I can talk more about this game but I hope a new more improved (not a p2w system) game comes out in the near future.

      Also I agree with ghostx555 on the P2w ffs this game just had a recent update where they are taking advantage on a method one of the members found in the game where you make lots of money if you reach master 2 trading. Now the game company saw that and made it easier for members who are doing this exploit to complete it faster by selecting "complete now" button and waste a few cents here and there instead of waiting the damm 20-30 mins it will take to complete it.

      okay done ranting. I enjoyed your article though Lulu, keep up the great work. :smile: