Friday, December 2, 2011

Video history of the MMO

While Raph Koster linked to the 3-part video history of the MMO, that series actually has 4 part. Part 4 is interesting, because it talks of today and the future, showing some upcoming games. It also contains some data that were new to me, saying that Rift peaked at 600,000 subscribers and is tapering off. But generally the outlook of that video is remarkably upbeat, even if the problems of having too many, too similar games is clearly outlined. I find the MMO blogosphere these days far less positive on the future of the genre.

Of course part of the problem is that the genre is already old enough to have a "history of" video series made. And some of us were around from the beginning. I played MUDs and UO and EQ and many other of the games mentioned in the videos. Thus the problem of gameplay in SWTOR not being fundamentally different from gameplay in Everquest is something which hurts me more than it affects a new player. The formula still *works*, even if its pull obviously gets weaker after a decade.

Thus if you, like the makers of the video, look at overall market size the future is in fact bright. While any individual player might get bored after years and drop out of the genre, he'll quickly be replaced by two or more new players. We are approaching a rather unusual situation for a market, because usually it is cheaper to retain an existing customer than to gain a new one. But that might well reverse for MMORPGs in the coming years, unless they come up with some radical innovation.

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