Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Next generation

Me and all my friends finished school years ago. Based on that representative sample I am quite certain that nobody goes to school any more these days! Does this sound slightly crazy to you? The conclusion is wrong, based on the sample not being representative at all, and completely ignoring the next generation of children going to school. But while this is obvious in the school example, the arguments pops up a lot on MMORPG blogs. "Me and my friends don't play game X any more, it must be dying."

Among the blogs I read, there is a certain end of days vibe. Some people apparently had hoped that SWTOR would revive their flagging interest in MMORPGs, and ultimately the game failed to do that. Blogs are being shut down while waiting for the Jesus game, or they increasingly treat other subjects than MMORPGs. I pretty much lost interest in SWTOR myself as well, although I'll still play a bit while my subscription is still running until end of next month. And yes, me losing interest in MMORPGs will an impact on my MMORPG blog, most probably by going more and more off-topic, until I feel the need to rename it.

But I don't have any trouble realizing that this might be "generational", and that me getting bored with SWTOR has more to do with the many years of similar games I played before than with Star Wars: The Old Republic itself. I don't doubt the 1.7 million subscribers figure. I am watching the development of that number with interest, but not because I personally want the game to succeed or fail. It is just that I have this theory about the longevity of story-based games, and I would like to see whether that theory is right or wrong.

I am sure I will still play online role-playing games in the future, from Diablo 3 to Guild Wars 2 and beyond. But I'm not holding my breath while waiting for some revolutionary game. Even GW2, which promises a lot, will still suffer from many of the limitations that all MMORPGs share. While step changes are possible, at its heart game development is more evolutionary than revolutionary. And I don't begrudge the next generation the fun they are having with the current games. I would have been delighted if I had been able to play SWTOR ten years ago, why should it not be normal that somebody coming ten years after me to the genre should enjoy that game now?

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