Note: Some of these might not be running anymore …
I was browsing through the Best Buy PC games section recently, and noticed that I would grab what looked like an interesting RPG from the shelf and far more often that I would have expected it turned out to be an MMO. That I’d never heard of. Okay, maybe I’d heard of Rifts somewhere along the line and ignored it, but there was one game that did surprise me (Vanguards of something or other, I think?).
So, in terms of MMOs, here are the ones that I know are still running.
* I think the original Everquest is.
* Everquest 2 is still online.
* There was a box for Ultima Online in the store. No, really.
* Dark Age of Camelot is still online.
* Champions Online is up and running, as is City of Heroes and the newcomer DCUO.
* Lord of the Rings Online is still online.
* Eve Online is still online.
* So is Pirates of the Burning Sea.
* Star Wars Galaxies might still be running, as far as I know.
* Guild Wars is still running.
* Age of Conan is still out there.
* Final Fantasy is still out there, although if I remember correctly they’re on their second iteration.
* And there’s a little game called World of Warcraft that I think is still running. I’m not sure about that, though; did it ever get a large number of subscribers? I’m not sure how much attention it got once it went online …
And I’m sure there are a ton of others out there that I just haven’t heard of.
Now, Earthrise just came out. Guild Wars 2 is on the way. So is Star Wars: The Old Republic. And there are probably others that I’m just not aware of.
That’s … a lot of games. Since most of these require subscriptions — although a number of these are going “free-to-play” — that’s a lot to play at once. And since these games technically don’t have endings there’s no set time for you to stop playing, unlike regular RPGs. So is the saturation point for MMOs lower than that for other games? Is it harder to divide up the market for MMOs than for other types of games? Is this why perfectly good games are floundering after release when they were expected to do better, and older games aren’t fading away as quickly as you’d think they would?
This might be something for MMO makers to look into: are the dynamics of the market different for MMOs? Is the genre of the game more important than it is for other types of games, especially other types of RPGs? Do developers need to find another niche to exploit, as creating yet another fantasy MMO just won’t cut it no matter how good it is?
What’s the future of the MMO?