The Next Step for MMORPGs


Go to any MMORPG forum and you’ll see countless threads complaining about the state of MMORPGs today. Some of these complaints are valid while others are just whining, but it appears that a majority of MMO gamers think that the MMORPG scene has grown stale over the last few years. A slew of over hyped and under performing games in recent years are partially to blame as well as the industries “lets just copy World of Warcraft” mentality. Studios are desperately trying to mimic the success Blizzard has had with WOW and gamers are suffering for it.

Fury, Hellgate, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Tabula Rasa were all over hyped and in my opinion did not deliver, some more than others. I looking at you Fury and HellGate. It seems that the only “good” MMORPG was Lord of the Rings Online. I put it in quotes because even though I don’t consider the game to be good, it did win a few awards for MMORPG of the Year. How? Well, its not hard to win when you have no real competion. I was basically a watered down version of WOW set in the Middle Earth universe.

In 2008 we get to look forward to the next generation of MMORPG. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online both arguably the most anticipated MMORPGs of the year promise to revolutionize the genre with new PvP and combat systems. Will that be enough for gamers, only time will tell.

So whats the next step for MMORPGs? What I’d like to see is a step away from the cookie cutter MMOs and an attempt to make a truly unique game. I think the next big thing in MMOs will be player driven storylines. Waiting for an expansion or content update will be a thing of the past. MMOs will be driven by the players themselves, with a website dedicated to the going ons of the game universe. Players will be the ones giving the quests, making the rules and creating the storylines. Guilds will start wars with other guilds not because there bored, but because they want more land and wealth. Your actions will not only effect your own character but all characters. You might log off one day in your town only to find out that it has been sacked by a rival guild and your guild has taken shelter in a cave. Top players will be listed as people of importance with special items as reward for killing them or perhaps to help protect them.

The options are endless, however I don’t think we’ll see a game like this anywhere in near future, although I am confident that this will be eventually where MMOs go.


  1. Actually all of what you said isn’t exactly new. Players creating the quests and storylines is particularly old, e.g.: Graal Online, EVE Online, Mankind & 10SIX. Likewise for guilds fighting over land and wealth and affecting the game for everyone in doing so, e.g.: EVE Online, Mankind, Ultima Online & 10SIX. As for people gaining rewards for killing top players, that’s basically what the bounty system in EVE Online ensures. Although you could also look at it in the Archlord/RF Online kind of way: with top players gaining huge special buffs, but also highly distinguishable aura’s and great benefits to whomever kills them.

    So yes – just about everything you’ve mentioned has been done, quite a few times, long ago. They’ve merely been abandoned by game developers, because all those old games have proven is that most gamers don’t care for such systems… and the regular WoW-like PvE game is much more appealing for the masses.

  2. LoTRO won awards because they did an awesome job with the Middle Earth license. How many licenses have been turned into awful games? You can’t even count that high (and here’s a hint: it’s not because you can’t count high).

    They obviously copied generously from WoW’s gameplay/UI, but isn’t that how we’ve gotten some of the best games in recent years? Hardly any of the best games themselves are groundbreaking–the focus on technical or gameplay innovation usually comes at the expense of other areas.

    The problem with player content has been and always will be quality control. I have a hard time envisioning a system that effectively gets around this hurdle in a way that will appeal to the vast audience of WoW, because as Droniac noted there are many instances of interesting concepts in niche MMO markets. They key is how do you turn it into a multi-million-subscription game?

  3. You forgot Asheron Call’s 2. Perhaps the most surprising failure of them all since it was developed by an experienced company, well funded, and came on the heels of a very successful first gen MMO.

  4. Players will be the ones giving the quests, making the rules and creating the storylines. Guilds will start wars with other guilds not because there bored, but because they want more land and wealth.

    Yeah, sounds a lot like Eve Online.

  5. Well, a very nice point of view.
    But, imho, the best direction for MMORPG genre is a “look back”, when players aren’t forced to farm and farm and farm, where dungeons was an hobby for a different evening.
    When wasn’t incredible weapons, fantastic shield, or mega armour.
    Only one kind of them, with a final hard quest (or chainquest), other done with craft and stop.
    Such as DAoC before the ****** SI expansion.
    A player-based system can work when players aren’t milions, such as on World of Grinding. It work on games with max 50k players such as the fantastic EVE Online.

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