MMO = Money Mistrusts Originality

Why is it that almost every MMO that’s coming out in the near future is a rehash of the same material that we’ve already had ad nauseum? Simple reason: Everyone’s looking to get paid. Game developers are in business to make money, first and foremost. I have no problem with that; we all have to earn a living somehow, so why not get paid doing something you love? My only problem is: no matter what game I go play, it’s more of the same, with very very few exceptions, and even those exceptions borrow from the traditional. Be it WoW, or EQ, or DAoC, or Final Fantasy XI, it’s all the same thing: kill ten rats, fedex, grind, get to end game, do raid content, get bored, get into new game, repeat. Bleck. Surely our ability as a country to innovate isn’t tapped at this point; if it is I fear for the US in the coming decades. But why is it so bloody hard to get something new, something original? We were offered a glimpse of that with EvE Online, but even that turned into a grind… mostly a faction grind, and the crafting system is even more of a grind.

And once again, the simple answer is economics. Companies or VC’s for the most part aren’t willing to spend large sums of money on things they don’t know will provide a good ROI. (See: Zenimax Studios getting $300 million to produce many games, MMO’s being included, or companies like Perpetual Entertainment getting a fair amount of cash to produce Star Trek Online, $30 million for Sigil to make Vanguard, etc etc). With the exception of Perpetual, because let’s face it, none of us know what’s coming out of that studio except most likely a giant hunk of shit that will pretend to be an “innovative” MMO in ST:O, every one of those games either have been or will be a 99.9% “safe” MMO, with the same old same old, just a new flavor. It’s highly unlikely that any one of these companies would be willing to take a risk on creating something so new and outside the box that it WOULD capture everyone’s attention.

And there are many people out there who could easily fund such a project for pocket change to them. Bill Gates could fund 5 different MMO’s with 15 million in startup capital, and it would be less than a drop in the bucket for him. ‘Course he’d have to fund it and not *manage* them, but that’s a different story. Michael Dell, same thing… there are quite a few multi-hundred millionaires in the tech industry who could do a world of good by taking a chance and trying to push the envelope. I don’t know why they aren’t willing to take a chance, especially since it was they who TOOK that chance back in the day, and it paid off for them. Microsoft had the liscenses to every FASA IP; tell me of a better way to break the current MMO mold than by taking a game like Shadowrun and designing it the way it was meant to be played. No “levels”, no “grind”… you make a character, get involved with a group of shady characters, start doing runs… and if you die, oh well. Time to start over. Getting stabbed in the back is expected, not unexpected. Take every one of the “sacred cows” that exist in online games today, and either slaughter them, or mangle them to the point they’re not recognizable anymore. That is what we as gamers need.

And in return for them taking this risk, we as gamers have to be willing to reward them for it. I’m not saying that a game has to make billions like WoW has…but if you can get a truly new MMO that could get say…. 300-350k solid subscribers for a year+, you’d have your foot in the door of truly allowing for innovation. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to take our pastime to the next level?

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~ by trollonfire on January 3, 2008.

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