Red 5 Studios CEO, CCO and former World of Warcraft developer, Mark Kern has written a guest blog on MMORPG saying that making MMOs more accessible to casual players has killed the genre. Amen to that brother. I couldn’t agree more.
“As WoW grew in population, reaching ever more casual gamers, new expansions introduced even more refinements. Quest trackers were added, and xp was increased so that it was easier to level through all the old content to get to the “new stuff” of the expansion. Gear from the new expansions first quests made raid gear from previous expansions a joke. And the level curve became faster and faster until we reached a point where everyone is just in a race to get to max level, and damn everything else in between. Why care about level 20 gear when you would blow by levels so fast it was obsolete before you even logged off for the night?” he wrote.
And this is exactly why MMO players have tired of these games. It’s always a faceroll through dungeons to reach max level; it’s all about the end game content. Screw the quests. Because most players are sick of those uninteresting, unchallenging tasks to collect 12 heaps of goat poop and 15 twigs, for the NPC that no one can remember after they’ve left. Rep farming and daily quests are tedious tasks, and at the dawn of a new expansion, everything you’ve done is obsolete. It never used to be that.
Developers have tried to remedy this with “new combat systems” and online stores flooded with vanity items, yet we remain unfulfilled. We’ve lost touch with the journey to max level, something which used to add great value to MMOs. We’ve lost that ultimate sense of accomplishment throughout the game. Even with vanilla WoW players still felt like they’ve earned everything they’ve acquired in the game, PvP players were skilled, revered as heroes. Something that has died out a long time ago.
“No wonder we have such a huge crowd of jaded and bored MMO players. Every MMO that follows the WoW formula is a trivial exercise, dominated by rote and convention, trading off the joy of the journey for a series of meaningless tasks. And when we race to the end, we expect some kind of miracle end-game that will keep us playing. It never does.”, said Kern.
It really never does, I’ve tried playing other MMOs after I left World of Warcraft and they rarely grip me for more than a couple of days. No matter how incredible the graphics or new the talent point system or fun the combat system. But will we ever be able to go back to the old ways of playing MMOs? I’m not sure we can. Developers are pressed to make as much money as possible and a hardcore MMO will simply not attract the same kind of numbers new MMOs do and therefore not survive in the cash driven industry of today.
“Players came in droves, millions of them. But at what cost? Sometimes I look at WoW and think “what have we done?” I think I know. I think we killed a genre.”
And that they have. Instead a new genre of free-to-play, appeal-to-the-masses MMOs has spawned. One which has lost the very essence of MMORPG gaming. One which has lost the role-playing, and replaced it with mindless grinding in a race to show off gear and currency.