Between the birth of the modern MMO and now, the trend has been toward increasing accessibility, increased convenience and less time commitment. But, as many people have said, that comes at the cost of a social fabric in modern MMOs.
At the same time, most people believe that it’s now impossible to go back – that MMO audiences simply wouldn’t tolerate the forced grouping and slow pace of yesteryear.
Psychochild wrote a fascinating blog post this weekend exploring this problem, and looking at ways that we could go forward, not back, whilst at the same time growing the social experience of the MMORPG once again:
“The biggest challenge here will be to convince players that this is in their best interests. As I said above, the problems of social overhead have lead people to believe that social interaction takes too much time. I think this is backwards, though; the social connections in MMOs meant the players often chose to spend more time in the game because they enjoyed it. As far as I know, the most active players are still playing as many hours per week as before, just that they aren’t staying as long in a particular game.
The other issue is that WoW was the first game for a lot of people. These players might not see the advantage that a focus on grouping confers. They got into WoW’s social fabric just fine, thanks, not realizing that the elements they loved in WoW can’t easily be duplicated in other games. Convincing people who were new to MMOs with WoW might require a different approach.
I think a good way to accomplish this is to purposefully have a more niche focus. For example, I think Camelot Unchained will do eventually very well because it is focused on an team vs. team niche, like GW2′s WvW gameplay. It won’t attract the breadth of players, but those who do play will find it easier to group together to fight the enemy. A more niche game will mean people will run into the same other people. I predict that the game will not be plagued with “MMO Tourists” like other games have been.”
Read the rest of M is for Multiplayer