Four Bloggers Discuss The Battle For MMORPGs’ Future

Where is the MMO going? Can the genre find a new business model? And is there actually any innovation?

The past year hasn’t been a great one for the MMORPG genre, as Azuriel noted yesterday. And with new ideas and new MMORPGs a go go right now, despite the downturn, we’re all wondering where the MMORPG is going.

Today we’ve got four very smart bloggers discussing various aspects of the genre’s future, from monetisation to whether the genre’s just run out of ideas:

  • Green Armadillo considers the question of whether MMOs, and SWTOR in particular, can successfully make money by selling access to content“Could selling access to content throughout the game – perhaps on a planet by planet basis similar to LOTRO’s model – really have doubled or tripled Bioware’s revenues?”
  • Pewter wonders whether her ennui at the current crop of MMORPGs is the designers’ problem or hers“The regular reader will navigate the narrative of a book in much the same way every time, and we don’t get tired of the the overall format of ‘reading’.”
  • Scary isn’t sitting on the fence in his “MMO future article” – it’s called “Why Guild Wars 2 will Thrive and WoW will Die”“We can slowly untuck our old security blanket and feel the warm air around us. That’s when we start looking at that old tattered game we are “renting” monthly. Why pay a fee when we can play for free?”
  • And Infogamerist asks whether the glut of MMOs at present dooms them all“Please, gaming industry: don’t break up the MMO community with too many choices and/or “massive” fails! I’d miss all my friends too much!”

What do you think? Are there too many MMOs? Is Free the way forward?

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Links For The Weekend

It’s been a busy week – and with the avalanche of MMO content coming in the next two months, I don’t see it getting any quieter.

So, here are some links for you over this weekend:

  • Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond has been attempting to level every class to 85 – and he’s blogging his experiences with classes he’s never played before now“Stealth adds a very subtle element to game play: time. You don’t really think about it, but a lot of PvP has to do with time budgeting. When you can either dps OR try to heal yourself OR call an inc in a bg, you can never get done everything you want. “
  • And Spinks has a damn good point – why DO we complain about multiple MMOs using the same system but different settings?“I wish one of the big MMO companies would find a way to open source their mechanics and let other developers work on a wide range of different expansions, so that players could take their favourite character into multiple different games. Just like the D&D campaigns.”
  • Finally, if you haven’t yet, please do read about the future of the Melting Pot and what you can do to make it happen!

Have a great weekend!

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Weekend Links: The Ghost of MMOs Future

And now, the future of MMOs – from speculation about the Social Future to a fantastic opportunity to see the growth of a new MMO from its very start!

  • I’m excited about this one, and have signed right up – Eric at Elder Game is looking for alpha and beta testers for his new indie MMO, Gorgon
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings is contemplating the idea of moving many facets of MMOs from a per-character to a per-player basis“What if reputation was tied to the player account, not the character? Once you’re exalted with the Argent Dawn, you’re exalted on all your characters. You could have the long reputation grinds and chains once again, because a player only needs to do them once.”
  • And Nils announces a partial hiatus for his blog in a fascinating post detailing his hopes and dreams for MMOs“My first MMO was WoW and I was, like many others, truly in love with it. I was also deeply convinced that MMOs would, over time, become ever better at the simulation.”

What do you think the future holds for MMOs?

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Bio Break: How Will Blizzard Go On From Here?

Syp over at Bio Break is asking some difficult question of Blizzard. Sure, we’re getting an expansion this week but Syp’s looking ahead to the future. What’s going to come after Cataclysm? What can Blizzard do after breaking their world?

It might sound a bit premature to look ahead when we haven’t even got the expansion running brightly on our monitors and burning the new lands into our retinas. But Syp’s not doing this by way of tearing Cataclysm apart and saying “want better!” Instead he’s asking some astute questions, not least of which being whether Blizzard has the guts to keep going in the vein they’ve struck with Cataclysm. It’s an interesting question given the leak of Blizzard’s product timeline this week – that in itself is contested, but Syp’s timing with this piece jumps on the “Blizzard timeline” tail.

Without fail, every time an expansion or major patch lands for an MMO, I’m already thinking about the next one.  WoW players’ eyes are full to the brim of Cataclysm right now, but the newness will wear off and future-vision will become the norm once more.  People will start to wonder what direction Blizzard will take WoW, particularly as the trend of an expansion being merely 10 levels added to the cap with a new race or class has been — somewhat — shaken up.

It’s not just questions in Syp’s mind, though. He’s got a few thoughts on what might happen in future expansions and they’re quite interesting – and well open to discussion. His thoughts are based on what he’s seen of Blizzard’s actions so far and how they roll. Some of them might seem fairly obvious extrapolations on first glance but Syp’s writing reads as logical musings and I’ve found myself wondering whether we’ll see a mixture of those things.

What do you think – do you think Blizzard will drop the WoW ball in the future or will they come through and deliver something even more epic? How?

_Quote taken directly from Syp’s post_

_You can find Bio Break’s homepage here_

_You can find the Blizzard product timeline leak in various places, I don’t know where it was first reported – cite welcome. Using the WoWhead analysis for now.

_

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A brief RealID roundup

In a particularly stunning display of announce-first apologise-never, Blizzard have now linked our real names to our WoW accounts via their RealID system, whether we’ve used it at all or not.

The Internet is going crazy – and for once, with good reason.

**Addons can access your real name

**

The RealID system appears to be quite insecure. Any addon you have installed can access your real name. Here’s a quick script (from MMO Champion via Threadmeters) to demonstrate the problem. Copy-paste it to your WoW chat window and press ENTER to check if an addon can currently access your real name through WoW.

(I may turn it into an easy-install addon to check your safety in the near future – post if that would be helpful.)

That, of course, is no problem if you read all the code of every addon you install, or personally know and trust all the people who write and update all your addons.

(I’m British. That was sarcasm.)

I’d expect this potential exploit to be fixed, but so far we have no word of that from Blizzard. If it isn’t fixed, I’d be astonished if we don’t see a malware addon exploiting it within six months.

You’ll have to use your real name on any worldofwarcraft.com forum posts

[Update: Blizzard have backed down on this. You’ll not have to use your real name on the forums. Still no word on the RealID exploit above, though.]

That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. One of the Blizzard community managers aptly demonstrated a lot of them in a Jeremy Clarkson-esque fashion by posting his real name to show how safe it was.

Turns out, not very.

The best discussion of the problem I’ve seen comes from Elitist Jerks, where, in an unprecedented move, the moderators have lifted their ban on whining for this one topic.

EJ has a lot of excellent debate and discussion of everything WoW will lose if it loses anonymity. A lot of the top-level theorycrafters are also overachievers in other areas, and don’t want, for example, their highly successful law careers linked via Google to postings about being an orc.

Solutions please?

Tobold has a guide to turning RealID off on your system. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid RealID at present is to use the Parental Controls to, er, pretend to be your own parent. I can’t possibly see how that could go wrong.

“Your dad says you can’t play WoW past 10pm!”

“But that’s me! I pretended to be my own father to opt out of your idiot scheme!”

“Alright, sonny, off to bed or it’ll be no hot chocolate for you.”

However, as the suddenly-sibylline Tobold points out, with Blizzard already making major security gaffes and annoucing rather sweeping additions to the RealID system, if you want your identity to remain safe in WoW, this may be the best and only way.

There may yet be another twist.. Multiple sources (on the Internets, natch) are claiming that both the UK and French data protection authorities are currently investigating Blizzard with relation to RealID. Let’s see what happens.

Link Sources

  • Addon test script source mmochampion via Threadmeters.com.
  • Blizzard CM real name fail linked from WoWRiot because the official forum thread has, unsurprisingly, Gone Away.
  • Opt-out link from the inimitable Tobold.

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