Why an MMO?

Back in November, I started a thread over on the Epic Slant forums entitled “Does everything need to be an MMO?”  The spark for that post came from the various announcements of features for the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic. Things like full voice, instancing, henchmen, focus on story, etc. all lead me to believe this game is going to play like a single player game where you might sometimes group up with other people.  I mean, how advanced is the story telling a full voice going to be?  If I get a mission to hunt down an escaped criminal, and we end up having to kill him, only as the healer of the group I stood in the back while my buddy killed him, will the quest text change to reflect that?  Will my buddy’s name be a part of the quest or will it be like every other game and proceed either a) thanking me for something I didn’t do, or b) generically offering thanks without naming anyone in specific.  Obviously, there is a lot of “wait and see” when it comes to these things, but as I said in the thread, as more is announced I’m getting further and further from purchasing at launch.  As it is right now, I’m probably going to wait at least three months because I want to make sure the advancement and progression of the game doesn’t fall apart.

Over at The Banstick is a post about Away Team Tactics in the recently launched Star Trek Online.  It looks very cool.  But I have to wonder why I’m subscribing to an MMO to play a game with an NPC team.  Tying back into the forum post linked above, from my time in the STO beta I can say I absolutely would have jumped into this game if it were a Single Player RPG with a subscription option to participate in the MMO elements and perhaps some downloaded expansion packs later on.

Global Agenda, despite being more FPS than RPG, has an interesting model.  You buy the game, and that buys you the typical FPS.  There is a good overview at That’s a Terrible Idea.  If you decide you like the game, you can subscribe which gets you access to more game play modes and other MMO type elements (in game email, auction houses, player run bases, and more).

STO could do this by making solo play planet and space exploration free, as well as perhaps a few “arena” style PvP areas, even some multi-player PvE stuff, then having a subscription to actually participate in Federation vs Klingon vs other empires and have an impact on the balance of power.

I really hope that more games that want to be MMOs consider Global Agenda’s model, as I think it is a superior one.  It allows players to scale up and down their participation and their cost without the all-or-nothing simple subscription model.  As it stands, from the beta I won’t be picking up STO as it, to me, felt a lot like Pirates of the Burning Sea which I also sort of liked but felt it was too much to pay for what I was getting.  But I’ll probably pick up Global Agenda, and if I enjoy it I may drop in to the full MMO from time to time when I feel its worth it.

To get back to the original question posed by the title, “MMO” is the latest craze in gaming buzzwords.  WoW has delivered so many money bags to the offices of Blizzard that every title wants to cash in, to be an MMO, whether they would be good at it or not.  I think more companies should take the time to consider if their game is actually going to be worth playing, and paying for, as an MMO and then design accordingly.  Either make an MMO or a Single Player game with some MMO elements, but don’t make a Single Player game and then charge a monthly fee for it.

One comment

  1. I’ve thought about this a lot myself. To be honest I don’t blame you in the least for holding back. Unless it is a game that I absolutely have to play immediately I am taking a “six month” approach. I figure that is long enough to get past the “open, open beta.” I’m tired of being a paid tester. There are some advantages to early adoption but sometimes it is just an exercise in frustration.

    I also think Global Agenda is going to open up the price models a bit if it does well. I’m not a big shooter fan myself but I like their style and I love what they’re doing over there. This might be one of those games I pick up and try on principle alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *