So I have been doing a bit more reading here and across the internet and on streams lately and we all know the general consensus on this genre.
That it is dead.
The glory days are long gone.
that devs only care about money and not fun anymore.
I think that this is all…kinda balogna. Mmorpgs are no longer the big boy on the block that everyone wants to take a swing at. They aren't the genre where every developer and publisher is taking a swing at it. We get far fewer releases now in the past than we have ever gotten, there hasn't been a large western MMO since Wildstar in 2014 and maaybe Skyforge in 2015 if you consider it that. This certainly makes the genre seem like it is truly dead, like Lukes's father.
However, look at the genre pre-2014 let's say, WoW was the only MMO large enough to really play with reliable updates and a large population, the only other large MMO was Guild Wars 2 really. Yes, there were other MMOs, but they were all much less active and with far fewer updates and were clearly only going down, like Swtor at the time or RIFT. It truly was the time where WoW was almost your only decent choice.
Fast forward to now. We have a "big 4" with World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, ESO, and Guild Wars 2. All of these games are very very active with large player bases and consistent 2-4 spaces between minor and major content updates. And all these games pull a bit of their own audience.
World of Warcraft pulls in the largest still but is what is there for the strongest PvE progression with PvP alternatives and experimental systems in expansions and updates to try and add new levels and depths to gameplay, with varying levels of success.
FFXIV offers something similar in the form of progression PvE content, but is way more about sticking with just what works when it comes to content and gearing and systems and doesn't step out of the box too much, which many people like, it is also a much more involved story mmo than WoW is
So that is two theme park games that are very similar, but still have major differences and both have very large player bases.
Now we have ESO, which seems to just do better and better. It offers strong pve content with full voice acting across the world, strong pvp content as well, but it is less gear and progression focused than the two above mmos, and incentivises post cap level progression over gear prog, but it is great for people who love the world the most in their mmo, as it is oozing life and story and secrets.
Guild Wars 2 is similar to ESO but delves even further into horizontal progression, the easy exotic gear is almost all you need for 99% of the game's content and Ascended is mostly needed for Fractals and that gear is also not that hard to obtain, Gw2 focus strongly on open-world events with instanced content existing and being updated but at a much slower pace compared to the story and world content, but it does offer both of those types of content for players on top of competitive small and large scale pvp.
All four of these MMOs are doing exceptionally well, and I feel like this all happened around 2015-2016, but we also have mmos that aren't lumped in here but also have very large player bases, like Black Desert and Albion online.
So in terms of existing mmos, no. They are not in a dead state, we have the biggest pool of thriving options since before the WoW explosion into the genre, imo. Also ESO, WoW, and FFXIV are still in the mainstream eye when it comes to expansions, look how massive BFA and Classics launches were, or how much press Shadowbringers got.
Lastly, I will touch on the upcoming mmos, which is, again, far better looking than it has been in a looong time. We have at least two major fully funded AA-AAA mmos coming in 2021 with Corepunk, a traditional styled mmorpg that incorporates a very unique to the genre gameplay system, taking massive inspiration from MOBAS, and then New World, which is going for a sandboxy style with more Outward/Conan Exiles combat and heavy crafting systems, with less instanced focused content (for now) We also have significant progress on Ashes of Creation happening, Crowfall is moving along, and the other few kickstarter mmos are still chugging along.
So all in all, I do think the genre right now is doing far better than say pre-Wildstar. It's just that we don't have as many massive new releases that flop in 3 months to get extremely excited for.
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