I seem to have become a very angry gamer and blogger. Oh, I've been known to rant from time to time about things that get under my skin, like ex WoW players who think Blizzard is the anti-Christ or crazy people that just lash out and offer comment without actually knowing what they are angry about or whom to focus their anger on. But lately, it seems that all my blogs have been unusually angry. I don't report anything interesting or having anything very interesting to say, I just attack and let the blood fly.
In my last post, I basically asked bloggers who participate in betas to stop pre-judge those games until they are released. I did this without actually forming any kind of theory as to the motivation they have for offering these opinions nor did I even ask them why they do it. I have since come to a conclusion that may explain the need that compels bloggers to chat up betas, specifically MMO betas, so much.
I know the community is hungry for information on the next possible WoW killer and when an MMO looks promising people in beta want to dish on all the info, good or bad. They want to be the ones that find the oasis in the desert and help guide gamers to it. People want to find that next gem in the rough and when its found, they want to be the first on board. The problem is, there have been more lumps of coal than actually gems of late and people are getting very annoyed with this trend. So, I really can't fault bloggers for wanting to find the promise land. How can I when even I'm looking for it.
The future of MMO gaming, as I see it, isn't very bright these days. We have WoW and we have a number of WoW clones. Which is great, if you like WoW, but not if you don't. For the record, I still like WoW, but even I want something new to play. On the horizon we have Rift and SWTOR. Both seem to have promise.
Rift has had several successful beta tests, the community is all a buzz with activity and the release date is very soon. Prognoses looks good that this could hold the attention of some for a few months maybe even longer. The game is different in some aspects to a WoW, but not too different to frighten away gamers. There is positive hope that this might put a good dent in WoWs armor for a while, at least long enough till SWTOR hits shelves in the fall.
By all accounts SWTOR could be a great hit. The IP is very strong and BioWare has been known to put out a few successful titles here and there, the Mass Effect Series comes to mind. A lot of detail has gone into the game, lots of lore and separate quest lines for each of the different characters which will all voice over. Could be very exciting or could be a complete disaster. Long decision quest trees and the long wait for quests to be read out loud to players might turn a lot of people off. Did I mention the game has a Smuggler, Bounty Hunter and Jedi class? So maybe it takes a little longer to get your quest.
In between those titles we have Guild Wars 2 set to be pushed out onto shelves. I've only seen a few things, but it looks like devs have decided to move the game more towards the traditional MMO style this time around, which isn't winning over a lot of loyal GW players. Still, being a free to play model, they shouldn't have any problem getting players to populate servers. Success is pretty much a forgone conclusion. The MMO community will play it, but I'm sure they will be itching to pick up another pay to play game in between visits to GW2.
But to my knowledge, with the exception of a few smaller MMOs that tend to come out every year, most of them either going with a micro transaction model or are some version of a converted Asian MMO's the future of MMO gaming is pretty bleak. I mean, if neither of the above big titles captures the hearts and minds of WoW players, then Blizzard will remain king for another year. I'm not saying thats bad, but even I think its time to move forward and I love WoW.
Again, I understand the need for bloggers to talk about their beta experiences. They want to give hope to the masses that this will be the year of change in the MMO community. that a new champion will emerge from the dust and we will have something exciting to play again.